Processed foods. We’re learning more and more about them, and most of it isn’t good.
The latest news? These foods are not healthy for your skin. Not a big surprise, since most of them aren’t healthy for the rest of you, either, but turns out they can have unique negative affects on your appearance.
To help you enjoy the best skin you can have, we wanted to warn you about these foods, and give you some tips on how to eat for beauty!
What are Processed Foods?
It can be confusing sometimes to understand what processed foods are. The simplest explanation is this: They are foods that have been changed somehow from their original state.
So an apple picked from the tree is a whole, natural food. Applesauce is a processed food, as is apple juice. These foods have been “processed” and made into something different from the original.
But surely applesauce isn’t bad for you? Or apple juice? Well, here’s where it gets tricky. Healthy applesauce is good for you, but most manufacturers today add in way too much sugar, making it unhealthy for you. If you make the applesauce yourself, or buy a brand with limited added sugars, then you can enjoy it as a healthy food.
Freezing a food also qualifies as processing, but studies have shown that fruits and vegetables that are frozen immediately after harvesting often retain more nutrients than fresh produce does. So obviously this isn’t an unhealthy food.
So the question becomes: What are unhealthy processed foods?
What are Unhealthy Processed Foods?
A food becomes unhealthy when a manufacturer messes with it to the point that they make it unhealthy. They may add too much sugar, as noted above, or too much salt, or a number of unhealthy chemical preservatives or additives, or even extra fat and oil. Suddenly the food is changed from something that may have been healthy originally, to something that is now unhealthy.
How can you tell if a processed food is healthy or not? First, you can look to see just how processed it is. In general, it will land somewhere on a scale that extends from “minimally processed” to “heavily processed.
- Minimally processed food has simply been prepped for consumption, but retains most of its original nature. Examples include bagged salad and spinach, cut-up raw veggies, and roasted nuts. Other examples include frozen fruits and veggies, canned veggies, and canned tuna.
- Moderately processed foods are those in which other things are added to make them either more appealing or more convenient. These include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt, and cake mixes.
- Heavily processed foods are those that have been changed the most to make them more convenient and quick. Examples include crackers, deli meats, pre-made meals, pizza, microwaveable dinners, fruit snacks, soda and sugary drinks, white bread, potato chips, and processed cheese.
Unfortunately, much of our diet today is full of these heavily processed convenience foods that contain way too many added sugars, salt, chemicals, preservatives, flavorings, dyes, and more.
How Unhealthy Processed Foods Damage Skin
You’ve probably heard that all these added ingredients can be bad for your health. Too much sugar can lead to overweight and obesity, whereas too much salt may increase risk of high blood pressure. But how do these foods affect the skin?
- Clogs pores: Processed foods are often higher in unhealthy saturated fats and even trans fats, which can stimulate oil production in your skin, leading to clogged pores and increased acne breakouts.
- Sagging skin: Processed foods are high in added sugars, which are linked to excess “glycation” in the skin. The sugars in our diet can react with proteins and fats to produce “advanced glycation end-products (AGEs),” which damage collagen and elastin, leading to increased sagging and bagging.
- Dull skin: The more heavily processed foods you eat, the fewer healthy ingredients are available to nourish skin. You can only consume so many calories per day. If you’re choosing to eat potato chips and soda and microwaveable dinners, you’re missing out on the real nutrients you could be getting from fresh fruits, veggies, and leafy greens. These are the foods that feed skin the vitamins, minerals, and important phytochemicals it needs to fight the effects of aging. Without these nutrients, skin tends to become dull and lackluster.
- Inflamed skin: Particularly if you’re eating a lot of processed carbohydrates, like white flour and white rice, you can spike blood sugar levels, which leads to inflammation. That Inflammation can then cause redness, acne, and a breakdown of collagen, which leads to wrinkles.
- Dehydrated skin: Too many processed meats subject you not only to dangerous preservatives (some linked to cancer, like nitrites), but too much salt, which can be dehydrating. Dehydrated skin is dry skin, and dry skin reveals fine lines and wrinkles.
Hopefully this helps clear up the “processed foods” confusion. Not all processed foods are bad for you, but many are, particularly the heavily processed ones. Try to avoid them most of the time, and fill up on fresh, frozen, and other minimally processed foods to give your skin the nutrients it needs to look its radiant best.
How do you manage your diet to create beautiful skin?