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The skin requires up to 150 mg of fat daily to stay healthy, in part because fat is a key ingredient in the glue that holds skin cells together. “You don’t want to have leaky skin,” says Mark Tager, MD, author of Feed Your Skin Right: Your Personalized Nutrition Plan for Radiant Beauty.

Just as in leaky gut syndrome, loose junctions in the outside skin can lead to transepidermal water loss. This makes the skin drier and less protective, increasing the likelihood of skin damage from friction. Psoriasis, eczema, acne, and dandruff all involve some degree of transepidermal water loss.

Still, the skin doesn’t need just any fat; it needs quality fats, such as the omega-3s found in fish and flaxseeds. “Good fats are your skin’s friend,” says Tager. “They help moisturize from the inside out and strengthen the skin’s ability to act as a barrier.”

An excess of poor-quality hydrogenated oils and certain saturated fats can wreak havoc on your skin. “Throw in some hormonal changes, a high-sugar diet, and a little zinc deficiency, and you have the perfect storm for acne,” he adds.

To feed the skin, Tager recom­mends a Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes beneficial fats, such as olive oil. Fatty fish, raw nuts, avocados, and flax oil are good sources of high-quality fats, as are fish-oil supplements. Evidence suggests they can help strengthen the skin’s barrier function, cool inflammation caused by sun damage, slow the formation of age spots, and help relieve dry skin.

For further guidance on maintaining healthy and radiant skin through nutrition, see “11 Vital Nutrients for Skin Health,” from which this article was excerpted.

Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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