Skin Care is NOT Skin Deep

Skin Care is NOT Skin Deep

I often discuss topical care of our skin but skin health definitely goes deeper than that. No matter how awesome the skin care products are, we still have to clean up from the inside out.

Eating whole foods, sleeping enough, and maintaining stress levels all contribute to healthy skin.

Kitty Sleeping

I know that when I deviate from my typical food choices (like when I eat cake!), I break out. It is interesting and sad to watch this trend but it is also very important (and a little fun) for us to pay attention to how our bodies respond to the foods we eat.

So, where to start? It was quite a journey for us to figure out what foods our bodies can tolerate. At first, to alleviate some stomach issues, we did a strict elimination diet, so our diet consisted of only protein and fat (meat), and some veggies. This definitely helped us slim up and eliminated Chris’s stomach pains. BUT, we were so bored with eating nearly the same thing day in and day out.

We did the research to figure out what else we could introduce into our diet that would continue to keep us feeling well, but which would also make meals more fun and delicious. We settled on a whole foods diet, very similar to the Paleo diet. We started eating all kinds of meats, vegetables, healthy fats, some nuts and fruits, healthy beverages, and “super foods”. We also decided to continue to avoid dairy, legumes, and grains (except white rice, which I will explain) since we knew that those things irritated us. Now, we are able to enjoy gratifying granola and gut-friendly pumpkin pie (in moderation)!

Here are some of the most commonly confusing topics that I have come across while working out a way to live a healthy, whole foods-based, way of life:

Our skin, the largest organ in our body, is made up of several different compounds, one very important one being protein. Collagen, elastin, and keratin are skin proteins that keep the skin firm and smooth. We need to provide our bodies with an adequate amount of healthy proteins to keep our skin cells strong. Animals that are humanely-raised, pastured, and grass-fed provide us with some of the best bio-available proteins. The animals concentrate the nutritional value of the food they eat and pass that concentrated nutrition to us. Pastured animals get vitamins and minerals from the sun, grass, bugs, and ground organisms that factory-farmed animals are lacking.

Eggs from humanely-raised chickens at Mellifera Homestead

The cells that make up our bodies contain lipids. Lipids are fats and cholesterol. Our bodies need healthy fats and cholesterol to thrive, and avoiding healthy fats and cholesterol can lead to weak skin cells. Some of these necessary lipids are synthesized by our bodies but others must be obtained through diet.

I know it seems crazy but whole grains are not a whole food. The media is constantly pushing whole grains as a healthy part of our diet but they are generally highly processed and have inflammatory properties. They contain anti-nutrients and are difficult to digest (which is a seed’s way of protecting itself). Also, the products made from whole grains typically include other processed ingredients and fillers.

Soy is a tricky ingredient because it is mass-produced and is in almost everything. It is pretty important to avoid though. Like grains, soy also contains those pesky anti-nutrients. On top of that, soy contains phytoestrogens which contribute to hormonal imbalances and which can lead to poor skin health.

White rice is almost too delicious to avoid. This is actually a little bit of the truth as to why we kept it in our diet. We really just did not want to give it up so we tried it out (a number of times) and it did not bother us so we kept it. An important part of our diet is the ability to make conscious decisions about what works for us, not adhering to a diet dogma.

We don’t eat rice every day and generally try to include it only after working out. Even though white rice is a grain, it does not contain anti-nutrients which are the gut irritants we are trying to avoid. Brown rice (with the protective shell), does contain anti-nutrients. But white rice is pretty much solely starch and not nutrient dense, so it should not be your main carbohydrate source.

A typical dinner

Like I said, it was not easy at first. If you’re interested in cleaning up your diet to give you more energy, clear up your skin, and just for overall health, here are some tips that helped us transition to and stick with a whole foods diet:

  1. Slow down and really pay attention to how your body reacts to what you eat (maybe even keep a food log)
  2. Eat nutrient-dense, whole foods
  3. Eat pastured animals
  4. Eat sustainable and trustworthy seafood (I know this is difficult in our area, just do your best)
  5. Eat local, in-season vegetables and fruits
  6. Eat healthy, high-quality fats
  7. Incorporate “super foods” like bone broth, fermented vegetables and tea (kombucha), and organ meats
  8. Drink water
  9. Sleep long and well
  10. Avoid manufactured “foods”, refined grains, and processed oils

Food is a big part of everyone’s everyday life and I have been wanting to write this post for some time now. Our food journey has been quite an intense but thoroughly rewarding one and I really want to help make your food journey go a little smoother.

I would love to hear about anything that you have learned on your journey. We are always willing to try new things and learn about how other people achieve health in their lives.

For more information on health and skin care, consider reading the Skintervention Guide by Liz Wolfe and Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

Note: This post is based on personal experience. I am not a doctor or health care professional. Please consider starting your food journey by doing research and talking to a health care provider (especially if you have specific health issues). But also remember that we started our journey when the “common path” wasn’t working for us.

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