You Are What You Eat
As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. If your meals aren’t so healthy, well, that’ll show on your skin, too. From bright red zits to dry wrinkly creases, skin issues are sometimes tied to lifestyle choices – and what’s on your plate could be the culprit. Here are some of the worst foods for your skin.
Foods high on the glycemic index are typically high in carbohydrates, too (think: white bread, rice cakes, crackers, bagels, packaged cereals, doughnuts, and croissants). You might be avoiding these carb- and calorie-rich foods anyway, but if not, they may be what’s causing your lackluster complexion. High-glycemic foods cause a quick spike in insulin and blood sugar, which can lead to skin inflammation. Switch to whole grains instead, which are anti-inflammatory.
Candy and other sugary sweets might make you feel like a kid again, but they can make you look years older. How? Sugar makes the protein fibers that keep skin firm (collagen and elastin) especially prone to damage, thanks to a process called glycation. In glycation, sugar molecules attach to fats and proteins, forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs cause protein fibers like collagen and elastin to lose their youthful plump.
If you’ve ever woken up feeling bloated, you probably have salt to blame. A quick glance in the mirror might reveal eyes that are puffy and swollen. Swelling is caused by water retention – a result of too much salt consumption. Since the tissues around your eyes are delicate and thin, that skin is most prone to swelling.
It might come as a shock, but certain types of seafood can actually cause breakouts. If you notice acne after indulging in shellfish such as shrimp, crab, or lobster, it may be due to the high iodine content found in these foods. However, you have to eat shellfish pretty regularly for it to potentially cause acne – think a few times a week – so if you break out after one serving, the shellfish is not likely the cause.
So it may not be a food exactly, but alcohol can wreak havoc on your skin just the same. For the same reason you wake up with a pounding headache after a few too many, you also wake up with skin zapped of moisture. Above all, steer clear of alcoholic drinks that contain extra sugar or salt. And if you suffer from rosacea, you’ll especially want to watch your alcohol intake, as hitting the bottle can aggravate the skin condition.
What are the best foods for your skin?
If you want to keep your skin glowing, try the following:
- Fill your grocery cart with antioxidant-rich vegetables. The deeper and brighter the hue, the better. The antioxidants will fight free radicals – caused by, among other things, those pesky air pollutants that break down collagen and can lead to wrinkles.
- Drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil if you want to keep your skin as youthful as possible. Olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help protect skin cells from damage and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Nosh on fresh juicy strawberries for the opposite effect of sugary sweets. Strawberries have plenty of anti-aging vitamin C, which helps stave off dry skin and wrinkles. Another plus? Vitamin C also helps to fight free radicals.