Clear skin says so much about your health. As your body’s largest organ, skin is an immune barrier that protects your insides and regulates your internal temperature. As such, unhealthy looking skin is an indication that you may be unhealthy inside as well.
Simply put, your skin is a reflection of your overall health. So, how do you get clear skin and a clean bill of health all at the same time?
As with almost all of the nutrition tips I give you, my advice here focuses on your diet. If you’re eating incorrectly, your health will go awry, so you have to clean up your diet if you want to achieve clear skin naturally.
You probably know which foods you should be eating—lean meat, fatty fish, vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts—but do you know which foods you shouldn’t be eating?
Let’s take a look at the enemies of clear skin.
Clear Skin Tips: What You Shouldn’t Be Eating
1. Foods with High Glycemic and Gluten Load (Wheat, Barley & Rye)
Foods like wheat, barley and rye contain gluten, which is unhealthy for your gut and skin.
Gluten is a medley of proteins Glutenin and Gliadin, and these are responsible for imparting elasticity to the dough.
However, they’re also responsible for wreaking havoc on your gut.
Food preparations like bread, pasta, cakes, croutons and tortillas which are made from these cereals really aren’t that good for you, no matter how tasty they are.
A gluten-related disorder is the umbrella term accorded to a list of autoimmune and allergic diseases associated with gluten. It includes celiac disease, wheat allergy, non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, dermatitis herpetiformis, and gluten ataxia. (1) (2)
Other diseases associated with gluten are diabetes type-1, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, eczema, thyroiditis, SLE, and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are numerous studies which show the impact of gluten on people’s digestion and overall health. These conditions are far more common than most people realize.
Studies have also demonstrated excluding gluten from one’s diet can improve the symptoms of these systemic and gastrointestinal disorders.
If you must have an alternative, try baked goods made from healthy grains like buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa. If you don’t, you can be sure that gluten will get in the way of the clear skin you desire.
Some people can’t do without a steaming hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It wakes them up and gets them going. Or so they think.
In my books The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet, I outline why a mug full of caffeine is one of the worst things you can start your day with. It’s also a terrible thing to consume if you care about clear skin.
Coffee contains polyphenolic compounds called tannins and, of course, caffeine, which is a psychoactive chemical. Here’s why these two compounds deliver a one-two punch to your health and your skin:
** Consuming too much of coffee tannins can cause blockage of the pores. This in turn can cause an outbreak of acne and result in a dull and oily skin. It also causes dehydration and can make your skin look brittle, dry and rough.
** Several studies have shown that a higher intake of these tannins during pregnancy increases the risk of neonatal acute leukemia. They activate and promote DNA changes in the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene and initiate neonatal leukemia.(3)
** As you might know, caffeine can cause mild dependence and may lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches, migraines, moodiness, irritation, etc. It is not even considered safe during pregnancy.(4)
** Caffeine increases the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which affects insulin sensitivity of the cells and may lead to weight gain.
** Various studies have exposed caffeine’s role in causing high blood pressure, chronic arterial stiffness, dehydration, dose dependence, and mental disorders (anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc.).
** Caffeine has also been shown to increase bone loss and aggravate osteoporosis in elderly women.
Is that enough to convince you that you shouldn’t be drinking the stuff? In fact, clear skin should be the least of your concerns; it should be clear that coffee isn’t great for your overall health.
Personally, when I want a warm drink, I reach for the various herbal teas in my cupboard. Give that a shot.
3. Fried Foods
This is a no brainer. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating fried chicken or fried kale: if it’s fried, it’s questionable.
Vegetable oils, when superheated, are highly oxidative and reactive and release free radicals in the body. These free radicals act like toxins and cause oxidative stress in the cells, which cause them to age faster.
Which in turn means you age faster, including your skin; spots, wrinkles, blemishes, you name it.
These vegetable oils also induce inflammation in the body, which spells even more trouble for your clear skin.
