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These are the foods that dehydrate your skin — and why you should ‘eat’ your water

A woman with her eyes closed and a woman with her hands on her face
A woman with her eyes closed and a woman with her hands on her face

Dull, flaky complexion got you feeling the winter blues?

Your diet could actually be to blame.

Consuming sodium, sugar and caffeine can dehydrate your skin, experts say, emphasizing the need for hydrating from the inside out — and not just relying on heavy-duty creams and moisturizers.

“We … may spend a lot of time with products to hydrate the skin from the outside when we really need to start on the inside,” Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told HuffPost.

Caffeine in coffee, tea or energy drinks is considered a diuretic, although it needs to be consumed in excess — more than an estimated 400 milligrams.

Consuming sodium, sugar and caffeine can dehydrate your skin, according to experts. vladimirfloyd – stock.adobe.com
Consuming sodium, sugar and caffeine can dehydrate your skin, according to experts. vladimirfloyd – stock.adobe.com

Drinking moderate amounts of caffeine may just be enough to disrupt your sleep, however, which can have negative effects on your complexion.

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, just one night of poor shut-eye can result in “decreased skin hydration, compromised barrier function, accelerated skin aging and dark under-eye circles,” she told HuffPost.

Similarly, alcohol is also a diuretic and sleep disrupter — and, according to Vogue, it can age you.

Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin,” nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez told Vogue, explaining that dehydration causes wrinkles and loss of collagen, which keeps the skin plump and elastic. “I always joke with my patients, ‘If you want to get older, go ahead and drink!’”

Added sugars aren’t just bad for your waistline — they can damage your skin, too, by impacting the “process of how your body repairs and creates collagen in the body,” Anderson-Haynes explained.

Dry skin in the dead of winter is usually remedied with creams and moisturizers — but experts say it comes down to diet. Artem – stock.adobe.com
Dry skin in the dead of winter is usually remedied with creams and moisturizers — but experts say it comes down to diet. Artem – stock.adobe.com
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which can cause dehydration. amenic181 – stock.adobe.com
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which can cause dehydration. amenic181 – stock.adobe.com

According to the American Heart Association, women should consume 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, of sugar per day, and men should only consume 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams. However, Americans indulge in as much as 17 teaspoons per day.

“We’re eating a lot of added sugars. It’s everywhere,” she added.

Sodium, she continued, also dehydrates the body by pulling water from cells. Too much of it — more than 2,300 milligrams per day — can not only cause dry skin but also bloating, puffiness, under-eye bags and acne due to excess oil production.

“Dehydration can lead to redness and itching and may be associated with skin inflammatory conditions,” Anderson-Haynes said.

Similarly, fried foods are a likely culprit for damaged, dry skin, and experts recommend air fryers as a healthier alternative.

Instead of chowing down on your favorite indulgences, experts emphasize the importance of “eating” your water — consuming water-rich foods like spinach, cucumbers, melons and berries, either raw or steamed, to maintain hydrated skin.

“What you put on your skin and what you drink (and eat) throughout the day are both critical in terms of keeping skin properly hydrated,” Bowe said.

Sugar, salt and fried foods — oh my. Those are some of the sneaky culprits behind dry, cracked, dull skin. beats_ – stock.adobe.com
Sugar, salt and fried foods — oh my. Those are some of the sneaky culprits behind dry, cracked, dull skin. beats_ – stock.adobe.com
Overconsumption of sodium, sugar and other indulgences could have negative impacts on your complexion, experts say. zinkevych – stock.adobe.com
Overconsumption of sodium, sugar and other indulgences could have negative impacts on your complexion, experts say. zinkevych – stock.adobe.com

And, of course, drinking water is key.

According to the Mayo Clinic, men should drink about 15 cups of water per day, and women about 11 cups per day.

“It can affect your blood sugars, it can affect how you think, it can affect your digestion,” Anderson-Haynes said of dehydration. “So whether you have dry skin or not, we need to [stay] properly hydrated.”