As we know, food is a wonderful thing. Not only can it fill you up, but it can completely change your mood. What’s even better, eat the right things and it can make you healthier and even heal you.
You’ve heard of people cutting out sugar to make their skin look better, and you may have even heard the term “gluten face” used to describe puffy, inflamed, or red skin. But can certain foods actually make your complexion worse?
It’s the subject of a lot of debate in the scientific and wellness community. One does one thing, another does that, it’s hard to wrap your head around it all. But board-certified dermatologist Laurel Geraghty, M.D, gives us some interesting insight.
Geraghty says that there is some connection between diet and skin – with some caveats. “The best evidence we have so far suggests that what is called a high-glycemic index diet could actually worsen acne in people prone to it,” she says. So how can we control a high glycemic index, and as a result maybe get rid of some of our acne?
A high-glycemic index diet is one that’s heavy in simple carbohydrates (like white rice, pasta and bread). Because these carbohydrates are already pretty close to sugar (they get broken down into sugar), your body doesn’t require a lot of energy to process them, leading to a spike in blood sugar and then a crash.
It’s unclear exactly why high-glycemic foods have this effect on acne-prone skin – and these foods certainly don’t cause acne – but a lot of research has shown that eating lots of these kinds of foods: mac and cheese, rice with curry etc, could contribute to breakouts if you’re already an acne sufferer.
As for dairy products, Geraghty says that there is some evidence to suggest that certain types of dairy can cause acne flare-ups in acne-prone skin. While there is not a ton of research yet on the subject, she says that the most recent studies seem to indicate that skim milk might be worse for your skin than higher-fat milk.
Don’t be throwing out your entire fridge or pantry just yet, as Geraghty says that dermatologists don’t recommend anyone dramatically change how much dairy they’re eating just because of their skin – especially since dairy has so many important nutrients, particularly for young women.
Something to keep in mind is that both of these foods seem to only adversely affect people who already have problems with acne. If you don’t have acne at all, don’t cut out these foods for the sake of your skin.
“You could have a terrible diet and no acne, or you can have a perfect diet and break out,” Geraghty says. “If you are one of those people who tends to break out, it’s a good idea to maybe adopt one of these low-glycemic index diets to help your skin, and maybe avoid excess dairy as well.”
The take home here? Listen to your body, if you realize certain things you don’t like happen after you eat certain foods, don’t eat them. Don’t torture yourself for nothing: if you have to eat carbs (so, pizza), you have to eat carbs (so, a lot of pizza).