Want Clear, Firm Skin? Why You Should Skip Fried Foods

You might hear all the time that for beautiful looking skin, you should avoid fried foods and junk. But no one has ever really explained to you WHY there is a link between the two, so you keep heading to the drive-through for your fix.

Today, I’m going to explain to you why fried foods are the enemy when it comes to healthy skin. It’s all thanks to something called AGEs.

 

What Are AGEs?

AGEs stands for advanced glycation end products. This sounds complicated, so let me break it down into English. AGEs are when a protein or fat molecule bond with a sugar molecule. This bonding process is called glycation.

AGEs can be found both in foods and produced in the human body. The problem is, no matter what the source, AGEs aren’t really very healthy for our bodies.

 

How Do AGEs Affect Our Bodies?

 

AGEs have some pretty nasty side effects when they’re in our bodies. These include:

  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Interfering with blood pressure lowering mechanisms
  • Stiffening collagen by cross-linking the collagen together
  • Oxidating the ‘bad’ cholesterol LDL, making it more toxic to the body
  • Binding to cells and forcing them to create further inflammatory processes

Overall, AGEs act sort of like gate-crashers at a party. One or two doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, but when there’s a heap of them they trash the house and leave you to deal with the aftermath.

 

How Does This Impact On Skin?

 

There’s a few key side effects of AGEs that we want to consider when it comes to skin health – specifically inflammation, oxidative stress, and cross-linking collagen.

We’ve already chatted about the role of inflammation and oxidative stress in skin health, but here’s a quick recap.

Oxidative stress leads to greater strain on the liver, which means it can’t detoxify hormones and toxins, and that backlog can lead to break-outs and skin inflammation. Inflammation feeds into this by creating more oxidative stress and leading the body to produce more skin-inflaming Substance P.

Cross-linking collagen has serious long-term impacts on the skin though, as sometimes the cross-linking is irreversible. So what’s bad about cross-linking? When collagen is cross-linked, it becomes stiffer.

As we know, when skin is stiff, it’s less able to perform its job of protecting us, increasing the likelihood of skin tears, infection, break-outs and wrinkles. That’s right – AGEs are thought to be one of the number one causes of premature ageing.

 

What’s The Link Between AGEs And Fried Foods?

 

This is probably the easiest question to explain. AGEs are produced rapidly when high heats are involved, which means that fried foods are the number one source of dietary AGEs for us.

In particular, meat products tend to be most vulnerable to high heat cooking and can produce a lot of AGEs, which is why it might be best to skip the hot dogs and burgers.

 

How Can We Avoid The Damage Of AGEs?

 

The easiest way to avoid all of this chaos is to avoid fried foods. Yes, that includes deep fried foods from restaurants, take-outs and your own home. If you do fry a lot of your foods currently, try new cooking methods with lower temperatures or that include water, such as steaming or poaching.

 

However, it’s not always possible for everyone to avoid fried foods 100% of the time, so if you are going to indulge, there’s a few ways that you can reduce the potential damage.

 

Research shows that herbs such as rosemary and turmeric, as well as resveratrol and vitamin C, can all help to counteract the effects of AGEs. Marinating meats for at least 1 hour can also halve the number of AGEs produced.

So if you are going to cook yourself up a steak, make a marinade with red wine vinegar and rosemary, and serve with a side salad that contains orange slices or red peppers.

 

 

References

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002822310002385

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614199

http://www.toukastress.jp/webj/article/2015/GS15-26.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10903896

http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/view/128737

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925443905000153

 

Hydration: The Secret To Healthy Happy Skin

water-for-acne

Even though we all know water is good for us, it’s no shock to know that many people are chronically dehydrated. Between caffeine, alcohol, air conditioning and other lifestyle factors, most of us aren’t hitting our optimal hydration levels.

But did you know that water is not only essential generally, but a non-negotiable when it comes to firm, radiant and healthy skin? Here, we look at why drinking plenty of water daily is a core step to skin care.

 

Water In The Body

Water is one of the most essential nutrients for the human body. It is known as the ‘universal solvent’, and is involved in almost every single chemical reaction that takes place in our bodies every single day.

This means it is required for many essential processes, such as delivering nutrients to the cells, maintaining the balance of electricity in the body, removing toxins and waste and aiding in digestion.

We already know that digestion and detoxification are essential for skin health, so it’s only logical that water can boost the health of your skin indirectly by supporting these body functions. However, water also has a direct impact on the health of our skin as well.

 

Water In The Skin

To understand water in the skin, it’s important to understand why we have skin. Skin isn’t there just to look good – it’s there to help us survive by acting as a barrier against the outside world.

It protects us from outside pathogens such as bacteria, as well as from the damage of UV rays. It also helps us to maintain an ideal body temperature through functions such as the excretion of sweat during hot weather, sickness or exercise.

Skin cells contains around 30% water when hydrated, keeping the skin more flexible and resilient and allowing it to protect us more efficiently. Research has demonstrated that adequate hydration can actually thicken the skin, improving its ability to act as a barrier.

Just to make things complicated, sufficient water in the skin is actually needed to keep balanced levels of water in the body. The skin works to stop water from being leeched out of the body.

