It’s clear that there’s a connection between what you eat and the state of your skin but which foods should you avoid to minimise flare-ups?
First of all, it’s worth stressing that everyone is different, and everyone’s skin is different! What triggers a flare-up for you might be fine for someone else, even if you’re both living with the same skin condition. The immune system, which is responsible for inflammatory skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and acne, is a complicated thing and the reasons why it overreacts under some circumstances and to some substances is not fully understood.
The other problem with determining which food is causing a breakout, is that some links between skin health and diet can only be said to be correlation, not causation. If you’re eating fast food is it the additives, the sugar, the fats or the wheat that is causing a problem? Is it the combination of different factors? It can be very hard to tell!
Despite this, there are some foods which, as a general rule, are worth considering if you’re struggling to get your skin in good condition. Try eliminating them, one at a time, if you want to check whether they’re a problem for you.
Here’s a list of eight common foods which seem to have an effect on the skin:
Sugar has a fairly immediate and significant effect on the body; it triggers an insulin release which can knock the body’s hormonal balance out of kilter and appears to increase the likelihood of developing acne. Many eczema sufferers say that they experience flare-ups after a sugar overload.
2. REFINED GRAINS/CARBOHYDRATES/HIGH GI FOODS
Like sugar, refined grains like white bread, pastries, cereals, white rice, pasta and noodles, can have a significant effect on the body; carbs mean your blood-sugar levels rise and this can have a knock-on effect on the skin, increasing inflammation and affecting how your body responds to triggers.
Fatty foods seem to have a connection with acne, in that the more fried food you eat, the more likely you are to have spots.
Alcohol is a known trigger for rosacea, and is a noted co-factor in psoriasis (although it’s unclear whether alcohol directly causes a flare or is part of a picture that includes increased stress, anxiety and vulnerability to infection). Alcohol also tends to dehydrate the body, which can lead to itchier skin, and more damage from scratching.
5. TEA & COFFEE
Your daily tea and coffee can have an effect on your skin, but it’s not entirely sure whether it’s a good or bad thing in the long run! Caffeine dehydrates the body, which can certainly lead to more wrinkles and more fragile skin if you drink a lot of it, or are sensitive to its effects, but tea and coffee both have positive benefits for the skin as well! Drinking coffee has been linked to having fewer spots, for instance.
Some studies have suggested that teenagers who regularly consume cow’s milk products are more likely to suffer from acne, even if it’s not entirely clear why! Dairy can also cause allergic reactions, which worsen eczema in those susceptible.
For some people - notably those with coeliac disease and who develop dermatitis herpetiformis - gluten is a definite trigger for skin flares. For others, the link is not so clear. It could be that refined carbs, not gluten, are increasing the severity of inflammatory responses or it could be something else entirely. Gluten intolerance tends to be part of a whole picture of digestive issues that have a knock-on effect on skin.
8. COMMON FOOD SENSITIVITIES
If you’re prone to eczema and are either allergic and sensitive to certain foods, your skin is likely to suffer when you come into contact with them. Common foods which eczema sufferers often react to include:
- Tree nuts
It’s important to note that true allergies are very different to food insensitivities.
Allergies have immediate and drastic effects, while food insensitivity or intolerance is part of a bigger picture; it’s perfectly possible for someone who’s sensitive to sugar or caffeine while their body is in an inflammatory state to be able to tolerate both once the inflammation has passed.
Remember that what you eat can also have a positive effect on your skin! If you’re feeding your skin with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy, it will be in a better condition to resist inflammation. So even if you’re avoiding your triggers, make sure you’re adding in some positively beneficial foods as well! One of the best ways of managing your eczema or psoriasis is to be as healthy as possible in all other ways, and a good, nutritious diet is absolutely key to health.
Read our article Top 7 Foods To Boost Skin Health for more tips about diet and skin! And don't forget that Skin Salvation works over time as a supplement for your skin! A daily application of Skin Salvation is going to be feeding your skin with vital nutrients, and supporting its natural cycle of repair and regeneration.
Skin Salvation balm with hemp and olive oil (from £7.99 for 30ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
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