There I was in the Big City, eating a huge slice of obsessive worthy New York pizza. With the perfect cheese to sauce ratio, I had not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 Big. Fat. Slices. Over half the pie. That same weekend I scarfed down 2 more slices, plus a good ole New York bagel with extra cream cheese (in case you were wondering). So, before you smack me silly and throw all your salad at me, I already know what you’re thinking. You’re right- my waistline was definitely not happy, I felt less healthy than I did the week before, and you guessed it- my face was due for some major damage control. Was it all worth it? Well, when your skin is near flawless and then you wake up with new breakouts and dull skin- you be the judge.
You may have heard that nutrition has no affect on your skin. And for a few lucky individuals- it may not. But for the rest of us, a simple tweak in our diet could be the solution to all our wailing. After all, many people have CURED their skin conditions (when often told there is no cure) just by this lifestyle change. Plus what’s the point of preaching, “we are what we eat”, if we don’t fully believe that whatever passes through our digestive system has an impact on our appearance? Seems like it would be common sense to me. Because if something is damaging for your body, it’s probably damaging for your complexion too.
So below I’ve complied just some (because there are many) foods that can really mess with your skin (ex: 1 in out of 3 eczema sufferers have food allergies). Now please understand, I am in no way expecting you to completely eliminate these items from your diet (unless you want to). However- if your skin is particularly suffering or you want to combat wrinkles before they begin, I suggest slowly removing whatever you feel could be a trigger for 90 days and see what happens. And by slowly I mean, go from 5 slices of pizza to 4 one week, to 3 the next, to 2, to 1, to… you get the point.
If you have no notable reaction to gluten, then most likely it’s not affecting your skin. However, if you’re even gluten sensitive, it may be causing you skin problems. Where can you find gluten? Different varieties of wheat, rye, and barley. You can even find it in some personal care products such as cosmetics, toothpastes, and shampoos for it’s binding properties. The two major proteins that make up gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is the gluten protein responsible for negative reactions. With that said, a negative reaction = an autoimmune responds that leads to widespread inflammation. And inflammation leads to acne, eczema, and the majority of your skin problems.
Let me explain- in our digestive tract (aka gut), nutrients are separated from our food and absorbed into the bloodstream. The walls of the intestines are a barrier made up of cells and tight junctions (which basically create a seal between each cell and open up slightly to let particles through). Zonulin is the protein molecule that regulates the traffic of nutrients passing through the tight junctions. In comes bad boy gluten. Gluten activates further production of zonulin which then further loosens and even damages the tight junctions- thereby allowing larger and more harmful particles (toxins, bacteria, etc) to seep into your bloodstream. This is “leaky gut“. When toxins and foreign molecules are leaked into the bloodstream, it causes the above stated autoimmune response.
Now that you know, this autoimmune response also triggers the release of insulin which = raised hormone levels, another cause of acne. Plus- gluten has been linked to many other skin issues. This includes the lesser known Dermatitis herpetiformis, Keratosis pilaries, and Psoriasis.
High Glycemic Index foods are carbohydrates that digest rapidly and easily convert into glucose. The measure of how quickly this happens is the “glycemic index“. High-Glycemic foods consist of sugar, corn syrup, rice, bread, white potatoes, and certain fruits. Low-Glycemic foods are complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, legumes, fibrous foods, and nuts. When glucose levels are too high, the pancreas raises its production of insulin, the hormone responsible for storing and monitoring glucose usage. At this point, two issues can occur- either the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to meet demands or insulin resistance takes into effect. Insulin Resistance occurs when our cells reject insulin from passing over glucose from our bloodstream- thereby causing our pancreas to produce even more insulin. The causes of insulin resistance is unclear although some suggest it could be do to high levels of insulin over a long period of time.
With that said, both issues cause a spike in our blood sugar. And when blood sugar levels are constantly high, a process known as “glycation” takes place. Glycation occurs when sugar molecules permanently bind to a protein or lipid molecule (such as collagen) without regulation from enzymes. This process creates harmful compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products (also caused by foods cooked at high temperatures). AGES contribute to oxidative stress (aka free radicals) and break down collagen- thereby accelerated the aging process of our skin. Glycation and high amounts of insulin even cause increased sebum production and inflammation. And as stated above, inflammation contributes to all sorts of skin problems, including acne and rosacea.
Okay gals just going to put this out there- after much research on the effects dairy has on our skin, my love affair with pizza is… finito. It’s going to be rough as breakups (especially if you were insanely in love), are never easy. But onward we must go.
It is said that just one glass of milk contains 60 different hormones. So, it should come as no surprise that dairy consumption = hormone spikes, which = increased acne. And whether you want to believe it or not, all dairy products (including organic) contain hormones. As dairy comes from pregnant cows, we not only intake hormones from the female, but also from the male cow. This means progesterone and insulin are getting into our body. That- and the sugar in dairy raises the glycemic index (see above), while the whey protein contributes to an additional spike in insulin production. As mentioned before, too much insulin increases sebum and inflammation (the root of practically all skin problems; including puffy and dark eye bags). Plus- dairy is quite difficult for our digestive system to process, regardless of whether or not you’re allergic. And- anything your digestive system has trouble processing is going to show up on your face.
Other Foods To Look Out For
There are definitely other foods that could be causing breakouts, premature wrinkles, and even dark circles. These include but are not limited to: shellfish, soy, peanuts, peanut butter, spicy foods (depending on the amount consumed), and sugar itself (which we’ll look further into). Even alcohol and caffeine can cause skin problems, and not just because of their diuretic properties. I’d love to hear about those of you who have eliminated some of these foods from your diet, and how it helped your skin change! Comment below babes!