Thursday, April 27, 2017

You are what you eat: My healthy skin diet

For those of you that follow my Instagram (and for those that don't, you should!), you know I started following a healthy skin diet many months ago. I figured it was about time I posted an update, and what exactly this diet entails.

First of all, I have struggled for a LONG time with hormonal acne. Painful cysts, unslightly scars, and uneven skin tone made me an expert in make-up application, but at my age I reached my breaking point. I was done. I have tried LITERALLY (and I really mean literally) every single prescriptive skin medication. I have done two rounds of Accutane, antibiotics, lasers, retinoids, you name it. I have tried it. And nothing really worked. Not for long at least. So I decided I needed to tackle things in a whole different way. 

One night, after a particular awful breakout, I started researching anti-acne diets.  There are several diets and guidelines out there, but I decided to put them all together in what I felt was feasible and backed by science. Here is what I have been doing:

  • Low glycemic.  Spikes in sugar  increseases insulin levels which then throws the whole body into a tizzy - triggering various other hormones, an inflammatory response, and increasing oil production, which all leads to clogged pores and acne. Basically, eating sugar feeds the oil in your face. I have cut all refined sugar out of my diet. Yup, no sugar for me. So I skip on dessert, the sugar in my coffee, and also do not eat white carbs of any kind. Whole grains are great, but it is important to check the labels on any processed food - they sneak sugar into everything these days! 
  • No dairy. Not everyone has this problem, but I am sensitive to dairy in general, and my skin apparently doesn't like it either. I tried to incorporate back in to see if it would make a difference and I immediately broke out. Yogurt and kefir are apparently helpful in terms of probiotics, so I just take a probiotic supplement instead. Many dairy products are also loaded with sugar, so it is just easier to avoid in general. 
  • Foods high in Omega 3 -Dr. Perricone is a big proponent of this, and I decided to take his lead. Foods like salmon (and other cold-water fish like trout and herring), avocado, nuts, flaxseed, and dark leafy greens are all sources of omega-3 which is a known anti-inflammatory, And if you think about it, much of acne is an inflammatory response, so this just makes sense. 
  • High anti-oxidant foods.  Anti-oxidants battle skin damage on a cellular level, increasing cell turn over, and protecting skin from things like sun damage and pollution. So I pack my diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, particularly berries, I have also started drinking green tea instead of coffee (ok, I still have a little coffee in the morning. Otherwise I am not a functional human) since green tea is high in anti-oxidants AND helps with the caffeine situation. 
  • Water.  Lots of it. Keeps the skin glowing and hydrated.
  • Lean meats. Now I love burgers. I mean, I really really love burgers. And I won't give them up completely. But I have been decreasing my burger and read meat load in general, and well, I just feel better. Backed by science to help with acne? Not at all, but you just feel healthier when you aren't including burgers and fries as a major food group.

There you have it folks. It is a lot of clean eating. And yes I miss dessert. But this diet, more than anything else I have ever tried, has cleared up my skin. I have tried getting off of it and I break out immediately. So for me, whatever yummy treat I am eating will not counter balance the set of pimples and subsequent scars that it brings. It takes willpower, but it is worth it!! 

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