 

What Dehydration Looks Like

When we are dehydrated, our bodies slow down processes so that there is enough water for the ones important for survival. Brain function and concentration drops markedly, and we become lethargic and irritable.

When it comes to skin, water is pulled from the skin cells to support more vital functions of the body. In response, skin becomes tight, flaky and irritated, and loses elasticity, making us more prone to wrinkling and tearing.

Dehydration also throws out the balance of water and oil on the skin’s surface, causing excess sebum. This can mean a flare-up in acne and other skin conditions impacted by sebum levels.

 

What Hydration Looks Like

When we are hydrated properly, the body can function at optimal level. Skin is more flexible and elastic thanks to the higher water content of cells. Sebum will be balanced out by the water content, relieving outbreaks.

Research shows that high water levels also increase blood flow to the skin cells, keeping them healthier and more nourished. From a person’s perspective, hydration can leave skin feeling softer, smoother and better moisturized.

 

How Much To Drink?

So if hydration is so important, how much is enough? Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer. The truth is, it’s different for everyone, depending on their individual biochemistry, lifestyle and health concerns.

The general equation many people recommend is that you should drink half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces as a guideline. This doesn’t factor in exercise or hotter climates, but it’s a good starting point, particularly if you haven’t been drinking much water before now.

From the Institute of Medicine, the guidelines on total fluid intake range from 75 to 100oz, however it’s important to note that this is fluid from all beverages.

The color of your urine can also be a good guideline – ideally you want it to be pale yellow or colorless, unless you’ve recently taken something like a B vitamin supplement that can change urine color.

 

A Note On Other Beverages

You might think that a guideline of ‘total fluid’ might include your hourly coffee fix or the cocktails on a Friday night. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way!

Beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol act as a diuretic. That means that they cause your body to excrete water from cells and out of the body, leaving you more dehydrated.

So if you do enjoy your morning coffee or a drink out with dinner, remember to add in an extra cup of water afterward to prevent you from dehydrating.
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Feel like you need some strategies on how to keep your fluid levels high throughout the day? Book in for a nutritional consultation, and we can create an effective plan for you to stay better hydrated.



 

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17352748
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-2494.2007.00366.x/abstract
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827695/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12880413

Dairy: Your Acne’s Best Friend?

dairy and acne

 

Acne is a nightmare for many teenagers and increasing numbers of adults. But many people don’t understand the dietary links to acne. One of the most commonly ignored links is between acne and dairy products such as milk.

Here, I break down for you exactly what effect dairy has on your skin health, and why you might want to reconsider it.

 

What is acne?

Acne vulgaris, or simply acne, is a chronic skin disease where the hair follicles on the skin become blocked by dead skin cells and oil, or sebum, and often become infected. Severe acne can often lead to facial scarring.

Because of the impact on physical appearance, it can lead to self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts, particularly in teenagers. However, adults with acne also have a serious impact on general health and well-being, with acne often being a symptom of underlying issues. Read more about this here.

 
Why does acne occur?

On a cellular level, acne occurs due to a combination of factors all happening together. Firstly, the skin produces too much oil, or sebum, that pools in the follicle. Then the dead skin cells that usually fall off naturally remain trapped in the follicle, causing a blockage.

An opportunistic bacteria such as P. acnes takes advantage of the plugged up area and infects the skin. Finally, the infection causes local inflammation around the infected area, causing redness and heat.

So why do these processes happen? Generally, it’s to do with hormonal balance.

When there are too many androgens – hormones including testosterone and its varied forms – in the body, excess sebum is produced. Androgen balance, like many hormones, depends on how well your liver is functioning, so is easily affected by diet. Androgens can also be affected by blood sugar levels, with fluctuations causing increased production of testosterone.

There is also a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) that is a primary cause in acne. This hormone can also lead to excess sebum production, as well as further throwing out the balance of androgens. IGF-1 is known to be influenced by a number of factors, including nutrition.

In people who are not sensitive to androgens or who have very low levels of IGF-1, acne basically does not occur. So it’s safe to say that these two hormones working together are the reason behind acne.

Although it’s suggested that genetics make up a lot of the reason behind acne and that there aren’t really any links to diet, the truth may be a bit more complex than that. It may be that acne sufferers simply inherit tendencies to deal with diet-related triggers such as these hormones and blood sugar fluctuations less efficiently.

 
How does dairy affect acne?

Put simply, dairy foods tend to stimulate a much greater fluctuation in blood sugar levels than they should based solely off their carbohydrate content.

This means that instead of a small spike, your blood sugar jumps on a massive rollercoaster every time you consume dairy. This can increase your testosterone levels significantly and contribute to the acne cycle.

Dairy is also thought to directly increase the levels of IGF-1 produced by the liver, which would increase the likelihood of acne significantly.

It’s still debated whether hormones in dairy foods directly impact the hormone levels in our bodies, but even if they don’t add to the overall level, they do lead to higher production.

So essentially, dairy creates the perfect storm of increasing levels of testosterone and IGF-1, priming your skin for acne.

Research is starting to support these links between dairy and acne, with multiple observational studies suggesting a strong association between the two.

A 2008 study looked at the diets of over 4000 boys and found that those who drank the most skim milk had the highest occurrence of acne in the group. Interestingly, the link was not as strong for full-fat milk, which suggests that, in boys, the major issue with dairy consumption is blood sugar related.

