You get busy or tired.
Work hard, play hard.
Chill in front of the TV.
Go to a party.
Hang with friends or with the folks.
Go on a long trip.
Study for an exam…
The reasons and opportunities for snacking are endless!
And sure, we’ve all heard the admonishment to “eat a healthy snack.” Protecting our overall health by making wise food choices is always a good idea.
However, when it comes to acne, some nutritious “good for you” snacks are major no-nos. Indulge in any of these more than once or twice a week and you may well be aggravating and perpetuating your breakouts.
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Here’s the skinny on what to avoid and what to eat instead:
- Seaweed Snacks. If you’re a fan, these crispy, addictive thins come in many flavors like olive oil, garlic, and wasabi. But if you’re concerned about acne, the iodine from the sea plants may be creating trouble for your skin. Foods of marine origin are high in iodine because marine plants and animals concentrate iodine from seawater. When iodine enters the bloodstream, any excess is excreted through the oil glands, which in turn irritates the pores and causes acne breakouts. When you continually consume foods high in iodine, including sea snacks, you’re asking for breakouts. Want an iodine-safe substitute? Try brown rice or nut thins, or my personal favorite, Mary’s Gone Crackers!
- Peanut Butter. If you crave peanut butter, it’s no wonder. It’s a delicious, super easy protein fix with long-lasting energy. However, peanuts―as well as peanut oil and even shrimp―containandrogen-like hormones and androgens are shown to increase not only oil production but also the inflammation that promotes acne formation and progression. Here’s why. The increased androgen binds to oil glands in the skin, and tells the oil gland to produce more sebum. This excess oil combines with dead skin cells, debris, and bacteria, and triggers the formation of pimples. This means, unfortunately, you risk breakouts with every mouthful of these foods. Prefer a delicious, androgen-safe substitute? Try almond, sunflower seed, or cashew butter instead.
- Protein Bars. No time for breakfast? Going for a hike? Chasing the kids around? Protein bars are awesome for a quick infusion of energy. But watch what’s inside! If your protein bar has whey protein, you’re doing your skin a disservice. The darling of the bodybuilding set and other athletes, whey is a “go-to” protein used to build muscle mass, increase strength and even lose weight. It’s nutritious and high in amino acids. Whey protein is sourced from cow’s milk, from the liquid that forms during cheese production. For instance, ever open up a yogurt container and seen liquid on the top? That is whey, and the whey protein added to protein bars is isolated from that liquid. Here’s the problem. Because whey is sourced from dairy cows, iodine triggers acne. Studies of athletes even demonstrate that the consumption of whey protein triggers acne in their bodies. What to do instead? There are lots of protein bars on the grocery store shelves! Now that you know about whey protein, read the labels and make a choice that protects your skin. Just be sure to stay away from soy too!
- Yogurt. Greek yogurt. Fruity yogurt. Plain yogurt. It’s a delicious snack made by fermenting milk with a yogurt culture, that offers protein, calcium, and probiotics helpful for gut health. Here’s the issue. Yogurt made with cow’s milk has iodine. And any excess iodine that enters your bloodstream, as you read above, irritates the pores and causes acne breakouts. But how does iodine get in dairy milk? When sanitizing before milking, dairy farmers clean cows’ udders with an iodine wash to kill harmful bacteria. Dairy cows are also commonly given a mineral salt block to lick, which contains iodine and vitamins to boost their nutrition and health. In both instances, iodine gets into the milk supply. Though these practices are harmless and meet FDA regulations, iodine can be a problem for acne-prone skin. What to eat instead? Try skin-safe, dairy-free yogurt options made with goat, coconut, or almond milk. Health food stores and your grocer’s organic section are the best places to find a variety of new favorites.
- Cheese and crackers. Cheese, glorious cheese! If you love cheese, I daresay the desire is embedded in your genes. Cheese has been around for 8-10,000 years since people first domesticated milk-producing animals like sheep. However, when you consume cheese made with cow’s milk, which is so prevalent on the grocers’ shelves, you risk breakouts due to the iodine (as detailed above). Thank goodness there are lots of alternatives! Regular goat cheese and feta are perfectly skin safe. And if you’re feeling a little adventurous try other varieties made from goat or sheep’s milk such as Humboldt Fog, Roquefort, or Pecorino Romano. Or try non-dairy brands like Daiya or Go Veggie.
Feeling hungry? Why not? We’ve just opened your world to a bounty of new skin-safe snacking possibilities. Enjoy!
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