I believe that the body is a magical machine capable of healing itself and living a long, beautiful life. Sometimes, however, we get in our own way. Sometimes it’s genetics, or the bad luck of life, but I would say nine times out of 10 my clients who are not living with skin they love are aggravating their own skin problems by poor and/or misinformed product and lifestyle choices.
The root of all evil in skincare is Inflammation, the process by which the body’s white blood cells and by-products protect us from infection of foreign organisms. It is the body’s way of healing itself. Inflammation can leave you feeling worn down, destroy healthy collagen, limit cellular renewal, slow the body’s ability to heal itself, and even trigger acne breakouts.
Because your body is a masterful machine, if you are eating lots of inflammatory food (late night pub-crawl, I’m looking at you!), that means your body’s immune-response system is allocating its resources towards Jaeger-Bombs and Tater-Skins and not fighting off the every day inflammation that causes aging and/or breakouts.
Food is probably only about 25 percent of the picture when it comes to our skin. The rest of that 75 percent is a mishmash of hormones, stress levels, sleep, and sometimes even where you live (NYC is a far more inflammatory environment than the Amalfi Coast). Somewhere on that list is even your skincare routine (and if you don’t have one, don’t trust the one you do have, or think you are spending too much money to not get the results you want, I am happy to help! It’s what I do!)
I am not interested in “eat more of (insert food here) to have healthier skin!” because I cannot guarantee results. You could eliminate dairy and still have breakouts because your products are not suited for you and are causing inflammation (and if you are suffering from breakouts, I can tell you with near certainty that your products are probably not helping).
There is, however, one huge exception: sugar. You should seriously think about limiting sugar intake for healthier skin.
When we eat sugar a chemical reaction occurs called Glycation. These aptly named by-products, AGEs (advanced glycation end-products), contribute to disease and increase free-radical damage, wrinkles, sagging, and acne. More sugar = More AGEs. Sadly, even honey and agave nectar contribute towards AGEs. If you have a sweet tooth, you may be in for more trouble down the line than you bargained for.
Okay, I lied, there’s a second offender: dehydration. Eating too much salt, diuretics like soda and coffee, and not drinking enough water can visibly effect the way our skin on a day in/day out basis. You are probably dehydrated. Yep, don’t fight with me about it. You probably are, and I am too. I aim to drink 96 oz of water a day, but I also drink caffeine, and booze, and work out at the gym. When in doubt, drink more water. Right now.
Even though I don’t believe you can just magically eat more of any type of food, or magically remove a whole grouping of food and achieve better skin, there are some all-stars that have been proven beneficial for skin health:
- All types of tea (black included)
- Coffee within reason (two cups or less, without a lot of dairy or sugar)
- Deep colored berries (blackberries are better than a banana)
- Deep colored vegetables (kale is better than butter lettuce)
- All types of pepper (even hot ones! Ay caramba!)
- Wild (not farm-raised) salmon, and cold water, oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Walnuts (the king of nuts for anti-inflammation, but all nuts have health benefits)
- Grape seed, walnut, rice bran and canola oils
- Whole grains to boost your fiber intake,
- Spices like ginger, turmeric, cardamom, curry, cumin, garlic, oregano, basil and tamarin
- Flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
We all know what to do to eat healthy. What I love about GreenBlender is they make it is so easy. I started my day with a beautiful, antioxidant rich, anti-inflammatory smoothie that was easier to make than running by the bodega for a sausage, egg and cheese on a roll. And let me tell you, my future 80-year-old self and skin is thanking me!
Want to be a part of the healthy skin revolution? Join GreenBlender!
Anna Lise Jensen is a professional actress and the founder of The Complexion Concierge, the world’s first and only personalized skincare consulting business. It is her goal to help every client feel comfortable in her own skin, and to defeat the myths of the beauty industry, one ludicrous claim at a time! She is a domestic goddess in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and loves Brooklyn Nets basketball, collaborating with Creative Geniuses, cats, and long distance running (which she originally took up to increase the nights per week she can eat cheeseburgers and drink craft beers). Anna Lise tries every day to spread light into dark places. Even into your pores.