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5 Food Mistakes That Hurt Your Skin

Eating a healthy diet can improve the tone and texture of your skin.
Eating a healthy diet can improve the tone and texture of your skin.
©iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Back in the day, it was widely held that chocolate, fried foods and other less-than-healthy eating choices led to breakouts and flawed complexions. But two studies published in 1969 and 1971 suggested otherwise, convincing many experts that no link existed between diet and skin problems [source: Bowers]. More recently, however, new research has revived the theory that there is a healthy skin diet and certain foods and dietary habits increase the likelihood of acne, wrinkles, irritation, skin cancer and more. Are the things you eat and drink taking a toll on your face? Click through this image gallery to discover five food mistakes that hurt your skin.

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Bagels can spike blood sugar.
Bagels can spike blood sugar.
Sara Novak

Researchers have found a connection between acne and diets with a high glycemic load -- in other words, diets packed with refined carbohydrates and sweets such as bread, candy, pasta, soda and juice. These foods cause your blood sugar to spike, unleashing hormones that stimulate oil production and make pore-clogging skin cells shed faster [source: Bowers]. There's also some evidence that high-sugar diets encourage fine lines and premature aging by damaging collagen and elastin, the connective tissues that keep the skin firm and supple [source: Repinksi]. So if you're acne-prone or concerned about wrinkles, consider replacing processed carbs with more protein, vegetables and whole grains, which don't cause a rise in blood sugar.

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Bacon is laden with skin-harming sodium.
Bacon is laden with skin-harming sodium.
Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock

Do you look exhausted no matter how much sleep you get? If you're plagued by persistent dark circles under the eyes, watch your sodium intake. In many cases, the discoloration appears when puffy eyelids and under-eye bags cast shadows on your face [source: Bailly]. Chances are you're retaining water thanks to last night's pizza or your morning side of bacon. In fact, a salt-heavy meal can make your entire face swell, just like it does to your fingers. Plus, iodized salt has been linked to breakouts, giving you another good reason to set aside the shaker [source: Jimenez].

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A hangover can give you more than a headache.
A hangover can give you more than a headache.
Stockbyte/Getty Images

As anyone who's suffered a hangover knows, alcohol doesn't do your body any favors. It's particularly rough on your complexion. Heavy drinking causes dehydration, which can lead to dullness, wrinkles and dry skin. It's also may trigger flare-ups of skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. In some people, alcohol dilates the tiny blood vessels near the skin's surface, creating a flushed appearance. And it robs the body of vitamin A, which helps the skin renew and repair itself [source: Magee] through the production of collagen. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, women should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day, while men can consume up to two drinks [source: U.S. Department of Agriculture].

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Fatty fish like salmon are good for your skin.
Fatty fish like salmon are good for your skin.
iStockphoto/Olgna

If you're trying to lose weight or eat healthier, remember to keep good fats in your diet. The skin requires essential fatty acids to maintain hydration, and your body can't produce them on its own. Healthy fats like the omega-3 fatty acids -- found in walnuts, soybeans and fatty fish like salmon -- help prevent wrinkles, inflammation, dry skin and acne. Olive oil, a staple of Mediterranean diets, contains oleic acid, which is thought to hydrate the skin, protect against skin cancer and increase absorption of omega-3s and other nutrients [source: Long]. Other oleic acid sources include avocados and nuts such as almond and macadamia [source: Calborn].

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Drinking too much milk may trigger a negative response in your skin.
Drinking too much milk may trigger a negative response in your skin.
Getty Images / Aaron Graubart

In recent years, a series of studies has suggested that dairy products, especially milk, can cause pimples, whiteheads and blackheads in people prone to acne. Researchers have theorized that naturally occurring hormones in milk stimulate the production of sebum and pore-clogging skin cells [source: Bowers]. Some experts have criticized the studies linking acne to dairy, noting that research subjects had to self-report their breakouts [source: Pappas]. Still, if you struggle with hormonal acne, which tends to appear on the chin or along the jaw line, you might consider cutting out dairy as an experiment.

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Sources

  • Bailly, Jenny. "4 Dark-Circle Cures (That Actually Work)." Oprah.com. March 28, 2013. (July 9, 2013) http://www.oprah.com/style/How-to-Fix-Dark-Circles-Under-Eyes-Dark-Undereye-Circles/1
  • Bowers, Jan. "Role of food remains controversial." American Academy of Dermatology. May 1, 2012. (July 29, 2013) http://www.aad.org/dw/monthly/2012/acne/diet-and-acne#.Ufam0WTXRTQ
  • Calborn, Cherie. "The Wrinkle Cleanse: 4 Simple Steps to Softer, Younger-Looking Skin." Penguin. June 22, 2006.
  • Jimenez, Anna. "9 Best (and Worst!) Foods for Health Skin." Total Beauty. April 6, 2011. (July 29, 2013) http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/best-worst-skin-foods
  • Long, April. "Dieting Tips: Keep Your Regimen From Harming Your Skin." Elle. May 14, 2010. (July 30, 2013) http://www.elle.com/beauty/health-fitness/dieting-tips-keep-your-regimen-from-harming-your-skin-444616
  • Magee, Anna. "What TWO glasses of wine a day can do to your face in ten years." Daily Mail. October 20, 2011. (July 29, 2013) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2051161/What-TWO-glasses-wine-day-face-years.html
  • Pappas, Apostolos. "The relationship of diet and acne." Dermato-Endocrinology. September-October 2009. (July 30, 2013) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/
  • Repinski, Karyn. "Face Facts About Sugar." Prevention. November 2011. (July 29, 2013)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010." (July 29, 2013) http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/PolicyDoc.pdf

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