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Are you consuming these five risky snacks? Avoiding them is essential to maintaining healthy, vibrant skin. Not all health foods are what they claim to be. In fact, as you’ll find out in this article, many popular health food snacks are just junk food in disguise. They contain hidden ingredients that may be secretly throwing off your diet and wreaking havoc on your skin.

While many think that good skin is 100% genetic, a lot of it has to do with what you eat. Nutrition is a powerful thing and there is plenty of evidence showing us that the food we consume daily has a powerful influence on our skin’s health.

Some foods cause inflammation, lead to dehydration and raise stress hormones, all that leads to dull, unhealthy skin. These foods include commercial dairy, sugar, refined carbohydrates and rancid fats.

The scary part? Many of these substances are hidden in everyday store-bought snacks. Take a look at this list of common processed foods that may be damaging your skin from the inside out.

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Processed Foods

Be aware of just about anything in a package, particularly the sweet stuff like cookies, ice cream and other desserts. Probably even more important to know is that sneaky foods that seem plenty safe (like sauces, salad dressings and bread) can contain hidden fructose sugar. Even the healthier versions of these can be secretively harmful as many are sweetened with agave. It’s actually quite interesting that it is touted as a healthy sweetener, considering it contains 97% fructose, that’s more than high-fructose corn syrup! The problem with fructose is that it creates inflammation and even damages the liver. Excess consumption of it via agave and even really sugary fruits like modern bananas and dried fruits can contribute to eczema and acne among many other skin problems. Next time you are looking for a healthy dessert, be sure it is sweetened with something more natural and lower in fructose like quality maple syrup, organic raw local honey or stevia. (1)(2) Better yet, make your own snacks to curb cravings.

Yogurt

This is supposed to be a health food right? Well, traditionally yes. However most yogurt today is highly processed, striped of healthy fat, and contains added sugars that wreak havoc on the skin. Some of those tiny commercial yogurt containers can have as much or even more sugar than a candy bar!

Sugar consumption can cause cross-linking to vital proteins in the body, creating advanced glycation end products, fittingly called AGEs. Gylcation can lead to the deterioration of the skin and generate wrinkles.  Most commercial dairy products, be it yogurt, protein shakes, or even milk containing protein bars contain a hormone called IGF-1 (insulin growth factor). This hormone has a similar effect that insulin does, which can cause an increase in sebum – the oily substance that clogs pores for some people. Crazily enough, as little as one cup of milk can cause this. (3)

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If you are going to consume yogurt, make sure it is 100% organic, grass-fed, full fat and plain. Look out for any sweeteners, especially agave – as mentioned in point one, agave contains toxic levels of fructose. Yogurts made with skim milk are even worse and spike insulin as they are void of fat that would otherwise slow a release of insulin. Removing the fat from milk means that there is only mostly only water and sugar left behind with no fat to slow the absorption of the sugar, which can lead to a host of skin problems like acne due to blood sugar imbalances. Try eliminating all commercial dairy completely for at least two weeks and see what it does to your skin. (4)

Fat-Free Snacks

While tempting, most of these foods, such as low-fat or fat-free yogurts, crackers and protein bars usually loaded with hidden sugars in replace of the fat. The problem is that by removing the fat from food it compromises taste and to make up for it, sugar is added.

Not only that, but fat is essential to good hormone health and sugar causes hormonal disaster and thus, hormonal skin problems. Not to mention, advertising something as fat-free or low fat doesn’t make it healthy. For example, soda, alcohol and most sugary candy is fat-free. Next time you’re snack shopping, be careful for these claims, it usually means it’s loaded with sugar and chemicals that are harmful to the skin. Instead, just choose whole food snacks such as raw nuts and seeds, avocados, olives, berries or products with these whole foods as ingredients. (5, 67).

Bottled Fruit Juices

Fruit is supposed to be the one thing we can rely on as a healthy source of nutrients. The problem with fruit juices is that they are stripped of their fiber, which would normally slow the absorption of sugar and increase of insulin.

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If that weren’t enough, many fruit juices are pasteurized, killing a lot of the delicate enzymes and nutrients, leaving nothing behind but a sugary drink. Sometimes there is little to no fruit in commercial juices – usually just natural flavorings and filtered water. That being said, let’s say you get a raw organic fruit juice, you still have the problem that the fiber is removed, which can have harmful effects on the blood sugar and skin. As a general rule, I always suggest people to blend their fruit and juice their veggies if looking for a on-the-go beverage. This way you can keep the fiber intake and slow the absorption of sugar and still get the antioxidants and fiber from the fruit. (8)

Roasted Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds, when properly prepared, can be excellent sources of skin-benefiting nutrients. However, roasting may alter and even damage the polyunsaturated fats causing them to oxidize and become rancid.

Oxidized fats account for rancid oils, which are pro-inflammatory and carcinogenic. Roasting and overexposure to sunlight and air can cause the delicate polyunsaturated fats in nuts to spoil.   

Go for raw bulk nuts and prepare them yourself by soaking then drying in a low-heat dehydrator. And overall, seeds are healthier than nuts as they contain less anti-nutrients and therefore easier to digest. Go for hemp seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds, be sure to soak and dry them and add to salads and smoothies!

As far as nuts go, almonds seem to be one of the best options as they are the only alkaline nut. Almonds in particular appear to show the greatest ability in lowest oxidized LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). However, moderation is also important. You can also check out this Ultimate Guide to Nuts for more information on the healthiest nuts. (8)(9)

Image Sources:

http://www.notmartha.org/images/other/2010feb/almonds.jpg

http://www.shedyourweight.com/img/unhealthy%20fruit%20soda.jpg

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