In the techie world, the term GIGO refers to garbage in, garbage out. It means a computer’s output is only as good as the quality of information provided to the computer. GIGO works in skin care terms, too. That is, your skin’s appearance is directly connected to what you put into your body.

Probably when you were a teenager, you were taught that chocolate and bad fats—like those found in fast foods—are zit-makers. But the jury’s still out on how these or any particular food affects your skin. That’s because nutritional science is quite complex. Food is broken down into its basic building blocks by your body, and those blocks change and interact in so many ways as they’re metabolized. It’s hard to know what’s doing what to your skin. No matter that science hasn’t yet pinpointed specifics. Common sense and science both tell us that GIGO is generally true for our bodies as a whole.

So, how do you know what’s good or bad for your skin? Test the theories for yourself:

–          Some docs say too much dairy or carbs can cause breakouts due to effects they have on a particular hormone widely known to rev up acne. Try reducing either or both of these in your diet to test if you’re among those adversely affected.

–          Some docs suggest that foods rich in Vitamin C (vital for producing collagen) can help smooth the complexion. Step up intake of citrus, strawberries, and red peppers to find out if this wisdom applies to you.

–          Beta-carotene is converted in the body to Vitamin A, which regulates cell production and turnover. Eat more dark orange, red, or leafy green veggies to see whether these are as good for your complexion as some docs believe.

There is at least one piece of incontrovertible advice on diet and skin: Drinking plenty of water every day is a must. Aim for six cups, but even better, just never ignore thirst! If you drink alcohol or caffeine, which both dehydrate, keep it moderate and make sure to compensate by drinking more water.

Our best wisdom: Think of GIGO whenever you eat or drink. If it’s bad for your body in other ways, it’s probably not good for your skin.