Due to a growing number of specific questions and concerns that our clients come to us with, it is clear that the time has come to revisit Diet for Incredibly Good Skin. These ideas are great for most people, though they may not suit your specific dietary needs. To find a skin care professional who can work with you to determine your needs and help you meet your goals, book an appointment with one of our specialists. All our facials include holistic advice or a full consultation may be booked as a stand alone service.
Diet for Incredibly Good Skin Principles
Incredibly Good Skin has three basic needs that, when met, allow it to function beautifully:
- An ample amount of both water and abundant fats.
- Good cellular communication (improving digestion allows the body to get more micro-nutrients and minerals while limiting “confusing substances”). The skin cells need minerals to “talk” to each other.
- A suitable defensive line which consists of both the proper building blocks (Vitamins, Amino Acids and Fats), and a healthy personal biome.
First of all, do the best you can, wherever you are, with what you have.
Eat: 3-4 meals per day with 3.5-4.5 hours between them. Each meal should include:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Whole, undamaged, “abundant” fats—especially saturated fats and omega 3’s
- Easily digestible carbohydrates & resistant starches
- Protein in an amount that feels good to your body
- Smaller amounts of “alive” fermented foods and fresh foods with intact enzymes.
- And the fun stuff (the REAL DEAL, not the fake version).
Limit: Snacking all day long to get off The Metabolic Rollercoaster
- Fake sugars and sugar substitutes
- Vegetable oil/trans fats
- Preservatives, dyes
- Juicing, smoothies, powders, bars (Most of these are not REAL Food)
Buy seasonal, organic, and local produce when possible. Get the best you can find/afford and fill up half of your plate (or more) with them. In the winter (or year ‘round if you tend towards inflammation) the majority should be steamed, roasted, or sautéd.
- Add some type of acid (ACV, balsamic, citrus juice, etc) during the cooking process to break apart the cell walls to and release minerals while improving taste.
- Eat your vegetables with abundant fats (butter!) or with sauce or in a stew to improve the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Pickled (lacto or wild fermented) vegetables are a great way to improve your personal biome. Start slow and remember that they are condiments! A few forkfuls will go a long way.
Enjoy the enzymes from fresh raw greens and sprouts in an amount that is appropriate for you and the season. If you are experiencing inflammation, this may be a lot less than you think it should be. Mushrooms and cruciferous vegetables should not be consumed raw.
Fresh and dried fruit (rehydrated if you are prone to dehydration) are delicious ways to keep the body running smoothly. Though you may have heard that fruit should be eaten by itself, that may be too cleansing for those who are already depleted (which shows up in the appearance of the skin!) and we suggest eating fruit as a part of a meal that also includes the other basic necessities: Fat, Protein, Nutrients, Minerals and Starches.
If nature gives it to us in abundance, eat it in abundance.
If you are an omnivore, cook in real animal fats (tallow, lard, duck) and butter or clarified butter (ghee). If you avoid animal products, use fruit oils such as coconut, olive or avocado. Nut and seed oils are best used as finishing oils and dressings. Think about how many of the seeds or nuts you would need to consume to get that much oil. Vegetable oils such as canola, safflour and corn are better off avoided.
Use quality olive oil to make finishing sauces and dressings and don’t be afraid of saturated fat and cholesterol for cooking. The skin NEEDS these valuable lipids to be healthy and properly functioning. Avoid hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated anything. Fake fats and damaged fats lead to damaged skin.
There once was a time that we saw no reason to consume these except for enjoyment, though there was no reason to avoid them except if you had a sensitivity. But after years of working with clients who went gluten/grain free and felt better (less inflammation) only to find that things got worse later on and they were on a treadmill of removing more and more items from the list of foods they could eat–I now see a reason. Though many grain products are junky baked goods and filled with all kinds of fillers and chemicals that do not contribute to health, carbohydrates (especially the starchy ones) are used by the body for energy and feed the biome so that it may flourish. When soaked, sprouted or soured, (or even cooked with fat and left to cool) these grains are much more digestible, the nutrients more readily assimilated, and the exposure to them is less likely to create an inflammatory response. If your body has an overactive inflammatory response to grains, there is hope! See “inflammation” below.
Get some but don’t go crazy. Eat the amount that feels good to your body. It is more important to get quality meat (including the fat and the bone broth that comes with it) than to get specific amounts “lean protein”. Protein powders and bars and supplements are fake foods. Fake foods lead to bumpy skin when the body has trouble processing it.
Avoid fake sugar and limit refined sugars. Too much refined sugar usually shows up as little red bumps on the cheeks (sometimes forehead, too) or a general redness across the middle of the face. It’s also known for glycation (creating wrinkles) and harming capillaries. Take a break from the sweet white stuff and find a lovely sweetness in the fruits you eat as well as the super sweet honey or maple syrup. Your skin will thank you.
Seek Hormonal (Metabolic) Harmony to reduce the frequency of welty, itchy, underground stress bumps.
First, get off the Metabolic Rollercoaster.
- Eat three complete meals a day with ample time for digestion and metabolic function between them. Be sure that each meals contains enough fat to keep the body fueled up. Fat burns long and slow like a candle–sugar is a quick spark.
- If you experience symptoms of fatigue and low blood sugar, take it slow (6 meals, 5 meals, 4 meals…) and add more fat to each meal.
