It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that what you eat can affect your skin. Who HASN’T heard that chocolate or French fries will make you break out? Maybe you haven’t, but I’d have to accuse you of living under a rock if that was the case. No offense of course. Just passing out a little fun-loving judgment.
The truth is, what you eat can absolutely affect the condition of your skin. I can definitely speak for myself when I say I’ve been visited by the acne, dermatitis and rosacea fairies many times in my 40 years. A review of the literature shows that these conditions, as well as psoriasis and eczema, can all be dramatically improved in many folks when changes in diet are made. That means that paying attention to what you eat is a great way to start to identify what may be causing your skin conditions.
The standard American diet (SAD), as we know, is chock full of junk like processed foods, sugar, and unpronounceable chemicals that somehow are supposed to qualify as ingredients. Hydrogenated oils, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, among many others. These items are not food, yet somehow they’ve made their way into our food system, and subsequently into our bodies. These anti-nutrients wreak havoc on our systems and create a perfect storm for all kinds of health related issues to ensue. Can I get a big fat YUCK?
Over time, continued consumption of these anti-nutrients create a buildup of ick in the body. While your body is efficient at filtering out ick (your kidneys and liver play major roles here), over time that ick builds up and there is only so much your body can do to keep the ick at bay. Once that ick builds up, it can start to affect your organs, including your skin! ICK!
By the way, did you know that your skin is an organ? It’s actually the largest organ in your body. It’s made up of multiple layers of tissue and functions to protect your muscles, bones and internal organs. Here is a list of functions your skin performs for you.
1. Protection: an anatomical barrier from pathogens and damage between the internal and external environment in bodily defense
2. Sensation: contains a variety of nerve endings that jump to heat and cold, touch, pressure, vibration, and tissue injury
3. Thermoregulation: sweat glands and dilated blood vessels aid heat loss, while constricted vessels greatly reduce cutaneous blood flow and conserve heat
4. Control of evaporation: the skin provides a relatively dry and semi-impermeable barrier to fluid loss
5. Storage and synthesis: acts as a storage center for lipids and water
6. Absorption: oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide can diffuse into the epidermis in small amounts (related to respiration)
7. Water resistance: The skin acts as a water-resistant barrier so essential nutrients aren’t washed out of the body
Now back to some of these common skin conditions. Acne, psoriasis, eczema and rosacea are forms of inflammation to your skin. Certain foods can cause inflammatory responses in the body. Therefore, a good place to start when trying to remedy your skin conditions, along with consulting a medical professional of course, is to change what goes into your mouth!
Some of the most common dietary culprits related to these skin conditions include gluten and diary. Removing them from your diet could help improve, and even cure your skin conditions. Do remember though, that results may not be immediate. Patience is a virtue! I know, it’s not a virtue I have either, but sometimes there isn’t a choice. Your body needs time to heal the damage that’s been done to it and that can take some time. You might see positive results in a few days, or it might be a few weeks. If you have intolerances to gluten for example, it can even take from 2-5 years for your gut to heal once you remove it from your diet. Even then, sometimes longer if you’ve been eating it for decades! Skin conditions like eczema or rosacea may take months for a full recovery.
Note however that it’s not just fake, processed junk that might be affecting your skin. While this junk is a likely culprit, food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities can play a role in the condition of your skin (and overall health) too. For example, strawberries, tomatoes and eggplant have been shown to exacerbate psoriasis in some folks.
Here’s a list of some common skin offenders to help get you started.
· Food additives: including monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, preservatives, artificial flavors, and all artificial food colorings.
· Alcohol: including beer, wine, and hard alcohol, but also including things like vanilla extract, Angostura bitters, mouthwash, cough medicine, and even homeopathic medicines that contain alcohol.
· Citrus fruits: oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits.
· Shellfish: including lobster, crab, mussels, clams, scallops, and other shellfish.
· Nuts: tree nuts, including cashews, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and other tree nuts; as well as groundnuts (peanuts).
· Corn: including corn oil, high-fructose corn syrup, vegetable oil, corn chips, popcorn, corn starch, and other corn-containing foods.
· Dairy: including milk, cheese, butter, cottage cheese, whey, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and other dairy foods.
· Soy: in all its forms, including textured soy protein, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy sauce, and soy milk.
· Eggs: both the yolk and the whites.
· Gluten: a protein found naturally in grains of the wheat tribe, but also present through contamination in many other foods. Avoid pasta, flour, breads, cereals, cookies, and other foods made with gluten grains. Grains found to contain gluten include wheat, kamut, spelt, triticale, barley, rye, and sometimes oats.
· Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, fructose, dextrose, maltose.
So what’s next? Get started! Play around with your diet. Try removing some of the commonly known skin offenders, and load up on that real food! And don’t forget, it’s best to seek the advice of a knowledgeable health care professional (doctor, dermatologist, dietitian, nutritionist) because they have the medical and clinical knowledge needed to appropriately and personally guide you on your journey to better skin and better overall health!
Something to keep in mind in addition to removing some of the commonly known offenders from your diet to treat skin conditions, is that the best diet for optimal health AND clear healthy skin is a diet composed of real food! That means eating real food EVERY DAY and doing what you can to shun the SAD and it’s so called food substances. Sorry folks, that stuff isn’t food and it has no business being called food, let alone being put into your mouth!
Go! Really. Go now and stock up on real food. This article is done. No more to read here. Happy real food eating!