The different kinds of foods you need to eat for better skin, according to research

Less processed meats and more apples, broccoli and even onions will keep your skin healthy

Woman eating for better skin
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Did you know our gut health is connected to our skin health? What we eat is intimately tied to how our skin looks. For example, a few recreational nights of alcohol and comfort foods will have us looking dehydrated and tired, while a week of clean eating and drinking water will naturally keep us looking more revitalised.

A study in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, published by researchers from Cleveland, Ohio, found the gut and skin "are uniquely related in purpose and function". 

A healthy (or unhealthy) gut can affect skin diseases such as acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. The research found "intentional modulation of the gut" with a change in diet can help improve the skin's overall health and reduce the impact of inflammatory skin diseases by forming vitamin K and other short-chain fatty acids.

So, what do you eat to ensure a healthy gut? For starters, less processed foods (especially processed meat products) and less added fat and sugar. Rather than going for sausages, bacon and burgers, opt for lean whole cuts of meat like steak and chicken breast, and swap dousing them in oil for the best health grills or best air fryers, two cooking methods which allow you to use less added fats than traditional frying or roasting. 

The second tip is to eat more fibre. Prebiotics are fibres the body doesn't digest: instead, they make their way through the gut, encouraging good bacteria to grow and helping to regulate your bowel movements. You can find a list of fibre-rich food below:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Fibre-enriched breakfast cereals
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas 
  • Broccoli 
  • Carrots
  • Root vegetables like turnips
  • Onions

Drinking more water also helps improve gut and skin health. One study, published by researchers in Spain and Portugal, found that drinking water regularly actually improved the skin's thickness. The researchers wrote "in this study, it is clear that higher water inputs in regular diet might positively impact normal skin physiology", showing its health after 30 days of a regular routine of drinking more water. It takes just one month to look and feel better. If you're at the gym or on the run, you lose a lot of water very quickly: always keep the best water bottle for the gym handy to replenish your skin's reserves. 

Generally speaking, drinking more water, eating more fibre and less processed meat will result in healthier-looking skin, which is really a no-brainer. We've known for some time diet is directly related to some skin conditions such as acne. The onus is on you to drink more water (and eat right) to have healthy, young-looking skin all your life.

However, for a non-gut health tip: taking a cold shower will reduce inflammation in the body, which has the benefit of reducing any swelling or redness and tightening your skin.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. 

Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.