June 1, 2020
I’m always looking for ways to help you feel more confident in your own skin. Usually, that means chatting about our bodies, why they’re different, and how we can love them for the amazing things they are.
Today though, I want to literally talk about your skin. I mean, acne is something we’ve ALL dealt with and it’s something that can really make us feel insecure. Some of us deal with it all the time, and some of us only occasionally. So I was thinking… diet probably has some influence right? The answer is YES.
Basically, there are a handful of factors that contribute to good, healthy skin: hormones, sebum production (that lovely gunk that clogs your pores), inflammation, and a few others. But here’s the interesting thing – FOOD influences those factors!
I know that everyone’s skin is different and my skin might be more sensitive to some foods than yours, but what are some foods that we can avoid if/when we’re prone to breakouts? Let’s find out!
This one didn’t shock me and it probably won’t surprise you either! But yep, eating too much sugar can REALLY do some damage on your skin.
As far as acne goes, eating sugar increases your blood sugar really quickly, which makes your body release a TON of insulin to help your body absorb it. Having more insulin in the blood triggers inflammation and has been linked to worsening acne.
Sugar does more damage than that to your skin though! It actually breaks down collagen and elastin, meaning it’s NOT doing you any favors if you’re trying to avoid wrinkles.
The research on WHY dairy is linked to acne isn’t super strong, but there is a link there. The reasons here could be increased insulin production leading to inflammation and IGF-1 hormone (like sugar and refined carbs), or something to do with the hormones that cows are treated with that make their way into the milk.
It’s also interesting that while the link between milk/ice cream and acne is pretty strong, the link between acne and other dairy products like cheese/yogurt isn’t so much.
I’m gonna throw whey protein in with dairy too. Yep! This kind of protein powder is linked to acne too. Basically, researchers believe that some of the amino acids in whey protein powder increase a hormone that makes your body produce skin cells more quickly, which causes acne.
3. Refined Carbs
Refined carbs are foods like white bread and pasta, crackers, pastries, and cereals. Like sugar, refined grains have a high glycemic index – that means your blood sugar raises quickly when you eat them and your body has to release more insulin to absorb it. Why? Because they’ve been stripped of fiber, which slows down the absorption of carbs.
So we know that extra insulin can cause inflammation. It can also increase a hormone called IGF-1 that boosts sebum production. Not good for acne!
If you’re into gut health, refined carbs can mess that up, too. Why does that matter for acne? WELL, your gut health has a strong influence on inflammation – a big factor for acne severity.
4. Fast Food
Those cheeseburgers and fries aren’t doing your skin any favors, that’s for sure. Fast food has a TON of fat, plain and simple. And no, it’s not healthy fat. I’ve totally noticed that eating a higher fat meal (ahem, pizza) really does make my skin feel…greasier? But that’s just my experience. More research is needed to figure out exactly WHY fast food is linked to acne, but it could cause more oil/sebum production. Fast food might also mess with acne-causing hormones.
5. Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine might not cause your skin problems unless you go overboard. To make your skin look full and hydrated, you need to hydrate! Caffeine does the exact opposite. It acts like a diuretic, actually dehydrating you. No worries if you love your cup of coffee or tea in the morning – just be sure to hydrate with water the rest of the day!
Alcohol is kind of like caffeine – it dehydrates you. When you’re dehydrated, your skin can’t clear toxins as well and it might even produce MORE oil. Dry skin is usually pretty rough and dull too. If you want that full, glowy skin, limit the caffeine and alcohol and drink plenty of water.
What about foods you SHOULD eat for good skin?
First of all – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Then eat plenty of this stuff:
- Foods with healthy fats – like fatty fish and avocados! These are great for glowy, healthy skin because they fight inflammation.
- Fruits and veggies – they have nutrients like vitamin A (sweet potatoes, carrots), vitamin C (fruits, bell peppers, broccoli) and other antioxidants that protect your skin from sun damage and support your immune system.
- Probiotics – from foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh and miso. This will balance your gut bacteria, which plays a HUGE role in inflammation and your immune system.
- Green tea – if you’re bored with water, try green tea. It has antioxidants that reduce inflammation and may help with acne.
Take note of what YOUR skin is sensitive to
Are you seeing a trend here? We’re all different!
Your skin might be super sensitive to some of these foods, and totally unaffected by others. Dairy might make my skin totally erupt, and you might eat ice cream every night with totally clear skin. Our bodies process things in different ways. BUT I’m still thinking that diet is the best place to start if you’re struggling with your skin. Start with hydration and pack in the healthy stuff, and pay attention to the foods that might irritate your skin! It’s amazing to see how nutrition changes our body from the inside out.