You my friend are a temple. You’re beautiful, powerful and strong. The question I ask you today – Are you offering up your beautiful temple the right yummy offerings? Are you giving gold, frankincense and myrrh, or are you chomping down on nutrition-less paper? We’ve all done it!
Your skin is a mirror to your inner health. If you’re eating and treating yourself beautifully, it’ll have no option but to give you the kind of glow only pregnant women get complimented on. The secret to getting here, is all about eating the right kinds of food. The right kinds of anti-inflammatory foods.
Imagine the bruise you get after attempting to walk through the corner of your bed for the third time on a Monday morning – I mean how does it not know to move already ‘eh. Your skin puffs up, it goes all red and within a day starts to turn purply-black. That bed is like eating a diet full of inflammatory foods and that bruise is like the inside of your body.
A diet full of inflammatory foods can cause acne, spots, rosacea flares, sensitivity, redness, wrinkles and premature ageing.
Wondering how to hip wiggle to the right and swerve those inflammatory foods out for anti-inflammatory foods? You’re in the right place my friend. Below I’m walking you through 10 food switches that will show you the basics of eating an anti-inflammatory diet and as a happy consequence your skin will be telling the glowing story. That means fewer spots, fewer wrinkles and less sensitivity. Are you in? Let’s start at number 1…
1. Fruit Juice for Vegetable Juice
Lots of healthy looking foods are actually a sugar party in disguise. Whether it’s natural or processed, when your body attends a sugar party, it has to scramble to control all of its excitement. See, sugar is the closest thing to pure energy available. Most foods, your body has to work for. Sugar, less so.
When your body gets hold of sugar – it enjoys a blood-sugar roller coaster ride. It goes up and down, and ‘weeeeeeeeeeeee…’ does it do it quickly. That’s exciting but it’s also stressful. Those peaks and troughs can be responsible for mood swings, oily skin and acne.
A steady blood sugar level is much healthier. I mean, imagine going on a roller coaster ride every morning!
For healthy skin: Switch out sugar high fruit juices for sugar low vegetable juices. Take a look at these stats, a 200ml serving of orange juice contains over 16 grams of sugar, whereas the same amount of vegetable juice contains almost less than a third of that!
2. Fruit Smoothies for Real Fruit
Whole fruits like apples have a fabulous portion of fibre to accompany up their fruit sugars. Fibres alongside fruit sugars help to slow down the rate your body picks up fruit sugars at. It means the difference between a blood-sugar rollercoaster ride and a teacup being turned by your grandma.
Remember high blood sugar levels promotes inflammation whereas steady blood sugar levels don’t.
Fruits are a natural source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, however to benefit from a dose, you need to be eating your fruits whole. Take a look at this…
Glycemic load (GL)… it’s a ruler for how quickly foods will change the blood sugar levels in your body. A GL of 1 means, that food will have the same effect as 1 gram of glucose (read – sugar). A GL of 10 means it’ll have the same effect as 10 grams of glucose. The lower the GL of a food, the less inflammation it’ll cause and the healthier it is.
One serving of apple juice has a GL of 12. One apple has a GL of 5. See the difference? Pretty big ‘eh.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 20 March 2017
For healthy, glowing skin: Power up your anti-inflammatory diet by eating whole fruits in place of fruit smoothies.
3. Dried Fruit for Carrot Sticks
You’ve got this my friend… can you tell me why this switch would be a whole lot healthier for your body and skin? Dried fruits are also golden nuggets of sugar nectar. Using those same GI values i can tell you that one serving of dried dates has a GL of 18 whereas a serving of carrots has a lovely low GL of 2.
High sugar diets promote inflammation and most skin conditions feature inflammation as a cause – acne, spots, rosacea, eczema… even ageing! In fact there’s a direct link between consistent high blood sugar levels and premature ageing, we’ll be chatting more about this soon!
For now, for healthy glowing skin: Know that a snack of carrot sticks (or another vegetable treat, how about midget broccoli trees?) provides a lovely and healthy anti-inflammatory replacement for dried fruits.
4. Dairy for Nut Milk and Butters
Moooo-ve over dairy. Nut milk’s about town. Dairy looks a lot different than it used to for our great-great-great ancestors. First of all we have low-fat varieties and secondly, our breeds of cow have changed. This means 2 things for your diet;
- Semi-skimmed and fat-free milks are high in natural sugars (lactose) and low in balancing fats.
- New cow breeds make milk with an inflammatory protein (A1 casein).
It usually goes that foods our great-great ancestors ate, our body’s love. Think of it this way, if your go to cross-shoulder bag wasn’t big enough to hold the umbrella you need tomorrow, you’d switch it out for a bag that did right? You’d evolve. You’d change to find something that did work. Something that stopped you from turning up to your office looking like you’d swam the scenic river route that morning. This is what our body’s do but much, much more slowly. They work with what they’re given and they adapt to use it.
This means new-age foods our bodies aren’t used to eating can cause you a ‘wet hair day’ aka damage or inflammation to your body.
Dairy contains natural sugars, inflammatory proteins and hormones, a tri-fecta to avoid for clear, healthy and glowing skin.
The switch: Dairy and dairy foods like cream, cheese and butter for nut based alternatives like unsweetened almond milk and almond butter.
5. Sugary Sweets for Dark Chocolate
Yea, you knew this one already ‘eh. Sugary sweets are yummy and you know they’re a treat. Not to be eaten often and to be closely followed by a good brushing of your teeth. Well dear friend, if you’re on a mission to achieving great skin, this is a treat based switch you should consider making.
