Food on trial: How your diet makes your skin glow – or not

By Lindsay Diack, Registered Dietitian See Bio

Lindsay is a Registered Dietitian whose passion is helping to support clients in the areas of weight management, emotional and disordered eating, digestive disorders and chronic disease prevention. She obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Alberta and completed her dietetic internship with Calgary Health Region in 2007. Lindsay is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to health management to ensure clients reach their goals while feeling confident and supported along their journey to better health.

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How diet affects skin health remains controversial, but as research progresses, certain nutrients are starting to stand out as either harmful or helpful to your skin’s glow. Let’s put popular food sources on trial and see how they hold up.

Low glycemic index foods

Glycemic Index (GI) describes how quickly carbohydrate-containing foods spike blood sugar levels. Low GI foods cause a small, slow rise in blood sugar.

VERDICT: Possible benefit. Small studies have shown an improvement in acne with lower GI diets.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s little downside to choosing low GI foods as they help control blood sugar, promote weight loss and provide consistent energy. Nice skin is a bonus. To lower your GI intake, choose sprouted grain breads instead of brown bread; sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes; or a fresh pear instead of apple juice.

Fruits & Vegetables

VERDICT: Possible benefit. These nutritional powerhouses definitely play a role in curbing inflammation, weight management and other factors that indirectly aect our skin.

BOTTOM LINE: It makes sense that a diet high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals benefits our whole body – skin included. While the evidence may not pinpoint produce as skin savers, the link between fruit and vegetable intake and our overall health is unsurpassed.

Dairy

VERDICT: Recent studies have shown an association between acne and a higher intake of dairy. It has not been proven that dairy cause acne, but some people may notice a negative correlation.

BOTTOM LINE: Cutting out dairy can lower your calcium intake and pose a risk to bone health. If you go this route, be sure to include two to three servings of calcium-rich foods daily (e.g. canned salmon/ sardines, tofu), and consider non-dairy alternatives (almond, soy or rice milk).

Chocolate

VERDICT: Great news – there is no evidence linking chocolate to increased severity of acne!

BOTTOM LINE: Chocolate is still high in sugar and saturated fat (both cause inflammation). Choose 80% dark chocolate and keep consumption to one ounce (2 – 3 small squares) per day.

Zinc & Omega-3 Fatty Acids

VERDICT: Possible benefit with both; however, more research is needed.

BOTTOM LINE: Get your nutrients from real food. There are risks to over supplementing minerals like zinc. Speak to your Medisys dietitian if you suspect your intake is low.

Good sources of zinc include meat, oysters, wheat germ, nuts and seeds. Enjoy 8oz of oily fish (e.g. salmon, sablefish, and trout) each week for a healthy dose of omega-3s. Plant-based omega-3’s include walnuts, hemp hearts, ground flax and chia seeds.


Lindsay is a Registered Dietitian whose passion is helping to support clients in the areas of weight management, emotional and disordered eating, digestive disorders and chronic disease prevention. She obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Alberta and completed her dietetic internship with Calgary Health Region in 2007. Lindsay is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to health management to ensure clients reach their goals while feeling confident and supported along their journey to better health.

 

 

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