A similar 2005 study studied over 6000 girls and found a link between acne occurring and all types of milk. This difference could be due to teenage girls being more sensitive to hormone fluctuations, so even small spikes in blood sugars or small amounts of hormone ingestion could cause skin issues.

 

How should I eat to control acne?

A nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet that supports gut health is your best bet. However, everyone’s ideal diet is a bit different, and it’s important that your diet makes up for any nutrients you were getting from dairy foods.

If you’re serious about reducing the effects of acne, you can make an appointment for a personalized health plan.

 

 

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391699/
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/77b9s0z8
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40257-013-0042-8

http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/18/5/1333

http://www.cancersupportinternational.com/CID%20Diet%20Acne.pdf

Skin Problems? Go With Your Gut

Many people these days battle with skin conditions, and with little relief in sight. They try miracle cream after miracle cream, but the results just don’t show. The thing is that skin issues don’t usually start on the skin itself. They start much deeper – in the gut.

Sound crazy? It might seem so at first, but there are dozens of ways that the two can impact on each other that you may never have considered. Let’s have a look at some of the ways that the gut and skin are connected.

Gut and Skin LinksGut Skin Connection

Nutrients

In order for the skin to be at optimal health, it needs certain nutrients. From fatty acids and amino acids to antioxidants and vitamins, they all need to be at good levels for your skin to protect you from the elements and stay firm and clear.

So where will these nutrients come from? From our food, through the gut of course. But if your gut isn’t digesting properly, or if it’s dealing with issues that require the same nutrients in high amounts, your skin will miss out.

That’s when the skin becomes vulnerable and can develop all sorts of issues, from acne to eczema.

Liver

The gut and skin have a very important friend in common – the liver. The liver detoxifies all sorts of chemicals, hormones and other toxins that your body encounters and no longer needs.

But when the gut starts producing toxins thanks to poorly digested food or the wrong types of bacteria taking root, the liver starts to strain to keep up.

Toxins are far more important to get rid of than hormones, so the liver prioritizes and you end up with far too many hormones circulating.

If that strain worsens, some of the toxins won’t be detoxified properly, and instead the body will try to excrete them through the channels of elimination – including your skin.

Bacteria

We now know that we are host to millions of bacteria that make their home in the gut. But did you know that your bacteria directly affect your skin health?

The types of bacteria present in your gut affect the production of Substance P, a substance that is implicated in many skin conditions. If the gut has too few good bacteria and too many bad, more substance P will be produced and more inflammation will occur.

Bacteria balance may also affect your amount of sebum production and the composition of the sebum, thanks to the impact on fatty acids and lipids.

Lymphatics

The lymphatics are a sort of waste removal system throughout your body. They flush out things like dead immune cells and toxins and keep your immune system primed and ready.

But when the lymphatic system is clogged up with toxins from the liver’s burden, or when the digestive system has used up most of the water thanks to bloating, the circulation of the body drops. All of those toxins have to go somewhere, so they exit nearby – onto the skin.

Hormones

So we know that hormone levels might get thrown out of balance thanks to the liver strain. But how does that affect the skin?

Sex hormones and stress hormones have all sorts of effects on the body. They can influence your blood sugar levels, your storage of fat, your thyroid function and the inflammation in your body.

All of these in turn can change your levels of sebum on the skin, the turnover rate of your skin cells, and the amount of toxins that need to be excreted through the skin.

Overall, excess hormones of any kind are a nightmare for your skin health, and they usually occur because of an issue in the gut.

Gut Conditions

There are hundreds of different gut conditions ranging from infectious to autoimmune, but when it comes to their impact skin health, there are a few core conditions to be aware of.



SIBO

SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, occurs when the normal bacteria from the colon start to grow up into the small intestine, where they don’t belong. This happens when your body doesn’t move the bacteria down from the intestine into the colon properly.

The bacteria, who usually have access to mostly digested foods in the colon, start to ferment foods that aren’t digested yet and steal nutrients from you. This can then lead to leaky gut syndrome and begin a whole new host of problems.

Candida

Candida is the overgrowth of a type of yeast that is found in the gut, candida albicans. Normally the good gut bacteria keep the candida yeast well controlled.

But when the gut flora are weakened candida overgrows, it can damage your gut wall and release toxic substances that can significantly impair your immune system, cause widespread inflammation and make you feel very unwell.

The most common sign that distinguishes candida from other conditions is recurring oral or genital thrush.

Hypochlorhydria

Hypochlorhydria is a very long fancy word for low stomach acid. Thanks to popping antacids like candy combined with high stress lifestyles and nutrient-deficient diets, many people can’t produce enough stomach acid for their digestive needs.

This leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria that can’t survive in acidic environments, contributing to development of dysbiosis and potential ulcerations.

It also reduces digestion of proteins and the nutrients found in protein, including essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for healthy skin.


Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis is one of the key problems at the center of every digestive issue. It’s where the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria is thrown out.

Bad bacteria release toxins into the gut that can damage the gut lining, as well as overtaking the good bacteria that would usually assist you in digesting your food and getting the most nutrition out of the food.

Leaky Gut

When the gut wall is weakened by toxins, bacteria or yeast, it causes increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome.

