The relationship between skin and food has been a rocky one. Junk food, and greasy foods in particular, have been cited as the source of breakouts many times over, but it turns out that these foods may have been taking the heat for another type of food – high GI, or glycemic index, foods.
What is the glycemic index? It’s a ranking of the carbohydrates a food contains. The rankings ranges from zero to 100 and the higher a food ranks, the quicker it digests and the more it causes your blood sugar levels to fluctuate. These foods cause your insulin levels and your hormones to surge, which leads to an increase in sebum production, eventually, breakouts. Although more research on the link between bad skin andhigh glycemic foods is needed, many of the foods on this list do indeed rank high on the glycemic index, so it’s best to avoid them if you want to avoid a breakout.
Refined white pasta is a high glycemic food that can affect your skin. If pasta is your favorite comfort food, don’t worry. There are other options, such as whole grain pasta and pasta made with servings of vegetables, which won’t cause your skin to flare-up as badly.
This is another high glycemic food, and one that’s tough to avoid. Sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, soups served in bread bowls and salads topped with crotons made from homemade bread are all common meals. But in each situation, you can either avoid the bread ingredient altogether or choose a whole wheat bread or bun, which is better for you.
Sugary foods are high glycemic foods, so it’s best to eat them sparingly. Candy in particular is high in concentrated sugar, which can damage the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, causing wrinkles and other signs of early aging.
Fried chicken is delicious because it’s fried in oil, but that’s also what makes it bad for you. Fried foods are full of fat, which not only adds to your waistline, but clogs your pores and depletes your skin of oxygen, leading to breakouts. However, fat isn’t all bad. You do need to have some fat in your diet, but the key is to eat foods that contain essential fatty acids, which are good for your heart and body. Nuts, fish, peanut butter and olive oil are foods that contain healthy fats. To learn more about healthy fats, check out Dietary Fats: Separating The Bad From The Good.
Potato chips pack a one-two punch. They not only contain a large amount of fat, but they are also coated in salt, which can exacerbate existing acne. It can also cause tissue inflammation and water buildup under the eyes. Since potato chips are irresistible, look for a no-salt or low-salt variety that’s baked.
If you have fair, sun-damaged skin, try to avoid spicy foods. The heat surges that set your mouth on fire also cause your skin to flush. When sun-damaged skin repeatedly flushes, this can lead to rosacea or permanently blotchy skin.
French fries are another fatty food to avoid as they’ve been linked to whiteheads, which are a type of pimple that is filled with sebum and dead skin cells. So instead of ordering French fries with your meal, opt forsweet potato fries or a healthier side such as salad or steamed vegetables.
Caffeine is a big no-no for your skin. It dries skin out and worsens the infection that causes acne. When combined with sugar, as it is in soda, it can cause your hormones to rise and fall, resulting in rashes, dryness, and of course, that infamous afternoon crash.
Alcohol may not make your skin break out, but it won’t make your skin look good. Too much alcohol can dehydrate your skin, as well as the rest of your body, and it can break the capillaries in your skin, resulting in permanently red cheeks. So if you’re going to indulge, stick with just one glass of wine or one bottle of beer.
Bet you were surprised to see this one on the list. Dairy can increase your risk of developing acne, but milk in particular has been linked to the sudden appearance of pimples. Researchers believe that the androgens found in milk add to a person’s own androgens, which fuels oil production and spawn acne.
So what foods can help you maintain healthy, radiant skin? Salmon and walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation that causes the production of cell-damaging free-radicals. Vegetables like squash, spinach and carrots are full of vitamin A, which promotes cell turnover, and of course water keeps your skin hydrated. But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up alcohol, milk, pasta or fried chicken altogether. The key is to eat a balanced diet of all types of foods to keep both your skin and your body healthy.