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Teenagers have a way of rolling their eyes when parents say that they should steer clear of the junk food they yearn for and stick to healthier, more natural meals. But these foods and drinks aren’t just good for inside the body—they also have an impact on the skin around it. And that argument really scores points with teenagers.
“[While] there are no studies that prove that food has anything to do with acne … food affects the skin,” says Cybil Solyn, an esthetician and owner of Solyn Skin Fitness Studio in Burbank, Calif. “The gut and the skin are closely tied together … so the best food for the skin is the same food that's good for your digestive system."
“Ginger is an antioxidant that can decrease inflammation and increase your skin’s radiance,” says Rania Batayneh, a nutritionist, eating strategist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You in San Francisco, New York and Beaverton, Oregon. “As an antioxidant, it can inhibit free radical generation that can cause skin damage and aging.”
Batayneh says she likes the cashew and ginger spice Kind bar, but ginger tea also offers an alternative to coffee and other caffeine-heavy drinks.
“Plain yogurt is great for the probiotics it contains,” says Solyn. “You want foods that are going to keep you regular. If the gut isn't getting what it needs to keep moving, then toxins build up in the waste and are excreted through the bowel walls, The skin is then left to get rid of it—often as acne.”
“This natural marine wonder is packed with vitamins, minerals, trace elements and amino acids that are essential in maintaining healthy and youthful skin,” says Batayneh. “It also helps to slow the aging skin process while protecting it from the harsh environmental elements in the air and water. Selenium and ascorbic acid protect the skin from damaging free radicals. Organic Iodine found in seaweed increases metabolism. Seaweed also contains fatty acids to combat skin irritation and inflammation.”
“Assuming a teen is eating well, staying away from refined sugar and lots of empty carbs [hello, junk food], I like to supplement in an acne client's diet with things to keep the colon happy, like [a bit] of aloe vera juice hidden in orange juice or a smoothie or diluted in 16 ounces of water,” Solyn says.
Speaking of orange juice, Solyn says that vitamin C is “an excellent anti-inflammatory, so I add 1,000 milligrams a day to start,” and that “grapefruit seed extract and probiotics both work on reducing yeast and fungus, which can help, too.”
“Whole grains are good in vitamin B, and these vitamins are very important for skin functioning,” says Batayneh. “They help in the growth of new cells to replace the dead cells and help the skin to fight infections. They also help the skin cells to absorb nutrients. One can get benefits of whole grain from whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals. They also help to make skin softer, which can help with the problem of dry skin.”
“Dark chocolate is my all-time favorite,” says Solyn, “the darker the better. With little or no sugar and no dairy it packs an antioxidant punch. Tons of studies have proven that dark chocolate is great for our health and mood, which means it’s excellent for teen skin.”