5 Foods That Can Cause Skin Inflammation

Inflammation is a body defense mechanism whereby your immune system identifies harmful objects and removes them. After the removal of dangerous, foreign items, the body will begin healing itself. While inflammation can occur naturally, in most cases, food can be a leading cause.

This is true when it comes to skin inflammation. Research shows that certain foods can trigger inflammatory responses from your immune system. This will result in red patches, abscess, and rash. In most cases, the rash is usually itchy or burning and can cause cracks and bleeding.

Certain foods’ reactions can either be acute or life-threatening, leading to anaphylaxis. Want to know which foods can trigger skin inflammation?

In this post, we’ll discuss five foods that can cause skin inflammation.

1. Sugar-rich Foods

Sugar-rich Foods

Let’s face it. We love eating foods rich in sugar. In fact, we consume more than 17 teaspoons of sugar each day between sugar-rich foods and beverages. According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. That is the equivalent of 150 calories or 36 grams.

When it comes to women, experts recommend 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar per day. That is equivalent to 100 calories.

Sugar contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose, while high fructose corn syrup contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Foods rich in sugar have a high glycemic index, which causes inflammation in the body and skin. This occurs when sugar supplies excess fructose to the body.

According to a New York dermatologist, when we consume high glycemic foods, your body begins breaking down the sugar into glucose. This raises your insulin levels. Eating foods such as bread causes a spike in your insulin levels.

This results in a burst of inflammation in your body. The inflammation produces enzymes that start to break down elastin and collagen. This causes your skin to have wrinkles and sag as well. Aside from the effects of aging, inflammation can worsen other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and acne.

In a 2014 study, researchers sought to determine if soda consumption can cause rheumatoid arthritis in women. Out of 3.3 million person-years of follow up, researchers documented 857 cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

2. Refined Carbs

Refined Carbs

Besides sugar-rich foods like candy, refined carbohydrates can cause skin inflammation too. Refined carbs contain little or no nutritional value. While they are simple carbs, when consumed, the body converts them into glucose. This causes blood sugar levels to spike.

One reason why refined carbs increase blood sugar levels and cause skin inflammation is that they had most of their fiber removed. Dietary fiber has multiple benefits in the body. Besides promoting fullness, dietary fiber helps to control blood sugar levels.

Examples of foods high in refined carbohydrates include:

  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Some cereals
  • All processed foods

In 2008, researchers carried out a study to know if high glycemic index foods increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The study involved ten young men. Each participant received 50 g of carbohydrates in the form of white bread, pasta, and glucose. Researchers noted an increase in blood glucose after taking refined carbs.

3. Fast Food

Fast Food

Fast food and other fried foods are rich in trans fat. Also called trans-unsaturated fat, trans fat causes skin inflammation. Trans fat increases the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body. They also reduce good cholesterol levels.

Besides increasing bad cholesterol, trans fat impairs the functionality of endothelial cells. These cells line your arteries. If damaged, the risk of heart disease increases.

As the unhealthiest fats you can eat, trans fat is usually created through the process of hydrogenation. This is where manufacturers add hydrogen to unsaturated fat. As such, it makes the unsaturated fats more solid.

You need to know there is a link between trans fat and increased levels of inflammatory markers. In 2005, researchers carried out a study to determine if consumption of trans fat increases inflammation markers and endothelial dysfunction. The study involved 730 women aged 43 to 69 years free of cardiovascular, diabetes, and cancer.

Researchers assessed dietary intake. What they discovered is that intake of trans fats affects endothelial function. They also found a relation between cardiovascular risk and trans fat. Other studies on healthy men have also discovered an increase in bad cholesterol after consuming foods rich in trans fats.

4. Alcohol


Can drink alcohol cause skin problems? Can drink alcohol cause dry skin? These and many others are some of the questions most people ask. You need to know that alcohol intake can cause skin problems such as inflammation, rosacea, and scalp rash. It can also cause other complications such as jaundice and itching.

Yes, alcoholic beverages are popular in social settings. But substances in alcohol cause skin inflammation. When you take alcohol, it causes your blood vessels to dilate. This causes facial redness. With time, the condition will worsen, causing more redness.

Besides inflaming your skin, alcohol can cause dryness and alcoholic liver disease. A 2013 study sought evidence to know if alcohol consumption can cause systemic inflammation. What they discovered is that excessive intake of alcohol correlates with systemic inflammation.

Ethanol in alcohol enhances keratinocyte activation and proliferation. This results in the development of psoriasis.

5. Processed Cheese

Processed Cheese

Processed cheese can cause skin inflammation because it contains high levels of sodium. If ingested, processed cheese causes water retention. This occurs when excess fluids build up in your body. Also referred to as edema, water retention can cause swelling in your feet, legs, hands, and ankles.

Besides swelling, water retention can cause damage to the skin. How you may ask. Processed cheese contains high levels of advanced glycation end products or AGEs. AGEs are harmful compounds which in low levels, your body can get rid of, naturally.

But at high levels, AGEs can cause inflammation and oxidative stress. Besides inflammation, they can cause premature aging, kidney failure, heart disease, and diabetes. A 2007 study sought to determine the effects of advanced glycation on oxidative stress.

The study involved the incubation of NRK-49F cells having different doses of AGEs for 24 hours. These cells were also pretreated with ginkgo Biloba extract for 24 hours. What researchers discovered is that AGEs increase the rate of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Final Thoughts

Foods that are rich in refined carbs, trans fat, sodium, and sugar are tasty. This is one of the reasons why many people consume junk foods.

The problem is, they increase the risk of skin inflammation. To prevent this, avoid foods such as pastries, fried foods, red meat, candy, processed cheese, and meats.

To improve your skin health, consume foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Such foods include spinach, kale, fruits, fish, nuts, and seeds.

Best of luck!

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