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The Worst Foods For Your Skin

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By Corrie Pikul

Pimply? Puffy? Wrinkly? How the way you eat can affect the way you look.

  • The Wholesome Drink That's Linked to Acne
    Barry Yee via Getty Images
    Studies linking the consumption of dairy to breakouts date back to the 1960s. In fact, doctors used to treat acne by recommending patients give up milk, says Alan Dattner, MD, a holistic dermatologist who practices in New York and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). But then, as medication to treat pimples became more effective and available, Dattner says, there was less of a focus on preventing breakouts through dietary changes. That didn't stop the evidence (and the anecdotes) from piling up over the years, and in 2010, an influential research review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found an association between dairy consumption and acne. Now the AAD suggests that acne sufferers talk to their dermatologist about limiting dairy to see if that helps.

    Try this: Consider cutting back on skim milk, Dattner says, which has shown the strongest link with skin flare-ups. (Yogurt seems to have the weakest effect.)
  • The Snacks That Can Inflame Your Skin (While They Inflate The Rest Of You)
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    When a team of nutritionists and dermatologists reviewed the scientific connection between food and skin, they came away with a pretty compelling case against a high-glycemic diet. Eating a lot of sugar (raisins, soda, honey, agave nectar) or simple carbs (bagels, pasta, cupcakes) can throw off your insulin levels, which can lead to inflammation both inside the body as well as on your face, explains Dattner. (Bonus: Giving up sweets and starches can also help you lose weight).

    Try this: Dattner suggests that those plagued by pimples avoid sugary cereals, which often have a higher glycemic index than both sugar and simple carbs alone.
  • The Skin Saboteur Hiding In Plain Sight At Every Backyard BBQ
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    Heating meat at high temperatures produces a chemical reaction between the fat and protein that results in compounds called "advanced glycation end products" (AGES). These AGES are aptly named, says Dattner, because they're linked to oxidative stress and inflammation that can make your skin look ruddier, duller and more wrinkled -- older, in general. (AGES can also increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.) These compounds are found in French fries, potato chips, deep-fried chicken and other foods that have been cooked in oil at extremely high temperatures. What's more, Dattner says, is that AGES can interact with UV rays and wreak havoc on the skin.

    Try this: You don't need to go on a raw-food diet, but it might not be a bad idea to eat grilled foods in moderation (deep-fried, too, but you knew that).
  • The Little Bags Of Salty Goodness That Cause Little Bags Of Puffy Sadness
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    Many brands of chips, crackers and popcorn are loaded with sodium, which can cause water retention. If you're prone to puffiness all over, it will be most noticeable under the eyes, because the skin there is very thin, and it doesn't take much to cause swelling. Dattner adds that these kinds of greasy snacks are likely to have been cooked at high temps, and thus contain AGES, which could result in a double-whammy of puffiness and redness.

    Try this: Roasted, unsalted mixed nuts can satisfy your snack craving without the side effects.

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

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