The healthier options are coconut oil and olive oil, but you should still be very careful that you don’t heat them too high.
I’m not saying I never eat fried foods, but wherever possible, I opt for grilled, braised or smoked dishes. They’re so much healthier, and especially in the case of grilled foods, often taste better.
4. Dairy Products
I’m no fan of dairy products. I think they’re some of the unhealthiest things you can eat, and what’s worse, most of us have been brainwashed into thinking they’re an important part of a healthy diet. Rubbish.
Dairy products contain natural hormones, both male and female. One glass of milk is supposed to have 60 varieties of hormones. One component that is similar to testosterone activates the oil glands present in the skin, thus providing the framework for an acne outbreak. (5)
Many studies have shown a link between dairy and acne though they have not been able to prove the causality of it.
Dairy products also have lactose in them, which many people are highly allergic to. Also, lactose raises the blood sugar rapidly, and many studies have linked it to diabetes.
As if that’s not enough, lactose and milk protein are not easily digested in the gut and can cause digestion issues. It may lead to acidity, bloating and gas.
Finally, the milk proteins whey and casein have inflammatory properties and act as irritants to the gut mucosa. This can initiate an inflammatory response in the gut, leading to an unhealthy looking skin.
If all of this doesn’t convince you that dairy is bad stuff, I don’t know what will. For the sake of clear skin and overall health, ditch it altogether and opt for nut milks instead.
Here’s a simple truth that I’m glad is slowly becoming accepted knowledge: sugar is never good for the skin or the body on the whole. Never.
Sugar triggers a process called glycation in the blood. Glycation occurs when a covalent bond forms between a sugar molecule and a protein or a lipid molecule. (6)
These new molecules are called AGEs—advanced glycation end products. AGEs interfere with the cellular and molecular functions in the body, and they release several harmful and oxidizing by-products and side-products during the process of their formation.
These AGEs are more reactive than their parent sugars and damage the endothelium, fibrinogen and collagen in the body, causing cardiac and vascular diseases. They’re also linked to a myriad of diseases in the body, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
To bring things back to the focus of this article, AGEs also damage the substances needed to keep your skin clear, youthful and vibrant, substances such as collagen, fibrin and elastin.
This causes your clear skin to lose its firmness and elasticity, and soon enough, it’s not clear at all.
The healthier substitute for sugar is stevia. Stevia is a sweet herb and is 40 times sweeter than sugar. Best of all, it has zero calories and very low glycemic index.
I hope these clear skin natural remedies really sink in for you. Most people know that maintaining a healthy diet is very important, but don’t realize not doing so can even affect their skin health. Don’t fall into that trap.
Enjoy This Article?
Did you enjoy this article on the 5 Foods to Avoid for Clear Skin? You might also like my 1-Day Detox Plan. It’s designed to detoxify your body in 24 hours using mouthwatering “cleansing” meals. Click the banner below to get it for FREE.
1. Ludvigsson JF, Leffler DA, Bai JC, Biagi F, Fasano A, Green PH, Hadjivassiliou M, Kaukinen K, Kelly CP, Leonard JN, Lundin KE, Murray JA, Sanders DS, Walker MM, Zingone F, Ciacci C (January 2013). “The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms”. Gut 62(1): 43– 52. PMID 22345659
2. Gaesser GA, Angadi SS (September 2012). “Gluten-free diet: imprudent dietary advice for the general population?” J Acad Nutr Diet 112 (9): 1330–3. PMID 22939437
3. Van der Linden MH et al (2012). “Diagnosis and management of neonatal leukaemia”. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med 17(4):192-5
4. Caffeine in the diet (April 2013). MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine.. Retrieved 26 November 2015
5. Eric Metcalf. Can Foods Make You Break Out? www.webMD.com
6. Soldatos, G.; Cooper ME (Dec 2006). “Advanced glycation end products and vascular structure and function”. Curr Hypertens Rep 8 (6): 472–478. PMID 17087858
Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.