There are various topical treatments for skin conditions such as acne and eczema. However, healthy skin starts from within. That's why it's vital to monitor your diet and the health of your gut.
Could a healthy, low carb diet help you achieve healthy skin?
The chocolate myth
You've probably heard that chocolate can contribute to breakouts. This isn't entirely true, though. Those people who get breakouts after eating chocolate are probably reacting to the high amounts of sugar in most processed chocolate snacks. And this is often consistent with the typical Western high glycemic diet.
That's why native, non-Westernized societies have significantly lower incidences of acne than the United States.
High carb diets and acne
Most dietary advice has vilified fat, thus most people have turned to carbs. For instance, instead of eggs for breakfast, they eat cereal and bagels. Processed juice, sugary creamers, and syrups are now a breakfast staple.
Unfortunately, these high carb foods and beverages raise your blood glucose levels. Your body responds by producing more insulin.
Research shows that insulin can increase the production of sebum and encourage the synthesis of sex hormones (testosterone). These two factors contribute to the formation of acne.
Low glycemic diets, however, successfully lessen inflammation and the size of sebaceous glands in those with acne.
The link between sugar and aging
Saggy skin and wrinkles occur due to a reduction in collagen production and damage to your existing collagen. High blood sugar initiates the glycation process that reduces your skin's elasticity and negatively impacts the integrity of your collagen.
Also, sugar and high carb processed foods carry free radicals that damage tissues, including your collagen and skin.
The connection between the gut & skin
Your gut lining allows digested nutrients to enter the bloodstream for circulation. It also keeps out large undigested food molecules and pathogens.
But when the integrity of this lining is compromised, you suffer from leaky gut. Unwanted substances end up in your bloodstream.
Eventually, this causes systemic inflammation. That's why many skin conditions are often an indication of a sick gut.
The health of your gut's microbiome also plays a significant role in skin health. Research shows that an unhealthy microbiome increases the production and secretion of substance P, a protein associated with skin inflammation.
These are some of the many reasons why it's essential to nourish your gut with low carb foods, such as bone broth, collagen, and fermented vegetables.
- Grains. All grains can be inflammatory, even whole grains. However, as Safe + Fair explain, grains with gluten (wheat, rye, barley) increase the production of the protein zonulin. Zonulin contributes to intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
- Dairy. Dairy (especially low-fat or skim milk) contains lots of carbohydrates in the form of lactose. Also, milk naturally contains growth hormones that upset the balance of your skin. Factory farming also uses artificial hormones and antibiotics.
- Sugar. This culprit raises your blood sugar and insulin. It also feeds the harmful bacteria in your gut, making them flourish.
A healthy, low carb alternative
Going the low carb route is a great start, but it's essential to choose healthy low carb foods. For example, "diet" or "zero sugar" junk foods don't benefit your health at all. Manufacturers use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar, which is just as detrimental for your metabolism and gut bacteria.
Instead, go for fresh, whole foods like:
- Vegetables in various colors
- Clean proteins (grass-fed/pasture-raised meats and poultry, wild fish)
- Low glycemic fruits
- Flavorful herbs and spices
- Healthy fats (coconut, olive, avocado)
Eating a healthy low carb diet also requires eliminating the foods that damage your gut lining. It also includes more antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods.
Salmon is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, while vegetables contain potent phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and neutralize free radicals.
Chocolate also has antioxidants, but only minimally processed dark chocolate varieties.
Most people embark on a low carb diet to lose weight. However, it has additional benefits like promoting beautiful, radiant skin.
If you're already on such a diet and but your skin still isn't responding well, check the quality of the low carb foods you're eating. Also, examine your gut health.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team