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These Foods Will Jack Your Skin & Hair Up

Certain foods might taste great. Still, they're not very good for your skin and hair.

Beauty & Fashion

I don't know one woman who doesn't want to have flawless skin and gorgeous hair. Both goals are a huge part of the reason why the beauty industry is a billion-plus dollar business. Unfortunately, what a lot of companies won't tell you (again, because they're a business) is it really doesn't matter how much stuff you put on your body or in your hair, if your internal system is all out of wack. That said, there are certain foods that can almost assure you that they can help to make that happen.

Before getting into what 10 of them are, it's important to say that I'm not stating that you should never have any of these ever again. I'm just saying that if you're getting more pimples on your face than you can handle or your hair isn't flourishing as much as you thought your latest shampoo and conditioner would get it to, it could be because you need to switch up your diet a bit. Because there are certain things in some of our favorite and/or commonly consumed foods that science has proven can literally jack our skin and hair all the way up.

1. Dairy

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At some point, I really should write an article that's entirely devoted to why dairy isn't the best thing for our health, along with the alternatives that make switching well worth your while. For now, I'll just suggest that you read about why it's not good for your vagina here and then also file it as something that your skin and hair aren't super fond of either. For one thing, the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that are in a lot of dairy products can throw your own hormones off balance and trigger unwanted breakouts. Know what else is a trip? The acidic levels in dairy can damage your hair follicles over time. If your follicles ain't right, your hair can't grow.

2. Fast Food

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Fast food might taste good and seem convenient (because you don't have to prepare it and it's relatively cheap). Still, it's not the best thing for your overall health and well-being (check out "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone"). It also sucks at providing good results for your skin and hair. Honestly, I'm thinking that this might be a no-brainer due to all of the sugar and high fats that most fast food contains. Both of those things can lead to acne issues. Also, since fast food oftentimes contains chemicals that can put your hormones on quite a roller coaster ride, that along with how much it lacks in the daily nutrition that your body needs, means that it can affect your hair's growth cycle too. Not in a good way either.

3. Non-Organic Fruits and Veggies

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Fresh fruits and veggies are your skin and hair's best friends. No doubt about it. The reason why you should go with the organic ones is because a lot of what you see in the produce section of your favorite grocery store contain pesticides. Pesticides aren't good on a lot of levels yet as it relates to your skin, it can irritate it and also increase signs of aging. The way that pesticides can affect your hair is, because they can weaken your immune system over time, that can ultimately result in hair loss. If you're curious about what fruits and vegetables happen to contain the most pesticides, the Environmental Working Group can help you out if you click here.

4. Swordfish

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Swordfish is high in mercury. I'll get why that is problematic in a minute. However, did you know that high fructose corn syrup contains a fair amount of mercury too? Geeze. There are a ton of things that contain it (soda, fruit juice, candy, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, granola bars and energy drinks, for starters), so definitely don't just Kanye shrug this point off.

As if the fact that too much mercury can lead to neurological and behavioral issues (such as anxiety, mood swings, muscle weakness, vision impairment and depression) isn't disturbing enough, it can also stunt your hair's growing phases and it can lighten your skin.

In fact, Allure did an entire article on it entitled, "Dangerous Levels of Mercury Found in Some Skin-Care Products Bought on Amazon and eBay". Check it out when you get a chance.

5. Alcohol

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Alcohol has its benefits (check out "Liquors That Are Gluten-Free (& Beneficial In Other Ways)"). Still, everything needs to be done in moderation, right? The reasons why alcohol made this list, though, are multi-faceted. For one thing, it can also trigger inflammation within your system. Also, when it comes to your skin, it can dilate your pores which can not only lead to blackheads and whiteheads but inflamed papules and cystic acne too (whew). And your hair? Well, since it's really no secret that alcohol dehydrates us (and most of us are dehydrated anyway), too much alcohol can leave your hair looking dry and feeling brittle. Who wants that?

