Most of us go through a bout of bad skin and acne. If we are lucky its not to bad and only last for our adolescence. Also as we get older our skin seems to lose its vibrancy and radiance. Some people defiantly have it rougher than others, but is there anything we can do to lessen the severity? As it turns out what we eat has a big impact on the health of the skin. Unfortunately a lot of the common foods that are bad for our completion are found in the standard American diet (SAD).
This makes one wonder if our teenage skin troubles have to be as bad as they are or can we do something about it. If the SAD changed would we see a reduction in acne? Also even now there are anomalies with some people aging and their skin seeming to be ageless. I would guess that these anomalies that have kept their great skin over the years have abandoned the SAD. There are many commonly eaten foods or ingredients that are associated with bad skin. Today we are going to look at twelve food/ingredients that are terrible for your skin. Don't worry, not only will we look at the foods to avoid, but at the end we will also look at some foods that can save your complexion. Lets get started!
1. Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
This one should have been a no brainer. Excess sugar intake has a negative effect directly or inadvertently on just about every aspect of the body. The skin is no exception. Sugar and refined carbs are known to increase the skins oil production. This leads to clogged pores. Not only that, but excess sugar causes what are known as Advanced Glycation End-products (AGE's). Glycation is one of the leading causes of wrinkles. AGE's also result in a great amount of inflammation. When it comes to skin health inflammation is looked at as public enemy number 1.
Its estimated that 90% of soy is genetically modified. Its believed that this reason is why soy is one of the leading food allergies in America. Resulting in skin rashes and inflammation, but that isn't the reason it is being included on this list. Soy contains what are referred to as phytoestrogens which means plant based estrogen. High consumption is related to an excess of estrogen. This can lead to a form of acne known as hormonal cystic acne. You would think that avoiding this food would be pretty easy, but it is everywhere.
For people that are gluten intolerant, think celiac disease, this is all to well known. A particular rash, dermatitis herpetiformis, is a real issue the more intolerant of wheat your body is. The more tollerant you are the lesser the symptoms. It's estimated that 80% of Americans have some type of adverse reaction to wheat that on the severe end could result in the rash mentioned above and on the lesser end results in flushed red skin and even puffy bags under the eyes.
What makes margarine so bad? you might be asking yourself this. The biggest reason is trans fats. Keeping it skin related trans fats are high promoters of inflammation. Hydrogenated oils have a similar structure to plastic compounds. Most margarine on the market no longer contain trans fats because of how detrimental it is to human health. Unfortunately they are still made with vegetable oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats. These are omega-6 fats which we will touch on when we get to corn. One last thing that I am going to throw out there is that margarine isn't naturally yellow it is dyed that color to appear more appealing.
5. Non-Organic (Conventional) Foods
Conventionally grown fruits and veggies are grown with the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, bactericides, insecticides, larvicides, microbicide, and the list goes on. These compounds have been shown to lead to an increased amount of inflammation in the body. As we discussed, when it comes to skin health inflammation is a bad thing. Anything we can do to cut down inflammation, especially chronic, is a good thing.
6. Conventional/Factory Farmed Milk
The milk that is being referred to in this section is milk that has been pasteurized and comes from a diet of corn and grains. Also the cows have been pumped full of different hormones and antibiotics. Residues of both of these make it into the milk. This leads to a product that causes inflammation, potential changes in your own hormones, and will have an impact on your microbiome. There is a strong link between certain bacteria and acne. If the antibiotics are lowering the amount of beneficial bacteria one has this leaves room for opportunistic bacteria to take hold.
The big problem with fried foods is that they are cooked in vegetable oils that are kept at a very high temperature for a prolonged period of time. This ensures that they get oxidized and then some. As touched on earlier in margarine certain fats tend to up the oil production in your skin. This tends to lead to oily skin. On top of that oxidized fats cause inflammation and... well we've already went over that. Not to mention it is more than likely conventional ingredients that are being fried!!
This is such a broad category that there could be an entire blog dedicated to this class alone. Lets touch on some of the more popular ones. Aspartame has settled into the SAD and it has a whole host of side effects. Focusing on skin health we see that it causes itching that may or may not be accompanied by a rash, hives, and even skin lesions. Monosodium Glutimate (MSG) is another extremely popular additive. When it comes to the skin health MSG drys out the skin, eczema, hives, rashes, lesions, premature aging, and numbness. Those are only issues related to the skin and only for two additives. A good rule to live by when it comes to food additives is if you can't pronounce it avoid it!
9. Factory Farmed Meats
Unfortunately in America most of our meats are factory farmed, basically meaning that they are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics in an attempt to get them to grow as fast as possible. These animals are also not on their natural diet. The diet that they are on is geared to have them put on weight fast. Mostly fed corn, which we will go over soon, and other grains which are high in omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats promote inflammation and you already know how bad that is for the skin.
10. Regular and Diet Soda
When we look at the "regular" part of soda after going over sugar I'm sure that you can already get why its bad. So is diet soda any better? I hate to be the one to break it to you if you thought the answer was yes... but no its not. Some of the acids of diet soda actually cause fat cells to swell. being right under the skin it should be easy to see how this would effect the skin. For example diet soda has a tendency to make cellulite worse.
A big part of healthy vibrant looking skin is the skin's ability to hold moisture. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to get rid of excess water. Even taking it from the tissues. This dehydrates the skin and can cause premature wrinkling of the skin. Alcohol also leads to that now all known skin enemy inflammation. The systemic inflammation is so prominent in fact that it can lead to a histamine reaction. This is what causes the redness and flushing to the skin.
Throughout this whole blog we have continuously touch on how bad inflammation is for keeping your skin radiant and looking young. The reason we are talking about corn is because it is high in the fat linoleic acid. This is an omega-6 fat. While we do need both omega-3 and omega-6 for our bodies to function properly, they do need to be in the correct ratios. This is because omega-6 naturally causes inflammation, while omega-3 acts as an anti-inflammatory. The ratio we ideally should be getting is a 1:1 ratio. The estimated average ratio that we are actually ingesting is 20 grams of omega-6 to 1 gram of omega-3.
Clean Diet and Clear Skin
When looking at everything on the list above I would like to point that study done with a group of hunter gatherers. This study took place in Paraguay. The subjects where observed, what they ate and physical activity etc..., for 3 years. They where pretty active and their diet consisted of plants and wild game. There was no acne observed in the 3 year period. Now while this is for the most part about what foods to avoid lets go over some foods, herbs, and other things that will help with skin health.
First off since it was talked about in just about every section above lets touch on inflammation. Anything that is going to lower inflammation is going to give a benefit to the skin. Things like turmeric, blue butterfly, matcha, and MSM. Check out our online store for these items. Not to mention the sulfur from the MSM will help the skin in other ways as well.
While we are still on the subject line of inflammation I would like to bring up some foods that are high in omega-3 so that we can work on getting a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. These food sources include:
This is just a short list. A simple google search will provide one with more options. Omega-3 fats are essential for lowering inflammation, but its not the important group of fatty acids one should focus on. Coconut oil has a pretty much perfect ratio when it comes to skin health. Plus it can be taken internally and applied topically. Things like collagen and bone broth are both beneficial to the skin as well. The last thing I will leave you with is get some beneficial bacteria in your diet. preferably through fermented foods, but a good probiotic is better than nothing. My preferred sources are sauerkraut, kimchi, or mRaw Bliss
- Cod Liver Oil
- Wild Game
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
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