Smoothie Recipes for Clear Skin
Don't be misled by the title.
There's no one food, or foods, that will magically clear your skin if you start drinking them. So, no, sorry, there isn't going to be an easy list of specific foods that will clear your skin miraculously once you start putting them in smoothies. If only life were that easy.
Instead, there are types of food that we can consume that can help facilitate clear skin through feeding the body with the nutrients it needs to treat, nourish, repair, and keep skin healthy.
Americans consume, on average, only about 1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables per day when they're supposed to consume 5-13 servings (3). Less than a third of adults are getting the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables in their daily diets (6), and thus, the appeal of juices and smoothies is pretty obvious. People want more fruits and vegetables in their diet, and they want it easily. While there is no medical evidence to prove that juicing and smoothies improve one's health more than eating whole fruits and vegetables would (that certainly isn't the argument here), juicing or blending can be an effective way to consume the recommended daily servings if you struggle with that regularly. It's, if nothing else, a fast and convenient way to get some added nutrients and your daily requirements (9), which will directly feed your skin.
A lot of people suggest juices to clear your skin, and that's not necessarily a bad idea, as juices can be a part of a healthy, well-balanced diet and can also deliver nutrients to the body; however, consuming only juices on a juice cleanse/fast, or opting for juice always in lieu of a smoothie will eliminate all of the fiber from these foods, which is important for our bodies. The process of juicing leaves behind the pulp (which contains the fiber), while concentrating the other nutrients. Too much natural fruit juice without the health benefits of the fiber results in an arguably less nutritious drink, although one that is still OK to consume occasionally. Why is fiber so important? Our gut bacteria use & "consume" fiber to make important molecules (1). In fact, fiber is needed to maintain intestinal barrier function, and prevent bacterial translocation, whereas food without fiber promotes bacterial translocation (read more about the importance of intestinal barrier function in my ebook) (2). This intstinal permeability can lead to increased inflammation (which can manifest on our skin).
What's also increasingly becoming important for people with acne, particularly vegans who may be suffering from acne, is our insulin. Insulin resistance means that cells, particularly muscle cells (and, to a lesser degree, fat cells) resist the influence of insulin to take glucose out of the blood, leading to elevated blood sugar levels (which can lead to T2 diabetes and other health problems plaguing the world today). Fiber, on the other hand, does not raise blood glucose levels. Because it is not broken down by the body, the fiber present in a smoothie (but not a juice) has no effect on blood glucose levels because it isn't digested. In fact, soluble fiber can actually slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. This is important since insulin has been shown to be a major player in acne pathogenesis. Read more about this in my ebook also.
While juice can be a convenient way to get more servings of fruit and veggies, it's just as easy to make a smoothie, and it's likely to be better for you, given what we learned above.
One study, for example, found that a blended smoothie has significantly higher levels of beneficial phytonutrients compared to juice made with a juicer (4). In particular, the blended smoothie had about a seven-fold higher content of a compound called naringin. Naringin is a flavonoid that has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities (5) that may be especially beneficial for people suffering from acne.
Not to mention, one study showed that carotenoid-rich fruit smoothies are associated with increased skin redness and yellowness (8) known as a "carotenoid glow", which is perceived as more attractive (10). More than three quarters of respondents (76%) said the yellow glow from eating lots of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits was more attractive than the brown glow achieved through a sun tan. So .. skip the sun bathing and just indulge in a yummy smoothie recipe like the ones listed below!
So, with that being said - here are some smoothie recipes that I hope will get you started adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, which I also expect will help your skin to glow due to some added nutrients and antioxidants when coupled with a well-balanced diet with lots of healthy fats, carbs and protein.
(Simple smoothies are best; some greens + fruit, you can't lose. However, for added benefits you may wish to add things like freshly ground flax seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, plant milks, etc).
1. Pumpkin Spice
'Tis the season for everything pumpkin, right? Well, then why not get in on the festivities with a super healthy smoothie that will literally feed your skin? Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Our bodies convert both forms of carotene into the vitamin A precursor retinol, and then combines it with fat molecules (blending carotenoid-packed produce with healthy fats (like avocado) is key; the body needs fats to convert certain fat-soluble vitamin precursors) to form vitamin A, a skin-supporting nutrient essential for cell growth and development. Pumpkin is also rich in antioxidants and acts as an anti-inflammatory (11) which are important for skin function and health. The fat in the avocado is great for regulating bloog sugar levels, and can help contribute to a healthy endocrine system.
