When it comes to healthy skin, the impact of various foods on the skin is not always considered. The skin is the largest organ of the human body – it protects from harmful chemicals and elements and regulates body temperature. Yet, choosing foods that lack nutrients and vitamins can cause damage to the skin. A minor dietary cheat to satisfy a craving from time to time may seem harmless, but many foods that are consumed daily can unknowingly cause long-term damage to the skin. Here are a few foods that negatively influence how the skin looks and feels to avoid.
- Dairy: Dairy triggers hormones that overwork the sebaceous glands, increasing the production of sebum, causing inflammation, and leading to acne, skin rashes, and eczema. Dairy is highly acidic and considered a stimulus for cancer cell growth. Overconsumption of dairy products – such as milk, butter, cheese, and creams – can cause cancer cell growth. For those who choose to consume dairy, grass fed butter and organic milk may be better options than conventional dairy.
- Soy Protein: Soy is a genetically engineered product. It is found in several foods and is used as a protein alternative called tofu. And, it is even found in some weed-killers. A diet high in soy heightens estrogen levels and may lead to higher risk of skin cancer.
- Coffee: Coffee is loaded with caffeine, which has great benefits when used externally but has adverse effects when used internally. Coffee is known as a diuretic; therefore, overconsumption of coffee can lead to dehydrated skin, causing premature aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin. Also, coffee increases cortisol levels that lead to skin inflammation.
- Wheat: Today, wheat is totally different from the stone-ground wheat and sprouted wheat consumed in the past. Consuming wheat regularly can cause skin damage that promotes aging. Furthermore, wheat has been linked to gluten sensitivities, which trigger the body’s overproduction of zonulin, a protein the digestive track produces. Gluten sensitivities are linked to dermatitis herpetiformis, which is blistering of the skin.
- Charred and Processed Meats: Charred meat is carcinogenic. Charred meats are tasty, however, the smoke residue covers the skin and debris gets embedded into the pores causing enlarged pores to continuously expand. Soaking meats in a vinegar base marinade and using neutralizing herbs – such as rosemary, mints, and oregano – can lessen the heterocyclic amines (HCA) levels in meat caused by extremely high temperature. Bacon, sausage, and deli meats are all processed meats that contain preservatives called sodium nitrates which accelerate aging. Eating processed meats regularly leads to water retention that break down the skin’s collagen and elastin, contributing to premature aging.
- Bleached Flour: Eating refined grains made with flour increases the insulin growth factor which actives the androgen hormone. High levels of insulin make skin cells grow rapidly, boosting the sebum production that contributes to acne.
- Canola Oil: The highly toxicant oil was created in Canada as a genetically modified product used as an industrial oil. Canola oil is a trans fat that is hard for the body to break down, causing skin inflammation.
- Salt and Sugar: Salt can be found in seemingly everything. Many foods and sauces contain high amounts of salt. Too much salt can cause swelling, especially around the eyes, leading to puffiness. Eating too much sugar can prematurely age the skin. Consuming a sugary diet causes a chemical reaction that attacks the skin from the inside, as collagen is broken down. Glycation is the chemical reaction that makes the surface of the skin inflexible when sugar molecules binds to the cells causing fiber tissues to harden.
- Shellfish: Acne-prone skin clients should not consume shellfish regularly. Shrimp, crab, and lobster are high in iodine. Accumulating high amounts of iodine regularly has been linked to breakouts and acne.
- Alcohol: Alcohol sucks all the moisture out of the skin, depriving the skin of nutrients and vitamins, leading to wrinkles. Consuming alcohol regularly can trigger rosacea. Alcohol dilates the blood’s capillaries which causes inflammation to the tissue, releasing histamines.
Food plays a major role in skin health. Choosing foods that are most beneficial for the skin and body may require sacrificing deserts and fried foods, but it is less damaging for the skin. Professionals should advise clients of pros and cons of eating specific foods, as well as educate on healthy alternatives. When approaching a client about diet, consider the client’s lifestyle and make sure suggested changes are realistic. Also, avoid being judgmental when making recommendations.
Cole Patterson has been a licensed aesthetician for over 20 years. She has extensive knowledge in medical dermatology and makeup artistry, specializing in men’s skin care and grooming. She has graced the faces of some of Hollywood’s most famous actors, entertainers, and professional athletes. Patterson works in the film and television industry behind the scenes as a creative director and makeup artist. She is the owner of Cole Skincare for Men in Los Angeles, California.