The holes in the intestinal wall allow undigested food and foreign bodies through the wall before they are broken down properly. This alerts the immune system, and causes inflammation and an autoimmune response to try and protect the body.

Once the immune system is engaged, the body’s overall immunity drops, which combined with the inflammation can lead to a host of skin issues.

Causes of Gut Conditions

So why have all of these conditions seemingly popped up out of nowhere all of a sudden? It’s no coincidence – many of them have roots in our modern lifestyle. These are some of the most common causes behind them.

Antibiotics/Medications

The overuse of antibiotics and other medications has done a lot of damage to our guts. By treating every sniffle with antibiotics, as well as using steroids and hormonal pills, many people have stripped the good bacteria from their guts, leaving them inflamed and open to digestive issues.



Stress

Stress is toxic to the good bacteria of the gut. When stress occurs, the stress hormones and neurotransmitters that are released can rapidly alter the types of bacteria in the gut by increasing the virulence of some types, such as e. coli.

Stress reduces your ability to digest food properly, by down-regulating digestive enzymes, leaving you vulnerable and deprived of nutrients. The change in pH from lack of enzymes can also favor bad bacteria such as H. pylori alongside any bacteria found in the food you consume.

Lastly, stress can cause you to make poor food choices that further impact your gut health.



High GI diet

High carbohydrate and sugar diets can feed up the nastier inhabitants of your gut, including yeasts such as candida, as well as contributing to general inflammation and the load on your liver.

This throws out the equilibrium and leaves your good bacteria unable to balance out the bad guys.

Low fiber diet

Similarly, a low fiber diet means that the intake of soluble fiber and prebiotic foods are too low.

This can lead to the good gut bacteria having insufficient fuel to establish and maintain themselves, and allowing more toxic bad bacteria to colonize the gut instead.



Underlying issues/intolerances

Underlying intolerances can have a major impact on the gut health and cause further digestive issues.

If there is an undiagnosed intolerance, or even celiac disease, the gut will become inflamed whenever someone consumes the problematic food.

This stresses the body, reduces digestion of nutrients and disrupts the good gut bacteria.

Alcohol/smoking/drug use

Alcohol, smoking and drug use all have a negative impact on the gut flora and general state of wellbeing thanks to the strain they put on the liver and the increase in inflammation.

The increase in oxidative stress from these toxins can leave the gut stripped and open to developing issues.

Signs Of Gut Conditions

Wondering if you might have a digestive issue at the root of your skin problems? Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of the conditions we’ve discussed.

Digestive

There are numerous digestive signs and symptoms you might notice if you have an underlying condition.

Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, undigested food in stools, any significant change in stool color, stomach pain and heaviness after eating are just a few of the more common signs that you may notice.

Skin

Skin issues are another obvious sign that something is awry in the gut. From general inflammation and redness to rashes, breakouts and up to severe acne, most skin symptoms have a gut component.

Energy

Low energy or energy fluctuations are very common signs of a digestive issue. Because the body is so reliant on nutrients to provide oxygen to cells and balance blood sugar levels, poor digestive function can lead to a number of deficiencies and accompanying conditions such as anemia and insulin resistance.

Other Signs

Other signs and symptoms of a digestive issue could include increasing intolerances and sensitivites to food and non-food items such as perfume and makeup, runny nose and sneezing, poor immune function, fluctuating moods, any issues related to the menstrual cycle, poor concentration and brain fog.

Chronic yeast infections, either oral or genital, are also very common when candida is an issue.

Testing

Suspect you might have a digestive issue based on your signs and symptoms and health history? Luckily many conditions now have specific testing available.

For stool testing, food sensitivity testing and blood tests, you can make an appointment and discuss your concerns and to arrange testing to be performed. This includes testing for candida, H. pylori and general problematic bacteria.

If further testing is required, you may be provided with a referral to a trusted doctor.

Why Start With The Gut?

So if you have a skin issue, and it’s what you’re most concerned with, why should you start with a gut repairing treatment program?

There’s several reason why the gut is the most logical starting point.

Increased nutrient absorption

When you are dealing with any sort of health condition, you need reparative nutrients to alleviate the problem.

By starting your treatment in the gut, you’re ensuring that you are getting the maximum absorption of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are required to heal your skin.



Reduced inflammation

The gut is one of the major barriers exposed to outside pathogens and foreign bodies. But when it’s not at optimal strength, it can become a major source of inflammation that can spread throughout the body.

By healing the gut as your first step, you reduce the inflammation levels in your body, which then reduces the inflammation of the skin.

Reduced stress on liver

When unhealthy, the gut can cause a major strain on the liver’s detoxification systems. This strain can cause a backup of other things that need to be detoxified, such as hormones, and can throw out the delicate equilibrium needed for skin health.

When you address any digestive issues first, you reduce the liver’s burden, which allows it to properly process excess hormones and bring them back into balance.

Improved well-being

By increasing nutrients and reducing stress on the body, the healing of the gut can lead to many other improvements, including improvement in mood, energy levels and immune function.

These changes can help you to heal your skin – with better energy levels you are more likely to commit to your daily skin-care routine instead of flopping into bed. With a better mood, you’re less likely to become overly stressed about your skin, leading to fewer stress hormones. With better immune function your blemishes are less likely to become infected.
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Think that healing the gut might be your ticket to beautiful, clear healthy skin? Make an appointment today by clicking here.

