Using Food to Help your Skin
Lately, a new food fad pops up almost every other week - juicing, smoothies, raw food, gluten-free, dairy-free, oh my! It’s so easy to get swept away by the fantastical promises these diets claim (Clear skin! Weight loss! Shiny hair!), but do any of them have any real evidence that they do anything?
Doctors are generally wary of the word ‘detox’ - many maintain that it is a word made up by advertisers to sell a product. Furthermore, many dispute the idea of ‘toxins’ in the body that need to be ‘flushed out’ through a certain diet or behavior, like colon cleansing. The body is an amazing machine that ‘detoxes’ itself every day, constantly fighting bacteria, cleansing organs, excreting waste, and more.
That being said, every single body is different and what might work for one may not work for another. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the best diet is for your body because we can’t just open it up and see if everything is working properly. It is possible, however, to see if there are any foods that cause your skin to flare up, since it’s the one organ we see all the time. Identifying sensitivities to food is not easy - it takes time and patience - but many people have found that there are foods that cause flare ups in their skin and by identifying those, they have been able to keep those flare-ups at bay.
There are countless articles and studies claiming the various perspectives on how gluten and dairy affect skin, and they’re worth a read if you think you might be sensitive. The trouble is, these problems are difficult to diagnose. The only way to truly see if a specific food triggers an inflammatory reaction is to abstain from eating it for a significant amount of time. The way to do this is to be as scientific as possible, keeping a journal of foods eaten and documenting your skins’ reaction. Of course, there are millions of outside factors that are impossible to control, such as PMS, sweating at the gym, stress, etc., but by sticking to an elimination diet for at least one month, you may see some correlations between certain foods and your skin. I’ve found that I break out more often when I eat dairy, so I’ve switched to almond milk and try to stay away from cheese (to my great despair). This doesn’t mean I’ll never eat dairy again, but knowing what triggers my skin to react is extremely helpful when I have a big event coming up or something similar.
What it all comes down to is what works for you. This means being mindful of your behaviors and aware of changes in your body and skin. It also means being patient when you don’t notice anything. Resist the urge to compare yourself to others, and make sure to take every end-all, be-all solution with a grain of salt. We’re all different, and that’s what makes life great.