Breaking Out? These Foods Are Ruining Your Skin

As your body’s largest organ, your skin takes quite the beating. And wrinkles should be far from your worst nightmare. Besides, there’s not much you can do about that. You do, however, have control over your diet, which also plays a huge role in the health of your skin.

Just as there are good foods for your skin, so too are there bad. If you want clear skin, steer clear of the foods on this list. Here are nine of the very worst.

1. High-glycemic foods

Bowl filled with rigatoni pasta

Steer clear of too much pasta. |

If you’re someone who’s not yet been convinced to swap white bread for whole wheat, now’s your chance. White bread, pasta, crackers, and white rice are all guilty of having a high-glycemic index. These foods are typically processed, and rich in white flour. So, if you’re not ditching them for your health, at least do your skin a favor by saying goodbye to these no-good-for-you refined carbs.

According to NPR, “Researchers say foods that spike blood sugar can also increase hormones. The hormones can stimulate oil production, which in turn, can trigger acne.” Once this happens, nutrition researcher Jennifer Burris says this is when the domino effect begins. If carbs are a slippery slope for you, just avoid them altogether. Otherwise, you’ll be seeing more pimples pop up than you can handle.

2. Sugar

bowls of candy

Candy is packed with sugar. |

There’s not much convincing to be done when it comes to avoiding excessive amounts of sugar. Even though you probably know sweets aren’t good for you, everyone slips up once in a while. Be careful though, because giving into that sweet tooth craving could be detrimental to your skin — if you consume enough of it, that is.

One culprit that comes to mind is candy. These sweet treats are loaded with sugar, which is bad news for those of you who can’t bypass a gummy bear or that bowl of office candy. Prevention reports, “When sugar bombards your body, proteins incorporate it as part of their structure, aging skin and causing wrinkles.” So, maybe you actually do have some control over the fate of future wrinkles.

3. Dairy

glass of milk being poured

Milk isn’t helping your bad skin. |

Dairy, milk in particular, has long claimed some serious health benefits. For instance, the National Dairy Council says milk consumption does the body good, at least for bone and heart health. Your skin, on the other hand, is a different story.

In a study of 47,355 women, participants were asked to recall their diet and acne prevalence during their high school and teenage years. A link between milk and acne was found in an astounding 95% of the group. The research backs the idea that milk intake — whole and skim, in particular — is associated with acne problems. Researchers believe this is due to the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk, giving you all the reason to cut back.

4. Alcohol

Alcoholic Whiskey Bourbon in a Glass with Ice

If you have bad skin, the booze may be to blame. |

Alcohol doesn’t exactly top the health-conscious foodie’s list. And now, you’ve got one more reason to ban booze from your weekly diet. If you tend to wake up feeling less than 100% after a big night out, you’re not alone. The hangover, the need to fill up on greasy food, and yes, even bad skin, are all effects of too much alcohol. Effects that stare right back at you the second you’re able to drag yourself out of bed and take a walk to the bathroom.

Consuming alcohol hinders your body’s proper production of vasopressin, a hormone that helps balance fluid levels. When you booze too hard, production of the hormone slows down, causing your kidneys to release water through urination. In turn, this process leads to dehydration and dull skin.

5. Salt

pile of salt with wooden spoon

It’s best to take it easy on the salt. |

A sprinkle of salt is usually OK, and typically a pretty common move. But be careful how much you’re actually slinging. The American Heart Association says too much sodium can bring about a whole slew of health problems, like putting you at risk for high blood pressure and other heart-related diseases. And the salt-related negatives don’t just stop there.

Dr. Neal B. Schultz, New York City-based dermatologist, tells The Huffington Post too much salt often causes a person to retain water, which leads to swelling. And nobody likes that puffy feeling. Additionally, Schultz said, “The effects of salt are definitely age related.” So, avoid puffy eyes by limiting your salty ways.

6. Shellfish

shrimp in pan

Even shrimp pack a mean punch to your skin. |

With so many doctors touting the benefits of fish, there’s a good chance seafood’s on your mind. This could be bad news for your skin, though. Crystal Wellman, licensed esthetician, told Everyday Health, “Shrimp, crab, and lobster are high in iodine, which leads to clogged pores and acne.” Because the mineral creates irritation, your already clogged pores will only speed up those inflamed pimples you’re so feverishly trying to ward off. Instead, try swapping shellfish for other types of seafood.

7. Coffee

Croissant and coffee on wooden background

Coffee is tough to avoid, but try to limit it if possible. |

Probably not what any coffee fiend is hoping to hear, but it’s a reality you’re likely to deal with at some point, at least if you’re prone to breakouts. Kimberly Yap Tan, founder of San Francisco acne clinic skinSALVATION, told Yahoo Health, “There’s an organic acid inside coffee beans that raises cortisol levels.” So, what does that mean for your skin?

Cortisol is commonly regarded as the stress hormone. Elevated levels of the substance stimulate the sebaceous glands (read: oil all over!) and other types of inflammation in the skin. While the coffee bean itself is a chief problem in the matter, a diet high in caffeine of any kind can also elevate cortisol levels.

Furthermore, coffee is a diuretic, meaning too much of it can dehydrate your body. So, be mindful of your caffeine intake and make sure to drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated and happy.

8. Fructose

four jars of syrup

Most syrups are packed with fructose. |

Foods high in fructose are hardly healthy. Just look at agave, for example. Prevention says this “sweet syrup made from several species of agave plants often packs more fructose than even high-fructose corn syrup.” This type of sugar should be avoided, or at least limited, because of what it can do to your body. Harvard Health says consuming too many sugary drinks leads to empty calories, weight gain, and blood sugar swings.

Furthermore, Patricia Farris, M.D., told Prevention, “Fructose is metabolized by your liver where it not only turns into fat, but is much more efficient at breaking down collagen than regular table sugar.” Simply put, your crow’s feet may start becoming a bit more noticeable.

9. Fried food

blooming onion appetizer

A blooming onion may be hard to stay away from, but do your best. |

Greasy skin can be caused by stress or changes in hormones. So, if your work-life balance is in check, and you’re not experiencing any drastic hormonal changes, it may be time to take a look at your diet. It turns out, your affinity for all things fried may be to blame for your skin’s excessive shine.

Patrick Holford tells The Daily Mail it’s best to cut out fried food or saturated fats, such as those often found in dairy and some red meats. Swapping the onion ring appetizer for a side salad may seem out of your wheelhouse at first, but if you stick to it. You could see some major changes not only in your waistline, but also in your skin.

Catherine Northington also contributed to this story