We’re all looking for ways to feel healthier and to look younger. For many, the answer is expensive treatments and products, ones that may do more harm than good.
What about foods high in hyaluronic acid? The compound plays a key role in your skin health, helping to keep you looking good. It’s also useful for joint health and can reduce joint pain as well.
Hyaluronic acid has even become the star of beauty products and that’s hardly surprising.
In this post, we’re looking at why hyaluronic acid is so powerful and how you can get those benefits for yourself.
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What is Hyaluronic Acid? What Does it Do?
Like collagen, hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body. It is common in the skin and helps to lubricate the joints. As Into the Gloss phrases it, the compound keeps thing ‘in the right shape in the right place’.
That’s entirely a good thing.
In fact, hyaluronic acid is powerful for moisturizing and hydration. It can attract around 1,000 times its own weight in water – a feature that few other compounds have. This is why hyaluronic acid is so popular in skincare products.
The compound also plays key roles throughout our body. It lubricates joints, helps provide moisture and ensures our eyes don’t dry out.
Hyaluronic acid also exists in multiple molecule sizes, each with different functions.
The larger molecules tend to sit on the skin, helping prevent dehydration and decreasing inflammation. Smaller molecules can penetrate the skin, helping to promote wound healing.
The compound also helps decrease collagen loss, making it relevant for treating joint pain and for decreasing some signs of aging.
Hyaluronic Acid vs Glucosamine
Glucosamine is a similar compound to hyaluronic acid and is often used to reduce joint pain as well. Both play significant functional roles in the body but there are also key differences.
- A more significant structural component
- Can promote strength and resilience
- Helps increase cartilage levels
- Decreases the loss of collagen and cartilage
Because of these differences, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid work best when used together, especially for joint issues.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid offers a range of benefits. Some of these are found by simply increasing levels of the compound in your body. Other benefits come from using hyaluronic acid on the skin, in drops or as an injection.
Read on to find the key benefits and how you can access them.
Hydrates Your Skin
Hyaluronic acid is common as a way to add moisture to the skin. It can help smooth out skin, reduce dryness and lighten bags under the eyes.
This is typically achieved using lotions or ointments that contain the compound. However, you do need to pay attention to the formulation.
Hyaluronic acid molecules are typically too large to penetrate the skin. As a result, some lotions can actually draw moisture out of the skin. This makes your skin feel moister in the short-term but not once the excess lotion has been wiped away.
Some companies get around this by creating different formulations, ones that use various molecular weights (1).
Increasing hyaluronic acid concentration in your body can also help hydrate your skin and decrease the risk of dryness. This is where supplements or foods containing hyaluronic acid are important.
Ensuring you have a good concentration of hyaluronic acid can reduce problems like dandruff, overall dryness and skin sagginess. These are all issues associated with skin aging.
Decreases the Appearance of Wrinkles
Research suggests that fine lines and wrinkles are most prominent in dry environments. Skin dryness also plays a role in their development.
Research also suggests that skin creams using hyaluronic acid can decrease wrinkles in two to four weeks.
For example, one study showed that the product Fillerina was able to significantly improve the skin volume and facial contours, along with other signs of skin aging (2).
Fillerina is a fairly expensive hyaluronic acid brand and isn’t a product we recommend. It can be found on Amazon or on the company’s website. The most notable aspect is that it uses multiple formulations of hyaluronic acid, which should ensure the molecule is absorbed into the skin.
The site Diets in Review offers a detailed review if you’re curious about this product specifically.
Some dermatologists take the idea further, prescribing injections or supplements that increase hyaluronic acid levels in the body. These help get past absorption issues with hyaluronic acid and make sure people see full benefits from the compound.
Wound Healing and Similar Outcomes
Lotions and ointments containing hyaluronic acid are sometimes used to promote wound healing. They are also relevant for issues such as burns, skin ulcers, rashes and the like.
One reason is the moisturizing effect of hyaluronic acid. The compound also helps control local inflammation, bring in nutrients and tighten skin junctions.
