We ask a nutritionist and dermatologist
The adage that says “you are what you eat” may seem too banal; but the direct effects of what your diet can do to your body cannot be ignored. Often the consequences are immediate. After a heavy meal, you tend to feel sluggish as concentration levels may start to drop. Of course, in the long run, with unhealthy binge eating coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, some people would notice plausible weight gain.
But what about our skin? Particularly our beloved mine, where we spend a considerable amount of time and money when it comes to sprucing it up. From skincare to makeup, there are a million products dedicated to the goal of healthy, beautiful skin. What most of us overlook, however, is the daily variable in our diet. The foods we eat daily are said to attribute the same effects to the moisturizers and serums we slather on. But to what extent, especially for people with issues like persistent acne and discoloration?
To shed light on the matter, we interviewed Dr. Sylvia Ramirez of Cutis Medical Laser Clinics and Pooja Vig of The Nutrition Clinic about the effects of diet on skin and how we can be more mindful of the foods we eat.
What is the link between food and our skin?
According to Dr. Ramirez, it all comes down to the relationship between diet, gut organisms, and their impact on the skin, in a coined term called the “gut-skin axis.” Everything that enters your intestine directly reaches your skin. She explains, “An imbalance in the gut or the skin microbe tends to impact the other. All the foods and nutrients you put in your body can affect your gut health. Common skin conditions that arise from an imbalance in the gut include acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, etc.
From a nutritionist point of view, Vig agrees. “In functional medicine, we think of skin health as a reflection of your gut – the gut lining is your ‘inner’ skin, and when it’s out of balance, you can start to see symptoms like dull skin, itchy skin. or persistent eczema.”
Common skin conditions that can result from diet
Sagging and aging skin
According to Dr. Ramirez, “Excess sugar binds to proteins in the blood. This leads to the formation of harmful molecules called AGEs or advanced glycation end products, which attach to collagen and elastin in our skin, causing abnormal stiffening of these proteins and accelerated skin aging.This is why the term “sugar slump” was coined.The harmful effects of high GI foods also go beyond acne, but they are also more likely to generate free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage DNA and accelerate aging) “Salted and fried foods are particularly bad, because foods fried in oil at high temperatures release free radicals.”
Acne is one of the main concerns young adults struggle with on a daily basis. Dr. Ramirez says, “In many cases, the relationship between food and certain skin conditions like acne is linked to the glycemic index (GI) of the food. GI measures how much or quickly each food raises your blood sugar level. Those high in refined carbohydrates and sugars have a high glycemic index; the body digests these foods quickly, which spikes your sugar levels. Frequent consumption of high GI foods can cause the body to raise its blood sugar levels. This can then contribute to inflammation, acne, and a number of issues over time.
When it comes to inflammation, Vig offers to identify food sensitivities, via a blood test available at The Nutrition Clinic. “The impact of food sensitivities begins long before symptoms appear – the gut lining is the first to be damaged when we eat foods that cause a level of inflammation in the body.” However, for people who do not wish to be tested too much, she recommends adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. “Stay away from processed foods – you never know what’s in them and how many chemicals they contain, and eat plenty of clean vegetables with lean protein.”
But one important thing to note from Dr. Ramirez is: “Acne is a very complex inflammatory disorder and changing your diet alone may not necessarily make a huge difference.” She highlights the difficulty of nutrition research and urges everyone to be careful with generalizations. “According to the American Academy of Dermatology, based on the well-designed published research available today, no specific dietary changes are recommended for the management of acne. Additionally, nutrition is only one of many factors that can play a role in acne Genetics, hormones, environment and quality of sleep can also contribute to the formation of acne.
So what is the recommended diet?
It seems that diet is not a panacea when it comes to improving our skin. But the impact it can have on your skin cannot be ignored. The same goes for daily cleansing of your face, it’s not a surefire ticket to clear, beautiful skin, but it definitely plays a part in the whole process. Dr. Ramirez advises eating foods that are low on the glycemic index, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When it comes to common suspects like dairy or fried foods that trigger acne, she says it all depends on each individual. “It’s best to keep a food diary or notice how your skin reacts to certain foods. If, for example, you notice acne or worsening breakouts after consuming dairy products, try eliminating them (along with other high-GI foods like ice cream and high-sugar yogurts) from your diet. feed to see if anything changes.
On the anti-aging side, Vig recommends eating specific nutrients like probiotic digestive enzymes, collagen, and bone broth to help improve gut and skin health. “After the age of 25, our body’s production of collagen decreases and collagen supplementation can help with skin elasticity and texture. At the clinic, we also recommend collagen to help with digestive health issues, joint pain, and muscle growth.