5 Of The Most Skin-Friendly Food Swaps
Little known fact: what you eat can seriously impact your skin.
There will always be a place for chocolate lava cake and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in our lives, but if you’re worried that your sweet tooth/savory snack addiction is ruining your skin, it might be time to make some changes to your diet. And the best way to get the job done without feeling like you’re completely torturing your tastebuds? Simply employ a few smart food swaps. And luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work right here…
Smart Swap #1: Sugar For Agave
As a nation, we consume about 17 teaspoons of sugar every day which is about five more than the maximum recommended amount. And sugar doesn’t just pile on the pounds. Studies show that a sugar-heavy diet produces what are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the skin. This happens through a process called glycation, which occurs when excessive amounts of sugar become too much for your natural insulin levels to handle. These sugars then end up attacking your vulnerable skin cells, latching onto collagen and elastin and causing them to become stiff and weak. The result? Harmful compounds called AGEs that cause dryness, exacerbate fine lines, deepen wrinkles and age you up lightning fast – as the name suggests!
Instead of using sugar to sweeten your food and drinks, try agave or monk fruit sweetener which both have lower glycemic index values, so they get absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream, causing less damage as they go. And don’t forget those devilish sodas, also. Soda is packed with sugar, often more than the entire daily recommendation, so switch them out for water wherever possible.
Smart Swap #2: Red Meat For Fish
Most red meats are high in saturated fats and cholesterol which can lead to inflammation in your body. And you all know what inflammation does to your skin. Cue irritation, redness, acne flare-ups and damage to your valuable collagen levels which can lead to premature aging in the form of lines, wrinkles, dark spots and dull skin.
Rather than pack your diet with red meat, choose wild fish like salmon which is low in cholesterol but high in good fats – namely omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are great for the complexion as they help regulate sebum production, soothe irritation, improve healing and increase hydration. A major plus for your skin.
Smart Swap #3: Chips For Nuts
Anything fried is bad for your skin, and there’s a very simple reason for that. Just like sugar, fried food increases free radicals and AGEs in your skin. Fried potato chips, for example contain almost 900 AGEs per serving compared to baked chips which only contain around 150. Now, correct us if we’re wrong, but that feels like a pretty major difference to us. Frying foods also kills essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients which your skin need to remain healthy, glowing and youthful-looking.
Regular, store-bought chips are not only fried, but they’re covered in salt which is vital for your health, but when consumed in large amounts, is a devil on your skin’s barrier function, sucking all the moisture out of it and making your skin feel dry, dehydrated and sensitized. Salt also causes inflammation, weakens your collagen and exacerbates conditions like eczema and acne.
Word to the wise? Ditch the bumper bags of Kettle Chips and Nacho Cheese Doritos in favor of unsalted nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews. These are not only salt-free but packed with antioxidants. Win-win.
Smart Swap #4: Refined Carbs For Low GI Carbs
Thought you were done with AGEs? Think again. Refined carbs like white bread, pasta and rice are high-glycemic foods which means that, just like sugar, they get turned into glucose by your body, causing a spike in your blood sugar levels and a serious amount of skin-wrecking AGEs. Dang.
Breads and grains are also high in gluten which can aggravate your skin and cause inflammation and breakouts if you have a gluten intolerance. So, there’s that.
Ditching bread and pizzas may sound like absolute hell but try to at least cut down on the white ones if you can bear it. Friendlier alternatives are wholemeal breads, brown rice and when it comes to pasta, try zoodles (zucchini noodles), spiralized carrots or eggplant lasagne. Delicious and way better for your skin.
Smart Swap #5: Cow’s Milk for Nut Milks
Dairy products are essential for the health of your entire body, but for lactose intolerant people, it can wreak skin havoc. When your body can’t digest a certain food group, you see, it starts to ferment and breed bacteria – terrible for your gut, just as bad for your skin. Dairy cows are also frequently treated with hormones which can throw yours off balance and trigger acne breakouts.
If you’re lactose intolerant and are having trouble with dairy, replace cow’s milk with organic milks made from nuts or seeds such as coconut, flaxseed, hazelnut or cashew.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.