Sugary sweets and snacks containing high amounts of sugar causing a reaction to happen in your body that creates new ingredients called ‘advanced glycation end products’ or AGEs for short. Their name is a clue to what they do. Have you guessed it yet?
AGEs are inflammatory ingredients that can prematurely age your body and skin!
Diabetics suffer a lot from the ageing effects of AGEs because their body’s naturally cannot control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels cause lots of AGEs to be created and the skin telling consequence of this is wrinkles.
On the other hand, high cocoa solids dark chocolate (72% and higher) cull’s that high sugar percentage for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonols.
The switch: Sugar coated treats for anti-inflammatory high cocoa solids chocolate.
6. Fried Foods for Slow Cooked Ones
Great things take time ‘eh. If you’ve ever eaten 24 hour slow-cooked pulled pork, you’ll know what I mean. Can you feel those taste buds salivating? Foods that are cooked slowly, are not only deliciously yummy, they’re also a lot healthier for your body.
So, just what is going on here?
Foods contain lots of different ingredients that make-up the identity of who they are. Us, we’re 2 arms, 2 legs and a head. Food, it’s carbohydrates, proteins and sugars. When foods are cooked at really high heats e.g. frying there’s enough energy being put into the pan to trigger those reactions that make AGEs. That’s when protein and sugar react together ‘two become one’.
The switch: AGEs are inflammatory in your body, so to eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of anti-inflammatory foods, you’ll want to avoid fried foods, enjoy more slow cooked ones and maybe even through in a few more raw ones. Sushi anyone?
7. Vegetable Oil for Olive Oil
Did you know the Mediterranean diet is proven to help you live longer? It reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more. Shall we move over now? One of the best kept secrets in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, especially the extra virgin kind (read: extra fresh). Olive oil is a proven anti-inflammatory food. It’s a fat and it’s oh so good for you.
On the flip side of the fence, is vegetable oil.
Vegetable oil is inflammatory when you eat a lot of it. That’s because it contains a large helping of omega-6 poly unsaturated fatty acids. These are fatty acids your body needs, but only in a specific balance to omega-3 fats (the kind you get from fatty fish like salmon). Our modern-day diets contain a much larger amount of omega-6 fatty acids and that means your omega-3: omega 6 balance can be thrown out of healthy.
Here’s the secret.
The perfect ratio of omega 3: omega 6 is anti-inflammatory, whereas when you eat far more omega-6 fats than you do omega-3 fats, your body inflames.
Oh and here’s the even better secret about making this specific switch…
Olive oil is a proven anti-inflammatory food. Olive oil is jam-packed full of antioxidants which not only stop inflammation from happening, they can also rewind inflammation that’s already occurred.
8. White Bread for Whole-Wheat
Back to the fibre dear friend. White bread has none, whole-wheat has more. In general the more processed your foods are the easier it is for your body to break them down to sugar. When your body’s job is made easy, you’re never far from that blood sugar roller coaster.
Whole grains contain soluble and insoluble fibres that healthily slow your digestion, stop you from feeling like hunger pains are trying to eat you from the inside out and control your blood sugar levels.
If you’ve ever felt hungry just an hour after breakfast – this is almost definitely why.
The rule stands true for anything else that’s white when it could be brown. White rice for brown rice, white pasta for brown pasta…
Diets high in refined grains are pro-inflammatory. Diet high in whole-grains are anti-inflammatory.
The switch: If it’s a white grain when it could be brown, make it brown. oh and p.s. sometimes brown flours/brown breads can be white flour dyed brown. Be sure your brown breads are made from whole-wheat by double checking that handy ingredients list.
9. Alcoholic Mixers for Red Wine
Okay, okay, so a diet with zero alcohol is the best kind for your skin, but being seriously realistic, committing to a t-total life is a huge decision and it’s not for everyone. So, this is why I say for great skin, switch out your alcoholic mixers, your Smirnoff ice’s, your rum and colas, your cosmopolitans for an antioxidant rich glass of red wine.
Alcohol is a known inflammatory food. Sugar is a known inflammatory food. Pair them up together in a rum and cola mixer and your diets suddenly at the summit of inflammatory mountain.
Why stay here, when you could indulge in an anti-oxidant rich glass of red wine.
Red wine contains alcohol, which we know is inflammatory. However red wine also contains lots of helpful antioxidants like resveratrol which are anti-inflammatory.
Whether the dose of anti-oxidants in red wine is enough to knock out the inflammatory effects of alcohol is still under investigation. In the mean-time know, red wine is a much healthier way to indulge.
The switch: Stock up on red wine and let your cabinets of cola, rum and mixers dwindle.
10. Chai Tea Lattes for Green Tea
Drinks are so easy to think of as non-foods… and they’re so quick to drink! Making it to number 10, I bet you’re already filling in the reasons why these food switches are great for glowing skin without me. What do you think to this one?
The nutrition facts of a chai tea latte make it super simple. On the ingredients list first comes milk and out of a grande serving size we get 42 grams of sugar.
So we have milk that likely contains inflammatory proteins paired with a huge helping of sugar that we know is inflammatory. Oh and is also linked to oily skin, spots, acne and more…
Hmmm… why have that when you could have a green tea. Green tea is sugar-free, containing in its place an anti-inflammatory serving of anti-oxidants. Not only do you avoid the inflammatory ingredients, you’re also helping yourself to a great dose of anti-inflammatory ones. Those make the best kind of food switches ‘eh.
For healthy, glowing skin: Switch sugar and milk based drinks for antioxidant rich teas.
Had you heard of all these anti-inflammatory foods? Are you making a conscious effort even now to eat more of them? Tell me which ones you live by in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.