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Read this before you eat that: How certain foods affect skin

Dr. Ahmed Abdullah is a board-certified plastic and cosmetic surgeon and a recognized expert on the restorative and medicinal effects of aloe vera. He splits his time between his practices in Fargo, SD and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He...

You really are what you eat

While many of us have been crafting plans for the year ahead to navigate our diet scene in relation to our waistlines, we may have overlooked another factor that should influence our food and drink choices: our skin.
Woman eating cake

The old adage, "you are what you eat," rings especially true for our skin, which quickly responds to the sodium-rich, sugar-laden foods that play a starring role at social gatherings.

Which foods do what?

Chips

Salty foods like snack mixes,
dips and processed meats

Consume too much sodium and dehydration and fluid retention occur, resulting in a puffy face and under eye swelling.

Ice cream

Foods containing dairy

While the clinical link between dairy and acne continues to strengthen, those who experience frequent acne breakouts have long been convinced of the connection. The suspected culprits are the hormones that are present in milk.

Cake

Sugary, high-glycemic foods like
cookies, cakes and canapés

Eating these foods leads to a spike in blood glucose levels. When that happens, inflammation may occur, which can lead to a host of skin issues, including acne. What’s more, consistent consumption of these foods may lead to premature skin aging, as they cause the degradation of collagen and elastin.

Variety of cocktails

Alcohol

Even a small amount of alcohol can cause blood vessels to dilate, which makes skin look red or blotchy while worsening the appearance of conditions like rosacea. Alcohol also dehydrates the skin, causing fine lines and wrinkles to look more prevalent. Additionally, a recent study showed that alcohol consumption decreases the antioxidant concentration in the skin, which reduces the skin’s ability to defend itself against free radical damage.

Read more: Booze benefits your skin? >>

3 Rules of thumb for your diet

To keep skin in optimal condition, limit your intake of complexion-sabotaging foods, and instead implement these positive practices:

  • Stay hydrated. While an occasional cocktail is fine, skin benefits when water is your drink of choice. Most individuals are dehydrated so the importance of this step cannot be overstated.
  • Choose antioxidant-rich foods. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are not only loaded with vitamins and minerals, most also contain a good amount of antioxidants, which help to protect the skin — and the entire body — from extrinsic and intrinsic damage.
  • Eat before you go to big social gatherings. It’s more difficult to control your eating (and drinking) if you arrive to a party on an empty stomach.

More skin care advice

DIY exfoliating cornmeal and buttermilk facial scrub
Letter from the editor: Why you shouldn't be afraid of clinical skin care
The fall of zits: Proper skin care for winter months

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