Does your diet affect your skin? – Melanie Jakuttek

Chocolates and junk food give you zits, water and fresh fruit give you a glowing complexion – you’ve probably all heard that before. But are these beliefs actually true? Some people swear by it, some think there is no truth in it at all. Let’s try to shed some light on this matter.

Dermatologists have long declared many of these beliefs as myths, but a recent study by the Colorado State University shows that there might be a fraction of truth in them after all. In course of their study, researchers compared the diet of Western cultures with that of the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea. While the Western diet consisted greatly of processed sugary foods, such as potato chips, doughnuts, soda, etc., the people of Papua New Guinea mostly ate fresh fish, fruit and tubers. Not a single case of acne was found there, while it is common, that 80 to 95% of American teenagers suffer from breakouts and even adults aren’t immune.
The researchers believe, the main reason is that the islanders rarely ate any food with a high glycemic load, which causes the blood sugar level to rise. High blood sugar levels lead to more insulin being produced by the pancreas, therefore releasing male hormones and growth factors. As an overall result, more oil is produced by the skin and pores are clogged up, causing breakouts.

To give you a rough idea on the glycemic index, I have listed a few foods and their glycemic load:

Food Glycemic Index
Potato chips 51-57*
Mars Bar 62-68*
Coca Cola 53-63*
Cherries 22*
Grapefruit 25*
Grapes 46-49*
White bread Averages 70 and 73*
Wheat bread made with 50% cracked wheat kernels 58*

*Eating pure glucose is given a ranking of 100 – all other foods are in relation to this. This means, that a food with a glycemic index of 95 raises blood sugar almost as much as pure glucose, but a food with a glycemic index of 20 doesn’t raise blood sugar much at all.

You can find a complete list and more information on the glycemic index here: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/glycemicindlist.htm

The glycemic index does not take portion size into account, though. It is therefore ok, to eat even the foods with a high glycaemic load every once in a while.

Now that we have figured out, which foods we should mostly try to avoid, let’s see, which will benefit our skin.

Research done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that eating foods that are high in Vitamin C may help to treat dry skin, leaving it soft and supple. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties, which can neutralize free radicals that damage skin cells. Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C are for example strawberries, papaya, citrus fruits, bell peppers, sprouts, red berries, etc.
Seafood, especially oysters and salmon, is said to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. Omega-3 may help to reduce inflammation and dryness of the skin, while zinc can help fight acne and assists in new cell production.
Nuts – especially almonds – are a great source of Vitamin E, which may help to hydrate skin and relieve dryness.

Overall, I believe, that a balanced diet is the best you can do for your body, your skin and your general well-being.

What do you think? Do you find that your diet affects your skin? Do you have any foods that you feel gives you breakouts? I would love to hear your thoughts!