Can Foods Make You Break Out? The links between your diet and your skin may surprise you!

By Eric Metcalf, MPH WebMD

By now, it’s common knowledge that certain nutrients help specific body parts work better. Healthy bones require calcium and vitamin D. Our hearts may do better when we eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And for healthy skin we should eat, well, hmmm, that’s a good question.

If you’re not sure which foods are good for your skin and which ones are harmful, you’re certainly not alone. Little research has shown a connection between particular foods and skin health, says Cheryl Karcher, MD, a New York dermatologist who worked as a nutritionist before she became a doctor. And a lot of the “common  knowledge” that people pass around about eating and skin health is based on individual people’s cases, she says.

Most people develop acne– the most common skin condition — to some degree, but it primarily affects teenagers undergoing hormonal changes. Acne may be mild (few, occasional pimples), moderate (inflammatory papules), or severe (nodules and cysts). Treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

Still, “the skin is a reflection of your total body health,” says Karcher, who is a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. A nutritious diet that keeps your inside healthy will help keep your outward appearance looking good. On the other hand, a poor diet will show up on your skin.

Several experts whose expertise straddles both nutrition and dermatology are here to tell you which foods may support smooth, healthy skin, and which foods are more likely to lead to rashes, blemishes, and breakouts.

The Blood Sugar Connection

For the first part of her career, Valori Treloar, MD, worked with patients like a typical skin doctor. But over time, she grew tired of the few options that she could use on hard-to-treat cases, as well as the serious side effects that some could cause.

So the Massachusetts doctor became a certified nutrition specialist and now promotes diet fixes to her patients along with medicine.

Several studies from 40 years ago “proved” that diet doesn’t cause acne, Treloar says, and this thinking became a widely held belief in medicine. “All through medical school and through my dermatology training, I was taught, ‘Don’t worry about what your patient eats, it’s not relevant to their acne,’” Treloar tells WebMD.

But in recent years, some research has supported new thinking.

A good way to improve the health of your skin is to eat in a manner that keeps your blood sugar steady, she tells WebMD. Some foods make your blood sugar quickly soar. This triggers your body to make a burst of the hormone insulin to help your cells absorb the sugar.

If throughout the day you’re “eating a cookie, you’re eating a granola bar, and you’re drinking a sweetened beverage, you’re pushing your blood sugar up high and fast, and you’re going to have more insulin circulating in your bloodstream,” says Treloar, who co-authored The Clear Skin Diet.

Some research suggests that insulin may play a role in acne. In a 2007 study, researchers explored a possible link. The study included 43 teenage boys and young men with acne. For three months, some ate a diet including foods with a low glycemic load (which is a measure of how foods affect people’s blood sugar), and others ate a carbohydrate-heavy diet without being concerned about their glycemic index. Those who ate the special low glycemic load diet had more improvement in their acne.

On the other hand, a study published in a dermatology journal later that year didn’t find an association between acne, insulin levels, and measurements of glycemic load. So the matter isn’t settled yet.

Steps that keep your blood sugar steady, as well as fight inflammation and oxidative damage that could be linked to skin problems, include:

  • Focus on foods with a low glycemic index (GI), a measurement related to glycemic load These cause smaller increases in your blood sugar, as opposed to the steeper jump from foods with a high glycemic index, or GI. Identifying low and high GI foods may take some time. You can find a good introduction here.
  • Eat small meals often. Eating every two and a half to three hours will help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steadier, Treloar says.
  • Eat lots of vegetables. Treloar recommends 10 fist-sized servings of vegetables daily. Choose veggies across a range of deep and bright colors. These will provide a variety of antioxidants that dampen free-radical (or “oxidative”) damage and inflammation. But keep in mind that some vegetables have a high GI.

Dairy and Acne

There’s no definite link between dairy and acne, but there are theories about it.

In an article he wrote for a medical journal in 2008, F. William Danby, MD, a skin expert who promotes the possible dairy-acne connection, explained how the two may be related. Milk contains components related to the hormone testosterone that may stimulate oil glands in the skin, setting the stage for acne.

Karcher has heard similar stories. “I’ve had patients who said they stopped dairy and their acne got better. You can have a totally healthy diet without dairy. If a patient feels that is a possible problem, there’s nothing wrong with trying it as long as they’re followed by someone to make sure they’re getting a balanced diet.”

 “In my skin-care practice, I’d often take people off all dairy products, which is kind of unheard of for RDs to do, but it made a huge difference,” says Carmina McGee, MS, RD, a dietitian in Ventura, Calif., who has a special interest in skin disorders.