Reduces Dry Eyes and Discomfort
The lubricating effect of hyaluronic acid also helps lower discomfort in your eyes. This is particularly relevant for eye injuries and for anyone having eye surgery.
The benefits are normally seen through hyaluronic acid eye drops, which are easy to use. Such drops can be very relevant if you regularly have dry eyes, use contact lenses or face regular eye strain from computer use.
Lowers Joint Pain
Hyaluronic acid is important in all connective tissue, including the joints. It helps to lower wear and tear, playing a buffering role.
Lower oral doses of the compound can also be effective at reducing some joint pain.
Hyaluronic Acid in the Diet
As you can see, hyaluronic acid offers many benefits. Some of these come from using skin lotion or eye drops that contain the compound.
But, those approaches don’t offer all of the possible benefits. To help improve hydration within the body, lubricate joints and reduce inflammation – applying hyaluronic acid externally isn’t enough. Instead, you need to increase the levels inside your body.
Raising hyaluronic acid levels may also reduce the likelihood of issues like dry eyes and joint pain.
This is where dietary approaches come in. Now, most foods don’t contain hyaluronic acid directly. Even so, many can promote the production of hyaluronic acid.
The idea is similar to using food or supplements (like ashwagandha) to naturally increase testosterone levels. For example, some foods will offer precursor compounds, while others may affect the rates or directions of chemical reactions.
Foods That Can Promote High Hyaluronic Acid
So then, where do you turn if you want to promote hyaluronic acid levels?
There are multiple options, each with their own advantages. Because they promote hyaluronic acid in different ways, the most powerful approach is to include a variety of these foods in your diet.
Thankfully, they tend to taste good and all offer other health benefits as well.
It is also one of the best sources of hyaluronic acid that you can find in your regular diet.
Bone broth is also powerful because it offers nutrients that you wouldn’t normally get.
After all, the bones tend to store different compounds than the rest of the body. Modern cooking ignores bones almost entirely, so we miss out on those nutrients.
There are many different recipes out there for making bone broth, including the ones below. You can also buy pre-prepared bone broth, such as this popular option from Kettle & Fire.
Nourished Kitchen also provides details about bone broth from the cook’s perspective, including differences between broth and stock, ways to use bone broth and financial benefits.
With so many advantages, bone broth is the best first step for increasing hyaluronic acid levels. It’s also very comforting and perfect for the colder months.
Meat choices like liver are the most powerful sources of nutrients, including ones that we often miss out on. Yet, we tend to avoid organ meats, partly because of the flavors.
Many people simply don’t know how to cook organ meat effectively and actually create an appealing meal.
Thankfully, there are many good recipes out there, as long as you’re willing to be a little adventurous. Chris Kresser offers an interesting discussion about the top three organ meat choices. There is also a beginner’s guide at Paleo Leap that offers insight into cooking almost every type of organ meat you can think of.
If nothing else, you can start small and slow.
Pick recipes that allow you to bury the flavors of the organ meats. You’ll still get all the nutrition from them while creating a meal that you actually enjoy.
Magnesium is a key catalyst in the mechanism for producing hyaluronic acid. So, if you don’t have enough of the compound, your levels of hyaluronic acid may decrease.
Thankfully, there are many good ways to include leafy greens in your diet, depending on your preferences. Some people use them to make interesting salads, like this White Bean Kale Salad from Minimalist Baker. Others turn to products like kale chips. You can find good advice about making those over at Oh She Glows.
There are plenty of answers for people who hate the taste of the greens too.
The site Babble offers 24 different approaches to easily add greens in without making your food taste horrible. You can also turn to recipes like this Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie, originally from Gimme Some Oven. You can’t see or taste the greens in there, making it a perfect place to get started.
Almonds and Cashews
Nuts tend to be powerful for health and weight loss – offering a dense source of nutrition.
Soy tends to be controversial, with concerns about some of the components (Wellness Mama discusses this area in more detail). Even so, soy may also offer significant health benefits.
One of these is increasing hyaluronic acid production.
This occurs because soy contains isoflavones. This helps to increase estrogen levels in the body, which then promotes hyaluronic acid production.
