YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT- HOW DO FOOD AFFECT YOUR SKIN?

Have you woken up only to find a pimple that has resurfaced, like always, without any warning? Are you tired of subjecting your skin to toxic chemicals that only do more harm? Have you frantically smeared harsh toothpaste on your delicate skin after Googling ‘how-to-get-rid-of-acne-overnight?’ Well, it’s time to say goodbye to all of that because we have a quick and reliable secret up our sleeves. Your diet. Yes, that’s right! Your food choices can make a large difference to your skin, after all, your body reacts to what you choose to eat. So, without further adieu, let’s find the culprits behind acne, oily skin, and much more!

Some common skin issues found in Teens (13-19 year olds) and Young Adults (20-30 year olds)

1. Acne - Acne is that unwelcome guest, who appears, disappears, and reappears when you least expect them to. Fortunately for us, acne depends on more than just genetics and hormonal changes. So, we still have a say in getting rid of those pesky little zits!

Foods that cause Acne

  • Refined Carbohydrates - Foods that have a high glycemic index, such as white flour bread and pasta, along with pizza and fries, cause an unnecessary sugar rush in your body. This is soon followed by a crash, which unleashes chaos, by damaging skin, causing inflammation and acne. 
  • Sugary Foods - Next time you see those tempting red velvet cupcakes, remind yourself that it only harms your body. Not only does it have a high calorific value, but it is also extremely low on nutrients. Apart from that, it is proven that diets rich in sugar and fat are directly correlated to increasing acne. It increases insulin levels in your body, which leads to high inflammation, causing breakouts. 
  • Dairy - Dairy has a notorious reputation for causing acne. But, in all honesty, we can’t be completely sure. Though there are studies that prove a correlation between dairy and acne, a cause and effect relationship is yet to be established. Even if you've heard stories of people cutting down on their cheese and milk intake, after which they experienced lesser breakouts, it could have been because of the sugar content, rather than dairy itself. 

P.S. - Even though skimmed milk helps with weight loss, it worsens your acne. The lack of fat in skimmed milk does not allow bovine growth hormones to dissolve, hence causing acne.

What to eat instead? 

  • Use alternatives for your carbs. Quinoa, gluten-free oats, and sweet potato are good substitutes. Additionally, choose foods with a glycemic index below 55. 
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth by switching to sugar-free treats and foods with natural sugar. Trail mix is a healthier option, loaded with nuts and dried fruits, serving as a whole food snack. 
  • Instead of giving up dairy completely, our best tip is to choose milk products that don’t contain added sugar. Also, keep an eye out for dairy from cows that are free from hormone treatments. 
This image shows how food choices can cause acne in teenagers and adults

 

2. Oily Skin - If you have struggled with oily skin for a long time, you know that your facewash is your best friend, and the summer is your worst enemy! Your face becomes an acne battleground and you have burned a hole in your pocket by investing in countless matte makeup products. But now, it is finally time to take a step towards saying goodbye to oily skin, once and for all. 

Foods that cause oily skin -

  • Salty Food - Most of us can’t imagine our meals without salt. It is an integral contributing factor to our taste, diet plan, and overall health. But too much of it is too bad for our skin. Excess salt causes dehydration, which makes our skin produce more oil, to counter the lack of water. As long as you are consuming salt in moderation, you will have an oil-free skin! 
  • Alcohol - Celebrating holidays and milestones are more often than not accompanied by large amounts of alcohol. We all know the health effects alcohol has on the body. Apart from damaging the organs, alcohol also damages your skin. Like excess salt, it dries your skin, forcing it to produce more oil, to compensate for the dehydration. It also produces sweat which clogs your pores.
  • Red Meat - Sausage and bacon are famous and loved breakfast foods. But it has a high level of saturated fats which increases inflammation in the skin. This results in the production of excess oil, leading to an oily and greasy face.

What to eat instead? 

  • Substitute salt in your meals with lemon juice. Add new flavours to your food with herbs and spices such as rosemary and basil. 
  •  Swap your bottle of alcohol for some kombucha, a fermented, healthy beverage. Or go old school, and celebrate with a glass of fresh fruit juice! 
  •  Watch your red meat intake closely and replace it with poultry or fish. 
This image shows how food can cause oily skin in teenagers and adults

 

3. Excessive sweating - You may be brave enough to pop a red chili into your mouth, but beware, it will cause some tears and a storm of sweat! If you already sweat a lot, here are a few foods that you should try to stay away from! 

