Fall is officially here, and just as we adapt our wardrobes and our skin care, so should we update our palettes, say our nutritionist experts. “The skin is the largest organ in the body and is the first line of defense acting as a barrier against environmental toxins and bacteria,” says nutritionist Jessica Sepel. “It plays a role in protecting against UV rays, temperature regulation, allows sensation of touch and produces vitamin D, so we need to nourish it with the foods we eat.”
Here, we share the best foods experts say you should add to your diet to glow your way through the season.
According to holistic nutritionist Jennifer Hanway, the fall staple is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory powerhouse that we should all be including in our diets at this time of year. “The compound that gives pumpkin its vibrant orange color is beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that is essential for healthy and vibrant skin, hair and nails. Pumpkins are also a rich source of potassium, a mineral that can help alkalize the body and reduce water retention.”
Hanaway says the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte doesn’t count! “It’s not going to contain any of these beauty-boosting ingredients, and instead is usually packed full of skin-aging sugar and inflammatory dairy. Skip this skin saboteur and instead use fresh or canned pumpkin in soups, stews or smoothies for maximum beauty benefits.”
Other Orange-Colored Vegetables
The experts say stick with orange veggies when you go grocery shopping and your skin will thank you. “Vegetables like sweet potato and squash are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, a pigment which gives orange fruits and vegetables their color,” notes Seeple. “This antioxidant which also gets converted into vitamin A which can be beneficial for our skin health, including supporting the skin’s defenses against UV radiation.”
Celebrity nutritionist Mona Sharma, who hosts a “Reprogram Your Diet” course on the FitOn app, adds that sweet potatoes are higher in fiber and nutrients. “This supports removing toxins and waste from the body that may cause skin imbalances. They’re also loaded with vitamin A which helps prevent wrinkles and aids with healthy hair growth, while vitamin C helps maintain the elasticity of skin and boost collagen.”
Sepel, who is also the founder of JSHealth Vitamins, says apples are some of the highest fiber-rich fruits and also contain antioxidants and vitamin C which help with skin cell rejuvenation and wound healing. “We know that fiber is essential for optimum gut health and when our gut health is functioning well, it can increase the absorption of specific nutrients required for our skin,” she explains.
“Apples are one of our lowest sugar fruits and are packed full of antioxidant compounds such as quercetin, catechin and phloridzin,” adds Hanway. “They help to reduce free radical and DNA damage to your skin cells.”
Sharma says lean into the holiday cinnamon. “It’s a polyphenol that serves as an antioxidant. It’s also proven to help balance blood sugar levels, and as a result oil/acne production, which can lead to clearer skin.”
Nutritionist and founder of Nourished, Melissa SnoverIt, says double up on the leafy green. “It is widely known that vitamin E is good for the skin, and by eating foods rich in this vital vitamin such as nuts, spinach and broccoli, we can help protect our skin against external radicals such as pollution and sun damage.”
If you got a little too much sun this summer, says Hanway, consider adding kale to your morning smoothie as it contains vitamins A, C and K which can help counteract sun damage: “It is actually ranked as one of the highest free radical–fighting vegetables—second is spinach—and also contains sulforaphane, which boosts the body’s detoxification enzymes.” Hanway adds that you should always consume kale with some kind of fat to ensure maximum vitamin absorption. “Pair it with something else like a green smoothie with avocado, or in a salad with extra virgin olive oil.”