Food and skin health questions on chocolate and acne, soy sauce and pigmentation, and more concerns answered
Bust a myth
There's a whole closet of speculations when it comes to what is good for your skin. Starting from what goes into your body with a questionable diet of what's right and what's wrong. Is coffee a necessary evil in the equation? Should I be cutting out dairy for the better of my complexion? The relationship between foods and skin health is something to explore, especially if that means bidding chili goodbye — if we can even give it up that is. For that, we turn to Dr Kwan Yuan Dong, resident physician from DTAP Clinic to shed the light and bust a few myths. This could come in handy as a comeback for your friends and family members who love giving unsolicited advice...
#1 "Drinking coffee will darken my skin"
Folklore has it that drinking coffee can result in dark skin.
Fact: Coffee in moderation is in fact beneficial to the skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Drink a couple of cups of coffee a day will be sufficient. Drinking more than four cups of coffee can be detrimental as it increases the stress response in our bodies. Coffee is also a diuretic (increases production of urine), and so excessive coffee dehydrates us if we do not consume more water to replace our fluids, leading to dry devitalized looking skin.
#2 "Eating certain light-coloured foods will result in fair skin"
You may have heard that eating light coloured foods such as bird's nest, tofu, and soy products, while avoiding dark coloured foods or beverages, may give you, or even your child during your pregnancy, fair skin.
Fact: Skin colour is genetic and generally cannot be changed, with a few exceptions. There is also no clinical evidence proving that eating bird's nest will lighten your skin. For lightening skin tone, food supplements such as glutathione have been shown to have some effect, but UV protection is still the mainstay of keeping your skin fair.
#3 "Eating soy sauce or seafood will turn my scar dark or even worsen it"
Fact: While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may suggest this, scientific evidence actually proves otherwise. Protein-rich seafood is well documented to help wound healing and help form visually better scars. Soy sauce has no effect on wounds and scars, unless you are allergic to soy. What truly affects the healing of your scars are surgical factors, UV protection, and after care of the scars.
#4 "Eating chili will give me acne"
Fact: Spicy food does not cause or worsen acne. But sweating due to spicy food may increase sebaceous secretions due to the response to capsaicin contained in chilli. This in turn may increase the population of bacteria which then causes acne. This can be avoided with good hygiene and meticulous skincare. The true culprits that cause acne in our diet are dairy and high glycaemic foods.
#5 "Drinking plenty of water will hydrate my skin throughout the day"
Fact: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important for your overall health and maintaining a good hydration status, but skin hydration requires more than that. The best way to keep our skin hydrated is with moisturizers and serums that have been formulated to lock in moisture in the skin, and for those who are looking for hydration from within, skin booster injections may increase the hydration storing capacity in our skin that we lose with age
#6 "Eating chocolate will cause breakouts"
Fact: It is sugar and dairy in chocolate bars that may increase or worsen acne. Dark chocolates with at least 70% cocoa, while not affecting our skin, can actually provide flavonoids which are antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Of course, everyone's skin is unique and the most important factor in good skincare is to recognize your skin type, use the right products and cultivate the right skincare habits.