Washing our faces and using products to keep glowing, healthy skin is an extremely important part of our skin care routines. All of these things play a role in keeping our skin in a good place. However, sometimes it can be helpful to take a more whole-body approach to skin care. Addressing skin problems from the inside can actually make a very big difference in its feel and look. Common skin problems such as pimples can actually be a reflection of our internal health, and what we are eating and drinking. Just how much do our diet and lifestyle choices affect our skin?
How does what you eat affect your skin?
Common skin problems, like acne breakouts, under eye puffiness or a dull, flakey complexion may be an indication that there’s something amiss with your general health. What we eat, what we drink, and how we live our lives can influence our skin greatly.
Skin needs antioxidants to resist and repair damage caused by free radical molecules generated by unprotected sun exposure. The cosmetic damage can show up as uneven pigment, wrinkles, lines and sagging. Really good sources of antioxidants are fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil and red wine. Healthy fats provide the nutrients needed for strong cell walls, keeping them supple and able to maintain hydration. Choose nuts, flax seeds, fish oils, avocado and safflower oil as sources of healthy fats.
Poor eating habits have a huge effect on how good, or not, your skin looks. Refined carbs and the high sugar content of baked goods, candy and soda can cause blood sugar levels in the body to spike. This throws off the metabolism of glycogen which then latches onto protein molecules. When those proteins are the collagen and elastin of your skin, it becomes inflexible and wrinkling accelerates.
High blood sugar creates a generalized condition of inflammation throughout the body, aggravating acne and other skin conditions such as rosacea. Caffeine can actually amp up the production of stress hormones, which can contribute to acne breakouts. Fluid retention is influenced by overconsumption of salty foods and under eye puffiness may be increased as a consequence.
Oily and congested skin
If your face produces more than normal amounts of oil or not a day goes by without at least one pimple coming up on your face, then looking at what you are ingesting can be very helpful. Oily and congested skin is a sign that inflammation and nutritional deficiencies are probably present.
Eating a plant-based diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables and good fats can really help to improve your skin. To support your hormonal balance, eat plenty of clean protein sources like nuts, seeds and organic meat. Vegetables such as broccoli, onion, garlic and cauliflower contribute nutrients for well balanced hormones. Last but not least, up your zinc and vitamin A intake. This combination of things can really help to soothe congested skin.
Avoiding dairy would be a good first step when eliminating foods to determine their impact. Dairy is known for playing a role in congested, acne-prone skin, but before you say goodbye to dairy altogether, try going dairy free for two weeks. This trial period will allow you to see whether it makes any difference to your skin.
Dull and dehydrated skin
Dull skin can be a sign of the body being deficient in zinc, vitamin A, omega 3 or antioxidants, as well as the result of eating stress-inducing foods. Anything that creates difficulties for the body will then place stress on the skin. Junk foods may be comforting at times, but they play a massive part in dull, dehydrated skin because they are considered to be inflammatory foods. They can have the overall effect of creating a dull and flat complexion.
If your skin is dull and dehydrated, swapping fast food, sugary treats, wheat and dairy for nutrient-dense whole foods will be really helpful. You should opt for naturally sweet treats like dried figs, dates and fresh fruit over pre-packaged, processed ones. This will help your skin get its natural glow back.
On the forehead and t-zone: According to techniques from Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, breakouts along the forehead and t-zone are linked to the liver. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of high quality protein and vegetables to ensure you’re doing the best you can.
On the chin: Breakouts along the jaw and chin are often linked with hormonal imbalances, but can also be traced back to poor digestive function, which is largely impacted by what we choose to eat and drink.
While having dark circles under the eyes does not mean you are eating poorly, it may mean that you are consuming too much alcohol or simply that your body is craving sleep. Having dark circles may also result from hereditary factors, allergies or stress. A minimum of eight hours sleep per night is recommended for a healthy mind and body.
Sensitive or irritated sign can be a sign of inflammation and nutritional deficiencies. To combat this, ensure you’re eating a diet rich in protein, a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water.
While this is a lot to take in, it is important to note there usually is not just one particular food that will make your skin look bad. Consumption of foods high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats can exacerbate already irritated skin. Eating a healthy diet will boost your immune system, which in turn will enable your body to fight infections that may or may not be affecting your skin.