A lot of people ask me about what they can eat to help their skin or tips to look younger. We spend so much time, energy and money on what we put onto our skin, let’s talk about what feeds beautiful healthy skin from the inside out. It all starts with what we put into our bodies. If you want healthy, glowing skin, the biggest thing you can do is eat healthy whole foods and avoid inflammatory foods.
1. What are inflammatory foods?
In general the following list of foods are considered inflammatory: processed foods, alcohol, sugar, conventionally raised red meat, nightshade vegetables, citrus, gluten containing foods, and dairy.
2. I do not have an inflammatory condition, do I have to avoid these foods?
No, these foods can worsen or aggravate a pre-existing condition. However, there are some foods in this list that are generally better for everyone to limit or avoid completely. These are mainly sugar, alcohol and processed food.
3. Recognize that not all food is the same. And not all food is “actually food”.
In his book, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollen talks about ‘Food like substances’. He talks about the over-processing of foods, food science and genetic modification of food. Today, foods are processed in ways specifically designed to sell us more food by pushing our evolutionary buttons – meaning these processed foods tease our inborn preferences for sweetness and fat and salt. These qualities are cheap and easy to make and are what make processed food so attractive and addictive. Food is engineered to last several months on grocery store shelves without rotting, to withstand draught, to resist certain bugs etc.
The problem is that these ‘foods’ contain less water, fiber, micronutrients – such as vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, but generally contain more sugar, fat and sodium. The long and the short of it is that these foods make us sick – literally. These foods can cause inflammation in the body.
4. So what do we eat?
I love the advice that Micheal Pollan gives in his book:
Eat food, Not too much, Mainly plants.
Eat food: Have you heard the advice “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”? I highly doubt your great grandmother ate yogurt from a tube or knew what a microwave dinner was… Am I right?
When I say eat food, I’m talking about eating fruits and vegetables, whole non-GMO grains, lentil, beans, nuts and seeds and animal protein. Think the periphery of your grocery store. No processed foods. If it comes in a box with a laundry list of ingredients, its best to avoid it.
5. What about Vegan diets or Paleo diets?
As a naturopathic doctor I have seen patients thrive and heal disease on a vegan diet. I have also seen patients thrive and heal on a paleo diet. Paleo, vegan, diary-free, gluten-free, etc, its not about which diet is right and which one is wrong. The point that a lot of people miss is this: Its about what is right for you.
Remember, “One man’s food is another man’s poison.” What works for someone else, might not be whats right for you.
Eat REAL FOOD and recognize that that ‘food like substances’ wreak havoc on our bodies. Whether or not to eat grains or no grains, meat or no meat etc is not really the point. Eat real food, period. When it comes to which food, that’s where your ND can help you out.
As a naturopathic doctor I help my patients make positive change in their lives by increasing their consumption of foods that increase their healing potential. I also help them, whether through testing or elimination diet, identify which foods are inflammation triggers. This is very individualized. Its not a one size fits all scenario.
So the take home message is this:
To avoid inflammation, to get beautiful glowing skin, to create or maintain long lasting vital health & prevent disease….
Eat real food.
Whole, non GMO, non processed food that will heal your body. What exactly those foods are is determined by what works for you & your body. Pay close attention to what foods make you feel good & what foods do not. Do you thrive eating meat? Do you thrive eating a vegan diet? Do you have intestinal issues? Suffer from chronic illness such as an autoimmune disorder? Thyroid disease? Celiac? Do you have skin issues? Psoriasis, Eczema, Rosacea, Acne?
It could be that there are foods that will help and those that will hinder your healing. Whether or not avoiding these is something you should do is something your ND can help you with. I work with my patients to develop a plan based on their individual needs and disease presentation.
We live in a time where we are more diet obsessed than ever. We have become inundated with information that often overcomplicates things. Let’s focus on healing our bodies with whole, natural and healing foods, and nourish ourselves the way nature intended.
It’s not about villainizing one food or food group over another, but rather about seeing the whole picture & how it’s come to be that certain foods and food like substances can harm or hinder.
So take care with not only what you are putting onto your skin, but also what you are feeding it from the inside out.