By Chris Gibson, LHLSC Expert Contributor
I talk a lot about diet and it’s role in skin health. Still, even today I am always seeing news reports that tell us that something we are eating isn’t good for us only to be replaced with another news report that contradicts that. Rarely do they spell out how these foods and the chemicals in them affect us, so not surprisingly when I was being certified as a nutritionist I was a little shocked myself at some of what I learned.
Understanding what ingredients are in the foods we eat and how they impact you can be simplified when you look at the choices that nutritionists make for themselves and their families. Some of this you need to know because it especially affects the health of your skin!
To keep things straightforward and easy for you to identify what you may need to change in your diet, here are my top 5 foods to be on the look out for.
Meat that is processed such as deli meat, canned meat, and even frozen can harbor some pretty bad things for your skin. Much of the meat produced today are from animals that have been pumped full of antibiotics and steroids. This can upset your own hormonal balance which can lead to hypersensitive skin. Steroids are a known contributor to acne and if your eating foods that contain them then your getting them in your system too!
Most processed meat, bacon, sandwich meat, and sausages, contain a ton of salt and nitrates. Nitrates are a known contributor to inflammation in the digestive system and suppressing immune system. This can leave skin more susceptible to disease and even skin cancers. What’s more, most processed meats are made with mechanically separated meat which means the meat processors is putting just about everything except the bone in to the product, spoiled, diseased and all. Try local organic grain fed beef and poultry. Keep meat intake to small amounts equaling no more than a small deck of cards in size. This will still provide protein and satisfy your appetite while reducing your risk.
Altered Dairy Products
Because the same animals that supply our meat are providing the majority of dairy products it follow that there are the same problems here. In recent years dairy products have been linked to acne an increased estrogen in both men an women. For my acne clients, stopping dairy products in the diet is one of the first things we do and in many cases, their skin responds with less inflammation and breakouts. If you do eat dairy try to find organic sources for it and eat whole dairy instead of altered or low fat version. They taste better and are much better for you overall that the foreign material use to replace the fats in these foods.
Artificial Flavors, Colors and Even Sweeteners
It is no secret I harp on how much sugar most people consume. Reducing sugar intake should be number on on most folks to do list when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Too much sugar feeds yeast in the bowel and skin causing all sorts of skin issues from acne to dermatitis outbreaks. I also weekend new skin cells and collagen product leading to premature again of the skin. The list of problems associated with too much sugar in the diet goes on an on and what you replace it with is just as important.
Most are made with chemicals our bodies have to work hard at to remove and are linked to allergic reactions and contain no nutritional value whatsoever. The same goes for artificial colors and flavors. While avoid these all together is nearly impossible using fruit juices and their zest, the original herbs for flavor, and sugar replacements like agaves, honey, and Stevia, are much healthier choices for your skin and health.
We hear about these all the time but what is hydrogenated fat and what impact does it have on skin and health? Many oils when hated to very high temperatures ( think deep fried foods like french fries) or processed industrially for sale at your grocery store, they become oxidized. Some manufactures also pump hydrogen into the oils to raise the lever of these because they act as a preservative to extend the oils life and keep it from becoming rancid. Good for their bottom line – bad for you.
This means that the actual molecular property of the oils are changed. These are the oxidants and free radicals that damage the cells in the body over time, even your skin. These are what you eat foods and take vitamin supplements full of anti-oxidants to help the body fend off. They cannot be processed in your body and this is why they cause damage. The best choices are oils that are cold pressed and not heated. The labels of these products will state this. I recommend olive oil whenever possible also peanut, coconut, and safflower for eating and cooking.
Last I want to address what has become a huge issue over the last 10 years and that is gluten sensitivity. From the beginning, whenever I have worked with clients with severe skin issues we remove gluten, dairy, yeast, and sugar from the diet completely for at least 6 weeks. Back in the day, as we added these foods back into their diet, gluten was usually not a contributing factor. About 10% of my clients had a problem with wheat gluten. I can say this has really changed over the last 10 years as so many people have become gluten sensitive which I believe is due to the way wheat has been engineered, grown, and harvested.
Suffice to say that today about 40% of adults have gluten sensitivity and about 20% of them have a full allergy to it known as celiac disease. Here is what you need to know, whenever clients remove gluten from their diet almost always they have a marked improvement in their complexion not to mention how they feel. Some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity are bloating, gas, achy joints, skin rashes, breakouts and skin inflammation. If you have these symptoms and they stop or lesson considerably, you may want to go and be tested for gluten sensitivity. Gluten packed foods you might consider cutting include pasta, breads, crackers, pastries, cakes, oats, pizza, beer, barley, and rye. Many people suffer years unnecessarily because they are not aware this is the problem.
Knowing what is in your food and the impact it has on the health of your skin can make a big difference in how your skin looks and ages over time. Giving it the best internal support you can will help you skin give you a lifetime of looking good!