Most of us have a basic understanding of what would make a healthy food choice. We understand that fast food probably isn't the best option when it comes to our overall well-being. We're aware that eating an apple a day really does keep the doctor away 🍎...but french friends (Correction: *FRIES) likely do not 🍟 But do we ever stop to think about how the food we eat affects the appearance of our skin? Well, cliche or not, we are most definitely what we eat! Especially when it comes to our skin!
Your cardiologist advises you to steer clear of fried chicken, but what would your dermatologist say?
Dr. Lorrie Klein, a colleague and board-certified dermatologist at OC Dermatology
says "Basically, there are no specific right or wrong foods. For example, the old wives tale of chocolate causing acne is only true for a very small percentage of people. Some foods do produce inflammation in some people however, such as dairy products, fried foods and refined sugars. These should be avoided if a person notices that it flares up their acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, etc. Otherwise, I recommend a healthy diet in general for everyone, which is great for the entire body, not just the skin."
In addition to that, we wanted to drop some basic knowledge on these common food products that cause inflammation and how they often affect our complexion:
The exact mechanism in dairy that contributes to bad skin is still unclear, but one theory is that it increases a hormone that ramps up oil production in our skin. Excess oil production is an increased potential for breakouts. We're not saying eliminate it completely, but dairy in moderation is certainly key.
While coffee has many benefits, too much caffeine can dehydrate the body. When our skin is dehydrated, that causes inflammation and collagen loss. In addition to that, dehydration means we do not have enough water flushing our system and that toxic build up can lead to breakouts. We all need a little caffeine boost before the busy day ahead, we get it! Just make sure you're balancing with enough water to ensure your body and skin is staying hydrated.
Refined Sugar 🍭
If it's bad for your waistline, chances are it's not great for the complexion either. When you ingest sugar, our bodies break it down into glucose, which raises insulin levels. When insulin levels are spoked, that leads to inflammation. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, a.k.a. your glowing, youthful skin.
Salty Foods 🍟
Ever wake up feeling a little puffy around the eyes? It happens to us all! It's important to know that too much salt causes our bodies to retain water, which leads to swelling. It's also important to realize that sodium decreases the amount of water intake of our internal organs, like too much caffeine. And when our organs are thirsty, they pull the water out of our skin. And when our skin is thirsty, well, I think you're starting to get the picture.
It’s tricky to know or say what to eat and what not to eat, however, our expert board-certified dermatologists will all attest that a well-rounded diet will better support that glowy, dewy complexion we all strive for. “I typically recommend an anti-inflammatory diet. It has been shown to help psoriasis and acne in addition to other inflammatory conditions. Although, it is not the only treatment I recommend, good nutrition is a nice adjunct to the health of your body and ultimately your skin.”
-Dr. Lisa Zaleski-Larsen, DO FAAD, ABVLM dipl in Hillcrest
What’s an anti-inflammatory diet? We’re so glad you asked! 😉 It’s a simple swap from sugary, processed foods to whole, natural and nutrient-rich foods. What does this look like? You ask the best questions! Adding in foods is way easier than eliminating so here’s a quick list of foods you can start introducing to the grocery cart:
Dark Leafy Greens 🥗Kale, spinach, collards, basil, broccoli, arugula and more.
Antioxidants 🍒 Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, green tea and dark chocolate.
Healthy Fats 🥑 Salmon, avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, eggs and more!
Skin types vary from person to person so it’s important to have a Board-Certified Dermatologist assess your skin in-person so they can recommend the best treatment plan that is customized to YOU!