 

References
http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/12_11/pdf/591_12_11_article.pdf
http://gutpathogens.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1757-4749-3-1
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00441-010-1050-0
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Bienenstock/publication/41188190_Is_there_a_’gut-brain-skin_axis’/links/54626c180cf2c0c6aec1b1fe.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20965806
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21281494
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20965806

The Importance of Sleep for Skin Health

Getting your beauty sleep is not just an old wives tale. In fact, the siesta you get every night has a profound effect on the health of your skin.

 

Beauty Sleep When you sleep, your skin has the opportunity to repair, rehydrate, and heal. In order for this to occur, the quality of your sleep is crucial. There are 4 phases of sleep: One and two are when you’re in between being awake and being asleep. The skin magic happens in stages three and four, when REM (rapid eye movement) occurs. This can be a very hard stage for many to reach, especially those dealing with insomnia, small children or a poor bed time routine (we’ll get into this later).

 

Looking at this in a more whole-istic point of view, there’s been plenty of studies such as this one telling us that sleep deprivation results in an increase of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol, when produced in excess causes in all kinds of problems, the primary ones being systemic inflammation and weakened immune responses in the body and the skin. Firdaus S. Dhabhar from Stanford University School of Medicine explains this in further detail here.

 

Sleep deprivation = increased cortisol = increased inflammation

 

This will:

  1. Increase the severity of inflammatory or immune related skin conditions such as acne, eczema or psoriasis.
  2. Cause digestive issues, leading to nutritional deficiencies of nutrients necessary for skin health and prevention of pre-mature aging.
  3. Breakdown collagen and hyaluronic acid which is what gives the skin a youthful, bouncy appearance.
  4. Further hormonal imbalances, leading to acne.
  5. Reduce the skin’s ability to stay hydrated, making the skin appear lifeless, wrinkly and dull.
  6. Speed up the aging process because damaged cells are incapable of proper repair.
  7. Effect your mood and the way you look at yourself in the mirror. The power of positivity plays a massive role in healing skin conditions.
  8. Cause unstable blood sugar levels throughout the day, causing cravings, poor food choices and an increase in the hormones that cause excess oil production on the skin. Read this post to understand this a little bit better.

 

There you have it. Beauty sleep really IS required for skin health… but sometimes it’s not so easy.  I’d love to help you improve your bedtime routine and have the best zzz’s of your life with my Beauty Sleep Guide. Click Here to have it sent straight to your email!

 

Happy sleeping everyone!

A Salad A Day Keeps Acne Away

One of the best and easiest ways to help fight acne and premature aging is by incorporating a salad a day, everyday.  In today’s world where the color beige has taken over the majority of our plates, from bread and pasta to pastries and ice cream, we are in desperate need of a little color.  Although there’s a time and a place for beige, these foods not only provide us with next to zero nutritional value, they also steal and deplete us of any of the nutrients we do have in order for our bodies to be able to digest them, creating all kinds of nutrient deficiencies.  Guess what nutrient deficieA salad a day keeps acne awayncies lead to?  Hormone imbalances, inflammation, gut issues, toxicity issues….the list goes on and on, because our bodies were designed to work based on the food nature provides us.  What do these issues contribute to?  ACNE!

By committing to at least one descent size salad a day (2 cups or more), you can ensure you are getting the fiber, vitamins and minerals your body so desperately asks for and needs to run efficiently.  If the inside of your body isn’t running efficiently, you can damn well bet that your skin isn’t either.  Absolutely no multi vitamin in the world can do a better job providing you these nutrients than a nice big, crisp, delicious salad.

Here’s 12 more good reasons for a salad a day:

 

  1. Improves digestion
  2. Improves nutrient uptake
  3. Improves elimination (yes, I’m talking about poop)
  4. Balances hormones
  5. Protects against premature aging
  6. Enhances satiety (so you eat less!)
  7. Improves weight loss (if this is a concern)
  8. Increases hydration
  9. Super convenient to get veggie servings and healthy fats
  10. Served at almost any restaurant
  11. Takes 5 minutes to prepare
  12. No cooking necessary!

Always start your salad with greens.  Green vegetables are jam packed with chlorophyll which has countless benefits including it’s ability to decrease DNA damage and help prevent and treat certain types of cancer. For the skin, chlorophyll  really helps to fight acne thanks to its antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents.  It will also fight free radicals, which are the little buggers that are linked to skin aging. Additionally, it will help to alkalize the body which reduces inflammation, excess oil production and breakouts on the skin.

Don’t stop there though! A salad doesn’t have to be plain old lettuce and cucumber. Get creative and have fun with it.  Change it up daily and keep it interesting by making it your goal to add a bit of every color in the rainbow.  The darker and brighter the color, the more it has to offer.  Think red like tomatoes or raspberries, orange like carrots or peppers, blue like blueberries, and purple like beats. All these beautiful colors contain phytochemicals, which are extremely important for fighting premature aging, inflammation and disease.

