We have mentioned many times how food can affect the skin positively and negatively. As they say, you are what you eat, and unless you clean up your diet, even the best skincare products in the world will not give you the radiant type of skin you dream of. But exactly what kinds of food are bad for the skin, and how do they impact the skin?
Dairy products, including milk, cheese, cream, butter, yoghurt, and ice cream, is perhaps the number one food group that we often tell people to avoid.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, our body breaks down the lactose in milk with enzymes called lactase, and about 65 per cent of people loses these enzymes when they pass infancy. When we get older, our body may even develop an intolerance, or worse, allergy, to lactose, which triggers an inflammatory response in the body. Note that babies can also be lactose intolerant, and lactose is found in breast milk as well as baby formula.
Secondly, they contain casein and whey protein that can raise levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1, a hormone that is linked with increased production of sebum and acne. And thirdly, they could raise insulin levels, making our body more susceptible to inflammations. When the body is inflamed, it will subsequently and surely impact the skin, causing acne, eczema, rosacea, and other forms of skin issues. It will also lead to a breakdown of collagen, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.
What To Do: As we always say, avoid it completely, and that includes the milk in your milk tea. Also, use a probiotic mask with live cultures and prebiotic to balance the skin's natural microbiome and soothe inflammations.
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Gluten is the general term for a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye, and basically, bread, cakes, cereals, pasta, pizza, udon, and beer all contain gluten. Before you say, "But I've done a food allergy test and I'm not allergic to gluten!", well, know that allergy and sensitivity (or intolence) are very different, and there is currently no laboratory test exists for non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which means it can go undetected.
Ingesting gluten can cause an inflammatory response that begins in the gut (bloating and constipation are both signs), and ends up spreading to other parts of the body. It also depletes the body the ability of absorbing nutrients like vitamins A, E, and essential fatty acids. These combined can easily lead to psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, skin rashes, and keratosis pilaris. Moreover, gluten also triggers the release of insulin, raises hormone levels, resulting in acne.
What To Do: Besides avoiding gluten in your diet, since the body does not have enough vitamins A, E and essential fatty acids in its reservoir, try to add in products that can replenish the skin with these nutrients.
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When we consume sugar, insulin is released from the pancreas to absorb the sugar and transfer it to our liver. However, the pancreas can only process so much sugar, and if there is excess sugar, it can cause inflammation. It also weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off bacteria. Acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and rosacea are all conditions that can be triggered by this.
And guess what, insulin may also cause hormonal imbalance in females by increasing testosterone. This stimulates oil production, which not only makes the skin oilier, but can also clog pores and cause acne.
Worse yet, sugar, especially the artificial and processed ones can also enter our bloodstream, attach to collagen fibers and elastin proteins in the skin and break them down in a process called glycation, resulting in loss of elasticity, wrinkles, and sagging skin. In some scenarios, it may even cause insulin resistance in the body that manifests itself in the form of dark patches on the neck and in areas of the body where skin creases such as the elbows, underarms, and knees.
What To Do: In addition to avoiding artificial and processed ones, such as dessert, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, frozen food, and even peanut butter, since glycation is not a reversible reaction, use products that can prevent it in the first place, including retinol, peptides, and blueberry and pomegranate extracts.
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Alcohol is actually one of the worst compounds that can destroy the skin. Firstly, as alcohol is a diuretic, the most immediate effect is dehydration. The more and longer you drink, the worse the dehydration damage gets, and the more fine lines, dry lines and ultimately deep wrinkles you will have.
It also inflames the tissue, changes the hormonal milieu in the skin, and this systemic inflammation to the skin caused by alcohol creates a histamine reaction——it alters the blood vessels in the skin, causing them to dilate and worsen the appearance of facial redness, which over time, can accumulate and cause persistent redness that won’t go away.
Last but not least, not only does alcohol affect all mucous membrane, excessive drinking, as we all know, can even cause liver damage; when the liver is not functioning properly, the skin and whites of the eyes may turn yellow, and various skin conditions such as itchiness, eczema and psoriasis may occur.
What To Do: Cut it off. Exercise instead of using alcohol as your stress release. And if you really have to drink, use hydrating, soothing products immediately after to replenish the skin with water, and soothe any inflammation the residual alcohol may bring to the skin.
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