The Clear Skin Diet

November 4, 2012
Categories: Antioxidants

Using good quality non-toxic skincare products is important for healthy skin, but as a nutritionist – I also look to treat the skin from the inside out.

Our skin can be a reflection of the overall health of our internal systems.  Studies indicate that certain dietary factors may trigger acne and other skin problems. A study conducted by Glamour magazine found that pimples could be reduced by as much as 62% just by changing what you eat.  In addition to choosing the right topical products, looking deeper at what is causing the imbalance is a smart approach to healing the skin.

5 Tips to improve our skin from the inside out:

1. Optimize Digestion

Our overall health is connected to how well we are digesting our foods.  If we have digestive issues, we might not be properly absorbing our nutrients, which could possibly lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies, and interfere with the removal of toxins; all of which can add up to breakouts and other skin issues.  To improve our digestion we need to do 4 things:

  • Boost the good bacteria – acne is caused by bacteria – and we can balance our bacteria in our bodies by increasing our healthy bacteria with probiotics.  Our digestive system has billions of bacteria – we want to make sure that the healthy bacteria do not get outnumbered by the unhealthy ones.  Taking a probiotic supplement and eating fermented foods and drinks all can help to boost our healthy disease-fighting bacteria.  One common treatment for acne is antibiotics – which kill all bacteria (including the good ones).  So taking a probiotic can help to repopulate all the good bacteria in the system.  Probiotics also boost our immune system, which is helpful during cold and flu season.
  • Boost our digestive fire, or “ami” as they refer to it in Ayurvedic medicine.  We can improve our digestive fire by eating more  enzyme-rich foods (such as fresh raw fruits and vegetables), and another option is to take digestive enzyme supplements with meals.  Digestive enzymes give our digestive system a hand in digesting the foods that we eat.
  • Removing foods that we are sensitive to can help to boost our digestion and clear up our skin.  We we eat things that we are sensitive to, it interferes with our digestion and absorption of nutrients.  Two of the biggest culprits are dairy and gluten with regards to acne and other skin issues.  Try removing dairy for 2-3 weeks and see if there is an improvement in the skin. Many acne suffers get relief just from removing the dairy.
  • Get plenty of nutritious fiber.  Fiber helps to keep things moving in the digestive tract, and helps to sweep out toxins.  Choose sprouted grains and seeds like chia seeds to boost digestion and absorption.  Unsprouted grains contain phytic acid which can interfere with mineral absorption (one reason why people who eat a lot of carbs could be minerally depleted).

2. Balance our pH.

An acidic pH in the body has been linked to many different conditions including fatigue, poor digestion, osteoporosis, and inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Some research has also revealed that one of acne’s main triggers could be a pH imbalance.  Eating more alkaline foods such as leafy greens, lemons, cucumbers, parsley, and celery can help to balance out our pH to be less acidic.  It is also important to eat less acid-forming foods such as dairy, sweets, alcohol, coffee/caffeine, and too much protein.  Improving our bodies pH will not only improve the skin, but also our overall health.

3. Eat the right kinds of fats.

Not all fats are created equal when it comes to our skin and our health.  Redness and swelling in the skin can be an indication that the body is inflamed – so either we are eating something that we are sensitive to, or we are getting too many pro-inflammatory fats. Trans fats and oils (such as those found in fried and packaged foods) promote inflammation in the body. Although certain fats can cause inflammation and other skin issues, a low fat diet is not necessarily the right answer either. In addition to minimizing the trans fats and vegetable oils, getting plenty of the right kinds of healthy fats can help to prevent acne and inflammatory skin issues like rosacea.   Healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and omega 3 rich seeds such as hemp, flax, and chia seeds.  Also fatty fish like salmon and fish oil are high in omega 3 rich fats and will help to reduce inflammation.

4. Detoxify:

As our body’s largest organ, our skin is an important part of our overall detoxifying system – which also includes the liver, kidneys and lungs.  The body need to process and remove toxins, and if we are bringing in more toxins than our body can remove – then we could be creating a toxic load on our organs.  Increase the intake of sticky fiber like chia seeds to help usher out the toxins from the body, and reduce the intake of the following foods – can all help to reduce the toxic load:

  • Processed foods that contain chemicals, preservatives, and lack natural minerals & enzymes (cookies, chips, crackers, diet sodas and foods, processed meats, cereals and breads).
  • Foods that contribute to an imbalance of bacteria – creating an overgrowth of yeast or bad bacteria.  (especially sugary foods, simple carbs – such as breads, crackers).  I wish someone told me in my 20s and 30s that eating sugar ages you.  It also can contribute to acne – primarily because of the hormone insulin.  When our insulin is out of whack, it creates a cascade of hormonal issues – which can result in acne and skin problems.   Cut the sugar and processed carbs out of your diet, and you can watch your face get a mini-facelift.  And your energy will improve too.

5. Boost key vitamins & minerals: 

Eating a diet of processed foods will be lacking in vitamins and minerals.  But even diets that contain fruits and vegetables and whole grains can also be lacking in key vitamins and minerals – because our soil is becoming minerally-deficient.  Choosing organic produce is a smart way to increase our vitamins and minerals, and also taking high quality supplements can help.  Some key vitamins and minerals that are known to help skin:

  • Vitamin A – reduces sebum production and strengthens the skin’s surface. Note: because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is important to not take too high a dose of vitamin A, obtain from food sources, or the beta carotene form is preferred.  Check with your doctor. Food sources: sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli.
  • B Vitamins – especially  B5 (pantothenic acid). According to a study published in 1995 by Dr. Lit-Hung Leung, high doses of vitamin B5 resolved acne and decreased pore size. It is recommended to take the full complex of B Vitamins together. Food sources: meat, sunflower seeds, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, avocado.
  • Vitamin C – is important for tissue growth, repair, and collagen production.  It also is important in free radical damage prevention, and for speeding healing.  Food sources: red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli.
  • Zinc – Aids in the regulation of the activity of your oil glands, boosts collagen production, helps with wound healing, and helps to prevent free radical damage and prevent scarring.  But zinc is a heavy metal, and can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, so it should not be consumed in too much excess.  Taking a zinc status test is one way to determine if your zinc levels are appropriate.  Sources: oysters, cashews, tahini/sesame seeds, cacao, hemp.

The good thing about taking a foods-based approach to skin care is that it also offers a wide range of other health benefits – from disease prevention to improved digestion and more.  The above list is just a general guide/starting point for a healthy skin diet, there are a number of other foods and supplements that can benefit the skin.  Check with your practitioner for advice regarding your specific situation.

The content of this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons experiencing problems or with questions about their health or medications, should consult their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications or herbs should consult a doctor before taking the above foods, herbs, vitamins or supplements to be sure there are no interactions.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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