When it comes to your skin, we can’t stress the importance of a healthy diet. While some things like acne are primarily the result of genetics and hormones, skin problems on the outside can be a huge indicator of poor internal health. Usually when we have a skin problems like oil control, breakouts, and wrinkles, we immediately turn to products. And with all the products available, we’re sure to find one to cure our woes, aren’t we? Maybe, but we’re not fixing the problem. If anything we’re making it worse by covering it up without getting to the root of the problem. Instead, take your skin concern, and look inside first. Sometimes, the answer is as easy as eating more spinach or drinking more tea.

Check out the nutrients that combat these common skin concerns. Most of these nutrients come from a wide variety of natural sources, so if the examples listed don't peak your interest, do a little research to see if some of your favourite foods are packing these beautiful-skin-boosters.

Acne & Inflamed Skin

Zinc

This mineral can control oil production in the skin, making it vital for anyone struggling with breakouts. Zinc also boosts your immune system, and helps with your sense of taste, sight, and smell. Pumpkin seeds, pecans, brazil nuts, eggs, oats and lean meats are all great sources of zinc. You can also buy zinc supplements.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are just that: essential. We don’t produce them naturally, and therefore must ingest them. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are the ones we don’t get enough of in comparison to Omega-6 Fatty Acids, which are found in grains and baked goods. You can get some great Omega-3s in fish, such as salmon and mackerel, and in flaxseeds, safflower oil, and walnuts. If you don’t like the taste of fish, fish oil supplements are just as beneficial.

Free Radical Damage

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps fight the premature aging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are created by sunlight and pollution, and they destroy collagen and elastin in your skin. Vitamin C combats these free radicals, minimizing their damage. Bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens and citrus fruits all pack tons of this superstar vitamin.

Vitamin E

Similar to Vitamin C, Vitamin E helps fight free radical damage from pollution and the sun. Found in vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts, this antioxidant is easy to slip into your daily diet.

Lycopene

Another antioxidant that helps combat free radicals, this bright red carotene is found in tomatoes, red bell peppers, watermelon and papayas.

Polyphenols

These are antioxidants from plant foods, and can help combat free radicals. Green tea, caffeinated coffee, red wine, and dark chocolate are all great sources. Bitter plants and richly coloured fruits such as blueberries and pomegranates are also jam-packed.

Dry Skin, Nails & Hair

Biotin

Use avocados to help with dry skin, brittle nails, and starved hair. You can make a simple mask by mashing up the fruit and applying it to your face and hair. Eggs, bananas, oatmeal and rice are also good sources.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A repairs skin tissue, and can help combat dry and flaky skin. Whole milk, butter, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are great sources for your diet.

Skin Elasticity

Astaxanthin

This strong antioxidant boosts skin elasticity for a younger-looking complexion. It can be found in seafood such as salmon, lobsters, and crab.

Selenium

This antioxidant helps fight free radicals and enhance skin elasticity. It can be found in wheat germ, tuna, salmon, eggs, whole grains and brown rice, and garlic. Brazil nuts also pack a ton of selenium, so pop a few daily to improve skin elasticity.

Silica

This mineral strengthens muscles, ligaments, nails, hair, and bone. It also gives skin elasticity and aids in cell regeneration. You can get silica in your diet from cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, and beans such as green and garbanzo.

In the long run...

In the end, eating a balanced diet rich in whole, natural foods will give you the best skin. Many of these great nutrients come in supplement form, but the best practice is to gradually alter your eating habits to incorporate more of these great foods. It’s okay to take supplements for things you can’t incorporate into your diet, such as taking fish oil pills for someone who doesn’t eat fish. As you change your eating habits, watch your skin change too. Keeping a diary of your diet and noting changes in your mood and appearance is a great way to track the success of your new plan. As always, stay away from smoking, excessive drinking, and unprotected sun exposure.

So the next time a skin problem sets you running for the cosmetic aisle, take a moment to evaluate your recent daily diet. Keep in mind these tips aren’t going to work overnight; your body will need to adjust to the new nutrients it’s getting. Give time to let your internal changes effect your outer appearance. Remember what your mother used to tell you: you are what you eat!