If you’re worried about soy, you can also focus on fermented options, like tempeh. The fermentation process increases the health benefits of the food and lowers any risks.
Starchy root vegetables also work for increasing hyaluronic acid levels. This includes sweet potatoes and even just regular potatoes.
Root vegetables work well because they contain some hyaluronic acid and they boost production of it as well. In particular, they contain a range of useful nutrients. Many of these help improve hyaluronic acid levels and are a good addition to a healthy diet.
These vegetables are also versatile and can be used in many different recipes.
Sweet potatoes (which some of us also call yams) are a particularly powerful choice. They are higher in magnesium, so their impacts on hyaluronic acid levels should be stronger as well.
The presence of vitamin C in fruit helps to increase hyaluronic acid levels. Some fruits also contain significant levels of magnesium, which will help as well.
As a result, the best choices are fruits that are high in vitamin C and/or magnesium. Oranges, tomatoes, avocados, cherries, grapes and mangoes are all powerful options and there are many more out there.
Tomatoes, grapefruit and oranges are also a good source of naringenin. This compound inhibits the enzyme hyaluronidase, which breaks down hyaluronic acid.
As a result, increasing naringenin intake should reduce the loss of hyaluronic acid, keeping your levels high.
Each type of fruit will also offer different plant-based compounds, including phytonutrients. For overall health, the best approach is to include a wide variety of fruits in your diet.
Most fresh fruits will help promote hyaluronic acid levels. But, bananas are a particularly good choice. They are one of the few types of fruit that contain some hyaluronic acid directly.
They also contain magnesium and vitamin C, both of which help to increase hyaluronic acid production.
Despite some claims to the contrary, bananas are also healthy and are a perfect snack for weight loss. It’s true that they’re fairly high in sugar but this is balanced by the fiber content.
Bananas are also a convenient snack, are inexpensive and are very easy to find.
Yellow, orange and red peppers offer another source of vitamin C, helping to increase hyaluronic acid levels.
They are also relatively low in sugar, making them easier to include in many diets. In fact, peppers are a simple addition to many recipes, acting as a great way to add in flavor and make food more interesting.
We already know that dark chocolate offers many benefits for health – and the research just keeps pouring in.
But, did you know that it helps with hyaluronic acid production too?
The first reason is simply the magnesium. Dark chocolate isn’t as powerful as leafy greens or almonds for magnesium but it is still a significant source.
Dark chocolate also contains some zinc, which helps in hyaluronic acid production as well.
Research also suggests that dark chocolate itself is good for the skin. This effect is related to the flavanols in dark chocolate, so it isn’t because of hyaluronic acid directly.
That provides one more reason for eating dark chocolate regularly.
Beans are another powerful option for the nutrition that they contain. Many are a good source of magnesium and zinc, with both compounds helping to increase hyaluronic acid levels.
As with fruits, the best approach is to include multiple types of beans in your diet. This gives you access to the widest range of healthy compounds.
Red wine doesn’t contain any hyaluronic acid but it still helps to increase production. This happens because it contains phytoestrogens.
The effects here aren’t dramatic but red wine is often associated with health benefits anyway – partly because of the compound resveratrol.
Hyaluronic Acid Powder or Supplements
This isn’t quite a food but hyaluronic acid powder is one way to directly increase hyaluronic acid levels. For example, BulkSupplements produces a powder that simply contains the compound.
There are also instructions for how to create a serum from it, which would allow you to get many of the topical benefits as well.
It’s clear that hyaluronic acid offers benefits, especially for the skin, the joints and the eyes. Some situations call for using hyaluronic acid externally, like in a serum or in eye drops. But, increasing levels through your diet is powerful too. This can reduce the risk of issues ever developing and help lower joint pain as well.
All of the foods highlighted above are powerful places to get started – with the most significant being bone broth, organ meats and leafy greens. The various foods also offer other health advantages.
There are other effective options as well. Many people simply focus on nutritionally dense foods and ones that they enjoy.
You can also vary what you choose based on your diet. For example, you might avoid soy entirely or focus on fruit and vegetables rather than bone broth and organ meats.
Want to Improve Your Health?
Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use.
Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started.