Food, Your Skin and Acne – Dermatologists Continue To Deny The Connection

When I was 21 I became interested in nutrition. My first book was How To Live Longer And Feel Better by renowned scientist Linus Pauling, PhD. Dr. Pauling was a big advocate of mega-dosing vitamin-C. He was criticized far and wide but Linus eventually became famous for outliving all of his critics. By that time had been a couple year out of my teenage years. If you remember your teenage years as I do, beyond sport, school, lots of tests, there was acne and visits to the dermatologist.

I remember the dermatologist saying to me on several occasions that what you eat has nothing to do with your acne. For some reason, I didn’t believe him. To me, it didn’t make sense. But, what the heck did I know-I’m just a kid. Well, about 6 years ago I heard another dermatologist speaking in front of a crowd of interested business men and women. The dermatologist rattled off a lift of foods stating “what of the following foods and your skin have in common? Pizza, chocolate cake, cookies – NOTHING!” The dermatologist said nothing? The answer astonished me. The difference now is I was no longer an uneducated teenager but had a doctorate, had been in practice many years and an avid reader and lecture attendee in the area of nutrition. Here it was 20-something years later and dermatologists as a whole still think there’s no correlation between acne, your skin and the foods we eat.

Most people don’t realize it but your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s the barrier between our insides and the outside world. People eat some bad food and get indigestion, diarrhea or constipation. People eat too many refined carbohydrates, sugar and trans fats and it clogs up your arteries and raises your blood pressure and leads to heart attacks and strokes. Eating some foods causes your insulin to spike, while some foods cause people to have allergic reaction. Consuming caffeine causes your brain to become more alert. But for some reason the food you eat doesn’t have any affect on your skin. Really? Does this make sense to anyone else out there or am I crazy?

When I do nutrition talks to groups and in discussing it with patients, I classify the foods we eat into two main classifications (1) Pro-inflammatory (2) Anti-inflammatory. What are anti-inflammatory foods? Well, we can start with things like Chocolate cake, pizza and french fries (sorry citizens of the world, but it’s true). Foods that stray too far from our evolutionary eating promote cellular inflammation. But let’s go beyond that.

Think about this for a moment… When you drink your Starbucks coffee, eat pizza or a Snicker’s bar, the nutrients and chemicals from those get absorbed into your body and used to make your new cells as the old ones die off. So the food you eat becomes the body you have. It’s a 90-120 day process for the turnover over blood cells, 2 years from this very day all of the cells in your body will have died and replaced with newer versions. What do you want your new cells, your new tissues, your new body to be made out of?

The Food You Eat Becomes Your Body

The Food You Eat Becomes Your Body, Yes, Including The Skin, including your heart, including your brain, including your blood, liver, kidney, spleen, eyes, muscles, tendons and bones. The question is, do you want your body made out of McDonald’s, Pizza or Coke and Pepsi? Or Broccoli, kale, blueberries, avocados and wild salmon?

Then there’s the case of how the sugar, refined flours and other chemicals affect your hormones. But we’ll leave that for a much more technical post.

See where I’m going? There’s no way of escaping it. Food matters to every cell in your body.

The food you eat are the biochemical constituents that become your body. If you want a healthy brain, eat healthful food. If you want a healthy heart, eat healthful food, want healthier skin, eat healthful food and so on.

Is it always as simple as this? Generally yes, but there are some people that have specific health issues that may be beyond something as simple as changing your diet to eat more healthfully. But there isn’t any health condition that eating more healthfully won’t benefit. So, it’s always a great place to start. Even while simultaneously seeking professional help.

But, to categorically deny that the very foods you eat whose biochemical constituents become the organs, cells and tissues of your body has absolutely no affect on the health of your skin is just silly. At the very least, eating an anti-inflammatory diet is certainly THE FIRST place to start. Let’s take this one step further, go to your dermatologist to make sure your skin disorder isn’t something more serious. But I hope you realize that diet does play a role in the health of your entire body, skin included.

Try eating healthfully for 4 months and see what happens. Just a thought. 

Below are some references from The Dietary Cure For Acne (2006) by Loren Cordain, PhD.

’nuff said.

Dr. Todd Narson
Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians

References:

  1. Cordain L, Lindeberg S, Hurtado M, Hill K, Eaton SB, Brand-Miller J. Acne vulgaris: A disease of western civilization. Arch Dermatol 2002; 138:1584-90.
  2. Cordain L, Eades MR, Eades MD. Hyperinsulinemic diseases of civilization: more than just Syndrome X. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2003 Sep;136(1):95-112.
  3. Cordain L. Implications for the role of diet in acne. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2005 Jun;24(2):84-91.
  4. Cordain L. Dietary implications for the development of acne: a shifting paradigm. In: U.S. Dermatology Review II 2006, (Ed.,Bedlow, J). Touch Briefings Publications, London , 2006

Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.

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