Everyone’s skin is unique, but certain environmental factors have similar effects on people with all skin types. From foods that cause hives to those that contribute to a radiant complexion, the things we put into our bodies can affect how we look on the outside. If you’re looking for ways to keep your skin healthy, bright, and youthful, then it’s a good idea to keep tabs on what you eat. In the U.S., many people regularly consume processed meat. And while the quality and nutritional value of processed meat can vary widely depending on the manufacturer’s practices, these food items can have negative effects on your skin and overall health when eaten in excess.
In a previous blog, we discussed the relationship between diet and acne. We discussed how high-glycemic foods such as white bread, pastries, french fries, and sugary drinks could trigger acne outbreaks by spiking one’s blood sugar levels and increasing sebum production. Processed meats can also cause and/or exacerbate breakouts, just through different means. For one thing, most processed meats contain antibiotics and hormones that the human body has a hard time digesting -- this can create an imbalance in one’s natural hormone levels and cause undue stress on the body, which can, in turn, manifest as acne and other skin problems. Additionally, some types of meat like beef and chicken contain leucine, an amino acid that can stimulate the skin’s oil (sebum) production, clogging pores and causing acne outbreaks.
It’s worth mentioning that some individuals who regularly eat meat can actually experience acne breakouts if they suddenly stop consuming meat. The body is complex, and there’s no way to know for sure how eating meat or cutting it out will affect one’s skin until enough time has gone by. Speak to your doctor to see what is right for you.
Eating too much processed meat can also prematurely age your skin. These foods often contain preservatives known as sodium nitrates. When ingested, sodium nitrates can pull apart collagen and elastin, key proteins that provide skin with its shape, structure, and flexibility. This breakdown of these important proteins can allow wrinkles and lines to form, making the skin appear older than it is. Once again, these signs of premature aging might not show up in those with certain skin types, or they might be related to other factors. Still, consuming plenty of processed meats increases your risk of developing wrinkles and other visible aging signs.
Processed meats can also cause inflammation in the body and on the skin. This swelling occurs in large part due to the high sodium content found in most processed meats. Sodium naturally absorbs water, which reduces moisture in the body. This lack of hydration can aggravate your gut, puff up your face, and exacerbate certain conditions like inflammatory rosacea and psoriasis.
To sum up, regular consumption of processed meats can cause and worsen acne, lead to premature aging of your skin, and inflame your body and skin, intensifying inflammatory conditions you may already have. You don’t have to cut out processed meats from your diet entirely, but if you want to do what’s best for your skin, consider cutting back on these foods and replacing them with organic, grass-fed meats that are low in sodium, high in omega-3s, and free from antibiotics, hormones, and other additives, or a plant-based diet. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, as many of these foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients that benefit your skin and body as a whole. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can give you more info on how different foods may affect your skin so you can start eating with your skin’s health and beauty in mind.
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