The Food and Complexion Connection

Diet and Acne

If you’ve ever experienced breakouts or acne, you’ve probably wondered whether what you eat affects the status of your face.
The answer is no – and yes.

No particular food has been proven to hurt or help the complexion. But, your general eating habits affect your overall health—and that has an impact on the look and feel of your skin.

Although the relationship between acne and diet is still under much debate, it may be helpful to be aware of a few foods at the crux of the controversy:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, rice, pasta and processed sweets and snacks have a high glycemic index. That means they take blood-sugar levels on a roller coaster ride. Spiking blood-sugar causes insulin levels to rise and increases skin oil, which can clog pores and trigger acne.
  • Milk contains plenty of nutrients, including vitamin D and calcium to support healthy bones. Naturally occurring hormones in milk, however, affect the balance of androgens (acne-causing hormones) in the body. Interestingly, studies suggest that skim milk, in particular, puts the skin’s oil glands into overdrive.
  • Chocolate gets a bad rap for good reason, when it comes to your skin. One study showed that even when cocoa was tested alone it caused outbreaks for some. With the added ingredients of sugar and milk to make chocolate, it can be aggravating to the complexion.
  • Fried foods. Common sense suggests the grease in your fries could affect your skin. But it’s less about the actual grease and more about inflammation, which is triggered by consumption of fast and fried foods. While acne is considered an inflammatory condition, studies haven’t yet confirmed a link. Still, it makes sense to steer clear of greasy foods for health reasons alone.

The science on foods that benefit the skin is also murky. For overall health, it’s best to eat well-balanced and nutritious meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fatty fish. Be sure to also drink a lot of water and other fluids to hydrate your skin and body.

If you suspect your skin is sensitive to certain foods (such as milk, sugar or your favorite greasy diner dish), cut the suspected offender out of your diet for a few months to see whether there’s any change.

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Drink extra fluids throughout pregnancy to help your body keep up with the increases in your blood volume. It is important to drink at least six to eight glasses of water, fruit juice or milk each day.