½ c canned pure pumpkin 7 oz plant milk or yogurt ½ c water ¼ avocado
½ tsp pumpkin spice
2. Green Machine
Green smoothies are everything. They can pick you up in the morning, keep you going all day long, and pack a ridiculously skin-healthy punch that makes them a MUST in your diet. The vitamin E found in green leafy vegetables works with vitamin C to keep skin healthy. They're also one of the top sources of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that helps repair and renew your skin to give it a youthful glow. The avocado is also rich in vitamins A, C, E and K.
1¼ c kale
¼ spinach 1¼ c frozen cubed mango 2 med stalks celery, chopped 1 c chilled fresh orange juice (not the kind from the store - use a hand juicer, if needed)
½ avocado ¼ c chopped flat-leaf parsley ¼ c chopped fresh mint
Who doesn't simply adore a good mango-flavoured drink? But skip the mango smoothie from McDonald's and make your own. Mangoes are great for your skin because they contain vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps your skin moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Adequate intake of vitamin C, which mango is full of, is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
¼ c mango cubes
¼ spinach ¼-½ avocado ½ c water ¼ c soy yogurt 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 1 Tbsp sweetener (optional) 6 ice cubes
4. Berry Good
Berries are packed full of powerful antioxidants. Blueberries were ranked number one in antioxidant activity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture compared to 40 common fruits and vegetables. Ellagic acid is an antioxidant found in raspberries, strawberries, cranberries and pomegranates - and may be effective against inflammation.
1 c frozen mixed berries of choice (suggestions: blackberries, blueberries, acai, goji, etc) 1 frozen ripe banana ½ c plant milk ¼ c water or fresh orange juice
5. Antioxidant Acne Buster
Antioxidants are one of the most important first-line defenses against acne. Thankfully, fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in antioxidants. However, sometimes we need an added boost. And that's where this recipe come in, with green tea shining as our bright star of the show. Full of antioxidants, and proven to help minimize acne lesions and reduce skin damage (7), this is an ingredient you won't want to do without.
1 c brewed, cooled green tea OR matcha
½ c water
1 c frozen blueberries
½ c spinach
½ c kale
There is some debate about whether the heat from a blender distorts any of the benefits of consuming smoothies, but in my opinion, these effects are negligible. Finding a convenient way to consume more fruits and vegetables outweighs the potential downfalls of blender heat.
As I said before, the best diet is going to involve an array of processed and unprocessed foods - whole, raw, cooked, uncooked, juiced, blended, mashed, etc. But when you're looking to get the most out of a single meal, smoothies are the way to go. And don't get me wrong - I drink juices, too - I love a good juice chock full of beets, kale, spinach, pineapple and wheatgrass from my local health store when I'm on the go, but in terms of waste, health benefits, and time, smoothies always win for me. They're faster, they include more nutrients and fiber, and you don't have to find something creative to do with the pulp. Juicing can be used as a tool to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet, though, so to that end it is beneficial if you don't normally eat whole veggies. I would still suggest opting for smoothies on a regular basis, however. Fiber is just too damned important to leave out.
(1) Arora, Sharma & Frost, 2011.
(2) Spaeth, Berg, Specian & Deitch, 1990.
(3) Blanck, et. al, 2008.
(4) Uckoo, et. al, 2012.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macfad) phytochemicals composition is modulated by household processing techniques.
(5) Alam, et. al, 2013.
Effect of citrus flavonoids, naringin and naringenin, on metabolic syndrome and their mechanisms of action.
(7) Yoon, et. al, 2013.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes.
(8) Tan, et. al, 2015.
(9) Bates & Price, 2015.
Impact of Fruit Smoothies on Adolescent Fruit Consumption at School.
(10) Lefevre & Perrett, 2015.
Fruit over sunbed: Carotenoid skin colouration is found more attractive than melanin colouration
(11) Yadav, et. al, 2010.
Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review.