Let’s face it; we all slip up sometimes. Spending ten minutes in the sweets aisle at a supermarket convincing yourself that flooding your belly with sugary chocolate isn’t technically breaking your diet- don’t even try to pretend you haven’t done it.
So here’s a little more motivation to trick your dopamine receptors – fatty foods and other assorted treats are horrible for your skin. Yup, that’s right- if you haven’t achieved results with your skin-care routine yet, the culprit may be that six-pack of Galaxy that you’ve slowly been munching your way through.
But aside from sugar, there’s also quite a few other nasties that have been secretly depleting your skin health and more while you’ve been eating them. Some of these are ridiculously hard to avoid, mind, but there are things you can do to cut back on your quest to better skin.
Let’s cut out these complexion culprits once and for all!
This one should be fairly obvious to you – too much sugar wrecks hell on your body, so why wouldn’t it have negative implications for your skin? If you’re trying to switch to a more healthy lifestyle, you’re probably working towards cutting sugar out your diet, but listen closely because I’m about to spit some science.
There’s a process called glycation that goes on whilst sugar is being absorbed into your bloodstream, where the sugar mixes with other stuff in your body to make molecules called advanced glycation end products. The actual initialism would be ‘AGEP’ but experts like to call them ‘AGEs’ because they wanted to make it spell the thing that it actually does. AGEs attack other proteins in your body, most noticeably collagen, which is responsible for keeping our skin tight.
A collagen deficiency means your skin will lose elasticity and get wrinkled a lot quicker than normal; so AGEs actually ‘age’ you. What’s more, they actually deplete your body’s natural defence against sun damage- opening you up to sun damage and all the lovely side effects that come with it.
If there’s anything that you can take from this, it’s that sugar is bad for more than just your teeth and belly, and skincare experts have a weird sense of humor.
Healthy Sugar Alternatives: If you – like us – got yourself a serious sweet tooth and cannot live without some sweetness in your life, we got you. Keep in mind that our body actually needs sugar to survive – it just doesn’t need refined sugars. So stick to not-so-refined sugars like raw honey, date sugar, and maple syrup. Oh, and Stevia.
Feeling more adventurous? Apple juice works in a pinch. And if you’re anemic and/or mineral-deficient – give organic blackstrap molasses a try. It’s a bit…strong, but it’s packing iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, and is alkalizing to the body.
I can hear the screams of protests now. “But milk is suggested as part of a balanced diet! Milk wouldn’t hurt me!”
I’m afraid you’ve been betrayed. Milk is well within its means to increase your cholesterol and even cause ear infections due to an inflammatory called D-galactose. But if we’re exclusively talking about your skin, I’m afraid I have some bad news.
Milk causes acne.
Yup, just let it sink in for a moment before we get to the factual bit with big words. Ready? Okay, let’s go.
One of the things about drinking cow’s milk is that it was made for baby cows, who spend remarkably less time worrying about their skin than humans do. For instance, milk contains around 60 different hormones, including androgens like testosterone and growth hormone (IGF-1) which promotes growth in cows, but for humans can be a really powerful inflammatory as well as spike insulin levels. The combination of androgen (male hormones like testosterone) and insulin causes your skin to produce far more oil than is necessary and voila- you have yourself an acne cocktail. Clogged pores and all. What a nightmare! Now goat milk, on the other hand…
Skin-Saving Milk Alternatives: Ooooh, when it comes to milk alternatives, you’ve got a helluva lot of choices. From a huge variety of nut milks – almond milk, pine nut milk, cashew nut milk – to soy milk, rice milk, quinoa milk and so on. Each of these milk substitutes come with lovely benefits of their own, so have fun exploring!
3. Simple Carbs
Simple carbs are in things like sugar, soft drinks and even honey. Basically, they’re one of the biggest reasons that you have to avoid everything you have to avoid to maintain a healthy diets. The kicker is that simple carbs tend to have a really high glycemic index number. Essentially, what high glycemic foods and drinks do is send your blood sugar level sky-rocketing. Now this is bad enough on its own; I don’t even need to explain the dangers of having a high blood sugar level, right?
The body responds to this rise in blood sugar levels by furiously pumping out insulin to deal with the influx of glucose. And when your body gets too busy dealing out insulin, the rest of you tends to go haywire. First of all, it’s an overall drain on your body; meaning most of your energy is going towards getting enough insulin to deal with what’s going on in your belly and not enough goes to, say, managing your skin’s protective layer. Result? A dull, bad complexion.
But more directly, when your body is in this state it tends to produce more of hormones called androgens. Androgen is more linked to the dealings of the male body (andro = male- etymology rocks) but it’s also directly related to the pores and the gland that makes oil for our skin. Too much androgen and your pores get a little bit catty, pumping out excess oil and blackheads all over the place. No thank you.
What to Eat Instead of Simple Carbs: Complex carbs! They’re like the good twin. These carbs are complex simply ’cause it takes your body longer to digest them and they have a lot more nutritional value for their caloric buck.
A good rule of thumb to avoid simple carbs is to become a little food-racist. As in, avoid the white stuff. White bread caught your eye? Go for the brown, whole grain version instead. Skip your usual toast and replace it with oatmeal. White rice is lookin’ good? Opt for brown rice. And feel free to go to town on green veggies, beans, lentils and peas!
4. Meat Cooked at High Temperatures
You wouldn’t expect this one – it surprised us, too – but very seared meat is one of the worst foods for your skin. That’s ’cause meat cooked at high temperatures (typically above 300 Fahrenheit) or meat that’s well done produce enough ACEs when inside the body to have a really negative impact on collagen and other essential proteins, as well as our ever-loved antioxidants.
The high temperature also promotes indigestion since it makes protein a lot harder to digest. When indigestion happens, the liver tends to pull on other areas of the body for help- including your skin. It’s a little bit harder to keep yourself protected against the elements when you’re helping someone else to keep down their steaks. Pores can’t properly cleanse themselves, so there tends to be a build-up of dirt and oil, eventually leading to spots and blackheads. To reduce your chances of this happening, try to cook your meat a little bit away from the fire and turn over the meat frequently.
5. Artificial Additives
There’s a reason so many brands nowadays boast about having, “No artificial colors or additives!” That’s because people put absolutely crazy things into foods to achieve a desired effect- some are even known to cause cancer in animals like rats (poor rats) and some are outright poisonous. Several have been linked to everything from Crohn’s Disease to messing up your hormones (which tends to result in bad skin complexion).
And since they’re not natural- and in some cases, not actually edible- it’s very easy to have allergic reactions to some artificial additives (the same way it’s easy to have allergic reactions to poison berries) and some common symptoms are skin rashes and general reddening of the skin. If possible, just avoid artificial additives anyways- they’re actually really scary things that can do a lot more damage than you think.
How to Avoid Food Additives: The easiest, most elegant solution is to buy whole foods – you know, foods that don’t have ingredient lists. And when you do go grocery shopping for foods that come in a box, jar or the like – take a handy list of food additives to avoid with you.
Now you can make a sort of reverse shopping list- a list of things you definitely won’t be getting at the supermarket today. All of these bad skin foods will become a serious blockade in the way of you achieving good skin health if you keep eating them on a regular basis – let that serve as your motivation to steer clear. ‘Cause as we all know, vanity is a fantastic motivator!