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Foods to avoid for skin health

6 Foods to Avoid For Optimal Skin Health | The Radiant Skin Diet Plan

Shiri Feldman

March 21, 2023

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We’ve all heard the infamous saying: ‘You are what you eat’. When it comes to skin health, your diet has a significant impact on the health and appearance of your skin. Eating an excess of certain foods can trigger irritation, acne, dryness, and premature aging. To maintain healthy, radiant skin, our team of skin experts created the radiant skin diet plan – a list of six food types to limit your intake on (and try to avoid) to achieve optimal skin health. 

  1. Fried Foods: High in trans fats, fried foods can trigger inflammation, causing the skin to become dull, dry, and acne-prone.  Additionally, fried foods are high in advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are compounds that can damage skin cells and contribute to skin aging. Stick to baked, grilled, or steamed options instead.

  2. Dairy Products: Dairy products (especially those containing casein) will increase levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) which can lead to skin inflammation and acne breakouts.  Many dairy products also contain growth factors, mainly peptides and anabolic steroid hormones (testosterone and its precursors) which can increase the likelihood of acne.  Dairy also contributes to aging by breaking down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. To reduce the risk of skin problems, limit your intake of dairy products or opt for dairy-free alternatives such as almond or soy milk.  

  3. Refined Sugars: Consuming too much sugar can cause inflammation and glycation, a process that damages the skin's collagen and elastin. This can lead to acne, premature aging, wrinkles, and skin sagging.  To protect your skin, limit your sugar intake and opt for natural, low-glycemic sweeteners instead such as monk fruit and stevia.

  4. Processed Foods: Processed foods contain high levels of unhealthy fats, salt, preservatives, sugar, and artificial flavors, which can cause many skin problems including acne, rosacea, and eczema.  To maintain healthy skin, avoid processed foods and opt for fresh, whole foods instead. To reduce your salt intake, season meals with fresh herbs and spices. 

  5. Gluten: A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, gluten can lead to skin problems, but this isn’t universally true for everyone. For individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can lead to an immune response that causes inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. As a result, one may develop skin rashes, eczema, and acne.  Additionally, gluten can potentially disrupt your gut’s microbiome, which can negatively impact the skin since they’re interconnected.  Try to limit the amount of gluten you consume in your daily diet. If you experience skin problems after consuming gluten, it may be necessary to avoid it entirely.

  6. Alcohol: Alcohol dehydrates the skin, causing it to look dull and tired, with wrinkles more pronounced. Alcohol consumption can also cause skin redness, puffiness, and acne breakouts.  Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to skin aging, an increased risk for skin cancers, and can also cause blood vessels in your skin to dilate, leading to a flushed appearance.  To protect your skin, limit your alcohol intake. Try to drink non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of water instead.

Our largest organ, the skin is a reflection of our overall health. While it’s okay to enjoy these foods every now and then, remember to consume in moderation to avoid triggering inflammation which can lead to skin issues. It is best to stick to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), and whole grains to ensure a healthy, radiant complexion.

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