Remember when your mum used to nag you about avoiding chocolate if you had spots and your school teachers championed eating a colourful plate of food? Turns out they were right. We all know that staying well hydrated and eating a balanced diet is a good foundation for healthy-looking skin, but it’s also true that food types can trigger reactions, cause inflammatory flare-ups and make your skin look dull and lacklustre. We explore some of the most common ways your diet can affect your skin and how to keep your complexion glowing from breakfast through to dinner…
How Sugar Affects Your Skin
“Excess sugar in your diet can result in a damaging process called glycation,” says Lily Soutter, leading London Nutritionist and Founder of the Lily Soutter Nutrition practise. “This is when sugar molecules permanently bond to protein molecules, which can reduce skin’s elasticity and lead to sagging, loss of firmness and contribute to ageing of the skin.” Diets high in sugar also tend to have a high glycemic load, which can raise hormones and androgen production and increase oil on the skin, a common trigger for breakouts, according to Lily.
If you think excess sugar may be affecting your skin health, book a consultation with a qualified dietitian or nutritionist. For a helping hand treating the symptoms that include sagging, reach for a firming serum like Omorovicza’s Gold Flash Firming Serum or Emma Hardie’s Amazing Face Age Support Face Cream.
How Dairy Affects Your Skin
“For most people dairy plays a positive health role by providing high quality protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and even iodine. However, some observational studies have shown an association with dairy and acne,” says Lily. “Because of the types of studies, we can’t categorically say that dairy causes acne, however it appears that in a small selection of people those who consume dairy have a greater rate of acne,” says Lily. This is thought to be related to increased sebum production due to the hormones naturally present in dairy, particularly milk. If you find yourself repeatedly experiencing puffy skin and bags under your eyes after you’ve eaten, this may be a sign you are intolerant to lactose, a naturally occurring sugar that’s commonly found in dairy products. If you suspect you may be intolerant, consult your doctor who may recommend a blood or breath test to check if your body is able to digest lactose fully, which would indicate you were intolerant.
How Alcohol Affects Your Skin
One of the easiest ways to help keep skin looking plump and healthy is to ensure that you’re well hydrated, which is something that alcohol negatively impacts on two fronts. As it’s a toxin it can disrupt hormone and insulin levels, but as it’s also a diuretic it can lead to the depletion of essential vitamins and nutrients and cause dehydration. Alcoholic drinks tend to be high in sugar, which can lead to imbalances in your skin’s microbiome and cause problems like breakouts and dullness. “Following overindulgence of alcohol, blood flow to the skin is altered. This can manifest as dullness, enlarged pores, a red and blotchy appearance or puffiness around the eyes,” says Dr Perricone, founder of Perricone MD.
Overcome any potential issues by planning ahead with your skincare; dose up with a brightening vitamin C-laced treatment such as Perricone MD’s Vitamin C Ester Brightening Overnight Treatment and rehydrate with a hyaluronic acid mask like Sarah Chapman’s Skinesis 3D Moisture Infusion Mask to replenish lost moisture.
How Gluten Affects Your Skin
Gluten is a group of proteins most commonly found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. For the majority of people gluten won’t have a negative impact on your skin, however if you have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance including coeliac disease you may be at a higher risk of developing a skin condition, as it’s an inflammatory food. “Commonly known as gluten rash, those who suffer from coeliac disease may be at risk of developing a condition called dermatitis herpetiformis,” says Lily. This condition looks similar to eczema and presents as red and itchy bumps. Another condition, known as Keratosis Pilaris or “chicken skin” develops as tiny bumps or dry patches on the skin, usually on the backs of the arms, and is also associated with gluten intolerance.