The Worst Foods For Your Skin

The Worst Foods For Your Skin

Trying to brighten your complexion or improve skin quality and texture? Research suggests it might be best to limit or avoid the following foods: dairy, alcohol, milk or sweetened chocolate, high glycemic foods, coffee, salt & fried foods.

Research suggests a link between dairy products and acne

1. Dairy

Numerous scientific studies along with strong clinical evidence support the link between dairy and acne. The high levels of hormones in milk along with its acidic protein type may stimulate oil glands in the skin encouraging the development of spots and blemishes. In contrast, numerous people have found relief from blemishes after eliminating dairy from their diet completely. If you want to try eliminating dairy entirely – as with any other food group – it can be best to work with a nutritional therapist to ensure you are not missing out on vital nutrients.

2. Alcohol

While it’s okay to enjoy the occasional drink, excessive alcohol consumption can dehydrate the skin and make it look worn down. One reason alcohol is so intoxicating is its dehydrating effect on the body. This can have a direct trying effect on the skin, leaving it looking worse for wear.

Alcohol can dehydrate the skin
Chocolate and sugary treats can be amongst the worst foods for your skin

3. Chocolate

Dutch researchers discovered that chocolate consumption can lead to the release of compounds that affect the immune system in a way that can result in acne. This effect is maximized when excessively sweet and milky varieties are chosen. Instead, try to consume chocolate in moderation and eat the varieties that contain a higher cacao percentage, such as dark chocolate or brands such as Hotel Chocolat.

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4. High-glycemic foods

Foods rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates have long been associated with a poor complexion. This association is confirmed by a recent study linking acne flare-ups to the intake of high glycemic foods.

5. Coffee

Not our beloved coffee! Unfortunately, coffee has a strong diuretic effect that can dehydrate the body, with signs usually showing up in your skin first. Common symptoms include skin dryness and blotching. To combat this, limit the amount of coffee you consume to two cups per day, while also drinking two glasses of water for every cup of coffee consumed.

6. Salt

If you drink plenty of water and avoid too much salt, you will feel much less bloated as you won’t retain water. In contrast, when you add salt to the mix, water is retained. Salt does make things taste good but the simple fact is excess sodium is bad for your skin and your heart. An overabundance of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and consequently a lack of adequate blood flow on top of fluid retention, which will leave your skin looking dried out. If you know someone who always has bags under their eyes, it may be because of too much sodium in their diet!

However, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to avoid salt. If you always make your own home-cooked food and don’t eat any processed foods (or only very little), then adding some salt is often fine because you will be getting very small amounts of sodium otherwise. Another situation when adding salt to food (but not processed foods) may be beneficial is if you have low blood pressure. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure.

Fried foods have little benefit for your body.

7. Fried Foods

Fried foods – especially if fried in vegetable oils – are often full of trans fats that have zero benefit to your body. They may also cause your insulin to skyrocket, leading to inflamed skin which can appear puffy and damaged. In the long term, you may also have to deal with the effect of increased cholesterol and blood pressure.


The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. If you are taking any medications, have a diagnosed medical condition, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your doctor or health practitioner before taking supplements.


  • Melnik BC. Evidence for Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk and Other Insulinotropic Dairy Products. In: Milk and Milk Products in Human Nutrition [Internet]. Basel: KARGER; 2011 [cited 2017 Jan 12]. p. 131–45.
  • Netea SA, Janssen SA, Jaeger M, Jansen T, Jacobs L, Miller-Tomaszewska G, et al. Chocolate consumption modulates cytokine production in healthy individuals. Cytokine [Internet]. 2013 Apr [cited 2017 Jan 12];62(1):40–3.
  • Burris J, Rietkerk W, Woolf K. Acne: The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy. J Acad Nutr Diet [Internet]. 2013 Mar [cited 2017 Jan 12];113(3):416–30.