Remember to add nuts and seeds and think about creating your own dressings with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and a handful of fresh herbs.  Dressing and other healthy fats play a key role by increasing the absorption of certain nutrients in the veggies like lycopene and alpha/beta carotene , which are incredible cancer fighting nutrients.

 All these beautifully colored vegetables and fruit are readily available to us anywhere in the world, and in Canada we are lucky enough to have them available to us all year long, no matter the season.  Take advantage of that privilege and feed your body what it was meant to have.  Follow my rule of thumb and enjoy “a salad a day”. 🙂 Your skin will love you for it.

Sugar…Not So Sweet For Skin

Sugar…that sweet, delicious ingredient that makes EVERYTHING taste good, is not so “sweet” for our skin…or hormones.

 

You see, there are two major known causes to acne.  1) INFLAMMATION, and 2) HORMONES. Unfortunately sugar affects both.  

Sugar and Acne

Studies have shown us time and time again that sugar increases inflammation in the body as quickly as you can say “chronic disease”.  Inflammation is not always bad.  In fact it’s necessary for repairing tissues, fighting infection and eliminating toxins.  It DOES however become a problem when it is chronic.  Out-of-control inflammation spreads like wildfire and becomes extremely disruptive to bodily functions. Interestingly enough, researchers have shown us that those with acne have significantly higher levels of inflammation in the body, indicating that the inflammation is chronic and extremely disruptive.  To add, inflammation depletes us from the beautiful antioxidants that help fight off free radicals, infection and disease, leaving our bodies and our skin more susceptible to infection, illness and acne. Yikes!  

 

Ever notice certain foods cause you to break out? Or that indulging in an incredible meal pairs with a bloated tummy and tender new breakouts within 48 hours?  You can thank inflammation for that.  Inflammation in the gut is the reason this could be happening.  

 

Next let’s address the hormonal link to sugar and acne.  When we eat sugar, our blood sugar levels spike.  Our pancreas then works to release insulin in order to bring our blood sugar levels back down.  Here’s the kicker: when insulin is released, it triggers the production of androgen hormones (like testosterone), which triggers excess sebum (oil) production in the skin and increases pore size.  Even worse, when we eat too much sugar too often (don’t forget sugar is in just about every packaged food), our cells become tired and lazy and less sensitive to insulin. This means the pancreas has to pump out more insulin than normal to bring blood sugar down, creating a vicious circle of inflammation, androgen hormones, sebum excess, and a weakened immune system….the perfect recipe for kickass breakout.

 

There is no doubt that when we are treating acne with an inside out nutritional approach, it is absolutely crucial to reduce inflammation and balance hormone. Managing blood sugar levels is KEY. How can you do this?  Click here to get my 6 Step Sugar Detox Guide: http://www.natology.ca/sugardetoxguide

To sum this up:

Sugar = inflammation = ACNE

Sugar = increased insulin = increased androgens = increased sebum = ACNE

Is sugar the only cause of inflammation & androgen hormones? Heck no! …but it’s a damn good place to start.

Bottom line:  Eat less sugar. You’re sweet enough already! 😉

 

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Aeberli, Isabelle, Phillip A. Gerber, Michel Hochuli, Sibylle Kohler, Sarah R. Haile, Loanna Gouni-Berthold, Heiner K. Berthold, Giatgen A. Spinas, and Kaspar Berneis. “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Low to Moderate Sugar-sweetened Beverage Consumption Impairs Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Promotes Inflammation in Healthy Young Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Society for Nutrition, 15 June 2011. Web. 7 Aug. 2016.

Bowe, Whitney P., MD, Nayan Patel, BS, and Alan C. Logan, MD. “Acne Vulgaris: The Role of Oxidative Stress and the Potential Therapeutic Value of Local and Systemic Antioxidants.” JDDonline. J Drugs Dermatol, 1 June 2012. Web. 7 Aug. 2016.

The Benefits of Dry Brushing

Summer is around the corner and one of the best things you can add to your daily routine for glowing and cellulite free skin is dry brushing. Even more important are the benefits it has on your overall health.

 

What is dry brushing you ask?

 

Dry brushing is a natural health practice, which involves brushing your skin with a long-bristled brush while it’s dry.  Exactly how it sounds.  The brush looks exactly like this, although it can come in many different shapes and sizes.

Dry brushing

 

Why? Here’s five really great reasons.

 

1) It exfoliates the skin, clears clogged pores, improves its appearance and allows new cells to form more quickly.  New cells = glowing youthful skin.  Did you know 1/3rd of your body’s toxic waste is excreted through the skin? So help your body out and improve elimination by exfoliating on a regular basis!

 

2) It increases blood flow, which means improved circulation and elimination of toxins and metabolic waste.

 

3) It stimulates your lymphatic and immune system, keeping you healthy, energetic and fighting away that seasonal flu or cold.

 

4) It supports muscle tone by stimulating the nerves that activate muscle fibers.

 

5) It reduces cellulite. Cellulite is a combination of loose connective tissues and toxins trapped in fat pockets. By stimulating the lymphatic system and increasing blood flow,  you can reduce the stored toxins and therefore improve the appearance of cellulite. Mix that with proper nutrition and muscle toning exercise, you have yourself a pretty great recipe for baby bottom skin. It IS possible to reduce cellulite!!!

