I never realized the connection between my skin and what I pop in my mouth until this holiday season was in full swing. I knew that certain foods — like fruits and veggies — were good for my complexion. But I didn’t realize that others could have such a negative impact. Then I spent about two weeks subsisting on mostly salty snacks, sugar-laden holiday desserts and creamy, carb-heavy side dishes. Not only did my mood and energy level take a nosedive, but my skin was broken out and dull looking. After talking to a few experts, I realized that my diet was to blame. To keep your skin looking good, take note of these foods to limit or avoid completely.
Not-So-Skin-Friendly: Refined Carbs
“Foods rich in refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour can affect the production of sebum (skin oils), which can clog pores and lead to acne,” says dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, founder of Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, NY. Even worse, refined carbs can cause peaks in blood sugar, which can lead to the breakdown of collagen, which is one component of taut, smooth skin! Some of these no-no foods include candy, soda, ice cream, fruit juice, chocolate, cookies, cereals, white rice, white pasta and white bread.
“Certain dairy farmers inject additional hormones in cows to stimulate milk production,” explains Peredo. “And milk that contains androgen hormones can stimulate the sebaceous glands, which in turn increases sebum production, clogs pore and creates acne.” And that’s not all! “Dairy foods also cause spikes in insulin levels, which then causes breakouts,” explains Frank Lipman, MD, an integrative and functional medicine physician and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.
Not-So-Skin-Friendly: High Sodium Foods
You’ve always known these foods left you feeling as bloated as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloon. But they’re also bad for your skin. “Foods high in salt–like potato chips, pretzels and salted nuts—can draw out moisture from skin cells leading to loss of elasticity,” says Peredo. They also cause you to retain water, which can lead to not-so-pretty swelling all over the body. Not so skin-friendly: Saturated fats. We often hear how bad these fats are for your heart, but who knew they were bad for your complexion, too! It’s true. Consuming saturated fatty foods increases oil production resulting in breakouts and can cause inflammation that leads to acne.
Not-So-Skin-Friendly: Processed Foods
These include–but aren’t limited to–foods like French fries, doughnuts, Chinese fast food, fried chicken, onion rings and mozzarella sticks. “Poor nutrition decreases the skin's ability to repair itself and maintain elasticity and processed foods contain a lot of chemicals which are also detrimental to your skin,” says Peredo.