Taking good care of our skin goes beyond the products we choose to apply and how frequently we wash or exfoliate our skin. We have all heard the old maxim, “you are what you eat,” and in some ways this really is true. There are foods that doctors and dermatologists recommend for a more youthful, glowing complexion and there are foods that these experts advise us to stay away from if our goal is clear, glowing skin. We know that a healthy, well-rounded diet and exercise help to keep us in good shape, but this nutritious eating may also help improve the texture, tone and appearance of our skin.
Regulate Blood Sugar
Dr. Valori Treloar, co-author of the book titled The Clear Skin Diet, suggests that one key factor that links diet and skin condition are foods that cause our blood sugar to spike. When our blood sugar levels rise, our bodies respond by increasing the insulin produced. Insulin in turn signals the body to release hormonal effects that include the release of androgen (an acne causing hormone), high levels of oil and increased production of skin cells, which all leads to clogged skin and subsequently, breakouts. Instead, we are advised to choose foods that have a low glycemic index. Glycemic index refers to a number that provides an estimate for how quickly our bodies convert carbohydrates in food into glucose. To make the use of the glycemic index even more effective, eat small meals throughout the day to help keep blood sugar levels steady.
A hot topic when it comes to diet and skin is the subject of dairy. There are no definitive studies or tests that prove without a doubt that dairy is linked to causing acne or breakouts. However, there are some well-researched theories that involve dairy consumption and the condition of our skin. Milk contains substances that are closely related to the male hormone, testosterone. This is important because testosterone increases oil production, which can lead to acne. Dairy seems to target specific areas on the face, so if breakouts are present on the chin, neck and jawline, limiting dairy may help remedy this.
While eating a cheeseburger and fries once in a while is not going to cause our skin to react badly constantly, it is important for us to monitor the amount of fatty acids we are consuming. Fatty acids are good, as they can help to alleviate inflammation in the body and skin. However, too much of a good thing in this case is decidedly bad. If not balanced, fatty acids can increase the amount of inflammation which may lead to pimples on the skin.
We don’t have to eliminate happy hour from our lives, but it is important to be intentional about what alcoholic beverages we are consuming. Alcohol dries out the skin which inhibits the healing process for present breakouts and exaggerates the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Experts also mention that alcohol affects vitamins A, B3 and C negatively. These antioxidants are important in the regeneration of skin cells. A good guideline to follow, for reasons beyond just clearer skin, is to consume one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. The good news here is that our favorite red wines are not terrible for our skin. In fact, a single glass of red wine can be beneficial to our skin due to the antioxidant resveratrol.
The links between diet and skin continue to be studied, but there are promising results that indicate what we put into our bodies reflects what our bodies look like on the outside. Exercise moderation in all things, particularly fat. Dairy substitutions such as soy or almond milk are a great idea to help eliminate chin, neck and jawline breakouts. Drink plenty of water and maintain a good skincare regimen to get the best skin possible.