TOP 5 foods to avoid for clear skin

In my previous post, Top 5 Foods for Great Skin, I tried to emphasize that as long as your diet is rich in unprocessed, whole foods, you essentially provide your skin all the necessary nutrients it requires to be healthy and glowing. While the list of skin glowing foods is as long as the fresh produce aisle at your supermarket or local farmer’s market, the list of the “bad guys” is much shorter but certainly as impactful as their healthy counterparts. Unfortunately for many of us, the way they impact our skin can be seen and felt within 24 hours of consumption. In some cases, we react to them instantly or five days later, which is even worse as we usually fail to recognize that it was “that meal”, which gave us this inflammation.

While we might disagree on whether avocado or salmon are more beneficial for your skin, I believe we can all agree by our own experience that the following food groups have a negative impact on our skin:


Sugar in all shapes, colors and “disguises”. Besides the obvious white sugar sweet treats, sugar can be found in many unexpected foods, such as salad dressings, barbecue and pasta sauces, natural yogurts, milk, soups and breads. High consumption of sugar triggers an inflammatory response in your body, which has a harmful effect on your skin cells.


Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta and white rice are essentially transformed into glucose (=sugar) in our body. Those fiber and nutrient poor foods not only send you on a blood sugar roller coaster, but also increase the conversion of testosterone to the more potent androgen, DHT, which increases sebum production and therefore can increase inflammation in your skin.


Trans fats are not only bad news for your heart, but cause also inflammation in your skin. Besides the “poster” trans fat food, margarine, they can also be found in many every day foods such as store-bought crackers, cookies, cakes, microwave popcorn, and milk products. Oxidized fatty acids are essentially created when you fry food at a high temperature. The consumption of fried foods in any form causes or worsens acne by increasing inflammation in sebaceous glands.


Caffeine’s diuretic effect on the body not only depletes many important nutrients, but it also has a highly acidifying effect, which fosters the nesting and breeding of acne-causing bacteria. Coffee also raises cortisol levels, which stimulates sebaceous glands and inflammation in the skin causing it to break out.


Some hormones found in milk and other dairy products can stimulate sebum production, causing increased levels of inflammation, aging and acne in our skin. Most of us lack the required enzyme lactase to digest the sugar lactose, which is found in milk. This can cause fermentation in our gut, which results in oxidative stress and inflammation in the body and therefore our skin.

Published for Tata Harper's blog on August 21st 2016.