Can One Day of Bad Eating Ruin Your Skin?

3 Things to Consume with Caution

Even a single day of bad nutrition takes its toll on your looks. Too little hydration, too much salt, too much alcohol, and the kind of massive fatty-food binge that keeps you up at night with indigestion can show up the next day as puffy eyelids, dark undereye circles and a shallow or overly flushed complexion.
 
Of course, you haven’t wrecked your looks permanently. Plenty of water and a good night’s sleep will help you rehab the next day. But if you make a habit of eating poorly and drinking heavily, you will do permanent damage. Which are the beauty-busting culprits on your table? Start by being smart about these:
 
Alcohol
Drinking a lot of alcohol of any kind interferes with your body’s ability to regulate blood flow, leading over time to enlarged blood vessels in the face and permanent redness.
 
And while drinking heavily can make you sleepy and cause you to doze off, it also prompts disrupted sleep, such as repeated waking, that can leave you feeling—and looking—tired.
 
Salt
It’s absolutely essential to your survival, but too much salt takes a toll on your looks. Excess salt in your diet can cause you to retain fluid, leading to puffy eyelids and, ironically, dry skin.
 
So take it easy on the salty snacks (e.g., potato chips, pretzels) and check condiments such as soy sauce, pickles, and ketchup for their sodium (aka salt) content. Read nutrition labels to look for hidden salt in prepared foods: You may be surprised to find that even items that don’t taste salty, such as bread, contain as much as 250 milligrams (mg) in a serving.
 
Aim for no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, and if you’re over 50, cut that back to 1,500 mg.
 
Sugar
Consuming too much sugar has a widespread impact in the body. It triggers the release of large quantities of the hormone insulin to sweep the extra glucose out of your blood, which increases systemic inflammation and can set off skin irritation, among other bad things.
 
Worse, scientists theorize that excess sugar consumption speeds up a natural aging process called glycation. During glycation, glucose damages proteins throughout the body, but most particularly the proteins in collagen, which is one of the tissues that keep your face from early sagging and wrinkling.
 
Cutting back on sugar means not just avoiding the obvious temptations, like candy, desserts and sodas; it also means keeping an eye on the amount of sugar hidden in seemingly healthier choices such as cereals, energy bars, fruit juices, and smoothies.
 
So look at the nutrition labels on foods and check the amount of sugar grams listed. Try limiting yourself to 24 grams total per day or 10 percent of your total calories, whichever is smaller.
Anne M. Russell is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She is the former editor in chief of VIVmag, previously having served as editor in chief of Shape. Prior to that, she was the editorial director of Fox Television’s Health Network, where she oversaw the Network’s website as well as on-air content. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annemrussell

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