The old adage is true… kind of. You really are what you eat- to a point. You may have heard advice that avoiding specific foods will “guarantee” clear, radiant skin. However, suddenly swearing off cheeseburgers or eating only kale isn’t going to instantly cure all of your skincare woes. But just because it won’t be an overnight cure doesn’t mean you can neglect the role nutrition plays in your skin’s health. And healthy skin looks good on everyone.

Certain foods do have an impact on the way your skin looks. Here are a few topics to chew on when it comes to your diet and its impact on the health and appearance of your skin.

Lighten up on Sugar


It’s a fact: sugar is delicious. But over the past year or so, it’s been run through the wringer in regards to all of the potential detriments to your health. It’s been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Plus, an article by JAMA Internal Medicine found that the risks of consuming too much sugar were downplayed by the research funded by the sugar industry in the 1960s. Who would have thought something so sweet could do so much damage?

The effects of sugar can be seen in your skin as well. Glycation is when a sugar molecule, delivered by blood circulation, chemically bonds to fats and proteins, like those in your skin tissues. This can cause the formation of appropriately-named  A.G.E.s, or advanced glycation end products. According to a study published in Clinics In Dermatology, this can make skin stiff and collagen incapable of easy repairs. Skin is more likely to show lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging. Compromised collagen is also more susceptible to damage from UV rays and free radicals. Cut down on your sugar intake and you could avoid some of the nasty effects associated with glycation.

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A Little Less Dairy


Do a quick Google search for “dairy and skin” and you’ll be hit with about 38,700,000 results for the correlation between the two. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that dairy is linked to acne and generally poor skin, and dozens of before and after dairy comparison pictures. And as it turns out, science can confirm the link between milk and acne. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology surveyed teens about their diets and instances of acne. Researchers found a link between the intake of skim milk and the appearance of acne. The study postulates that skim milk contains hormonal constituents, or factors that influence internal hormones, in large enough quantities to have a biological impact on skin.

Another cause for concern could be the iodine-fortified feed that dairy cows are often given. This point is hotly contested, partly because iodine is a necessity for thyroid function and often added to salt. Some sources say, however, than an excess consumption of dairy can cause an overload of iodine and thus acne. A study from the European Journal of Dermatology confirms that a diet high in iodine and dairy can contribute to acne, but it also lists irregular diets and high fats as contributing factors. More research needs to be done on the exact impact of dietary iodine on acne, but there is some evidence linking the two.

Amp up the Vitamins


We all know that vitamins are good for skin. Vitamin C is a fantastic antioxidant that can beat free radicals, promote collagen production, suppress pigmentation and even make your sunscreen work better. Vitamin E is another serious antioxidant that protects skin. Vitamin D can reduce acne. But the question is whether consuming these vitamins has the same effect as their topical application. One study published by the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology showed oral skin supplements to be effective in treating premature aging. The oral supplement worked best, however, when used in conjunction with topical treatments.

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Oral vitamin D supplements may have an effect on the appearance of aging, as well. By upping levels of vitamin D to match those with younger skin, you may slow cellular aging, thus creating a more youthful look to skin. There are plenty of vitamins and supplements available that specifically target skincare concerns, but adjusting your diet to include these beneficial nutrients naturally is a great solution. You’ll benefit your skin and your body at the same time.