When I made a drastic lifestyle shift in order to heal some more severe health issues I had, I healed my acne- and wrinkle-prone skin in the process. Though I still get breakouts and have large pores, I know how to manage it; my skin is a wonderful radar and tells me what foods or lifestyle choices are good for me and which ones aren't. Here the 10 rules I always follow to make sure my skin behaves:
1. Avoid caffeine.
I love coffee and although some people claim its benefits, my body disagrees. I used to think it was the milk or sugar in coffee that showed up on my skin, but I experienced the same blemishes when I got switch to black coffee.
Coffee magnifies your body’s response to stressful events as it stimulates the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your skin to fight off bacteria and heal. It also impairs acute blood glucose management and insulin sensitivity, causing acne in at least three ways:
- Insulin makes your skin produce excess oil.
- Insulin increases inflammation in the body, making acne more red and swollen.
- Insulin sensitivity causes swings in blood sugar, making you crave sugary and fatty treats which can lead to acne.
If that wasn’t enough, coffee also impairs your body’s ability to absorb minerals from food, and acne can be worsened by deficiencies in minerals like zinc, selenium and iron.
2. Exercise regularly.
Sweating is my secret weapon to healthy, glowing skin since sweat purges your body of toxins that can clog pores and cause blemishes.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to regularly sweat it out, either in the gym, a sauna or a hot yoga class. Exercising stimulates blood circulation, so more nutrients flood to your skin, giving you a healthy and glowing complexion. On top of that, exercise reduces stress, and as discussed above, eliminating stress can help you avoid acne.
Skin is about 64% water, so it’s important to keep your body hydrated in order to keep your skin plump and healthy. If you’re dehydrated, even the best moisturizer won't help you.
Try starting your day with a quart of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice to help alkalize your body, aid digestion and stimulate the liver (the most important detoxifying organ). Then drinks at least another 1-2 quarts of water throughout the day.
4. Simplify your skin care routine.
Once upon a time, I used dozens of lotions and potions on my face, spending tons of money on high-end products. But all these expensive products only had short-term effects and after a few weeks, my skin reverted back to its regular condition.
What’s worse, most drugstore products contain toxic chemicals that can hinder your long-term health. Once I learned the dangers of these chemicals, I switched to organic, natural skin care and never looked back. Over time, my skin care routine got even simpler as I’ve noticed that the fewer products I use, the better my skin looks.
Sleep is important to your overall health and when you’re sleep-deprived, your skin will be the first place it shows up. When you sleep, your body repairs itself. Without it, your cells don't have the change to fix themselves and over time, small breakdowns will accumulate into larger issues, resulting in noticeable signs of aging.
No matter how busy I get, I always prioritize sleep and try to get at least 7-8 hours a night.
6. Drink green juice.
Green vegetable juice is my other secret weapon, not just for glowing skin but also overall health and energy.
Don't confuse green vegetable juice with fruit juice: While eating whole fruit is beneficial for your health, fruit juice often contains a lot of concentrated sugar. So stick with vegetable juice. You may add some green apple or citrus fruit to your juices, but make sure the majority of the juice is made of green vegetables.
7. Eat a nutrient-dense diet.
I eat a plant-based diet that's high in raw fruits and vegetables — a great way to get a lot of antioxidants to the skin. Go for as much variety and color as possible in your diet.
Especially important is vitamin C since it plays a critical role in tissue repair as it stimulates collagen synthesis. I make sure to eat lots of fruit and vegetables that are high in vitamin C: mangoes, oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, cabbage, kale, peppers, etc.
It’s also important to have enough zinc, iron, selenium, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E as these nutrients are vital for skin health.
8. Avoid fried food and rancid fats.
In my experience, fried food will clog your skin like nothing else.
Polyunsaturated fats (such as in soybean, corn, peanut, sunflower, flaxseed oil, fatty fish) oxidize when exposed to heat, light and oxygen, becoming rancid. When ingested, these rancid fats destroy our cell membranes, depleting our stores of antioxidants, damaging our nuclear membranes and DNA and increasing the risk of various cancers.
If you need to use oil for cooking, try coconut oil — it's a stable saturated fat and doesn’t oxidize as quickly as other oils — or cold-pressed, unrefined monounsaturated oils like extra virgin olive oil.
9. Avoid sugar-fat combinations.
If you’re acne-prone, eating foods high in both fat and sugar (think cookies, chocolate, doughnuts, etc.) is a guaranteed ticket to breakouts.
The biggest problem with these foods is that they cause blood sugar imbalances. When there are too many lipids (fat) flowing in the bloodstream, the glucose can't be transmitted to the cells efficiently, therefore too much sugar (glucose) accumulates in the blood. The pancreas releases even more insulin, leading to a drop in blood sugar. These imbalances and surges may cause you to have low energy, cravings for sugary food and drinks and mood swings.
10. Avoid dairy.
When I stopped consuming dairy, the dermatitis on my hands cleared, my clogged pores got cleaner, and I new breakouts were few and far between. I thought it might be a coincidence, but when I reintroduced dairy into my diet, my skin immediately freaked out again.
Although there’s not much scientific evidence showing direct correlation between dairy and skin health, my own success at getting rid of acne and my experience with clients show that giving up this kind of food is one of the easiest (and cheapest) paths to beautiful, healthy and glowing skin.
Sure, there are people with perfect skin who consume pizza, chocolate, booze and whole milk lattes every day, but for the rest of us who aren't so lucky, it's nice to know there are steps we can take for more control over our skin.
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