Image by: Martin Cathrae
By Jake Bradshaw
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Not only is it a reflection of how you take care of yourself, but it has the potential to be a clear representative of who you are. To understand the health of your skin, you must start with what lies beneath – your inner organs. In the human body, everything reacts as a direct result from the other like a domino effect.
If you want clear skin, look at the root of the problem. Food is the fuel that feeds all of our organs. Depending on what we fuel it with, it can affect our weight, health and our skin. Since the skin is the last step of the domino effect, we must pay close attention to the details.
Sebum (or skin oil) is the main cause of acne and blackheads. The rate your body produces sebum has a great deal to do with your family history and the diets they’ve eaten for centuries. However there are certain foods that create more oil than necessary. Sebum is supposed to lubricate the skin, but too much of it will cause blockage in the hair follicles, creating blackheads. It’s important to understand that not everyone is the same and each person’s organs react differently to many kinds of foods.
Another thing to keep in mind is that our skin is like sponges. Watch what you put on it. Lotions and after shave will be sucked through the skin into the body. Make sure these products are organic and don’t contain any dangerous chemicals. If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.
As far as foods, the main enemies of bad skin are high-glycemic foods, too much omega-6 fatty acids, sugars and shockingly, Milk. If you dig deeper into how these foods are made, it’s all about the science.
The key word here is “glucose.” High-glycemic foods have carbohydrates that break down quicker during digestion and releases glucose much faster into the bloodstream. When this happens, our blood sugar shoots way up. The pancreas makes extra insulin in an effort to bring the sugar levels down and more sebum is secreted.
Food examples: French fries, white bread, white rice, cereals, pretzels, bagels, some potatoes.
An alternative is to consider a diet with less glucose: lean meat, fish, Beans, soy, lentil, whole grains, almonds, peanuts, sweet fruits, etc. These foods will soak up other foods you are digesting to help slow the distribution of glucose to a more steady rate.
In a 2007 Australian study, researchers took 43 men with acne problems and separated them into two groups – feeding one group a diet with low glucose and the other with a high quantity of it. In 12 weeks, the low-glycemic dieters had much clearer skin than their counterparts.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
These are essential fatty acids, meaning our body can’t produce them on it’s own. Mostly they are found in cooking oils and some processed foods. Your body needs them, however be careful. If you over consume them, it will cause inflammation which in turn affects the skin. You must watch how you eat them.
Food examples: Poultry, eggs, avocado, nuts, corn oil, vegetable oil, hemp oil, soybean oil, acai berries and coconuts.
Here’s a tip: keep a food log. Note how much of these foods you eat that contain these acids. After a week, look through it and see how you can limit it down to a healthy consumption. In a couple months, you will see a vast difference in your skin.
Sugars: If you are a person who has genes that are prone to acne, by far the worst enemy you can have is sugar. They cause inflammation, create more insulin (similar to glucose), and our hormones go crazy. Our inner organs all try to keep the peace and in doing so, create more trouble for our skin.
Food examples: Candy, soda, cookies, pastries, energy drinks, and some ice creams.
I know what you’re thinking. Milk?! How can this effect my skin? Well, think about it. Where does milk come from? Cows! Don’t let the low level of glucose fool you, they are heavy in hormones. Their milk is meant to be for their cow babies. Milk accelerates our hormone count which will cause excess sebum and staying true to the domino effect metaphor, this will eventually cause acne.
An alternative to this would be to switch to non-dairy milk like soy milk and almond milk. For calcium and vitamin D, you can find them in spinach, tofu, nuts, and greens.