Although studies have shown associations between dairy and acne, they don’t show cause and effect, and they don’t prove that dairy causes acne. Anecdotes from people who’ve quit dairy also don’t mean that the same will be true for you.

Dairy is an important source of calcium and vitamin D, which your bones (and the rest of your body) need. So if you cut back, do so with care:

  • If you find that your skin clears up after you cut out dairy, see if you can have a little without breakouts. Some people can drink small amounts of milk and stay acne-free, Treloar says.
  • Or try different kinds of dairy. Nonsweetened yogurt from cows, or dairy from other animals such as goats, may be more tolerable for your skin.
  • Replace the calcium that you would normally get from dairy by eating other foods such as calcium-rich leafy greens (like kale and mustard greens), broccoli, and sardines, McGee says.

Balance Your Fats

Different fatty acids in the foods we eat can support inflammation or dampen it. And too much inflammation inside your body can show up on your skin, Treloar says. Ages ago, omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3s were evenly represented in the human diet. But we tend to get a lot more omega-6s now.

You can address this imbalance, Treloar says, by:

  • Using less vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, and even canola oil.
  • Buying beef and eggs from animals that ate while roaming in pastures, rather than animals that were corn-fed.
  • Eating more fish rich in omega-3s, such as salmon and mackerel, and considering taking fish-oil supplements. As always, tell your doctor about any supplements you take, so they can look out for any possible side effects or drug interactions.

Gluten’s Role

People with a condition called celiac disease must avoid a protein called gluten, which is found in certain grains. In these cases, eating gluten causes damage in the small intestine.

Concern about gluten’s effects in people without celiac disease has become trendy in recent years, McGee says. But people can be sensitive to gluten even if they don’t have celiac disease. In some cases, this gluten sensitivity can cause a skin rash, she tells WebMD. However, the rash related to gluten sensitivity, called dermatitis herpetiformis, is seen mainly in people with celiac disease.

 A low-gluten diet can make a lot of nutritious foods – such as whole-wheat bread – disappear from your plate. If you start a trial period without gluten, be sure to talk with your doctor first.

Ways to Get Rid of Acne Through Your Habits!

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Acne can be the bane of your existence. It’s just the worst, isn’t it? Even when it’s mild, it can keep you from looking and feeling your best, that’s for sure. I’ve had my own struggles with acne in the past, something I discuss in The Beauty Detox Solution. Improving your diet can definitely help a lot, as your skin is an eliminative organ that helps dispel toxins. Let’s start from the beginning though in our discussion…

What Is Acne?

Acne is a skin inflammation that can manifest as anything from small, red bumps to large, pus filled cysts. This inflammation occurs when the pores become blocked and the body responds with inflammation.

Causes

There are a number of myths about acne. The most common myth is that having dirty skin is the cause. It isn’t. Actually, scrubbing dirt into the skin may exacerbate the condition. Eating chocolate may not necessary directly cause it…but a high fat diet and dairy can definitely contribute to the condition. A number of factors may be at play with creating acne. These include:

  • Hormones: Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menstruation, and others can cause enlargement of the sebaceous glands, which then produce more sebum. The result is clogged pores and acne.
  • Diet: Many dietary factors may contribute to acne. High fat foods, and foods that cause inflammation or result in increases in blood sugar can trigger an eruption.
  • Toxicity: Toxic chemicals in the foods you eat, water you drink, and air you breathe can also cause blocked pores. Likewise, as you begin to cleanse your body of toxic chemicals you may notice a short outbreak of acne as these toxins work their way out of your body via your skin.
  • Stress: Studies show stress increases sebum production, which can result in acne.
  • Medications: Medications can contribute to acne in two ways. First, they increase toxicity in your body. Second, many medications affect the acne-related hormones such as androgens.
  • Poor self confidence. On an energetic, mind-body connection level,poor self esteem, talking down to yourself, or repressed anger can all manifest in the physical form of acne.

 Are Popular Acne Treatments Healthy?

 Conventional acne treatment typically involves one of two chemicals: benzoyl peroxide or Accutane.

Accutane is an oral prescription medication. While it has demonstrated tremendous success at treating a specific type of acne (nodular acne), it also has a number of extremely dangerous side effects that make it NOT worth the cost of clear skin. These super scary side effects include:

  • Birth defects and fetal death
  • Premature births
  • Mental health problems including suicidal ideation, depression, and psychosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver damage
  • Allergic reactions
  • Thinning of hair
  • Headaches
  • Brittle nails
  • Muscle pain and fatigue
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Photosensitivity

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical acne fighting ingredient found in both prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments. It produces free radicals in the skin, which can cause premature aging and are linked to a number of diseases including cancer. You don’t want to trade in zits for wrinkles. Benzoyl peroxide also causes extreme drying in the skin, which can lead to flaking, redness, and irritation.

