Top 6 Foods That Are Sabotaging Your Skin’s Health

Your skin tells a story about what’s going on inside. It’s time to clear up some blemishes in our daily rituals.

The old saying “you are what you eat” holds true for your health. And, it turns out, your skin. Fill up on junk like refined carbs, sugar, and trans fats, and well, your skin is going to look like it. “We’re actually learning that poor nutrition is just as bad for your skin as cigarette smoking,” says Patricia Farris, MD, dermatologist and author of The Sugar Detox. A poor diet can cause inflammation, which triggers oxidative stress and in turn damages collagen and DNA, making you look older. Here are the top 6 food offenders that are damaging your skin’s health.

Dairy

This includes: Milks, creamers, cheese, ice cream, yogurts, whey protein

It may do a body good, but your skin? Not so much. Especially the skim variety. Super-marketing pushes us towards “fat-free” options and that leaves you with a sugar spike. Milk can be full of growth hormones and growth factors that remain biologically active even after pasteurization. Studies show that they appear to make their way into our blood stream where they can affect insulin, cause inflammation, and ramp up oil production.” The result: breakout city. Population: you. Organic milk may be a good alternative, as it contains only regularly-occurring hormones instead of added ones that are found in non-organic options, though more research is needed to say for certain whether organic options won’t negatively impact skin.

Take Action: Be safe and stick to “grass-fed” options or coconut and almond alternatives. My suggestion is for significantly reducing dairy consumption, and choosing hormone-free dairy products, in their natural full fat forms.

Secretly Sugary Smoothies

Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day—roughly three times the recommended amount. Most come from hidden sources of sugar, and one of the biggest culprits is smoothies. But it’s not the natural sugar found in fruit that’s the problem. Store-bought bottled smoothie versions or made-to-order options from chains may include juice, frozen yogurt, or even sherbet in the recipes, all of which are packed with added sugar. If you’re making them at home and using only good-for-you ingredients like unsweetened nut milk or yogurt, you’re safe from the sugar bomb. Could also be ingredients from dairy bi-products such as whey.

Take Action: Try healthy smoothie alternatives with healthy fats from coconut, almonds, or hemp. Be aware what
you are sweetening your smoothies with; aim for a 2:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit. Swap out your liquid base with coconut or almond milk and experiment with flavored liquid stevias.

“Healthy” Cereal

While whole grains are generally lower on the glycemic index (a measure of how a food affects blood sugar) compared to white ones, many “healthy” cereals are often highly refined and full of added sugar. And that means they can lead to wrinkle-inducing glucose spikes.

Take Action: Make your own cereal mixes with chia seeds, almond slices, flax, and other low sugar/gluten-free options.

Grain-Fed Conventional Meats

Convention meat in excess amounts of consumption contains heavy amounts of hormones, antibiotics, and inflammation causing toxins that can lead to food intolerances. With industrial farming methods, animals are frequently fed a cocktail of steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics. Additionally, they aren’t fed their natural herbivore diet, but rather are stuffed with foods to make them fatter faster, not healthier. When we eat these animals, by default, we get a dose of their diet –and this chemical cocktail. These compounds can create hormonal imbalances in our bodies, which can lead to acne and inflammation. Additionally, animal meats in general are more difficult on our digestive systems, and if we aren’t getting enough water and fiber in our diets, meats can get stuck in our digestive system, where they putrefy and contribute to toxicity.

Take Action: Always pick “grass-fed” options. Remember, you are “what you eat, eats”. If you are eating conventional meat, limit your intake and fill yourself up with excess vegetables to balance the acid load. Smaller portions are easy to do when you make your vegetables and salad based meals your “main entrée”.

Gluten-Heavy Grains

Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains that are staples of the US diet. But ironically, studies show that up to 40% of adults have some form of gluten or wheat sensitivity or intolerance. When we have inflammation in our bodies, it often shows up in our skin and when my clients reduce their gluten intake, there is almost always a marked improvement in their complexion and overall health. One can be tested for gluten allergies by most doctors, or try an elimination diet to see if symptoms improve. Some foods that should be avoided include pasta, breads, crackers, pastries, cakes, oats, pizza, beer, barley, rye and spelt.

Take Action: Gluten-free does not mean healthy. Choose foods that are vegetable based and have something to offer. Zucchini pasta, kelp noodles, coconut, and quinoa are all great gluten-free options.

Processed Foods and Preservatives

All salt is not bad. Sea salt contains essential minerals that can balance our bodily functions and hydration. Refined salt can act as an anti-nutrient, which can dry out skin and cause poor fluid balance.

Take action: Make an oil change and eliminates vegetable oils with trans fats. Also be aware of salt added to foods. Sea salt is what you want. Make a goal of flavoring your own food. Your skin and health will thank you.

Do Organic Foods Make a Difference?

Short answer: Yes.

Non-Organic Foods Non-organic foods can contain hormones, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and waxes. Yum. When it comes to our health, these toxic intruders can pack a detrimental punch in a myriad of ways. Certain hormones and pesticides have been found to disrupt motor skills and have been linked to a variety of diseases and health conditions. Our bodies don’t recognize these chemicals and they often create an inflammatory response. Even more, studies show that organically grown food has two to three times the vitamins, minerals and trace elements of commercially grown food. The more nutrients — which are the building blocks of a healthy complexion — that our body gets, the better our skin will look and perform.

Jason Sani is a Scottsdale based Nutritionist, former athlete, and model. He is the founder of Active Mind & Body and can be found on Twitter and Instagram with tips and recipes @jasonsani. Jason offers culinary nutrition workshops, meal planning, consultations, and coaching.