It’s bad enough that my waist expands every time I overindulge in sweets (and cereal…my weakness!!! I could eat a whole box!), but my skin goes crazy when my diet gets off track as well. It’s no fun to have blotchy skin on top of having ill-fitting pants and while I imagine everyone reacts at different speeds, it only takes two or three “bad” days for me to notice the effects of a poor diet both inside and outside of my body. To find out more about specific triggers and scientific findings behind the relationship between food and skin I turned to Stacy Goldberg, MPH, RN, BSN and her team of expert nutritionists at Savorfull. Here’s to us all at least trying to limit our intake of ice cream and other summer indulges as the temperatures heat up!
For better or worse, how quickly can changes in diet affect skin, hair and nail health?
Your body’s cells are the building blocks of your skin, hair, and nails. When your dietary intake does not consistently meet the nutrient needs of your cells, cell functions begin to deteriorate or can even stop. When nutrients are not readily available to your cells, diseases and disorders may develop and can affect your tissues, organs, and body systems. The length of time a deficiency or toxicity takes to develop depends on the type and amount of the nutrient consumed and how much of the nutrient is stored in your body’s reserves. For example, an intake of 32 mg/day of vitamin C, or about a third of the RDA for adults, will lower blood vitamin C levels to a deficient state within three weeks. Therefore, it is important to eat nutrient-rich foods on a daily basis in order to maintain skin, hair, and nail cell health.
Can you talk about the relationship between food and acne?
Some evidence suggests that high glycemic load diets may be related to acne. Carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index (GI) (meaning the food elevates the blood sugar when compared with foods with a lower GI) include white bread, bagels and white rice, instant oatmeal, boxed macaroni & cheese, pretzels, popcorn, and saltine crackers. We recommend consuming these foods in moderation.
According to multiple studies conducted, the growth hormone, IGF-1, is naturally present in all mammalian animals. There are high concentrations of this growth hormone in milk and dairy products. Even dairy products advertising that they are “hormone-free” are only referring to unnatural added hormones and still contain IGF-1. The amino acid composition in dairy products causes insulin levels in your body to rise, inducing secretion of the IGF-1 hormone. Both the IGF-1 hormone and insulin stimulate GH, or growth hormone, in the body which can cause skin problems to worsen in some users. This is because increased GH raises testosterone levels, which in turn increases oil production and can lead to the clogging of pores, causing acne. Consuming limited amounts of dairy products will help eliminate the presence of unnatural IGF-1 in your body and reduce the production of GH, leading to acne.
Clinically as a side note, I have seen many cases in which clients report having a symptomatic dietary link to skin breakouts and acne consumption. Many elimination diets that omit dairy, gluten and sugar for the treatment of acne breakouts have, in fact, been successful for many people in real life situations.
Do you recommend any supplements?
We believe that food should be the primary source of nutrients and eating a balanced diet is the most effective way to get the nutrients your body needs! However, as an additional boost (and what we like to call an “insurance policy”), a whole foods-based daily multivitamin will assist in providing you with vitamins and minerals needed for beautiful, radiant skin. Combine a multivitamin with drinking plenty of water everyday and making healthy dietary choices. Taking a biotin supplement can be very helpful for anyone suffering from hair loss or nail damage and breakage as well.
Are there any other foods you recommend eliminating at all costs for someone trying to optimize their skin, hair and nail health?
We believe that what is best for your body is best for your skin, hair and nails! We recommend limiting intake of the following:
* high-sodium foods such as processed foods, soups, frozen foods and canned sauces
* artificial colors, dyes and sweeteners
* trans fats
* added sugars: high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose
* refined grains: yeast breads, pizza, tortillas, white pasta, white rice, potato chips, crackers, cakes, cookies, donuts
* fruit juices, sweetened beverages, soda
Do you have any tips on how to properly do an elimination diet for people trying to figure out what are triggers for breakouts etc?
Keep a food journal and record your daily dietary intake as well as the symptoms you are having related to your hair, skin and nails. For example, write down when you have an acne breakout, location on your body, if you are losing your hair or experiencing breakage, as well as nail breakage. Attempt to make a connection between the food trigger and the skin-related symptom over a period of time. Eliminate any identified, suspected or potential triggers for your body, not your friend’s body or what you hear someone else is eliminating.