Contrary to popular belief, eating chocolate and French fries won’t give you acne, but eating a well-balanced healthy diet will help your skin look its best. Recent research suggests that certain foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and Omega-3 rich foods can help to slow the aging process of the largest organ in the body, our skin. Other foods, such as refined carbohydrates, processed foods, dairy and saturated fats may help to accelerate the aging process.
“You are what you eat.” The skin is a direct reflection of what is going on inside your body so what you put in your mouth is as important as what you put on your skin. Food gets digested down into glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that the body uses for survival and for maintenance and repair of our tissue. Eating a healthy balanced diet along with adequate hydration will help to build healthy skin but eating a diet rich in processed foods, sugars, saturated fats, and dairy can deprive your skin of the vital nutrients needed for a healthy glow.
Why You Should Ditch the Sugar
Although some studies do not show an association between acne and eating refined carbohydrates, many people find that eating less sugar can cut down on breakouts. Replacing the refined “white” foods (processed sugars, flours) with whole-grain, nutrient-dense carbohydrate foods can have a positive effect on your skin and reduce breakouts, rashes, and wrinkles according to Dr. Jessica Wu, a dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face. Not only will these healthier foods have you feeling better throughout the day, you’ll be eating better for your skin.
The Effect of Dairy
This is controversial but recent research suggests that dairy products can increase inflammation in the body, thus affecting our skin causing breakouts, rashes, and redness. The hypothesis is based on the fact that the majority of milk in the U.S. comes from pregnant cows. The hormone levels in the milk may play a role in excess sebum production, therefore causing acne. If you are struggling with regular breakouts and/or rashes, you may want to try dairy alternatives, such as almond- or soy-milk products, and see if it begins to make a difference in your skin.
What to Eat for Healthy Skin
Any diet that is good for your health is good for your skin. The best skin diet includes fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats such as avocado, walnuts, and flax seed, which also provide Omega-3 fatty acids, helping to boost the skin’s barrier to keep irritants out and moisture in, according to Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, dermatologists and skin care specialists. Add more color to your plate with antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and pumpkin. These super foods can help to protect your skin from free radical damage and reduce sun damage. Lastly, for the sake of your skin and your health, stay away from fad diets. Too much yo-yo dieting and losing and gaining that same 20 pounds puts undue stress on the skin. This continual expanding and contracting of the skin can lead to a loss of elasticity and leave us with saggy skin. Making matters worse, your face responds to weight fluctuations the same way your body does: you lose it where you need it most (mid-face) and that’s where you gain it back last.
So, maintain your healthy diet, slather on sunscreen, and embrace those few extra pounds for supple, fresh-looking skin every day.