Beautiful skin: one of the benefits of a plant-based diet

by Amy Renee
Beautiful skin: one of the benefits of a plant-based diet

Beautiful Skin From The Inside Out

I just had a birthday. I turned 38. And ever since the big 3 – 0 eight long years ago I always seem to get depressed on my birthday. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. I should be vibrant and glowing and excited to be healthy, happy, and ALIVE! After all, at 38 years old I am probably the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m definitely in the best shape of my life, and I’m finally on my way to the career of my dreams. So why the negativity?

So…I was laying in bed the night before the big day and all sorts of thoughts were running through my head. I started feeling sorry for myself thinking – if only I had more money to spend on retinol creams, expensive spa facials,  and a regular botox regime…but then I laughed and thought about how I spend almost all of my extra money on food. Not on clothes, shoes, makeup, or beauty treatments like many girlie girls (and I do consider myself a girlie girl), but FOOD! Seriously – if I have an extra $20 laying around the first thing I think is, “do I need almond milk? Oats? Do I have lettuce for my salad tonight? I wonder if dark chocolate is on sale?” – not, “hmm…maybe I can go get a manicure.”

AND THEN IT HIT ME

Maybe this is the best thing I could be doing for my skin and my overall aging process after all! I mean, a plant-based diet is chock full of all of the nutrients needed for fresh, healthy skin. I am feeding my skin everything it needs to be healthy and glowing – from the inside out.

  • ANTIOXIDANTS AND PHYTONUTRIENTS such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and other carotenoids, minerals selenium and manganese, glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, and many more are all capable of donating an electron to free-radicals. If antioxidants aren’t available to offer up electrons to free-radicals they cause damage to cells and genetic material. In regards to skin this means older looking skin – more wrinkles, sagging, dark spots, you get the picture. Oh, and hello – SKIN CANCER!
  • FIBER helps take extra pressure off the detoxification function of the skin. It moves certain yeasts and fungi out of the system, preventing their excretion through the skin which would cause acne and inflammation. Interesting, huh?
  • MICRONUTRIENTS such as zinc combat inflammation meaning less redness and acne and even helps to manage psoriasis.
  • HEALTHY UNSATURATED FATS such as omega-3 fatty acids found in seeds and nuts keep skin supple by providing hydration and preserving cell membranes.
  • WATER makes up about 64% of the skin, so if you don’t consume enough water your skin will be dry and flaky. Fruits and vegetables have a higher water content then animal, processed and refined foods, so…do you see where I am going with this? Even without drinking more water individuals on a plant-based diet naturally consume more water than those who are not. I still recommend drinking a lot of water though. 😉

OH…AND THEN THERE’S THE DAIRY-ACNE CONNECTION

Yep. It’s real people. It took me forever to admit it to myself because I LOVED all things dairy. Skim milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, ALL cheese in fact – from feta to goat cheese to cheddar and parmesan. I used to put cheese on anything and everything. That’s probably why I fell in love with nutritional yeast! But getting back on topic…

I always thought dairy was good for me. I believed it to be necessary for strong bones because that’s what the dairy industry led us to believe. Unfortunately what we were taught in school wasn’t backed by research. It was backed by money. Yep. The dairy industry are BIG funders of public education. How? Through government lobbyists encouraging milk consumption in schools. Not only that, the dairy and factory farming industries also fund several research studies – and if the research isn’t appearing the way they want, well, the scientists either skew the findings to make it sound better or the grants just seem to disappear. It’s sad but true. But that’s a whole other post. Anyway…back to my acne-dairy connection.

I never had acne as an adolescent. Sure, I was overweight, but acne wasn’t something I suffered from. I also didn’t drink milk. I was more of a Coka-Cola, chips, everything junk food kind of gal. The only dairy I really ate was from ice cream and although I’m sure it was more than I should have eaten it wasn’t an every day occurrence. Probably most of the dairy I consumed came in the form of milk chocolate. Ugh. I cringe at the thought of my old eating habits. Once I got a little older (my early twenties maybe?) I started my love affair with dairy. And then came the acne. I never made the connection. It wasn’t that bad on my face, but I always, ALWAYS had acne on my shoulders and back and sometimes my chest and it was sooooooooo embarrassing! I went to the dermatologist and got all kinds of super strong medicated scrubs and ointments that would make my skin peel and look even worse, but THE ACNE WAS STILL THERE!

