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7 Skin-Unfriendly Foods

Your diet has a huge impact on the appearance and health of your skin. Choose nourishing wholesome foods, and limit these unfriendly foods.
Nov 9, 2023 | Joy McCarthy

Your diet plays a significant role in how well you age and your overall skin health. The good news is that you can greatly impact the appearance of your skin by choosing more health-promoting foods.

As you may have heard me talk about before, when I was in my 20's my skin was puffy, inflamed and less healthy than it is today in my mid-40's because I was addicted to sugar. So today I'm focusing on the most skin unfriendly foods and drinks and you can probably guess what my first skin unfriendly food will be!


7 Skin-Unfriendly Foods

1. Sugary Foods and Drinks. High sugar intake from baked goods, cereals, alcohol, energy drinks & bars, juice and pop can lead to glycation. This is a process where sugars attach to proteins in your skin, causing it to become less flexible and prone to wrinkles and sagging.

Your high sugar diet is breaking down collagen and making you age faster.

Additionally, high-glycemic foods like white bread, white pasta and baked goods, can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, potentially exacerbating conditions like acne.

2. Dairy Products. Dairy, especially cow's milk, is known to be a common trigger for acne in some individuals due to the hormones and growth factors it contains as well as being an inflammation trigger which can exacerbate conditions like rosacea.

There are many plant-based milks to choose from if you are sensitive to dairy and notice it's a trigger for your skin.

3. Processed Foods. Processed foods often contain unhealthy trans fats, high levels of sodium, and little nutritional value. These can contribute to inflammation, which can worsen skin conditions like acne and rosacea.

Also, a diet lacking in antioxidants due to overconsumption of processed foods and a lack of fruits and vegetables can leave the skin more vulnerable to oxidative damage from free radicals, which accelerates skin aging.

4. Alcohol. Drinking alcohol daily can dehydrate the skin, leading to dryness and redness. It can also dilate blood vessels, causing flushing and exacerbating conditions like rosacea.

Alcoholic beverages stimulate inflammatory prostaglandins which increases overall inflammation within the body and age your skin (and body) faster.

5. Fried Foods. Fried foods are high in unhealthy inflammatory fats. This happens when an unstable vegetable oil is heated and the delicate fatty acids within the oil break down and oxidize. This promotes inflammation and can clog pores, potentially leading to acne.

The process of frying foods at high temperatures can generate harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and free radicals. These compounds can damage collagen and elastin in the skin, leading to premature aging, wrinkles, and sagging.

6. Caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can be very dehydrating, which can leave your skin feeling dry and looking dull. It can also be a trigger for inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea due to stimulating stress hormones like cortisol.

Canadian Ginseng Coffee Recipe

Everyone is unique and caffeinated beverages can affect one person very differently from another. If you have a skin condition or you have dry skin, it's a good idea to take a break from caffeine and see how your skin responds.

7. Artificial Additives and Preservatives. The biggest issue with these food chemicals is that packaged foods can contain anywhere from 5-10 different additives. The challenge is figuring out which additives and preservatives you may be sensitive to. Sensitivity can lead to skin reactions like hives and rashes but good luck trying to figure out which one when there can be so many it can make your head spin! The best solution is to severely limit processed foods and you'll automatically limit your consumption of these food chemicals.


It's important to note that the impact of these foods and drinks on your skin can vary from person to person. A great place to start is to do a food journal for 7 days and track what you eat and any symptoms that come about.

Wishing you joyous health!


Tina Schulz   •   November 10, 2023

Very informative thank you so much Joy for sharing this . I guess it’s time for me to say bye bye to alcohol 🍷🥲. And caffeine 🥲. My skin is definitely not liking either anymore. So an occasional glass of wine it will be and and a new healthy adventure into Matcha . Processed food is not a thing in my house but obviously it’s not enough anymore to just eat healthy nutritious food for me, good hydration or moderate exercise. So I’m going all in! I will take a before and after 🤞

Joy McCarthy   •   November 10, 2023

Dani DeJong   •   November 13, 2023

I have had acne since I was a teenager. I am now 50. When I was younger I had a sweet tooth but now I find I crave salty snacks more. My downfall is chips at night while I'm watching TV. I know they are so bad for me. Not only the skin issue but also I am starting to get arthritis in my hands badly. What would be a satisfying snack at night to replace the chips?

Joy McCarthy   •   November 14, 2023

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