If you’ve ever come in to see me for a treatment or consult for help with your problematic skin then you know I ask a million questions about your diet and overall health. I am a firm believer that what’s going on the inside shows on the outside. Diet and the digestive system play a huge role in our skin’s overall health and appearance! A couple of weeks ago Jess Hutchens, certified nutritionist and personal trainer, came in to see me for a skin care treatment and we got to talking about this very subject. She is so knowledgeable and has so much insight on the matter I asked if she’d be kind enough to put together a post for you all on how diet affects our skin! Thanks Jess for the wealth of information!
The Correlation Between Nutrition & Your Skin
By: Jess Hutchens, ACE Certified Fitness Nutritionist & Personal Trainer
Many people wonder why their skin tends to break out frequently, or after a crazy night out where greasy foods and alcoholic beverages were flowing. We want a quick fix, so topical creams, Accutane, masks, and many other products are out there to try to prevent acne and other skin irritations among adults. We lack, however, an evaluation of our own diets and what may be truly causing the root of our skin problems.
Tons of research out there shows the correlation between acne and other skin problems arising due to dietary causes. Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of “what your skin shows is a reflection of how your gut feels”? There may be some truth to that; your skin is your largest organ, and your organs do all work together to help your body function.
Q: What foods are known to cause acne/skin irritations?
–Many studies show the correlation between dairy and acne problems, mainly because cow’s milk spikes blood sugar & insulin in the body, which in turn, increases inflammation and bumps up the production of skin oils.
-Processed foods, like chips, cookies, and candy, are also problematic for your skin, as many chemicals and sodium are in these junk foods to help keep them from going bad.
-Greasy foods, like French fries and pizza, are also known for causing breakouts by clogging pores, mainly from the grease being transferred from the hands to skin while eating.
-Alcoholic beverages can also cause acne due to changing your hormone levels (testosterone and estrogen) in the body.
Main take-away: junk foods, sugary foods, fast-foods, and processed foods are known for causing acne and skin problems!
Q: What foods can help the skin?
- Green Tea: There is much research that backs up green tea as a great antioxidant for helping skin glow, reduce redness, and protecting it from harmful sun rays. Try green tea daily to reduce acne problems!
- Walnuts: These are a great source of Omega-3 fatty-acids, which gives an anti-inflammatory affect to the body and skin. Pack some walnuts as a snack in order to help your skin feel great.
- Sweet Potatoes: These are loaded with lots of nutrients that help the skin, such as Vitamin A, C, and B5. Add sweet potatoes to your lunch or dinner for glowing skin.
- Dark, Leafy Greens: foods such as kale and spinach are great for your skin because of being nutrient-dense, and containing calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, E. Greens are a super-food you don’t want to leave out!
Main take-away: Add plenty of fresh, nutrient-dense foods into your diet to help reduce inflammation and allow your body to feel good from the inside out.
Q: How can I find out which foods are irritating my skin?
One suggestion is to try taking note and really observing when your skin is breaking out. If you’re female and it’s before your cycle starts, it may be from hormones. Or, if you notice your skin breaks out and is irritated after a weekend of eating junk, that may be tell-tale a sign you need to clean up your diet.
You can also try elimination diets (with a health professional’s guidance of course), in which you cut out a certain food for a prolonged period of time and observe what happens. For example, cut out all dairy for a month and see if it has any effect on your skin, then try no processed foods, and so on.
Q: What resources are out there to help me learn more about healthy and unhealthy foods for my skin?
There is a ton of information out there, and nutritionfacts.org is a great resource for the general public to use to educate themselves about the foods we eat. Dr. Greger is a doctor who reads over FDA published, non-biased studies, so that the public can obtain more information about the foods we are consuming. He goes over the health risks and benefits of foods that the studies research, and a lot of information is out there about foods that can affect the health of our skin.
If your skin is irritated and you don’t have the best eating habits, try making improvements with your food first to see if a change can happen. Clear, glowing skin may be more obtainable than you think if you clean up your eating habits.
Photo Credit: James Patrick Photography