Foods that cause excessive sweating -

  • Processed Food - Processed foods such as chocolate, ready-to-eats, and fast food usually have a level of fat. Your body needs to work harder to break down and digest these fats, hence causing you to sweat up a storm either during or after consumption. 
  • Soups - Every time you sweat while eating a bowl of ‘souper’ hot soup, your body thinks it is a hot day and tries to cool you down, by activating its sweat glands. 
  • Coffee - Coffee has become everyone's go-to drink (especially in the mornings). Its caffeine triggers your central nervous system, causing our sweat glands to jump in to cool it down. Regardless of iced or hot, coffee makes you sweat more than you know. Sugar and full-fat milk, only adds to the sweating! 

What to eat instead? 

  • Include vegetables and fruits that are high in water content in your diet. Broccoli and watermelon are great examples. It helps to cool down your body and increase digestion. 
  • Wait a while for your soup to cool down, instead of eating it while it's piping hot.
 Pro-tip: On hot summer days, avoid soups altogether. 
Sip on more green tea, and less coffee. It has a calming effect and will keep your sweat at bay. 

 

This image shows how food can cause excessive Sweating in teenagers and adults

 

Some common skin issues found in Adults (30-40 years old) and Older Adults (40-50 years old).

1. Wrinkles - The primary cause of wrinkles is simple yet inevitable - time. But your diet is also an important factor which affects your skin in all aspects. Luckily, you can eat your way to younger-looking skin.

Foods that cause wrinkles 

  • Fried Food - French fries hit two birds with one stone. The first one is the taste department and the other is the aging department since they are salty and oily. When foods are fried in oil, at high temperatures, they release free radicals. This causes damage to the skin by weakening its elasticity. Moreover, the high concentration of salt dehydrates the skin, which is more susceptible to wrinkling. 
  • Butter and Margarine - It is time to settle the butter vs margarine debate. Science proves that margarine is worse than butter due to the high presence of polyunsaturated fats. This fat increases inflammation which results in dry, dull, wrinkled skin. 
  • Soda and Coffee - These two beverages primarily affect your sleep because of its caffeine content. How does this affect our skin, you ask? Well, a poor sleep pattern increases aging, gives rise to dark circles, wrinkles, and fine lines. 

What to eat instead? 

  • Replace your french fries with baked sweet potato fries! Sweet potatoes are known for being rich in anti-aging copper. This way, you can continue to munch on your favourite snack, only healthier!
  • Trade in your butter and margarine for olive oil and avocados. Avocados are rich in anti-aging oxidants, which makes it even better when you smear it on your toast. 
  • Golden milk is every grandmothers’ secret drink. Its main ingredient, turmeric, is not only rich in antioxidants but is also a strong anti-aging compound!
This image shows how food can cause wrinkles in adults above 30 years.

 

2. Dry Skin - Sometimes, no amount of moisturizer is enough to heal your flaky, dry skin. When you reach this point, you know it’s finally time to make a change in your diet. Some foods can suck the life out of your skin, leaving it drier than winter.

Foods that cause wrinkles -

  • Salty Food - This one is a no brainer. The more salt you eat, the more fluid is drawn out from your body. It is a sort of reflex action to the excess salt intake. Hence, the salt is forced to leave your body with the fluids, and as a result, your skin gets drier. 
  • Alcohol - Alcohol is a diuretic which extracts fluids from the body. This leads to dehydration and dryness of the skin. 

What to eat instead? 

  • Drink MORE water to balance the amount of fluid that your body is losing. This is a good old method that has never failed anyone. 
  • Replace salt with vinegar and alcohol with more water! 
This image shows how food can cause dry Skin in adults above 30 years.

General Do’s and Don'ts that deal with eating habits

 

  • Chew each bite for at least 15-20 times before swallowing so that it is easily digestible. 
  • Keep a 1-hour gap between meals and drinking water to prevent diluting digestive juices and to absorb the nutrients effectively. 
  • Don’t skip a healthy breakfast, otherwise, you will end up with mood swings and lesser energy levels.
  • Stay hydrated by consuming 3-5 litres of water every day. This will help flush out all toxins from your body.
  • Avoid junk food and processed food which only causes acne and other skin issues.
  • Cook more meals at home which will make you aware of the ingredients that are going in. 
  • Keep a close watch on your snacking habits. Try to eat nuts and seeds when you want to snack. 
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    This image shows the Do's and Don'ts to choose healthy food options for healthy glowing skin.

    Summary - 

    Whether you are a foodie or fond of occasional glass of alcohol, the important thing to remember is moderation and that there are a number of healthy alternatives to those indulgences. You are what you eat and your skin never lies about what you eat.

    - By Tanvi Savani

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