Your Menu for Healthy Skin
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Your Menu for Healthy Skin5 foods that can age you.
The best way to encourage health and well-being—which will always show up in our skin—is to eat more vegetables and fruit and less saturated fat, sugar, white flour, and packaged foods. The following five foods promote inflammation and aging and may contribute to other issues, such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Avoid these foods whenever possible:
- Refined white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
Watch out for these two in prepackaged foods. Much of the sugar we get on a daily basis comes from beverages, so be careful what you drink, too. And don’t be fooled by agave syrup and honey—yes, they’re natural, but both contain simple sugars. Get your “sugar” rush from the herb stevia, now being marketed as a sweetener under the brand name Truvia.
Many packaged and processed foods are loaded with sodium—but so are the ones we think of as being healthier, like breakfast cereals. If you’re waking up with puffy eyes every morning, you might want to take a look at your salt intake because it promotes edema or swelling. In addition, most salt is iodized, and iodine can exacerbate acne. When buying canned beans, either go for low-sodium brands or be sure to rinse them to remove sodium before eating.
- Refined white flour and grain products.
Replace with whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-grain baked goods. The nutrients haven’t been stripped out of them and they provide more health benefits.
- Trans fatty acids and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
These disease-promoting oils are found principally in packaged, processed foods. If you shift your diet toward more fruits and vegetables, you’ll naturally reduce your intake of these unhealthy oils.
- Saturated fat.
This type of fat is solid at room temperature and is found in fatty meats and dairy products. Select lean cuts of meat, and be sure to remove the fat and skin. And stick to low- or nonfat dairy products—better yet, substitute cow’s milk with almond, rice or hemp milk.
As a final note on beauty busters, I also recommend you limit your consumption of dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. While all do have some healthy-promoting benefits, you should have these in moderation (of course that’s true of just about anything):
- Dairy. Be wary of dairy! Studies have shown that milk has a lot of steroid hormones and other compounds that may contribute to clogged pores, inflammation, and—yep—acne! How? It’s believed that milk stimulates excess oil production, leaving pores sticky and susceptible to bacteria buildup. Also, it may cause hyperkeratinization (which means that the cells that line the hair follicle don’t detach very often), leading to breakouts.
- Caffeine. Keep in mind that many beverages (such as energy drinks) and even medications contain caffeine, although the source may be listed as guarana or kola nut. Coffee dehydrates the skin, so you should limit your intake to no more than two cups a day. My colleague and friend Dr. David Rahm does believe that one cup of coffee a day may be good for you, as coffee has antioxidant benefits. Try drinking an eight-ounce glass of water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in it before you have your cup of joe—this will help neutralize the coffee’s acid and is better for your skin.
- Alcohol. You should limit your alcohol intake to one to two drinks per day. If you want to enjoy a drink, opt for red wine, which contains the protective anti-aging compound called resveratrol. However, please note that one serving of wine is just five ounces.
If you choose to restrict your consumption of dairy, make sure that you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D and calcium. Think of Popeye: eat lots of spinach, and strengthen those bones and biceps with weight training and exercise.