Here’s how you dry brush your skin:

 

  • First off, it’s extremely beneficial to plan your skin brushing right before you shower each morning. The hot shower will stimulate even more blood circulation than just the dry brush alone. Even better would be to alternate your shower hot and cold. You won’t believe how refreshed and invigorated you feel afterwards!
  • Make sure your skin is dry.
  • Start at your feet using upward strokes.
  • Do the same to every other area of the body, always making sure to stroke towards the heart.
  • Jump in the hot/cold shower or a hot candle lit bath and relaaaax.

 

Your skin may be a little sensitive to this at first, but you’ll get used to it and begin to crave the invigorating feeling dry brushing leaves.

 

 Important note: This method of exfoliation should not be used on your face, ESPECIALLY if you struggle with a skin condition.

 

I challenge you to dry brush your skin for 30 days, starting today. You’ll feel energized, healthy and your skin will begin an amazing transformation.

Oil Cleansing For Acne….really?

Oil for acne. Who would have thought? The idea of rubbing thick greasy oils on my skin to help manage my acne was something I was very skeptical of…..but not for long! A month of using this oil cleansing method and the difference was incredible.  My skin was clearer with a beautiful dewy look to it, without too much shine.

 

This oil cleansing concepOil Cleansingt goes right back to that high school chemistry class. Like dissolves like, therefore oil dissolves oil.   By using the proper oils to cleanse the skin, we dissolve the hardened oil mixed with impurities clogging our pores. Cool, right?

 

Conventional skin care, especially acne products, strip the skin of all moisture, leaving it with no choice but to overcompensate and produce more oil to repair itself.

 

Contrary to popular belief, sebum (oil) is not our enemy. Although it does contribute to acne, there are many other factors contributing to this condition like bacteria, sluggish turnover of cells, inflammation, impaired ability to repair, hormonal imbalances, food sensitivities and of course, OVERPRODUCTION of sebum…. Key word here is “overproduction”.  Our skin still needs a healthy amount to function properly, otherwise conditions may start to arise. Sebum is needed to heal, protect, moisturize and keep us looking young.

 

So what contributes to the overproduction of oil? Food, hormones AND over cleansing with conventional skincare designed to strip away oil. Crazy, I know…..but once you wrap your head around this and give oil cleansing a whirl, I feel fairly certain you’ll want to dance in the streets with NO makeup on screaming with joy and relief that you’ve finally found something your skin loves.

 

Here’s how oil cleansing works:

  1. Choose your oils: There’s a ton out there to choose from depending on your skin type and goals. As long as they are organic, natural, cold-pressed vegetable, seed or nut oils, you’ll receive the benefits of nutrients, vitamins and fatty acids.

Most people start with castor oil as a primary oil. It’s extremely cleansing, astringent, healing and carries potent anti-inflammatory properties.   It is very thick and can actually be drying to the skin, therefore should always be diluted and paired with another oil. Those with dry sensitive skin might not find this oil very helpful and it is fine to completely omit it.   If castor oil IS in your horizon, here’s some “ball park” ratios for you to follow:

Oily skin:

1:3 ratio (castor oil to secondary oil)

Combination skin:

1:4 ratio (castor oil to secondary oil)

Dry skin:

1:10 ratio (castor oil to secondary oil)

 

Secondary oils to choose from (or primary if you choose to omit castor oil):

Driest feeling oils for oily or acne prone skin:

Rosehip Oil

Hemp Seed Oil

Guava Seed Oil

Moisturizing oils for dry skin:

Macadamia Oil

Olive Oil

Similar to skin sebum oils (versatile):

Jojoba Oil

Macadamia Oil

Sensitive skin oils:

Black Cumin Seed Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Camellia Oil

Most healing oils for scaring, aging, sun damage, etc.:

Tamanu Oil

Neem Oil

 

  1. Blend your oil choices according to the ratios above and heat up a tablespoon in your hands.
  2. Massage the oil into your face and neck. ***Bonus: it works as a makeup remover too!
  3. Wet a clean facecloth with warm water, wring it, then place it over your face to steam for a minimum of 20 seconds. This opens up your pores and allows the oils that are stuck and clogging to be removed.
  4. Gently wipe away the oil with the cloth.
  5. You can use the same secondary oils to moisturize by dabbing the oil of choice on your skin, leaving it for 2 minutes while you do something else, and then dabbing off any excess oil residue.

 

Ta da! Easy peasy and easier on the wallet!

 

An important note to keep in mind:

Your skin MAY go through a bit of a rebellious stage in the first two weeks as it learns to regulate itself again, so give it a good shot before giving up.

 

There you have it. The oil cleansing method for clear, moisturized, beautiful glowing skin! I dare you to try. The only risk?  You might not like it and therefore get to use the oils for food. Win/win!

The Psychological Effects of Acne

Are you exhausted and tired of hiding behind your acne? Join me this January for ACNE BOOT CAMP!

