Skincare Nutrition: Diet Deep Dive

At CF we talk a lot about what you put on your skin, but what about what you put in your body? Just like a good skincare regime, a good diet requires research. From the caveman diet to Beyonce’s plant based challenge, we assess the skincare pros and cons of the most popular diets so you can get started on eating your way to better skin.

Paleo

What is it?

Also known as the caveman diet, those who follow paleo only eat foods that would have been available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The philosophy behind paleo is that, in keeping in line with what our genetic ancestors ate, paleo will help individuals minimize their risk of disease and lose, or keep off, weight. The diet is rich in meats, fruits, vegetables, seafood and nuts. It avoids grains, dairy, added salt and legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils and soybeans).


How does it affect your skin?

Protein is essential for healthy skin. As your body processes it, protein is broken down into amino acids which support healthy hair, nails and skin. They’re also required for collagen production, which makes skin healthy, elastic and strong (so far so good for paleo). Even better, paleo is rich in healthy fats, which support the barrier function of your skin. Good examples of healthy fats include olive oil, avocados, walnuts and salmon.


There are a few things to keep in mind on paleo. For starters, make sure the meat you’re eating is as clean as possible. Consuming animals protein that has been treated with hormones has been linked to higher cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which can potentially lead to breakouts and acne.  


Vegan/Dairy-Free

 

What is it?

With Beyonce encouraging her fans to go vegan at the start of this year, 2019 is seeing the most dramatic increase in veganism yet. If you don’t already know, vegans do not consume any animals products, so no meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey (though honey is a somewhat controversial). There are also those who simply choose to go dairy free, either because of an allergy or because of the belief that dairy leads to inflammation and breakouts.


How does it affect your skin?

As we’ve established, protein and fats are essential to healthy, glowing skin. Contrary to popular belief, you can get all the healthy fats and protein you need on a vegan diet. While the structure of some plant based proteins lack amino acids, vegan staples such as quinoa, black beans, nuts and seeds contain a sufficient amount amino acids to keep hair, nails and skin healthy and strong.


As for the notion that dairy leads to breakouts, there’s actually not a lot of research to support this. But, because most dairy products contain a lot of sugar, it’s more likely that sugar is to blame for poor skin and inflammation.


If you are cutting out dairy, for veganism or other reasons, make sure you’re not missing out gut-healthy probiotic foods (miso, kombucha, kimchi, etc.). A happy and healthy gut is another must-have for glowing skin.       


Keto

 

What is it?

This high-fat, low carb diet is similar to Atkins; you dramatically reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat, sending your body into ketosis - a state in which your body becomes super efficient at burning fat. Keto lowers blood sugar and insulin levels by eliminating or reducing the intake of sugars, grains and starches, fruit, legumes, root vegetables, unhealthy fats, and alcohol, and replacing it with increased intake of meat, fatty fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, avocados, and low-carb vegetables.


How does it affect your skin?

The healthy fat and protein you get from keto can give you dewy, glowing skin, and the lowered blood sugar and insulin levels (typically associated with acne) should minimize breakouts. The emphasis keto places on good quality fat will also help protect skin against sun damage


The downside? Keto is lacking in fibre-rich sources, which can harm gut bacteria. If this happens, you’ll notice it in your hair, nails and skin first, so keep an eye out for any changes. Another thing to watch out for is keto rash. For some, keto can trigger a condition called prurigo pigmentosa, a skin condition that typically starts on the back, chest or stomach. It can go away on its own once the body adjusts to ketosis, but just to be safe, it’s best to talk with you doctor as soon as you notice the rash.


Gluten Free  

 

What is it?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and spelt. Celiac disease in an autoimmune disease where the body attacks gluten and the intestinal wall, leading to nutrient deficiencies, various digestive issues, anemia, fatigue. While there’s some debate about gluten sensitivity, it’s common for individuals to report physical discomfort and symptoms of inflammation after eating gluten, despite not having celiac disease. The popularity of gluten free diets hasn’t died down and, whether placebo or not, those who go gluten free claim they feel better physically, clearer mentally and lose weight.


How does it affect your skin?

If you do have celiac, going gluten free is crucial, not just for your skin, but for your overall health. Many foods that contain gluten have a high glycemic index, which is linked inflammation. Moreover, processed grains typically contain large amounts of sugar. In cutting out gluten, you may see a decrease in acne and breakouts, as well as other symptoms of inflammation. But you’re also missing out on sources of vitamin B and selenium, both of which help fight inflammation. If you don’t have an allergy and you’re going to stick with gluten, try your best to avoid processed grains to eliminate the extra sugar.



While there’s no clear winner as far as skincare goes, there’s a little something to take away from each diet:


  • Get plenty of good fats and clean proteins
  • Keep your gut happy and healthy
  • Avoid processed foods and sugar
  • Keep blood sugar levels stable
  • Know your allergies

Whatever diet you choose, or whatever bits and pieces of a diet you choose, make sure you listen to your body and keep an eye out for any changes. Bon appetit!  



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