Food and Skin: A Complicated Relationship
You are what you eat, and your skin is a part of you. Ergo, naturally what you eat is bound to show up on your skin sooner or later. How much of this is true and how much of it is a myth? Let’s find out.
If food and skin had Facebook profiles, their relationship status would state ‘complicated.’ Because that’s how it is! We have been told since our teenage years that what we eat affects the way our skin behaves, and yet the world around us tells us otherwise. You will always have that one friend in your group who thrives on junk food and flaunts the smoothest of skins. And then there are others who are bothered with acne in spite of having a clean diet. Like we said, it’s complicated!
However there are several factors that show that there is a correlation between healthy food and your skin’s health. What you eat has a direct impact on the amount of certain lipids in the epidermis, which affects the health of your skin. We might agree on facts like alcohol consumption can make you skin dry and sugar can make wrinkles appear.
But how much does your food have a say in skin eruptions?
Watch those eruptions!
Skin eruptions include rashes, inflammation and acne.
Rashes are itchy, red and bumpy, and often give rise to inflammation. They can be short lived, lasting for a few hours, or they can stay put for a few days. If your skin rashes are related to the consumption of any particular kind of food, it means you are allergic to it. Skin rashes may be just one manifestation of this allergy, probably the first symptom to flag off the red signal. It means that the food you are allergic to is causing eczema or atopic dermatitis. It is your body’s chemical reaction to the allergen. This reaction is likely to happen almost immediately after the consumption of that particular food.
In the worst-case scenario, you will also get hives and experience swelling of the face, tongue and lips. This might be accompanied by more severe symptoms in other parts of the body. You need to consult with an allergist or immunologist to deal with this problem. Take help from your dermatologist to alleviate skin rashes caused by said allergic reaction. Most likely dietary culprits are peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, seafood and shellfish.
You need to meet your doctor at the earliest in case of skin eruptions caused due to food allergies. They would recommend medication and topical application to soothe the skin and reverse the effects of the allergic reaction.
Acne or acne vulgaris is largely triggered by hormones but there are certain foods that can make it worse.
Let us look at the top defaulters in our dietary intake that can cause acne:
- Acne is a common consequence of eating food with a high glycemic index. White bread, white pasta and potatoes are the usual suspects if you are getting breakouts even after consuming home-cooked meals.
- We know that red meat causes cholesterol to rise but did you know that it also has a hand in peppering your skin with acne? Yes, because red meats like bacon are high in nitrates, which are known to cause inflammation in the body, leading to skin eruptions.
- Many of us who hit the gym regularly also consume whey protein. Whey protein increases the production of a hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). Insulin is directly related to sebum production, which triggers acne.
- Junk food is filled with calories as it is rich in fat and carbohydrates. Food items such as burgers, hot dogs, doughnuts and the notorious potato chips/fries are prepared using a lot of oil. Excess of cooking oil when consumed in such large quantities and on a regular basis interferes with the body’s natural toxin removal process, leading to inflammation and breakouts.
- We Indians love spicy food. Too much spice is not good for the gut but we fail to see the reactions even when our body is showing us the proof in the form of increased sebum production, skin sensitivity, cysts and even rosacea.
- Got a sweet tooth, be ready to pop some pimples. Chocolate might be the food of love but if you love your skin, you best avoid it. Your body recognises chocolate as carbohydrate and digests it accordingly. Plus it is made with a lot of refined sugar, which very easily kickstarts sebum production in top gear and induces inflammatory responses in the body. End result: acne.
- Several studies have shown that milk also causes acne in people, especially teenagers.
With so many triggers for skin eruptions at your dining table, isn’t it best to consult a dermatologist to know which are the right culinary choices for you? That way you can eat healthy and keep your skin acne-free, too. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too!
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