This “healthy” food causes under-eye bags and dark circles

Dr. Janet Zand

April 21, 2023

Tired of looking so… tired?

Sometimes even when you get a good night’s sleep, you still wake up with under-eye bags and dark circles. And not only can they make you look tired, they can also make you appear older than you are.

So what can you do about it? Well, if you’ve tried getting more sleep, drinking water, and other solutions, maybe the problem is something you’re eating.

As it turns out, there’s a very common “healthy” food that women are told to eat, but that can also cause skin inflammation, baggy eyes, and dark circles.

So what is it?

Dairy. Yes, the very same food you’re told to eat in order to keep your bones strong may be aging your face!

That’s because many women have a hidden dairy sensitivity. They may not be lactose intolerant, where eating dairy causes obvious digestive upset, but they’re affected in other ways. For example, swollen eyelids, bags and dark circles under eyes, and even small white bumps on the chin.

Those are all symptoms of an inflammatory response from your immune system. To understand why it happens, think about an ankle injury. When you injure your ankle, your body goes to work to repair the damage. And a side effect of that is that your ankle swells up.

Well, the same thing is happening to your face, only in this case it’s your eyes that become puffy, and the bags more pronounced. And these effects show up quickly under your eyes, since the skin is naturally thinner and more delicate.

So cutting dairy from your diet can help. Now maybe you’ve been told you need dairy for strong bones, especially as you get older. So is it safe to stop eating dairy?

Yes. You really don’t need dairy.  You can get just as much calcium from foods like fish, beans, figs, collard greens, kale, soybeans, spinach, and hummus.

And if you really don’t want to give up yogurt for breakfast or cream cheese on your bagel, check out some of the surprisingly delicious non-dairy substitutes. For example, instead of milk, try almond or oat milk. Instead of regular yogurt, try coconut milk yogurt. There are even non-dairy cheeses, like Kite Hill's vegan cheese product line.

It’s worth trying for 8-12 weeks, to see if it brightens your eyes and makes you look younger. Afterward, you can try reintroducing one dairy product at a time back into your diet, to test whether you’re actually sensitive to it.

Finally, here’s a bonus tip for what to do with any unused milk in your fridge: Try it as a topical treatment!

Yes, the same milk that may be aging you can have the opposite effect when applied directly to your skin.

That’s because the lactic acid in milk can help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles.

To try it, just put cold milk on a cotton ball, and dab it under your eyes. Do this for 15 minutes, then rinse with cold water. Repeat this 2-3 times per week for the best results.

So give this a try, and let me know how it goes!

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