Plus, topical treatments like this don’t get to the root cause of the acne.

Oust the Acne

The best and safest way to eradicate acne is with a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as use of natural skincare products that leave your skin clean without chemicals. This allows you to fight acne naturally, without the use of harsh or dangerous chemicals and medications. Here are my recommendations.

  1. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep fights stress and helps your body and hormonal systems function normally. Try for 7 to 8 hours each night.
  2. East mostly organic plants. These foods are anti-inflammatory powerhouses that minimize toxic buildup in your system, fight free radicals, and promote health and well-being. If you do eat animal protein, minimize your intake to once or twice per week of lean organic poultry or eggs (fish is full of mercury, PCBs and other toxins).
  3. Minimize processed foods. These foods contain chemicals and ingredients that contribute to toxicity and inflammation – both culprits in acne breakouts.
  4. Skip the dairy. A paper in Clinics in Dermatology discussed the link between hormones in dairy products and acne in humans.
  5. Eat a low-fat diet. Excessive fat is congestive in any form. Do not overdo so-called “good” fats like olive oil. I barely use any oil myself anymore, and cook with mostly vegetable broth. As I noted in the beginning of this blog, excessive fat in the diet can influence hormones, which can then influence acne.
  6. Cut out the sugar and refined starches. Sugar and starches also change your body’s hormonal balance. As blood sugar rises, so does insulin, which can upset your body’s overall hormonal balance.
  7. Detoxify. While detoxification may initially result in a little increase in acne, in the long-term your skin will be much clearer. Everyone needs to detoxify because our environments are filled with chemicals that gunk up the body.
  8. Drink plenty of pure water. Water helps flush chemicals from the body and cleanses skin from the inside out.
  9. Relieve stress and get some exercise. I’m a big fan of yoga, which accomplishes both of these goals in a single activity.
  10. Dry brush a few times per week to promote detoxification.
  11. Exfoliate. This removes dry skin that can clog pores.
  12. Be nice to yourself. Seriously! If you say negative things to yourself I do believe it can manifest in physical ways…including possibly acne. When you look in the mirror affirm how grateful you are for your healthy, strong body, instead of saying something negative. When you love yourself, everything truly does start to get better, in all areas.

I understand the desire for clear, acne-free skin. Believe me, I know how much it can affect your life when annoying zits come up. But I urge you to get the root cause and follow the recommendations I list above about changing your lifestyle, and especially foods to definitely avoid.

Don’t go for Accutane and other scary popular acne treatments. Your health matters and these treatments can do serious damage for the long run. What good is clear skin if you are sick or internally imbalanced? That’s why I recommend natural acne-reduction methods that are far safer and much more effective than commercial acne products – without the scary side effects.

 

Via Kimberly Synder

8 Diet and Exercise Mistakes That Age You

From The Editors of Prevention

 

Eating too much sugar certainly isn’t wise for your waistline, but did you know that overindulging in dessert can add years to your face? And even if you do strenuous cardio workouts each week, you’ll be missing out on potential anti-aging body benefits if your schedule doesn’t include yoga, weight training, and rest.

 

“Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin,” explains Leslie Baumann, MD, a Miami Beach dermatologist. The natural ingredients in whole foods such as romaine lettuce and strawberries help increase cell turnover, and boost production of collagen fibers to help keep skin smooth and firm. Conversely, foods with little-to-no nutritional benefits, like sugar-packed doughnuts, can actually damage the collagen and elastin that keep skin firm and youthful. These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

 

Even if your diet is wholesome, you could be making exercise mistakes that age you as well. For example, if you only do cardio at the expense of other types of exercise, like yoga and strength-training, you could be missing out on skin-protective benefits.

 

Find out if you’re making one of these 8 common aging diet and exercise mistakes, and get smart prevention strategies that can keep you slim and youthful for years to come.

 

The breakdown of sugars, called glycation, damages the collagen that keeps skin smooth and firm. To prevent this natural process from careening out of control, Naila Malik, MD, a derm in Southlake, TX, sticks to low-glycemic carbs like whole grains; they’re naturally low in sugar, and the body processes them slowly to limit the loss of collagen. If you want to sweeten up your tea or oatmeal without making your skin look older, try all-natural stevia.

 

English: Stevia rebaudiana flowers

English: Stevia rebaudiana flowers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s an easily digested herbal sweetener that doesn’t trigger glycation, according to board-certified dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD, an adjunct professor of medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine.

