changing diet to help skin

by Lori and Michelle on January 17, 2012

hello friends

our skin care series continues…in case you missed any topics -

today we are just highlighting a few dietary changes and points that we focus on when dealing with our acne.

through all the research and personal experience from striving to reach that optimal level of health we have learned quite a bit. some things we have done and seen it work. as other things we have tried and never saw any benefits. so even with us it is all about trial and error.

we eat a fairly clean diet. and we still struggle with breakouts so we decided to investigate further. we have taken all the big culprits out of our diet, we have done cleanses, we have had series of colonics done before. pretty much everything people mention for us to try, we have tried. and we still stand here today trying to understand our skin. and for those critics out there that claim we stress, or are obsessed or do too many cleanses, well all we can say is look at this post, and then come back here and say what you want to say. trust us, we do not like always thinking about what could cause our skin breakouts. but this is our life. this is our battle. and we feel it is worth figuring out the cause of our acne and healing it for good.  and show that anyone can get beautiful skin!

okay vent over

things that we pay attention to that could be factors of our skin issues:

  • Hormones (here is more info on our hormone testing)
  • Sleep
  • Unbalanced EFAs, need to balance omegas 3-6-9,  (read our thoughts here)
  • Exercise
  • Inflammation
  • Androgen hormonal – causes oil surplus, which can lead to pimples
  • Diet – sugar, cooked oil, grains, protein, etc.
  • Weak Liver/toxins
  • Poor digestion/elimination

 today we are going to focus on diet related issues.

source

we believe what you eat does matter and can lead to clear skin.

with everything in life we recommend starting small because too much can also be harmful. and talk with your doctor before making any major changes.

now for other general health/food/diet topics. we are just going to quickly cover them. as they are big topics in of themselves.

remember, you need to find what is causing your acne.  below are just some ideas of what could be causing acne.

 Cooked vs Raw Food

this is a big topic! when we first started this blog over two years ago, we were 100% raw vegans. we came to this way of eating due to our health issues and wanted to get clear glowing skin that we read about. plus many say that alkalizing foods can improve skin, which yes this can make a difference, how much will vary in each person.  raw foods for us helped but did not make our acne go away like we thought.

although with that being said cooked foods cause skin issues for us as well. we notice cooked foods prepared in certain ways can cause inflammation in us.

one reason we enjoy both worlds, think it is good balance for us.

Grains -

we are talking all grains here, even gluten free grains. remember we mentioned healthy foods may not be healthy for you. a hard thing for us sometimes to acknowledge not all foods are healthy for us, even though there are tons of claims out there saying you should be eating this because of x,y, and z. now we are not here proclaiming you should go grain free or anything.  we just noticed our digestion is better with little to no grains, therefore our skin better.

Sugar

how many times have we talked about sugar on our blog. haha. we have done cleanses. battled candida. and played around with our fat intake to help with sugar cravings. did it all help? yes and no. we do feel overall watching our sugar intake is important to overall health, not just for skin. how much sugar can one handle? well that is personal and something everyone will have to figure out on their own. we do feel having a very low sugar diet has helped our skin. this is still hard for us as we love our sweets.

Nuts/seeds/legumes

everyone is pretty aware that certain foods are harder to digest than others, well nuts/seeds/legumes can fall into that category. remember with everything we are mentioning here not everyone will be affected by these. we do notice when we have too many nuts/seeds/legumes intake, our skin shows some signs in forms of breakouts and how we overall feel. so we have learned moderation, again how much will vary per person.

and a reader has mentioned to us Loren Cordain controversy on chia seeds. we are not sure about this, something new to us. still need to look into it more. anyone else have any thoughts on this chia seed controversy?

Digestion

everyone claims if you have bad digestion, have a hard time digesting food, do not eliminate properly then you get acne or have poor skin. well yes and no. there are periods when both of us feel we do great in the bathroom, and still get breakouts.

we do feel poor digestion can cause toxins to build up, so can show on the skin.  currently we have been trying to focus on our liver. healing it so we can detox better because we feel when our liver is healthy our skin is healthy.

Supplements

yes taking supplements can help acne. does it cure it? we do not think so, but still a good idea to find what nutrient you may be low in, as it could help other issues too. we currently take digestive enzymes, probiotics, omega oil, zinc, vitamin D, and green superfood powders (like spirulina). we try our best to take them everyday and lately when we have been doing a great job with keeping up with them we have seen great improvements in skin!

