Food Solutions for Your Skin

By Ellen Marmur, MD Vice Chair of Cosmetic and Dermatological Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital

Food Solutions for Your Skin

Your skin truly reflects the old saying, “You are what you eat.” If you eat a healthy diet, full of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, with less red meat and processed foods, your skin will look healthy. Your body is finely tuned to absorb your nutrition from the GI tract and then deliver that energy to your skin and other vital organs.

However, there are some foods that actually work better on your skin. Let’s look at a few common skin problems and talk about what foods will help make your skin look better quickly.

Food Fix for Crow’s Feet: Sweet Potato and Yogurt Mash

Sweet potatoes are a brilliant source of so many good things. They are super high in vitamin A, which boosts collagen. They are a surprising source of minerals such as copper (providing you with up to a 50% daily value), which helps the formation of new collagen to reduce wrinkles. They are rich in selenium, and diminish the wrinkles. Boil the sweet potato (skin on) for 20-30 minutes; make a few cuts in the skin from end to end and then rub the skin off the sweet potato; mash with a fork or potato masher; stir in a quarter cup of full-fat plain yogurt; cool until comfortable to touch. The yogurt will exfoliate, calm and moisturize. Together, the sweet potato and yogurt will smooth and moisturize the skin, and the crow’s feet will look better right away. This is safe to use on your hands and neck as well.

Food Fix for Flakey, Scaly Skin: Avocado and Honey

Flakey skin can be the result of dry skin, eczema and even psoriasis. Mash the fruit of an avocado with one tablespoon of honey. (Taste it! Amazingly good.) When it is a paste-like consistency, spread over the dry, flakey areas and cover with the cool washcloth pre-soaked with green tea. If you are very flakey, you can crush a baby aspirin into a powder and mix this into the avocado and honey paste. The avocado is lush with fatty oils that will seal the skin surface and begin the healing process. Honey, especially unprocessed, will exfoliate away the dead skin, protect against bacterial infections, and reduce inflammation. Leave this on for 10-20 minutes and wipe off gently. You can gently cleanse with an alcohol-free baby wipe, but don’t wash with soap for a few hours so your skin can stay moisturized. You will feel the difference instantly. Try to do this mask every day when you are having a flare up of flakey skin. Avoid harsh soaps because they will destroy all of your progress!

Food Fix for Rosacea: Cottage Cheese and Pineapple

Rosacea is a condition that presents with red, sensitive skin that flushes easily with stress, embarrassment, changes in temperature (hot or cold), wind, exercise, sunlight, and certain food or drink triggers such as wine or spicy food. When your skin flushes, it causes a vicious cycle of inflammation that creates more redness and acne-like papules. It can even coarsen your skin and make your pores more noticeable. Try mixing one cup of full-fat cottage cheese with a quarter-cup of minced pineapple and applying it like a mask to your cheeks and nose for 10 minutes a day, twice a week for one month. Place a nice cool washcloth soaked in green tea over the mask to soothe your skin. The milk fat in the cottage cheese will moisturize and heal your skin. The pineapple will provide bromelain – richest in the tougher part of the fruit near the rind or skin – to decrease redness. You can also drape a green-tea soaked cloth over your eyes for a relaxing 10-minute rest.  

Food Fix for Puffy Eyes: Tofu

The quickest trick is to place extra firm tofu patches, cut a half-inch thick, under each eye for 10 minutes a day for two weeks. The soy in tofu has been shown to increase collagen. Also, soy contains flavonoids that have been shown to decrease sun damage. Combined, these will smooth and heal the skin. The sheer weight of the tofu patch will help press the swelling out of the area. Bonus: Follow this by doing 40 jumping jacks to rev up your circulation and drain the puffiness away!

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