It’s easy to be confused by health marketing these days. A label like ”all natural”, ”organic”, or ”low-fat” can make us feel we’re making the right choices and doing good by our bodies – which we all want to do! But unfortunately many food companies care more about making money than being honest about how their products really affect our health.
The foods listed below have been linked to inflammation and acne, through hormones, glycemic load, or high amounts of processed ingredients. I certainly loved eating all these foods at one point in time, but once I became aware they caused breakouts, I knew I had to choose between them and my acne.
As with most foods, this can be healthy or unhealthy. My biggest gripe with granola is that the second ingredient is usually sugar. Most granolas have just as much if not more sugar than kid’s cereals – big yikes for your skin!
TRY INSTEAD: Check your local health food store for low-sugar granolas or consider making your own. Here’s great homemade recipe: http://www.elizabethrider.com/easy-healthy-homemade-granola-recipe/.
While it’s been praised as a health food, agave has just as much sugar as all the other processed sugars out there – 16g per tablespoon. The fact that agave is naturally-derived from plants doesn’t make a difference either as sugar is also naturally derived from sugar cane. The fact is in nature, it would take you ages to extract 16g of sugar from those plants. While both agave and raw sugar are better for your body than high fructose corn syrup, they all spike your blood sugar in the same quantity.
TRY INSTEAD: Coconut palm sugar. While this still counts towards your daily sugar budget, it comes with a little side helping of fiber to keep blood sugar levels more stable, reducing overall inflammation.
Grab and go snacks can be very helpful when we’re away from our kitchens. There are several great options and some not so great options. The best thing to do is check the ingredients and the amount sugar per bar. Many bars are loaded with added sugars and processed ingredients.
TRY INSTEAD: It’s best to stick with pure bars with 12g of sugar or less. Kind Bars, some Larabars, and Raw Revolution bars are some of my favorite choices.
Forget the moustache, we’ve known for some time that cow’s milk has been linked to acne. In my community, I find that the majority of nutritionists I know do not drink milk or consume dairy products.
TRY INSTEAD: Almond milk is a great option if you want to be avoiding those breakouts! Cutting out cow’s milk also tremendously helped my friend’s eczema, it nearly disappeared in a matter of weeks. If you have any skin issues, give it a try!
Yogurt companies have really been cashing in on the health craze surrounding probiotics, but the fact is that most commercial yogurts are loaded with GMO cow’s milk, processed sugar, and only a small amount of probiotics compared to supplements. Greek yogurt in particular is super concentrated in cow’s milk – about 1 cup of greek yogurt contains 2-4 cups of cow’s milk… yikes for your skin!
TRY INSTEAD: Organic goat’s milk or coconut milk yogurt sparingly as a treat. If you’re really wanting the probiotic health benefits, then take a supplement in the morning with a glass of lemon water. Repeat daily and watch your skin get nice and glowy!
Don’t let the green color fool you, pesto is parmesan cheese with a little basil. We know that cow’s milk triggers acne and pesto is no different.
TRY INSTEAD: Luckily there are delicious homemade options available, like this one! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/yummy-vegan-pesto-classico/
Soy is a concentrated product made of soybeans. Because soybeans contain phytoestrogens (common in a lot of plants including apples and carrots), the concentrated forms it potent and higher than their whole food counterparts. Most soy products are GMO and a common allergen/irritant for many.
TRY INSTEAD: Fermented soy products are ok in my book, so enjoy products like tempeh, miso, and tamari (gluten-free soy sauce).
Whole fruit is one of the best things you can eat for your skin. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, and contains fiber so your blood sugar does not spike from consuming it. Fruit juice however does not have fiber, so the sugar within goes straight into your blood stream. This spikes blood sugar and too much of it can flare up acne. TRY INSTEAD: Fruit smoothies or juices that are rich in vegetables and greens.
We’ve all been told that eating fish is healthy because of their high omega 3 levels. Well that’s totally true… unless it’s farmed fish. Fish get their omega 3 levels from consuming algae, while farmed fish swim in over populated pools and are fed corn and soy – inflating their omega 6 levels and reducing omega 3s. These farm pools are also loaded with antibiotics because in their unclean and overpopulated condition, many of the fish would otherwise die.
TRY INSTEAD: Check labels for wild, line-caught, ocean fresh fish that have low mercury levels. Reference Seafoodwatch.org for best options in your state: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/seafood-recommendations/consumer-guides.
While it may be obvious that cereal isn’t that healthy, it’s worth a second look. Kids cereal we know is loaded with sugar, but even the “heart healthy” and “whole grain” cereal is often over processed or loaded with gluten.
TRY INSTEAD: Oatmeal with whole, rolled oats and topping it off with fresh berries or banana and some coconut palm sugar for a healthier breakfast start.
Healthy skin isn’t about being perfect, it’s about balance. Find your balance and make progress where you can! Here’s to clearer, more beautiful skin
-Elise May, CN + LE
”The Skin Nutritionist”