Like many people, I’ve had my own personal struggles with acne. When I’d look at my bare, acne-covered face in the mirror, I felt nothing but disappointment with myself. Daily, I’d try to come up with ways to avoid leaving the house, but of course, that wasn’t possible. So instead I’d spend 20 minutes strategically covering up with makeup to hide any imperfections. But that only brought on more insecurity. I’d wonder if people could see how much makeup I was wearing to cover the pimples and scars. I’d spend the majority of my day with my head down, avoiding conversations or getting too close to anyone. I’d strategically plan where to sit on transit or in cafes, ensuring the sun wouldn’t shine on my face and reveal what I was forever trying to hide. When anyone tried to initiate conversation, I could hardly make eye contact. I’d start to stutter with nervousness, and struggle to hear the words coming out of their mouths amongst my drowning thoughts of insecurities. Along with the emotional pain came physical pain too, from the acne being so tender and deeply rooted in my skin. Some days it even hurt to smile.

 

These insecurities and experiences are common amongst acne sufferers, and sadly, they’re not recognized.

 

My breaking point arrived when my husband told me how different I seemed when my skin was clearer compared to a bad day of breakouts. I’d go from angry, shy and moody to outgoing, talkative and confident. It’s like I had two different people inside me, tied to the condition of my skin. That was a huge day of self-discovery; it was the day I knew I had to do whatever it took to love myself again. As I started to research possible solutions, it became clear that I could not heal my skin until I made some changes on the inside. Yes, that meant digestion, hormones, liver health, etc., but what I truly needed to heal was my lack of self-love. I could no longer allow my insecurities to control my personality and my ability to shine bright in the world. This had to end. No longer would I let my acne dictate how I felt about myself. Being unhappy with myself was creating a vicious circle of negative side effects, continuously making the acne worse.

 

Through my experience in the esthetic industry and my education in holistic nutrition, I had a good understanding of how to physically make a difference, however I didn’t fully understand the emotional aspect. I knew how the condition made me feel, but did not realize how much it truly debilitated me and so many others just the same.

 

One study done specifically on the psychosocial effect of acne on adult females found that the level of social, psychological, and emotional impairments of acne compare with asthma, epilepsy, diabetes and arthritis. 1 I never suspected acne could cause the same life-altering side effects as what are considered to be very serious illnesses.

 

Similar studies reported that patients with acne are prone to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, low self-assertiveness, embarrassment, social inhibition, affectation, shame, altered body image, psychosomatic symptoms like pain and discomfort, obsessive-compulsiveness and suicidal ideation. 2,3

 

Further to the numerous studies done, I wanted to understand the affects of acne on a more personal level by talking to other women struggling with acne. I conducted interviews with 10 women ranging from the age of 18 to 37 who live a variety of different lifestyles (i.e. married, single, careers, FT moms, university, etc.). Below were some of the very emotional words they shared about their struggles with acne:

“I don’t feel good enough in my own skin.”

“I feel worthless.”

“Makes me hate myself.”

“I feel like I am not living and enjoying certain parts of life to its full potential.”

“I feel unsexy.”

“I feel depressed.”

“I feel disgusting and embarrassed.”

“It makes me anti-social.”

“I’m embarrassed to go out in public.”

“I feel gross, dirty, ugly, old, unattractive, bitter, frustrated, disgusting, sick, insecure, unlovable, and tired.”

“It affects my marriage/sex life/confidence with my husband and I find it hard to be intimate.”

“I feel defeated.”

“I can’t remember the last time I didn’t wear makeup in public, or even around my husband.”

“I feel self-conscious to talk face to face with anyone.”

“It gets in the way of being able to put my best foot forward each day.”

 

When I asked those same women how they’d feel if they found a solution to their acne. Here’s what they told me:

 

“I would accept and love myself.”

“I would feel beautiful.”

“When I’m clear I feel better about myself, have more energy and confidence. I accomplish more in my day and I am more social.”

“One word: Beautiful.”

“Ready to face the world, look them straight in the eye and assert my place in the world today.”

“I’d feel so confident, happy and more open to chatting with people.”

“Liberated.”

 

 There are so many people out there silently struggling with this condition and feeling defeated by it every day. By clearing your skin, you’re doing more than just getting ride of pimples. You’re treating your insecurities, self-doubt, shame, embarrassment, relationship issues, social issues, and so much more.

 

Self-love could possibly be the most important component to clear skin. This can be practiced by setting time aside for things like candle-lit baths, journaling, meditation, hobbies, and positive affirmations. Taking the time to find beauty in everything and everyone you come across is one of the best ways to create positive thinking pathways in the brain. Eventually, these new practices start to form a whole new life; a beautiful, empowering life. It feels like absolute freedom!  

 

By using a holistic approach, you’re starting from the inside to tackle the root cause, and by combining it with today’s modern skin care techniques, we end up with the perfect synergy for beautiful, long-lasting results. You’ll find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing a confident, beautiful, and happy individual who feels like they can conquer the world, even if a new pimple shows up once and a while to remind you of how far you’ve come.

 

References

  1. Mallon E, Newton JN, Klassen A, Stewart-Brown SL, Ryan TJ, Finlay AY. The quality of life in acne: A comparison with general medical conditions using generic questionnaire. Br J Dermatol. 1999;140:672–6.
  1. Tan JK. Psychological impact of acne vulgaris: Evaluating the evidence. (9). Skin Ther Lett. 2004; 9:1–3.
  1. Tallab TM. Beliefs, perceptions and psychological impact of acne vulgaris among patients in the Assir region of Saudi Arabia. West Afr J Med. 2004;23:85–7.