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6 Skin-Soothing Foods To Fight Skin Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural immune response that is designed to protect the body and promote healing. However, when inflammation becomes chronic or uncontrolled, it can have negative effects on your overall health, including the health of your skin. Out-of-control inflammation is the root of many skin conditions including eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, allergic urticaria, skin rashes and premature ageing.

Although skin inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to UV radiation, harsh chemicals, stress, hormonal changes and allergens, our diet plays a significant role. The foods you eat can either exacerbate or alleviate inflammation, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what you put into your body. Foods that can contribute to skin inflammation by triggering the body’s inflammatory response include processed foods high in refined sugars, saturated and trans fats, and refined carbohydrates. Eating too many of these types of foods can cause skin inflammation by promoting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. Cytokines are proteins that play a role in the body’s immune response and can contribute to skin inflammation.

When you consume sugary foods, it also causes your blood-sugar levels to spike, which triggers your body to produce too much insulin. This can lead to a condition known as insulin resistance, which is associated with inflammation and the development of various skin conditions. Another way that sugar can contribute to skin inflammation is through the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are compounds that form when sugars react with proteins in the body. They are associated with oxidative stress and inflammation and can contribute to skin ageing.

Enjoying a well-balanced and wholesome diet abundant in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods will help reduce skin inflammation and oxidative stress. Including the following skin-nourishing foods in your daily diet will provide your body with important nutrients and phytochemicals such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E and C, and polyphenols that can heal and reduce inflamed skin and improve its overall health and appearance.

Wild blueberries

Blueberries are a fabulous skin-healing food, but wild blueberries are even better as they contain higher levels of protective antioxidants. Wild blueberries are abundant in phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which give blueberries their deep-blue colour and outstanding health benefits for the skin. Anthocyanins have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help reduce skin inflammation and oxidative stress. Anthocyanins work by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins.

Anthocyanins also scavenge damaging free radicals that cause oxidative stress and premature skin ageing. One of the ways inflammation contributes to skin damage is by producing free radicals. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, wild blueberries are also a great source of vitamins C and E, which are both powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients that can help protect the skin.

Studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and Journal of Berry Research found that wild blueberries had significantly higher levels of total phenolics and anthocyanins, which are both powerful antioxidants, compared to cultivated blueberries as well as other types of berries such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. The harsh and cold growing conditions in which these plants thrive could be a contributing factor to their increased antioxidant capacity.

There are many delicious ways to enjoy wild blueberries, fresh or frozen. They make a nutritious snack on their own or a healthy addition to porridges, muesli, baked goods, healthy desserts (crumbles, chia pudding, raw cheesecakes), smoothies, salads, pancakes or chia blueberry jam as a healthy toast topping.


Kale is a nutrient-dense leafy green vegetable that is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, along with phytochemicals that make it an excellent food for reducing inflamed skin. Kale provides high levels of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, which helps keep the skin firm and elastic.

Kale contains carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein, which are also valuable antioxidants that protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation. These carotenoids can also help reduce inflammation and improve the overall health of the skin. It is a rich source of quercetin, which is a flavonoid known for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Kale also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, known for their ability to soothe and soften dry and inflamed skin. These beneficial fatty acids help maintain the skin’s moisture barrier, which is essential for preventing dryness and irritation.

Kale is a versatile green leafy vegetable that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes whether raw, sautéed or baked. Add kale to salads, frittatas, stir-fries, soups, curries, bean and rice dishes, or in veggie juices or green smoothies. Try kale pesto or crunchy, oven-baked kale chips.

Wild salmon

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These beneficial fats are highly nourishing to the skin and have a powerful anti-inflammatory action, making them key to treating inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. Omega-3s keep the skin soft, healthy and hydrated. Anyone suffering from dry or inflamed skin will benefit from increasing their omega-3 intake. You should aim to have around three servings of oily fish like wild salmon per week.

Wild salmon also contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin, which gives salmon its pink colour. Astaxanthin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflamed skin. Astaxanthin protects against oxidative damage and can help protect the skin from UV damage, which can cause inflammation and premature ageing.

Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in skin health. Vitamin D also helps regulate the immune system and reduces inflammation. Adequate levels of vitamin D in the body can reduce the risk of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Some tasty ways to enjoy wild salmon include with roasted vegetables, brown rice or quinoa, or in salads, frittatas, nori rolls, fish tacos, stir-fries, pasta or curries. Salmon is delicious grilled, barbecued or pan-fried topped with lemon and fresh herbs, pesto, pineapple salsa, chimichurri, miso glaze, honey and tamari, or with lemon, garlic and ginger.


Incorporating avocados into your daily diet is an excellent way to improve the health of your skin and reduce skin inflammation. Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit that is rich in beneficial mono and polyunsaturated fats. These skin-nourishing fats help reduce inflammation and assist with maintaining the skin’s moisture barrier, which is essential for preventing dryness and irritation.

Avocados are also an excellent source of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient that is useful in the treatment of eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. Vitamin E can suppress the formation of arachidonic acid, which is a fatty acid that contributes to inflammation. Dry and flaky skin is a sign of a vitamin E deficiency.

The presence of vitamin C and carotenoids (beta-carotene and lutein) in avocados makes them a rich source of antioxidants that protect the skin against damaging free radicals and UV radiation. These nutrients possess anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent inflammatory skin conditions and aid in enhancing skin health. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, which is essential for maintaining skin firmness and elasticity.

Some of the best ways to include more avocado in your diet are by having smashed avocado on toast, in wraps and sandwiches, avocado dressings and dips, guacamole with crackers, burrito bowls, healthy raw desserts, salads or in green smoothies.


Due to its impressive anti-inflammatory action, turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health conditions. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is responsible for the spice’s potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which makes it beneficial for supporting skin health and treating inflammatory skin conditions.

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress speed up the ageing process as they contribute to the loss of collagen in the skin. Collagen is the protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. Curcumin has been found to boost collagen production.

Turmeric is a versatile spice that can be used in a variety of dishes to add plenty of flavour and nutritional goodness. Add turmeric to rice, quinoa and grain dishes, marinades and dressings, dips, soups, stews, curries and smoothies. Turmeric powder makes a delicious anti-inflammatory latte with plant-based milk, ginger and cinnamon, or use turmeric root brewed as a tea with some fresh lemon and honey.


Another great way to soothe dry and inflamed skin is to include raw nuts such as walnuts in the diet. Walnuts are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. Omega-3 fats help keep the skin soft and hydrated and assist in preventing dry and irritated skin.
Walnuts also contain polyphenols and vitamin E, which have both been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These nuts also provide a good dose of zinc, which plays a key role in the health of our skin. Zinc has an anti-inflammatory action and promotes healthy wound healing, which makes it beneficial for alleviating inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. Zinc deficiency is associated with dry, scaly and red eczematous patches on the skin.

Walnuts add extra crunch and nutritional goodness to porridge, muesli, salads, baked goods, protein balls, raw treats and trail mixes. Walnut butter makes a wholesome toast or pancake topping, delicious with banana slices and a drizzle of honey.

Article Featured in EatWell 49

Lisa Guy

Lisa Guy

Lisa Guy is a respected Sydney-based naturopath, author and passionate foodie with 16 years of clinical experience. She runs a naturopathic clinic in Rose Bay called Art of Healing and is the founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.

Lisa is a great believer that good wholesome food is one of the greatest pleasures in life and the foundation of good health. Lisa encourages her clients to get back to eating what nature intended: good, clean, wholesome food that’s nutrient-rich and free from high levels of sugars, harmful fats, artificial additives and pesticides. Her aim is to change the way people eat, cook and think about food.

Lisa is an avid health writer, being a regular contributor to The Sunday Telegraph's Body and Soul, and leading magazines including WellBeing. Lisa is an author of five books to date, including My Goodness: all you need to know about children’s health and nutrition , Pregnancy Essentials, Heal Yourself, Listen to your Body and Healthy Skin Diet .

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