We all know when something is inflamed on the outside, but the problem really starts inside the body. Internal inflammation can happen for a host of reasons such as from poor dietary habits, environmental toxin exposures, immune system overactivity (allergies, autoimmune disease), digestive problems and even hormone imbalances.
A high level of inflammation within the body can cause many health problems including skin conditions. One simple way to combat this is to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and eliminate the inflammatory ones.
But, what is an anti-inflammatory food? More importantly, what is an inflammatory food?
What you eat has a dramatic effect on your skin health. You may just think nutrition affects your internal health and your weight, but eating the right foods can also improve the quality of your skin and decrease inflammation.
5 Best and Worst foods for your Skin
5 Inflammatory Foods
- Sugar is everywhere. Try and limit processed foods, desserts and snacks with excess sugar. Opt for fruit instead.
- Dairy promotes inflammatory biochemical pathways in the body. Milk (and other dairy products) is a common allergen that can trigger inflammation, digestive problems, acne, skin rashes, and even breathing difficulties.
- Barbecued and Overcooked Meat are age-accelerators and pro-inflammatory. Cooking meat at high temperatures, such as with barbecuing, increases advanced glycation end products (also known as AGEs). AGEs cause our skin to become less elastic and we become more prone to wrinkles and accelerated aging. In addition, research shows that meat cooked at high temperatures can become carcinogenic. Limit your intake of red meat to grass fed, and don’t overcook it.
- Refined Grains have very little fibre and have a high glycemic index. They are everywhere: white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta, pastries… Try and replace with minimally processed whole grains or skip the grains altogether and eat more veggies!
- Trans Fats and Common Cooking Oils such as ‘vegetable oil’, soy, corn, and cottonseed promotes inflammation. You’ll find trans fats hidden as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oils. These oils are often used in packaged foods because they’re inexpensive and tend to have a long shelf life, but these oils should be completely avoided.
5 Anti Inflammatory Foods
- Berries have a high antioxidant content, which helps protect against and reverse oxidative damage associated with inflammation and premature aging. Aim for organic berries, as pesticides are hard to wash away due to their size.
- Sweet Potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, fibre, beta carotene, manganese and vitamin B6 and C, these potatoes actually help heal inflammation.
- Ginger contains a host of health benefits. Among them, it helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger in food or as tea is a great addition to any diet.
- Wild Alaskan Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega 3s and the antioxidant astaxanthin. Choose wild over farmed to reduce your exposure to inflammation-boosting environmental toxins and enhance the nutrient levels.
- Cruciferous Vegetables broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are all loaded with antioxidants. Naturally detoxifying, they can help rid the body of possible harmful compounds.
This is just a small taste of all the great healthy and anti-inflammatory foods out there. By focusing on foods like these, and avoiding the worst inflammatory foods, you help banish not only chronic skin conditions but chronic diseases as well.
Yours in health,
Bianca Hussey, Naturopath, Health Space Hornsby