- If you are getting welty bumps along the chin line or by the sides of the ear, do not take any oil-based supplements (fish oil, flax seed, evening primrose).
- Utilize our Stress Bump Tea to focus on improving your body’s elimination of unused hormones. (Remember the body has four main pathways of elimination, if it doesn’t come out in feces, urine or breath, it will come out through the skin.) Choose Chin, Cheeks, or Forehead or see one of our specialists to determine a good one for you.
Set Some Loving Limitations (especially when you are experiencing hormonal stress bumps)
- Avoid Plastics (for carrying foods and purchasing drinks) and contact with with phthalates. (perfumes, plasticized clothing,receipts).
- Avoid added hormones in your food. Buy organic (or at least rBST free) dairy products and meat.
- Limit false estrogens, mainly soy which may also be in soya/vegetable oil, TVP, soybean flour, or soy milk. Fermented (no salt added) soy sauce is on the YES list and great for health.
Hydration & Lubrication
When you are internally dehydrated the body will take water from your skin to assist other organs, but even when you “over-hydrate” the body does not return the favor to the skin!
- Proper lubrication and hydration keep the body running smoothly and the skin soft and supple. A great way to achieve this is to get ample amounts of water as well as stable, abundant fats to assimilate it and electrolytes (minerals) to utilyze it. (Similar to what we recommend in our topical skincare using Nourish & Replenish Oil with one of our Mineral Mists)
- Be reasonable. Too much water may deplete the body’s mineral supply.
- Drink 1 cup of water ½ hour before meals in order to hydrate the stomach lining and promote ease of digestion.
Inflammation and Reactivity
Inflammation and overactive histamine response can be reduced by improving poor digestion and increasing minerals assimilation.
- If you have had digestive issues in the past, you have some healing to do before you reach incredibly good skin. Work closely with one of our holistic practitioners to help heal your inner skin and encourage your body to assimilate the nutrients that you are eating.
- This may include some herbal teas (especially our Inner Strength Tea) and homemade gummies, a bitters tincture, the addition of fermented foods—sauerkraut or kvass or something from your own (ahem) culture and taste.
The Skin's Defensive Line
To dramatically decrease topical infections (pus bumps, pimples, demodex) you must strengthen the defensive line.
- Good structural integrity is built on good nutrition. Getting a variety of foods will help to ensure that the body gets the building blocks it needs to create healthy, beautiful skin.
- Taking care to keep “building” and “cleansing” in sensible proportions prevents dis-eases of excess and deficiency. The skin thrives on consistency, but responds well to small amounts of “stress” (cleansing foods, anti-oxidants) in a positive way.
The body’s defensive line is made up of both the structural integrity of the tissues as well as the biome (the microorganisms that inhabit the outside skin as well as every little nook and cranny of the digestive system).
To keep your unique microbiome flourishing it takes:
- The microorganisms (probiotics such as those found in fermented foods)
- Something to feed the microorganisms (Such as resistant starches)
- “Managers” such as potent herbs that keep the bad guys in check (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme).
You can read more about taking care of your microbiome below or sign up for one of our workshops or book an appointment with one of our specialists.
In addition to well-nourished cells in a well functioning body, incredibly good skin requires a good home care regimen.
Between You & The Moon, our unique topical skin care line is designed to work WITH the body allowing your skin to function as a healthy organ. (you can find that in our SHOP)
When the skin is supported topically (not controlled or suppressed as many topical preparations do) and it’s basic needs are being met, it functions beautifully and can only be described as incredibly good.
We respect those who forgo animal sources and lead a vegan (or mostly vegan) existence, and in addition, we have a lot of experience in helping those who are experiencing skin dysfunction due to dietary deficiencies. In some cases, it is possible to continue with an animal-free diet and improve certain symptoms, but you have to be super-conscious in order to avoid some of the mistakes that lead to finding yourself in a situation where your skin cannot rebuild or defend itself well.
Be Aware Of
- Over-consumption of omega 6
- Too much sugar
- An unhealthy gut due to too much yeast and improperly processed grains
- Not soaking and sprouting or fermenting your beans and grains
- Too many false estrogens or a lack of mineral absorption.
- Restrictive diets are cleansing to the body and can lead to depletion–especially if you are “breaking down” more than you are “building up”.
Avoiding certain things does not mean that you are getting the nutrition that you need from your food to make healthy skin.
If you are experiencing high amounts of topical inflammation or areas of painful welts with infection, inflammation and a lot of dark blood (sorry for the graphic description!), there is a good chance you need to work with someone to help you figure out how to get your needs met within your restrictions.
Food Allergies and Autoimmune Responses
Dear eggplant, it’s not you—it’s me. Sometimes there is a food that our bodies don’t get along with. We eat it and our own immune system turns on us resulting in skin irritations and inflammation. The last place to go to (after increasing cellular communication and attending to the defensive line) is an elimination diet that removes common aggressors and gradually brings those foods back into the diet so that we can determine if there is a need for avoiding them.
I urge you to work with a specialist regarding your diet if you are suffering from skin imbalances—especially one where it seems like your skin in constantly irritated, not able to defend itself or is having difficulty healing.
The original article, Diet for Incredibly Good Skin by Emma Graves, was written in 2008 and distributed to clients and posted on ThePimpleWhisperer website. We moved it to The Brooklyn Herborium blog in 2012.