Dairy

do not eat dairy we all know this and yes we know for some people that eating no dairy has helped clear up skin. for us it helped some.  again it did not ‘cure’ our acne. we continued to get it even without having any dairy. we have come to realize that we do okay with goat and non-dairy coconut based yogurts just cannot overdo it. we are learning to rotate things better.

Oils

we do take Udo omega oil and love it! and just started taking cod liver oil which we are excited to try because we have heard great things. we do notice having oils in the raw form, not cooked, we get the best skin results! having cooked oils are something we have noticed for months now, just did not what to admit it as you all know we love our socca (to be honest we rarely have it anymore) and we love to bake, that could be causing our breakouts! therefore we are starting to stop having any cooked oils and see how are skin does.

Food testing

being allergic to foods can cause acne not just hives, breathing problems, etc. one reason we did the diet wise elimination diet. we are still unsure if we have hidden food allergies or not that are causing our skin issues. we are looking into more allergy testing but they are expensive so just not sure.

so what to do?

track you own food. get tested for food allergies (a few of our readers have had success with this) although remember test are not always accurate. having a food journal can be beneficial and seeing how foods react with your skin.  we have tried this and did good for a few days just lost track with it. in a perfect world, if we had no distractions, no temptations, yes maybe we could really find the culprit.

learn about your body. do not be afraid to make mistakes. break rules. find what works for you.  and just you. you can’t always base it off what someone else is doing. try tackling one of the issues we discussed above and see if you get results. keep trying. keep learning. and stay positive!!!

as you can see there are a ton of reasons for acne. the hardest part we feel is finding the main underlying cause of acne. and we still have other non food areas to cover they can effect the skin. crazy. it sucks that so much has to be looked at but the whole body works together, so taking the time to took at it all will help.

we are starting to put all the pieces together for us, hopefully get the answers we need to heal.

again we appreciate all your support, kind words, and advice. we know we are not the only ones who struggle with poor skin and hopefully these posts are helping those individuals out!

and for our readers that do not have skin issues, thank you for putting up these posts. promise we got a great recipe coming tomorrow!

please if you have anything you would like to add or mention, please leave a chime in below as we love hearing from our readers.

till next time,

L &M

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Ami@dashofcurry.com January 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thank you so much for sharing all you have learned about diet and how it may relate to one’s skin. You all have obviously done so much research and spent a lot of time investigating– you are doing such a service to people in similar situations, or just for those who want to adjust their diets in order to treat certain conditions. Thank you!
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Lori and Michelle January 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Thank you Ami!

The Delicate Place January 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm

i noticed when i eliminated all grains that my skin cleared but i got diagnosed with celiac so that was an inflammatory discovery in 2010 that i was unaware i had until then. no wonder i struggled with digestive issues growing up—my mom made us live on bread, pasta & cheese basically lol.
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Lori and Michelle January 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Melissa same here haha
we wish our acne was cleared when we ate more gluten free but not so luckily.

katie @KatieDid January 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I’ve enjoyed reading these posts and struggle with a bit of skin issues myself. Nothing like it used to be thanks to eliminating gluten and most sugars but there is room for improvement. Started vitamin D and fish oil today in fact, and will dabble into cod liver oil as well. It’s all a journey!

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Lori and Michelle January 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm

thanks Katie, yes it is a journey! we are on our 3rd day with cod liver oil, so far so good ;)

Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance January 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thank you girls for taking the time to do this! I was especially interested with the sugar, I’ve heard horror stories about how eating sugar has killed people’s skin, but really I think that everyone is different. My sugar intake sounds a lot like yours though– very low!
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Lori and Michelle January 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm

thanks Brittany! and yes that damn sugar always messing things up haha

Lindsay @ Fuel My Family January 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I didn’t realize how much your eating impacts your skin. So maybe the way teenagers eat is more of a factor than they know! I know I definitely had my share of doritos back then and had quite a few pimples! But like you said, I think its probably a combinatin of of a bunch of factors.

