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Help Winkled, Dry Skin by Changing Your Diet

   Research Shows What You Eat May Make A Difference in Your Skin


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Healthy Food May Help to Prevent Wrinkles

A 2001 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found the food people consumed correlated with the amount of skin wrinkles, measured in a sun exposed area of their skin. It should be noted that this study showed association, rather than cause and effect. Many of the foods the people with better skins ate are known to be healthy foods anyway, so they may have made other healthy choices in their lives which helped to account for their healthier skin besides just their diet.

However, since most of the foods people with less wrinkled skin ate are known to be nutritious, inexpensive, energy dense whole foods, such as apples and asparagus, for most people there probably isn't a lot of downside to incorporating more of the foods associated with less wrinkled skin into one's daily diet. Many of the foods associated with the more wrinkled skin are foods health experts often tell people to avoid or consume in moderation anyway, such as sugar, margarine, jam and pastries. As such, this study just give people one more reason to make healthy food choices.

Of course, people with restricted diets due to medications, allergies or other health concerns should consult with their health care providers before making any diet changes. Personally, I don't do well with whole grains, so I would not add these to my diet even though they are foods that correlated with less wrinkles in the study.


colorful vegetables on a plate

A diet high in vegetables is healthy for many reasons. Now you can add wrinkle prevention to the long list of benefits.

Among other foods, study subjects with the least wrinkles had diets high in:

  • Vegetables in general
  • Olive oil and monounsaturated fat
  • Fermented milk products, such as yogurt
  • Legumes, especially broad beans and lima beans
  • Tea
  • Eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables, including spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Onions / Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Dried fruits / prunes
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Water
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Multigrain bread
  • Pears


woman drinking tea from a cup   If you can't function without a morning jolt of caffeine, tea may be a better option for your skin than coffee.


Study subjects with more wrinkles had diets high in:

  • Whole milk/milk products
  • Ice cream
  • Butter
  • Red Meat
  • Margarine
  • Sugar
  • Processed meat
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft drinks / cordials
  • Coffee
  • Jam
  • Pastries
  • Cakes

Besides specific food findings, study subjects with less skin damage also had higher intakes of nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, retinal and vitamin C.

Here is a link to the complete chart of foods and their correlation in the study to wrinkled skin. (The lower the number next to the food means it was associated with less wrinkled skin, and higher numbers denote an association with more wrinkles.) According to the study authors. "Overall, our finding suggest that subjects with a higher intake of vegetables, olive oil and monounsaturated fat and legumes, but a lower intake of milk/milk products, butter, margarine and sugar products had less skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site."

Advice From Natural Health Experts

Dr. Vasant Lad, author of Ayurveda: the Science of Self Healing, notes that wrinkles are associated in Ayurveda medicine with vata ailments. Dr. Lad writes that some of the best foods to correct vata ailments include sweet fruits, coconuts, brown rice, red cabbage, bananas, cherries, grapes and oranges. Vata people are also encouraged to eat lots of warm stews and soups. A healthy chicken stew made with chicken, lima beans, celery, spinach and leeks sautéed in olive oil, may take advantage of both Western research and lessons of ancient Ayurvedic wisdom for younger looking skin.

In Prescription for Herbal Healing, author Phyllis Balch notes that while excessive sunshine may damage skin, some early morning or late afternoon sunshine is needed to help the skin manufacture vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for many body functions, especially strong bones and cancer prevention. With sunshine, balance is the key. Too much sun can prematurely age the skin, while not enough sun (or a vitamin D substitute) can cause other health issues.

Ms. Balch also recommends exercise for healthy skin. Skin is the largest organ in the human body. Like the heart and brain, it receives nutrients via the circulatory system. Adequate exercise keeps blood flowing and delivering nutrients to the skin and other organs.

woman stretching in a scenic setting
Regular exercise helps nutrients flow to your skin through your bloodstream.

Wrinkled Hands, Fat Intake and Diet

When I was on a low fat, high fiber, vegetarian diet I had a lot of health issues, including fibromyalgia and prematurely wrinkled hands. My husband used to call my hands scary looking. I was in my thirties yet I had the hands of a much older woman. However, when I changed my diet to eat more meat and fat, my hands improved. I realize now that many vitamins are fat soluble, so I think that before I just wasn't getting enough fat to stay healthy and keep my skin smooth and supple.

Dietary Fat Helps with Absorption of Nutrients

in a paper from 2004, researchers found that study subjects absorbed more of certain nutrients with full fat salad dressings than with nonfat or reduced-fat dressings.

While many Americans obviously get too much fat in their diets, that doesn't mean that extremely low fat diets are necessarily healthy. I think people have to find a healthy balance at the point where they are not overweight and yet are getting enough fat to stay healthy and keep their skin looking good. There are a lot of papers on PubMed by plastic surgeons who use fat injections on people to plump out wrinkles. Well, I guess that is one way to get more fat in your body. But perhaps a less costly and more healthy way for some of those people getting fat injections would have been just to try eating a diet high in healthy fats.

I have a book on famous yogis, many who eat low fat, vegetarian diets. The one thing that struck me when I was flipping through the pictures in the book is that these people are supposed to be experts at health, yet many look very wrinkled and prematurely old. I know I started to look like that on a low fat, high fiber vegetarian diet, so I'm convinced that while that type of diet may work for some people, it is not for everyone, and it may not be the best diet to avoid wrinkled skin.

Skin researchers in Australia noted that "In terms of nutrients, total dietary fat intake and a higher intake of monounsaturated fatty acids were negatively associated with photoaging."

Research show that estrogen prevents skin aging and that fat in the diet raises estrogen levels. While diets high in fat resulting in high estrogen levels are linked to breast cancer, that doesn't mean that unusually low levels of estrogen are healthy, either. Besides wrinkled skin, low estrogen levels are linked to conditions such as osteoporosis and infertility. So with estrogen as with many other substances in the body, there is most likely an optimal middle range to be in to that keeps skin low in wrinkles and yet the body free of chronic diseases such as cancer.

Foods that are often reported to reduce estrogen levels include whole grains, especially whole wheat, and cruciferous vegetables. Reducing estrogen levels may be good for people at risk for breast cancer, but these foods may not be the best choice for reducing wrinkles. I have a diet book where the author advocates a low fat, low protein diet with whole grains for weight loss, but in the cover photo she curiously has on a jacket with with unusually long sleeves that cover up her hands. I bet you any money she has the same "scary hand" syndrome I used to have from not having enough fat and estrogen producing foods in her diet.

She may be thin, but like the people in my yoga books on low fat diets, she doesn't have great skin. There is a lot more to being healthy than just body weight. Weight is just one component of heath. Other factors such as skin appearance also need to be considered. The person writing this diet book has a number of degrees and considers herself an expert on health, but ironically the reality is that she is not really very healthy looking herself.


face with wrinkles

What you eat shows up in your skin.





Related sections of interest:

Links to Diet in Connective Tissue Disorders.

Genes may not be the only cause of Marfan Syndrome

Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Diet Help for EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

Pectus Excavatum Causes, FAQ, and Exercises

Could Hyaluronic Acid Help with Aging or Connective Tissue Disorders?

Wrinkled and Dry Skin - What you Eat May Make a Difference

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms



1. Purba M, Kouris-Blazos A, Wattanapenpaiboon N, et al. Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference? Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001:20(1), pp. 71-80.

2. Lad, Vasant. Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus, 2009. Print.

3. Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing. New York: Avery, 2002. 418-20. Print.

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