If you’ve been spinning your wheels trying to treat or prevent skin conditions like acne, eczema, or wrinkles, consider decreasing your intake of processed meats. Here’s how processed meats, a common addition to most American diets, can wreak havoc on the skin and why your diet can make a difference.
A processed meat is any meat that’s gone through processes that seek to preserve it and keep it from spoiling. This can include canning, fermenting, curing, or smoking. But it also includes the addition of chemicals for flavor or preservation.
Most people think of sausages, bacon, and hot dogs as processed meats, but many forget that the deli meats on their lunch sandwiches, or the prosciutto in their pastas and pizzas are also processed meats.
In recent years, many studies have linked regular consumption of processed meats to cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. But the preservatives in these meats can also be particularly damaging to your skin. Here's how.
There is a high sodium nitrate content in processed meats commonly used as a preservative to keep meats fresher for longer. But it can cause the skin to age significantly faster than it naturally would. The more rapid aging process occurs because sodium nitrates slowly damage and break down collagen and elastin in the skin. Remember, collagen and elastin are the naturally produced chemicals in the body that help skin cells retain their shape and what keeps your skin looking firm. When collagen and elastin break down, skin can more quickly develop fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging.
Sodium nitrates are different from sodium, which we know commonly as salt, but most processed meats also have an extremely high sodium nitrate and salt content. The combination causes even more damage to the skin. If you’ve ever woken up with puffy eyes or swelling in your fingers or feet, chances are you consumed more salt than your body could process the day before, which contributed to water retention. The same thing happens to your face. You may notice puffiness or that the skin on your face seems dull. A moderate amount of sodium can also prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Finally, gluten is an ingredient commonly added to processed meats. While gluten doesn’t pose a problem for most people, it can be very harmful to those with Celiac Disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivities. This little protein is often found in sausage casings, salamis and pepperonis, and more. Those who can’t properly process gluten might find that conditions like acne and eczema flare-up after eating processed meats due to the inflammation.
Though processed meats are okay for you to consume occasionally, they shouldn’t be part of your regular diet, especially if you have inflammatory skin conditions like acne or eczema or want to look younger longer. Want to learn more about what to eat for your skin type? If you’re in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, contact The Dermatology Group today for an appointment.