Eating your way to glowing, radiant skin? It sounds too good to be true, but the diet we choose plays a critical role in how our skin looks and feels. Think of the skin as a blank canvas upon which we tell the story of our lifestyle. If we eat chips and ice cream for breakfast, don’t get enough sleep and feel stressed all the time – it shows. Breakouts, dryness, dullness, it’s literally written all over your face.
So follow our guide for the foods to avoid and the foods to embrace and you’ll soon be munching your way to soft, supple and clear skin!
Note: As with everything, it’s all about balance. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a slice of red velvet once in a while, or knocking back a few mimosas on vacation. Variety is the spice of life, and completely cutting yourself off from foods you enjoy, particularly if you’re avoiding social situations because of it, isn’t a healthy way to live – physically or mentally – either. So take all our advice with a grain of salt (or even a spoonful of sugar).
Avoid: Cow’s milk
Several studies have found a link between drinking lots of milk and acne. Commercially-produced milk is often full of growth hormones, which can affect insulin levels, increasing the production of sebum and causing inflammation, resulting in breakouts.
Have instead: Almond milk, oat milk or rice milk
Luckily, there are tons of milk alternatives on the market these days, all of which work as the perfect creamy partner for your next bowl of granola, without the unwanted side effects.
Avoid: Sugar-filled snacks & soft drinks
It seems obvious that too much sugar isn’t good for you, but you might not have realised the impact it can have on your skin. Sugary snacks and sodas spike blood sugar levels, which can lead to inflammation and breakouts later in the day. Perhaps worse however, is that sugar also degrades collagen and elastin, which are the essential proteins which keep skin youthfully soft and supple.
Have instead: Nuts, berries and Greek yoghurt
Next time you’re feeling the 3pm peckishness coming on, reach for a handful of nuts or a small tub of Greek yoghurt. High in protein but low in sugar, they’ll leave you feeling satisfied without the sugar-crash. If you’re feeling like some fruit, berries are a great pick – again, they’re low in sugar but packed with skin-preserving antioxidants.
Avoid: Alcohol & Coffee
Tragic, but true – our favourite liquid vices are bad for our skin. That familiar feeling of needing to go to the bathroom more often when hitting the espressos (or the espresso martinis) is due to the fact that both alcohol and coffee are diuretics – they flush water out of the body. Excessive consumption can leave us dehydrated, drying out the skin and making it look worn down.
Have instead: Green tea
While sometimes you simply need a double-shot flat white to get you through Monday morning, there’s always room to cut back on your six-coffees-a-day habit. When possible, switch out coffee with green tea, which is packed with healthy antioxidants. Similarly, if you’re having a night out, remember to alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water – not only will it keep you from getting drunk too quickly, it’ll keep you hydrated throughout the evening.
Avoid: Trans fats & saturated fats
While fats are an essential part of the human diet, and help keep the skin soft and supple, there’s a big difference between the effect of healthy and unhealthy fats. Trans fats, which are often found in fast food and margarine, cause inflammation and breakouts while also dehydrating the skin.
Have instead: Omega-3 fats
The good news is that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, olive oil, avocado and flaxseed are great for the skin. They tame inflammation, keep the skin hydrated and plump-looking, and help maintain healthy cell membranes. Feel free to keep the avocado smashes coming as well – avocado is full of vitamin E, which has sun protection qualities!