I’m a fan of skin products, but I know from experience that good skin health starts from the inside first. The foods we put into our mouth can really have a drastic impact on the way we look and how soft and moisturized the skin feels.
Having dry skin can cause all sorts of problems like redness, itching, flaking and even accelerate the rate at which the skin ages.
Rather than simply slathering on the moisturizer multiple times every day, how about helping your body produce more natural oils and increasing skin lipids to keep the skin well hydrated and moisturized.
So what’s a simple way to improve skin moisture?
A plant-based diet rich in foods like avocados, kale, sweet potatoes, soy, cocoa, walnuts can really help moisturize the skin from the inside to create a glowing complexion.
Causes of dry skin
Rather than simply trying to cover up a symptom, it would be better to deal with the underlying issue which is causing the skin to become dry in the first place.
In some cases, the fix might be simply correcting a deficiency in a mineral or a vitamin, but in other cases, the problem might be a bit more complex so you will need to take a more broad approach.
The main causes of skin dryness are the following:
- Dehydration (you’re simply not drinking enough water)
- Mineral or vitamin deficiency
- Low intake of omega 3 from the diet (especially important if you’re a vegetarian or vegan to choose the right foods or omega 3 supplements)
- Low sex hormones
- Using harsh body washes or soap too often
- Use of skincare products like retinol
- Dry air
- Intense exercise
Once you’ve identified the cause of dry skin, you can address those issues and then skin dryness may improve. However, there are always things we can do to boost our skin moisture levels by changing the foods we eat!
8 easy ways you can keep skin moisturized
Below are eight easy steps you can take to help keep your skin soft, moisturized and youthful.
Avocado is mostly fat, but the good kind that you want in your diet. It is made up of primarily monounsaturated fats which are healthy for the heart and for your skin.
In fact, studies have shown that high intakes of monounsaturated fat in the diet has been linked with less skin wrinkling and aging.
Avocado also contains a fat called alpha-linolenic acid which is converted to omega 3 fatty acids in the body.
In both men and women (more so women), ALA can be converted into both EPA and DHA. It’s is EPA that is responsible for increased lipids in the skin which will help keep your skin soft, supple, and glowing!
Kale is a leafy green of the brassica family of vegetables and is a powerhouse when it comes to its nutritional profile.
It contains several carotenoids, one of being lutein (20 mg per cup). Studies have shown that lutein is a powerful antioxidant which is absorbed and accumulates in the skin where it can improve skin health.
In one study, researchers gave a lutein supplement to volunteers for 12 weeks and they measured various skin parameters.
The group who received the lutein has significantly less lipid peroxidation relative to the placebo group.
Skin lipids were also significantly increased by lutein. They saw a 46% in skin lipid levels from just oral lutein alone, but it was a 63% increase when combined with topical lutein.
There was a huge improvement in skin hydration of the lutein group by almost 60%. 
The subjects received just 10 mg of lutein per day to achieve these effects. So drinking a kale smoothie or adding some kale to your smoothies should be an easy way for you to improve skin moisture and hydration.
3. Okinawan purple sweet potato
For some people, purple sweet potatoes might be hard to come across, but if you have them at your local supermarket, then maybe you should give them a try.
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which help reduce immunosuppression, inflammation and skin dryness from UV rays exposure.
They also contain hyaluronic acid which is absorbed and distributed throughout the body, including the skin, where it can help boost water content and skin hydration.
If you can’t find purple sweet potatoes at the store, then regular sweet potatoes will also be fine.
It might be also worth checking out skin serums which contain hyaluronic acid.
4. Chocolate (cocoa)
How about some hot chocolate to help improve skin hydration?
Well, one study published in 2007 showed that regular consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa was able to significantly improve dermal blood flow, oxygen level, and skin hydration
The study also found that after 12 weeks there was increased protection against UV-induced erythema and skin roughness and scaling were significantly decreased. 
I don’t know about you, but I love hot chocolate! So I’m happy about this one.
5. Beans and Legumes
One cause of skin dryness is a zinc deficiency. You don’t have to have a frank deficiency of zinc to be affected by dry skin due to inadequate zinc intake.
Even having a mild deficiency can cause skin dryness, and people who are more likely to be affected are those on low-calorie diets, strict diets such as vegetarians or vegans.
Beans and legumes are one source of zinc, but one should aim for a variety of food high in zinc such as cashews, oats, and pumpkin seeds.
If you’re still not getting enough zinc, then I highly recommend people on a high plant-based and those who are vegan to supplement when necessary.
See my story on how I overcome zinc deficiency and how it affected my skin by going here.
6. Increased intake of water and low caffeine beverages
Who would have thought that by drinking more water, your skin would be better hydrated?
It’s not rocket science, but many people fail to drink enough water to be fully hydrated during the day. You should be drinking around 6-8 glasses of water a day or drinks which are low in caffeine or caffeine free.
To show that consuming extra water improves deep skin hydration, researchers looked at studies and found that people who consumed more water had increased deep skin hydration, especially if they had low water consumption initially .
Researchers noted improvements in skin softness, smoothness and skin moisture level.
Most of my water intake actually comes from green tea which is low in caffeine. Green tea also has beneficial polyphenols which also improve skin health and elasticity.
Many studies have shown that drinking soymilk or eating soy products can have beneficial effects on skin health and improve skin moisture levels in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
It’s thought that the reason for these improved in skin hydration is related to the phytoestrogens found in soy and also phosphatidylserine. 
Why not try using soy milk for some hot chocolate?
Cucumbers contain a high amount of water and great to add to sandwiches, salads, vegan burgers, or whatever you like.
They are high in silica, which is important for skin health and keeping the skin looking young.
Cucumbers are great for your skin whether they are eaten or placed on the skin to help reduce puffiness and irritated skin.
How long will it take to see improvements?
The skin is always constantly regenerating, and much of this process takes place when we go to bed at night. Therefore it is crucial that you get enough sleep if you want your skin to look its best.
By making these changes to your diet and routine, you should start to notice improvements in skin hydration within 4 weeks, but you should give it at least 12 weeks or more to really see a positive effect.
Obviously, if you’re not drinking enough water, then simply hydrating yourself better by drinking more fluids will have a more immediate effect.
When it comes to improving skin moisture levels and skin lipids, this process can take a bit longer.
Over time, as your skin health improves, you may start seeing improvements in fine lines, skin elasticity. Your skin will start looking brighter, softer, and younger.
Improvements won’t happen overnight, but if you stay consistent and keep eating healthily, you’ll really begin to see skin improvements in no time at all.
Your skin may start to get a ‘golden glow’ if you consume enough carotenoids. This is perfectly normal and is a positive sign of health.
Leaving your skin dry can leave it prone to increased damage, infection, and even hasten skin aging. Having dry skin is also just not a great look.
By including these 7 things in your daily routine, you will help your skin become moisturized and soft. And as a result, you will stay looking younger for longer.