Yes a good skincare regime is key to healthy skin, but we now know that skin requires a more holistic lens. Lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress and diet play a critical role in overall skin health.
Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? The food you fill yourself up with can either promote glowing skin or make skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema worse. To sort the bad from the good, we’ve collated a list of the worst culprits that cause you to break out, as well as deplete skin’s hydration and plumpness.
1. High glycemic foods
Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood sugar levels to rise at a rapid rate, giving you a sugar rush. Too much sugar can cause inflammation in the skin which can lead to breakouts. Starchy foods such as white bread, pasta and cake are considered high glycemic which can trigger certain skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema. If you're unsure of a food's glycemic level, visit the Glycemic Index (GI) – carbohydrates with a ranking of 55 or less are considered low GI and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose.
Much like high glycemic foods, sugary food causes the body's insulin levels to spike and can result in skin inflammation. Eating too much sugar (especially of the refined variety) not only affects your waistline but impacts the look of your complexion, as it breaks down collagen and elastin – the proteins that keep skin plump, soft and supple – ultimately making skin look rather dull. So if you need your chocolate fix, it's best to stick to dark chocolate instead of milk.
3. Spicy foods
Bad news for rosacea sufferers if you have a penchant for all things spicy – according to research, strong, hot foods trigger and aggravate this persistent skin condition. While obvious culprits like curry and hot sauce cause significant flare-ups, less evident offenders include condiments like tomato and barbeque sauce, mustard, red capsicum and vinegar. When it comes to treating rosacea, you can try increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods to offset redness and swelling. Think leafy greens, wholegrains, nuts and salmon.
If there's one food group that is a known acne aggravator, its dairy – however there is little scientific evidence to back up this claim. While we can't say for sure if it contributes to bad skin, it can be considered a potential trigger. The idea behind it is that dairy, for example cow’s milk, can be full of hormones which leads to hormone imbalance. Whether or not it exacerbates skin conditions like acne, it's best left up to the individual to determine what makes skin worse and what doesn't. Try cutting out or limiting milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
Just like sugar, too much salt can leave skin looking more than lacklustre. As well as dehydrating skin, salty foods can swell the complexion – especially the eye area. Steer clear of too much salt by avoiding food such as potato chips, pasta sauce, pizza, some breads and cereals which can contain hidden high levels of salt.