I wanted to share my research as well as personal experience on the correlations of skin issues with diet and lifestyle choices. Of course there is a plethora of information on the internet on this subject, so I’ve taken to the wisdom within book pages. I love to sit down and read a book cover to cover (weirdly I have done that in one sitting), rather than always finding solutions on the internet.
I also just got a public library membership, with an official card, so I rented 7 books of various topics to cater to my post-graduation relaxation :). I’ll mention quite a bit of information that I found to be insightful to the association of skin with these factors, so bear with me as I pull it all together at the end.
A summary of what needs to be considered for the process of healthier skin:
- Sleep quality (and even better, regulation of sleep schedule).
Pictured below is Copper, who sleeps in more than me, and he’s modeling beauty sleep. He gets a lot of compliments at the dog park, and his sleep addiction probably helps that.
- Establish any skin allergies or sensitivity through patch tests
- Eliminate any products that cause any reaction or discomfort
- Wear sunscreen
- Drink water! Try to go for 8 glasses a day (tea also helps if this is difficult, it is for me as well)
- A dedicated balanced diet (I aim for 80% clean)
- Incorporation of exercise to relieve stress and sweat out toxins
- A simplified skincare routine free of strange “skin-clearing” ingredients
- I will discuss skincare in more detail in a future post
- General relaxation (this is customized)
- Relaxation can be yoga, meditation, reading, etc
- Focus on stress-reducing activities
- Most importantly: Look at your skin as a reflection of what you put into your body on a regular basis. Our skin is our largest organ, so take care of it!
This is emphasized by nutritionists everywhere: You cannot have healthy, radiant skin if your diet heavily consists of processed foods, and foods that contain high amounts of trans and saturated fat, as well as sugar. The more fruits and vegetables and nourishing foods you add into your diet to replace the bad forms of fat and sugar, the better your skin will look.
There has also been a constant debate between dairy and pores/acne, and the consensus is that there is an association. A good way to tell is to either keep a food diary or take a mental note of how your skin looks after regular dairy consumption. I tend to avoid dairy regardless because I don’t like lactose.
My dairy fix: (customize this to what works for you!)
- The option to substitute regular milk for soy or almond milk
- My exception is a splash of half & half in my morning coffee (compromise!)
- Quantity control
- At a restaurant, an olive oil-based spaghetti with parmesan just on top would be a better choice than a three-cheese macaroni. This way you would have cheese, but not over-do it.
- I mix up my breakfasts, so I will only have eggs maybe twice a week
- No cheese, my favorite is actually with dijon mustard and garlic powder (might sound weird, but if you’re curious I can add it in a future post recipe)
- Sorry about the bad news, but pizza has a lot of cheese…
- Make the pizza yourself. You can even get thin flatbread to reduce the bread intake and make your own sauce base, as well as control the amount of cheese.
- As for ice cream, in general I wouldn’t make it a habit due to the sugar spike and dairy overload. I hardly ever have it. Whenever I do have ice cream I get it in a shop in a cone, because cones are everything.
- My substitution: I LOVE applesauce. Unsweetened with cinnamon on top. I actually consider this a dessert because I love it so much but this probably isn’t a thing.
- Yogurt: Another food I limit in consumption. There is also a lot of sugar in yogurts now, so I would recommend getting it unsweetened and adding honey, nuts, or berries to it yourself. We all have time for that.
The book I rented is called The Clear Skin Diet by Alan C.Logan and Valori Treloar. Given that these authors consist of a certified physician as well as a dermatologist, I found the book to be of high credibility. And it does not promote prescription medication as the #1 solution.
This book is mostly comprised about the knowledge behind skin issues such as acne and inflammation, and the many reasons why these problems arise. The book also covers all of the methods and medication dermatologists recommend much more often than advice on a healthier lifestyle and diet. The main thing to take from this: don’t try to take a pill for everything.
In addition, The Clear Skin Diet goes over ways to improve your sleep, develop a relaxation routine, and focus on your diet and exercise into your daily routine. The combination of these things are full-proof for better looking skin. The issue is sometimes the process takes longer to show results as opposed to a harsh topical a doctor hands to you.
You cannot heal your skin from the outside in.
The Clear Skin Diet touches upon the Japanese diet to make a comparison to America. It’s probably a spoiler which country has better looking skin, right? Right. Japan for the win.
Some reasons why they are winning:
- Green tea consumption. Green tea contains phytochemicals that act as natural antioxidants for the skin. They have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, this type of tea prohibits the production of bad bacteria. *Also: a note for coffee drinkers, green tea has 1/3 of the amount of caffeine than coffee. If you’ve already had your morning jolt and need more energy, green tea would be a great choice. Just don’t drink it before you try to sleep and then blame insomnia (me).
- Ginger- also an anti-inflammatory. This has been used traditionally in Asia for approximately 2,500 years. Incorporating ginger into your diet would be useful, and it also settles your stomach. I carry ginger chews called Gin-Gins (cutest name ever) with me on plane trips when I’m traveling a lot. It also makes sense why ginger ale is a common order on the plane by those who had too much fun the night before…
- Fish and seafood over other protein sources like red meat
- More fruit and vegetable intake. If you’re a visual person, aim to pick something of each color of the rainbow. If you’re making a stir-fry, get a yellow, green, and red pepper. If you’re making a fruit salad, choose fruits of all colors so the salad looks prettier and you can show everyone afterwards. The idea here is that different colored fruits and vegetables give you different nutrients and vitamins.
Pictured below is a standard dinner I make for myself. Brussel sprouts, teriyaki tofu, onions, and mushrooms. I only use olive oil as a base and I put in garlic and liquid aminos (which I love far more than soy sauce). I often pour this over wild rice or quinoa.
5. Less sugar. This is huge for skin, because sugar can increase hormones that stimulates sebum production, which leads to acne and skin issues.
6. Less animal fat, trans fats, vegetable oils
7. More fiber, anti-oxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids
A key thing to remember is processed foods spike your insulin levels which can also lead to acne and inflammation.
Lastly, on the book note, the end incorporates healthy recipes for reference. When trying to make a change in diet, I recommend renting cook books or going online for ideas. It makes it easier to go to the grocery store with meals in mind.
General grocery shopping tip: Shop the perimeter of the store in majority. The processed foods packed with hidden sugar and bad fats are located in the middle aisles. Abort mission. I took a picture in the grocery store to prove I’m not a poser. It features my blue keds!
On a serious note, it’s a huge self-esteem blow when your skin is not looking its best. I wanted this post to inspire those that need solutions to invest into more quality options as opposed to immediately rushing to the dermatologist.
If these above methods do not work and your skin condition is more severe, by all means take necessary measures. Do what work for you. However, at the end of the day, medications are created in a lab. Ingredients matter as well as side effects. Take care of yourself, and look after your long-term health of your skin in priority over the short-term.
I hope this post found you well and provided some useful tips. Skin research has always been a sort of side interest to me, and I wanted to bombard any potential readers with everything I’ve learned!
If you have any questions/comments, feel free to use the comment box below. I’m more than open to giving advice or expanding on any points made above.
Thanks for reading! xx