 

Taking your work angst out on the Spinning bike or treadmill might make you feel better for a little while, but incorporating yoga into your fitness routine regularly may help you look younger and prevent breakouts while whittling away stress. Sounds like a winning workout to us! “Yoga moves like Child’s Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, and Sun Salutations improve circulation–the boost of oxygen is what gives skin that lovely yoga glow,” says Hema Sundaram, MD, a Washington, DC – area dermatologist. New research finds regular yoga practice may reduce the inflammation and stress that speed skin aging. If you need another reason to om away your stress: High levels of tension can spike hormone production that leads to breakouts or aggravates conditions like psoriasis. “Controlling stress keeps your skin calm,” says Annie Chiu, MD, a derm in LA.

 

Research suggests that green and black tea contain protective compounds–like EGCG and theaflavins–that help prevent skin cancers and the breakdown of collagen, the cause of wrinkles.

 

Following a regular strength-training routine that creates better, more supportive muscle tone will help you firm sagging skin from the neck down. “I am religious about strength-training, and I always tell patients to do it more as they get older,” says Patricia Farris, MD, a dermatologist in Metairie, LA. “It’s like adding volume to the face with fillers, except on your body,” says Dr. Farris.

 

“Hormones in traditionally produced dairy, poultry, and meat may contribute to acne,” says Katie Rodan, MD, a dermatologist in the San Francisco Bay area. She says that her patients who eat those less frequently–or at least choose grain-fed beef and poultry and organic dairy–often notice their skin looks better.

 

When your exercise routine is so intense that you’re tired all the time but can’t sleep at night, you’re setting yourself up for overuse injuries–not to mention dark circles and bags under your eyes from those sleepless nights. These symptoms could be a sign of overexhaustion, says Ryan Halvorson, personal trainer, IDEA Health and Fitness Association expert, and author. Other clues that you’re working out too much include extreme muscle soreness that persists for several days, unintended weight loss, an increased resting heart rate, interruptions in your menstrual cycle, or decreased appetite. “Plan your rest as well as you plan exercise,” says Polly de Mille, RN, a registered clinical exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. “If there is no balance between breakdown and recovery, then the muscle is in a state of chronic inflammation and what may start as a simple case of soreness after a hard workout can turn into an actual overuse injury.”

 

When your diet isn’t balanced, your skin, hair, and nails will suffer. Cutting calories can deprive your body of certain nutrients that promote healthy cell division, cell regeneration, and overall skin tone and texture, explains David E. Bank, MD, FAAD, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY. “The skin also requires essential fatty acids–which the body can’t produce on its own–to maintain hydration. A diet that’s too low in fat could cause dry skin, hair loss, and brittle nails.” Other key youth-boosting nutrients include vitamins A, C, and E. Being deficient in A can cause acne, dry hair, dry skin, and broken fingernails. Get your daily vitamin A fix by eating five baby carrots each day. A lack of vitamin C can affect collagen synthesis (the “glue” that binds our ligaments, bones, blood vessels, and skin), impair wound healing, and make you more likely to bruise. Incorporate vitamin C – rich foods in the form of citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, peppers, and leafy greens. Low levels of vitamin E can result in easy bruising and cause chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis to flare up. Get more vitamin E in your diet by eating almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, and fortified cereals.

 

Kimberly Snyder, a Los Angeles nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox Solution, says she sees a big improvement in her clients’ skin and hair when they eat more alkaline-forming foods, such as parsley, almonds, kale, pears, lemons, and apples. “If your body is too acidic, which can happen when your diet is unbalanced, it leaches the alkaline minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, that allow us to have strong, healthy bones, teeth, and hair,” Snyder explains.

 

Bee-utiful Ingredient: Propolis!

Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive.   It is known to prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and to inhibit bacterial growth.  The composition of propolis varies from hive to hive, from district to district, and from season to season.  The biological role of resin in trees is to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi and insects.

resins in hive

Propolis is used in traditional medicine.  Use of propolis for healing dates back to the time of Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.)  Natural medicine practitioners use propolis for the relief of various conditions, including inflammations, viral diseases, ulcers, superficial burns or scalds.  It is also thought to promote heart health and strengthen the immune system.  Propolis may cause severe allergic reactions if the user is sensitive to bees or bee products.

Propolis has been shown to have powerful local antimicrobial, antibiotic and antifungal properties.  It has emollient properties and may be effective in treating skin burns.  The healing properties of Propolis make it ideal for those with eczema or psoriasis. Propolis soothes inflamed and irritated skin. Depending on it’s source, propolis may include Vitamins A, C, E, and the B complex, linoleic acid and various minerals and a rich supply of amino acids.  It has 150 components, with the flavonoid components accounting for a significant percentage of it’s weight.

 

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