When you work out what to eat for good skin, it can be a minefield. You navigate health food aisles full of exotic names and strange grains, you measure your macros, consult apps and machines. Adding to your diet can give you so many options it’s paralysing.
But it doesn’t have to be. Try doing it the other way around. Just take a few things out of your diet and watch the difference.
An elimination diet is much easier, because you already understand yourself and what you put in your body. In a world with tap water (containing zinc and iron), gym memberships and supplements like SkinB5’s Acne Control Extra Strength Tablets, most of the work balancing your nutrition and body has actually already been done for you. And in a world of easy junk food, most of us could stand to let go of one or two of the things holding us back from smooth, healthy skin.
But what’s worth eliminating?
We have to talk about GI …
The glycaemic index (GI) is the portion of a food that ends up as sugar in your body. This is the interesting part. It’s not just sweet foods, your body takes carbs and morphs them into gluey, sticky sugar, which it uses for energy. Bees make pollen into honey with the same process. The higher a food’s GI is, typically, the faster your body is turning it into sugar and burning through the nutrients. When the burning’s done, you get hungry again.
This is why lower GI carbs like brown rice keep you full for longer. And if you ate a lot of sugar as a teenager, you can probably guess what happens when you eat a lot of high GI foods.
Breakouts. Inflammation. Grease build-up. All the ingredients of acne which, it’s clinically proven, high GI foods cause.
GI can be complicated. If you’re still curious, we did a whole blog about GI. All you really need to know is which foods are low on the index:
- Multigrain, rye and sourdough bread
- Fruit and vegetables
- Legumes, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, bran, semolina, long grain and brown rice
- Protein-rich foods
Like most things, all you need to know is what works. Just swapping out your bread can make a difference.
… and dairy …
Dairy does more to your body than people realise. It contains an insulin growth factor called IGF-1 that makes itself at home in pimply adolescents. It’s also found in certain cancers.
Dairy food is my bread and butter, so to speak, so it hurts to say this. If you want better skin, the dairy has to go. This isn’t easy. Milk is a food group and cheese is everyone’s favourite drug. You will be peer pressured at dinner parties, but you can do it.
Dairy food stimulates the adrenal glands, like puberty or fear. It increases inflammation. It also gives you calcium, but so do a lot of those low GI foods. Organic tofu is rich in calcium too. On that note, look out for organic soy milk, which is made from the same stuff as tofu.
… and chocolate …
Eliminate chocolate? Say it isn’t so!
Well, it might not be. Studies about chocolate and acne have mixed results. You’ve probably guessed that milk and white chocolate are more likely to cause acne, because you know, milk. Chocolate has plenty of sugar too, which is the G in GI. But what about dark chocolate, which is much higher in cocoa?
Cocoa powder is a superfood so powerful it makes small amounts of chocolate healthy. A couple squares will dose you with antioxidants, yet one cup of pure cocoa has a snack sized 196 calories. It’s great for the heart and mood. Heating cocoa too much can remove its benefits, so it’s a good thing that chocolate starts melting at around body temperature. Cocoa is the food of love no matter how you look at it.
… and Omega-3.
I say all the time that Omega-3 is an acne control powerhouse, and I’ll keep saying it. You can find it in fish, flaxseeds, chia, and hemp products like the new SkinB5 Clear Skin Superfood Booster. It’ll bring down any inflammation you have and nurture your skin. Although we’re talking about eliminating food, this is a nice way to round off your new minimalist skincare diet.
Following these steps and taking any junk food out of your diet, you should be ready to start recovering. Take your time, enjoy the ride and get used to your new feeling of wellbeing.
Peter Matthews is a freelance writer living in Melbourne. He first journeyed into good skin as a teenager when he stopped eating junk food. It’s been 10 years and he never quite quit cheese.