6. High-Glycemic Foods

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You're probably not gonna be the most thrilled about this one. Sorry for that. Basically, a high-glycemic food is one that quickly raises your blood sugar levels which I'm sure you can guess isn't a good thing. When you eat foods that fall into the low-glycemic category (like fruits, veggies and low-processed foods), it lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease. It also decreases the risk of your skin getting its collagen levels messed up (due to high-glycemic foods' sugar levels). By "messed up", I mean that high-glycemic foods can lead to a lack of elasticity and youthfulness. As far as your hair goes, it doesn't need high-glycemic foods either because it can increase inflammation, damage your hair follicles and possibly lead to hair loss. And just what foods are considered to be high-glycemic? Basically, the fun stuff—white bread, white pasta, white rice, cake and cookies. By the way, here's what else makes the high-glycemic list that you may not have seen coming. Ready? Watermelon, pineapple and dried fruit. Chile. CHILE.

7. Too Much Vitamin A

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When it comes to this particular point, let me first say that Vitamin A is good for your skin and hair on a few levels. Skin-wise, it moisturizes it, boosts your skin's immunity, helps to prevent breakouts and can even speed up the healing process if you've got acne or a cut or wound on your skin. As far as your hair goes, because Vitamin A helps cells to grow. Since, next to bone marrow, hair is the fastest growing tissue in your entire body, I'm pretty sure you can connect the dots there.

Here's the challenge, though. While you've got to basically try and overdo it when it comes to Vitamin A consumption, it is indeed possible. Health-wise, too much of it can lead to headaches, nausea and even comas and death. And when it comes to your skin and hair specifically, too much of Vitamin A can do the opposite of what I just said.

So, how much Vitamin A do you need? Many medical professionals say somewhere around 700 micrograms for us and 900 for men. For us, that breaks down to about 2.5 ounces. This means that if eggs, oranges and dark leafy greens are your thing, enjoy. Just remember that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

8. Processed Meat

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If you've ever wondered what processed meat actually is, it's meat that has been preserved by the process of curing, salting, smoking, drying or canning. Off top, you know this means that it's got quite a bit of preservatives in it, right? Anyway, meats that would fall into this category include hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami and smoked meats. Since processed meats contain a lot of sodium, that can lead to puffiness, swelling of the skin and premature aging. Too much sodium can dry your hair out too.

9. Vegetable Oil

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I'm someone who likes to cook a lot. Sometimes what I'm preparing requires oil. What I've stayed away from, for years at this point, is vegetable oil. Long story short, the unsaturated fats in vegetable oil, when they are warmed up, they oxidize (lose freshness). As a direct result, the fats not only make your body tissues more vulnerable to harm, the fats can also trigger inflammation which can definitely lead to things like premature aging, wrinkles, sagging and breakouts. By the way, the same thing applies to soybean oil.

Something else to keep in mind about vegetable (and soybean) oil is, because it's an omega-6 kind of oil, that's one more reason why it's not the best thing for you. While on one hand, omega-6 fatty acids can help to relieve symptoms that are related to eczema, psoriasis and even dandruff, too much of it triggers inflammation to your skin and hair follicles too.

So, what kind of oils are better for you? How about trying avocado (it contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids); walnut (it has a good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids); extra virgin olive oil (it's an unrefined oil that's high in antioxidants); peanut (if it's refined, it's high in Vitamin E), and/or flaxseed (it's packed with omega-3s which can actually fight bodily inflammation) oil.

10. Fruit Juice. Kinda.

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This says "kinda" because when fruit juice is 100 percent pure and consumed in moderation, it's not a bad thing.

The reality, though, is a lot of us don't drink pure juice; we consume that kind that has a ton of sugar in it. How much? A cup, on average, contains a whopping 23 grams. And how much sugar does your body need a day? 24 grams. Exactly.

We've already touched on the fact that too much sugar in your system can wreak total havoc on your skin and hair. It's really easy to drink triple and quadruple the amount of sugar that you need on a daily basis under the guise of "it's just apple or orange juice". Yeah, be careful with that. Too much sugar is never good. Sometimes, the current state of our skin and hair are living proof of this very fact. That's why you should have no more than a glass or two and drink water the rest of the day. Every part of your body, inside and out, will be glad that you did. Your hair and skin included.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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