“Once I got a little older I started my love affair with dairy. And then came the acne. I never made the connection. It wasn’t that bad on my face, but I always, ALWAYS had acne on my shoulders and back and sometimes my chest and it was sooooooooo embarrassing!”

Finally I gave up. I just accepted the fact that I was someone who suffered from adult acne and in my early 30s I got into the habit of wearing white shirts to bed since I was going to be dousing myself in medicated creams that would bleach everything it came in contact with. All of my bath towels had bleach stains. I had to throw away tons of clothes and sheets. I finally started buying only white sheets for my bed. It was a major pain in the you-know-what!

So when I made the decision to cut dairy out of my diet completely, let me tell you it was such a happy, HAPPY MOMENT when I realized that, hey…my skin is looking pretty clear! In fact I think it was my boyfriend who first pointed it out. And then I started to realize I was using the acne creams less. And I didn’t have to worry about wearing white shirts all the time. WHOO HOO!!!

BUT EVEN THOUGH DAIRY IS THE WORST MEAT IS TO BLAME TOO

Bodo Melnik, a dermatologist and researcher wrote a paper correlating a Westernized type of dietary also known as the “Standard American Diet” or SAD with increased acne. The SAD diet is a diet that consists of high calories, high fat, lots of meat and dairy products, lots of processed foods, high glycemic index carbohydrates – ironic that it is called “SAD” when indeed it is so sad, contributing to so many chronic diseases! So apparently the elimination of dairy was a major contribution to my newly glowing, clear skin, but so was the elimination of other animal foods which are the main source of saturated fats, and processed foods, much of which consist of high glycemic index carbohydrates. And with a plant-based diet you naturally consume fewer calories than the typical SAD diet.

BUT IT WOULD BE WRONG FOR ME NOT TO MENTION SOME OTHER THINGS…

  1. I ALWAYS wear sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. Especially since I live in Florida and walk or run everywhere, but even if you live in North Dakota you should be putting sunscreen on your face at least. Here is my routine: I wear a broad spectrum SPF 70 on my face and neck no matter what I am doing. Even if I am just going to lunch. But if I am going for a walk or a run I also put it on my arms, legs, back, and midriff. Yep. I cover it all!
  2. Although I do enjoy my white Russians (made with unsweetened almond milk of course), I do so in moderation and I try to always stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water (alcohol is dehydrating). My beverage of choice is ALWAYS water. Other times I drink unsweetened teas, hot or cold. Dandelion root is my favorite. Mint green tea is a close second. 🙂
  3. Dry brushing. Do you do this? I love dry brushing. I have two brushes so that when I need to wash one I have a spare to use while the other is drying. Simply start at your feet and use long strokes up your long bones toward your heart. I do both of my lower legs first. Then my upper legs. Then my bootie. Then my lower back and abdomen – still brushing upward toward my heart. Then each arm from my hands toward my arm pits, then my upper back and shoulders and chest. It feels really good. Not only does dry brushing help to help your skin rid itself of toxins (yes, through your skin is one of the major routes toxins escape your body), but it also helps enhance circulation. It is also believed that dry brushing helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite! BONUS!!!

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Go eat some plants and ditch the animal foods. One of the SEVERAL benefits you will notice is GORGEOUS, CLEAR SKIN!

 

References:

  1. Sareen A. Vegan secrets (or why my skin is always glowing). Huff Post Healthy Living. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anjali-sareen/vegan-benefits_b_2919946.html. Updated on May 31, 2013. Accessed on October 5, 2014.
  2. Vann M. A plant-based diet to ease psoriasis. Everyday Health. http://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis/a-plant-based-diet-to-ease-psoriasis.aspx. Updated on December 11, 2013. Accessed on October 5, 2014.
  3. Jimenez A. How becoming vegan changed my skin. New Beauty. http://www.newbeauty.com/blog/dailybeauty/7346-how-becoming-vegan-changed-my-skin/. Posted on April 19, 2013. Accessed on October 5, 2014.
  4. Melnik BC. Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;76:131045. doi: 10.1159/000325580.
  5. The water in you. The USGS Water Science School. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html. Updated on March 17, 2014. Accessed on October 8, 2014.
  6. Melnik B. Dietary intervention in acne: attenuation of increased mTORC1 signaling promoted by Western diet. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(1):20-32. doi: 10.4161/derm.19828.
  7. Jenkins O. A step-by-step guide to dry skin brushing. Mind Body Green. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12675/a-step-by-step-guide-to-dry-skin-brushing.html. Published on February 19, 2014. Accessed on October 15, 2014.

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