Other than having a vague concept that junk foods may cause breakouts, do you even stop to think about how your diet could affect your skin? Some studies show that our “Western diet” characterized by high amounts of sugary desserts, refined grains, high protein, high-fat dairy products, and high-sugar drinks is linked to the rising rates of obesity, insulin resistance, and acne among the younger populations.
How your diet affects your skin
Health and weight management aren’t just about exercise (30%); it’s about food (70%). The same goes for a good, healthy and clear skin. As I mentioned it briefly in a previous post [see French makeup routine], food plays a very important role in beauty and is a huge contributor to the overall health of your skin. Skin is a mirror to your state of health and if your skin is breaking out, looks dull or dry, look at your diet first, then adapt your skincare routine.
As Biologique Recherche expert Dr Allouche explains: “Your skin is a sandwich of water and lipids! It’s your largest organ and all skin renewal processes are impacted by what we eat.”
Again, it doesn’t matter how effective your beauty products are if you don’t have a healthy diet. A good beauty routine isn’t the be all and end all, but combining it with a balanced diet is essential in having good and clear skin. So today, I don’t want to talk about beauty products, but instead, I compiled a list of bad food habits which ruin your beauty efforts and healthy foods to eat to clear and prevent acne.
What foods make your skin break out
Sugar encourages acne and accelerates the aging process
One of the biggest problems for the skin is sugar. An excessive consumption of sugar, not only encourages acne-causing bacteria but also breaks down collagen and accelerates the aging process by affecting the skin’s density and firmness. But here I’m not talking about any kind of sugar, try to avoid simple carbohydrates like the refined sugar which can be found in most of cakes, cookies, candies, soft drinks, etc. Simple carbohydrates cause internal inflammatory reactions and insulin spikes which increase the sebum production and which lead to acne.
You could replace white sugar with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. even if you need to keep in mind that it’s still sugar. Sweet foods are not forbidden but try to enjoy sugar in moderation to have fewer breakouts.
Fatty protein promotes skin inflammations
A recent study shows that consumption of a high-fat diet (HFD) greatly increased the occurrence of skin lesions and skin inflammations. Skin problems like acne appear when your body is overloaded with all toxins accumulated, and when the intestines have trouble getting rid of them. An overly fatty diet damages the purifying actions of the digestive system, thus our skin faces the consequences: dull puffy skin, enlarged pores, shiny skin and dark under the eye circles.
Try to reduce all fatty proteins like red meat, pork, sausages, cheese and all processed foods like chips, crisps etc. Try to choose lean proteins like chicken and fish as for example, salmon and sardines have anti-inflammatory properties.
Dairy increases sebum production
Many studies linked acne to the consumption of milk. As the majority of dairy products consumed are coming from pregnant cows and contains a huge amount of hormones, dairy products lead to excess oil production and increase the potential for breakouts. Whether it’s in ice cream or cheese, you don’t need to avoid dairy altogether, but moderation is key.
It is proven that a diet light in lactose leads to fewer hormonal spots and fewer skin inflammations, as well as fewer dark circles. Also, you could reach for dairy alternatives, such as almond/oat milk or if you’re a cheese fanatic like me you could enjoy goat cheese (which contains fewer hormones).
Best foods and nutrients for healthy skin
Clear your skin with a low-glycemic diet
First, temporarily remove all skin irritating foods (listed above) with a focus on fresh (organic), unprocessed foods to maintain the highest quality nutrition. Then, include in your diet detox agents like green juices, spirulina, chlorella which are fantastic to reduce skin inflammations and prevent breakouts. Another way also to detoxify your body is to drink a small glass of water (with lemon juice) upon walking.
Then try to maintain a low Glycemic Index (GI) diet that will prevent significant fluctuations in insulin production, which will somewhat prevent breakouts and acne. For a low-glycemic diet, you will need to incorporate more whole grains (bulgur wheat, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.), veggies, and beans while cutting away back on white pasta, rice, bread. Try to incorporate in your healthy diet the main 3 nutrients listed below: fresh food (and organic) high in Vitamins ACDE, as well as minerals like Zinc, Magnesium, Copper and the most important essential fatty acids like Omega-3 that keep skin supple and promote natural dermal detoxification and recovery.
Vitamins ACDE to prevent the aging process
Why? Foods rich in ACDE vitamins reduce free radical damage, prevent premature aging of the skin, and boost up the health of skin cells.
Vitamins A and D to boost up cell regeneration
Vitamin A plays an essential role in skin’s health. Dry skin, dry hair and broken fingernails are among the first manifestations of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamins A and D help regulate the skin cycle as they control activation, inactivation, and elimination of specialized skin cells. Vitamin A is really good also to clear skin as it’s the main ingredient in Accutane, an effective prescription medicine for acne. In addition, Vitamin D is reported to offer protection against cancer and other diseases, including autoimmune and infectious diseases, in various organs and tissues.
Healthy food sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil, eggs, orange and all yellow vegetables (sweet potato, carrots) and fruits, broccoli, spinach and most dark green, leafy vegetables. It’s has been proven [link to the study] also that Retinol (Vitamin A), carotenoids (provitamin A) and retinoids are absorbed better with parallel intake of vegetable oils, like olive oil. Good food sources of Vitamin D are fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon), soy milk, cereals, cheese, and eggs.
Vitamins C and E to boost collagen production
The antioxidants vitamin E and vitamin C have a calming effect on the skin and are working synergistically. If Vitamin E protects skin from oxidative damage and prevents inflammatory skin reactions (acne), Vitamin C is a super antioxidant which supports the immune system, promotes radiant skin and helps blemishes/acne to heal properly. Vitamin C boosts also the production of collagen and prevents the aging process.
Source of vitamin C include oranges, lemons, grapefruit, papaya, tomatoes, blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi, strawberries and sweet potatoes. You can get vitamin E from almonds, avocado, nuts, sweet potatoes, olive oil, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.
Fatty acids to keep a hydrated and plumper skin
Keep a healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3
Omega-6 and Omega-3 are two essential nutrients that need to be obtained by the diet as these two fatty acids cannot be synthesized by human cells. Several studies have revealed that an imbalance of these two essential fatty acids is associated with a variety of skin problems such as dry, itchy, scaly skin. Omega-3s and Omega-6s are polyunsaturated fats that help produce the skin’s natural oil barrier, critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and younger looking.
But, make sure to respect a healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 as some studies suggest that inflammatory skin reactions (and other diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory diseases) correlate with a high level of omega-6. On the other hand, increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids through a diet rich in fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel) and seafood results in lower inflammatory skin reactions. Source of omega-3 also include soybeans, walnuts, canola oil, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Minerals to prevent acne and pimples
Zinc, copper, and iron are another class of nutrients that derives from the diet and known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Zinc is the most important mineral for healthy skin as it prevents acne and breakouts, regulates sebum production, balances hormones that can make skin break out and helps reduce inflammation and bacteria production.
Seek out foods that contain zinc like almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, avocados, blackberries, raspberries, wheat germ. Try to eat dark chocolate (at least 70% of cacao), it also contains zinc and has antioxidants that help fight sun damage.
To conclude I will just quote Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine: “Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food”