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Chelsea January 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I’ve been getting your newsletters in my inbox for a while. I was on Sweetly Raw and noticed you guys commented on Heather’s “Paleo meets Raw Vegan” post…and was SO excited to see your names! :) I’ve also battled with extremely bad acne since I was 11 (21 now), and it wasn’t until last year when I found out about my complete gluten intolerance (and also to grains) that my skin started clearing up, and practically over night! I had to laugh out loud because all of the crazy amounts of money that has been spent skin treatments, dermatologist visits, all those potions and lotions…and my diet was the biggest of triggers! (I though I was was doing it so well: vegetarian, macrobiotic, vegan, raw vegan…etc.) I know these lifestyles work for many people, just not for me and my body, and I’m so happy to have (finally!) discovered one that does. Now, my skin is not 100% perfect, but compared to what it was I feel and look 10x better. I wish that my new lifestyle (paleo/raw) would miraculously fix my self-esteem issues from those 10 or so years of battling with such extreme acne. -Sigh- I guess only time will heal those wounds. :) Thank you so much girls! You have such strength and poise and are a source of great inspiration! As always, I look forward to your posts!

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Chelsea January 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Crazy amounts of money that HAVE been spent ON skin treatments….** :D

Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan January 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I struggled with acne and unfortunately was put on accutane for a few months and that totally messes up your liver and your skin in general. I’m trying to detox it out of my body still. It just doesn’t want to leave! Have you heard of this diet? I’m thinking of doing it for a little while and see if it gets everything out! http://www.youtube.com/user/EasyToBeRaw
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Laury @thefitnessdish January 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Thank you for the hard work you’ve been doing on this series. All this information is so wonderful and I know it’s helpful to so many people out there! It’s amazing how much diet does affect your skin. I learned this many years ago and have seen apparent changes in my skin when I ate certain things, or didn’t eat certain things. I never had an issue with grains, I don’t eat a ton, some days I don’t eat any, and other days I have my oatmeal and some ezekial toast with eggs for lunch. I haven’t seen any change in my skin, but dairy, yes. Definitely. As a teenager, like you girls said, there were many factors that gave me acne (I have the scars to prove it, eep)…hormones, poor diet, dehydration, environment (both parents smoked). Aside from not being a teenager anymore….once I really started eating a nutritious diet, got out of an environment where my skin was soaking in second hand smoke (yuck), started drinking TONS of water, my skin, nails and hair all thrived!

Thanks for this post!
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hihorosie January 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm

wow, you girls are amazing. Truly. All the research, the posts, the sharing is so great and appreciated! I don’t have major skin issues but this info is still helpful to have so I appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into each post.
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Rebecca @ Naturally Healthy and Gorgeous January 18, 2012 at 5:56 am

I think it’s amazing how our diet can impact our health (and acne). This is what I am most interested in. Thanks for an enlightening post
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Betty January 18, 2012 at 7:05 am

I hope the cod liver oil does it for you girls!

I know it is high in vitamin A. Many get relief from acne supplementing with vitamin A.

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Lori and Michelle January 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thank you Betty. We are excited!

Megan @ The Detoxinista January 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

I am loving these skin posts, ladies! I feel your pain– I had the WORST skin, and was really lucky that 5 months of Accutane worked for me (I took it before I embarked on my healthier lifestyle changes). Of course, it also came with pretty awful side-effects, some of which I still suffer from, even though I stopped it over 10 years ago! Crazy.

It’s such a guessing-game to figure out what will work for you. I’ve tried the Candida cleanse, too, but cutting out fruit doesn’t work for me– my skin stopped healing itself! Now, I’m moving towards the SCD diet (gradually), which allows fruit and honey, which are monosaccharides, but not disaccharides, like grains and potatoes. Part of me wondered if that was why raw food worked so well for me in the past– I naturally cut out grains and potatoes when I was eating that way! So many things to consider, huh?
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Lori and Michelle January 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

Oh Megan, yes always something, haha. Best of luck to you on your journey!!

Meagan January 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm

O ladies I feel so bad for you. I had horrible cystic acne like yours in college and it was awful – I never wanted to leave my room because I was so embarrassed. I have to say that definitely what helped me the most was birth control pills. But on top of that I had to to accept the fact that I do have some sort of allergy to chocolate. Anytime I eat chocolate I get horrible volcano like pimples. The darker the chocolate, the worse the reaction (pimples + digestive stuff similar to lactose intolerance even though it was vegan chocolate). Even though it is delicious I avoid it like the plague now. I am also super sensitive to dyes in fabrics and soaps and things like that so I always make sure to use some type of non-allergenic laundry detergent, etc. My face is currently breaking out and I think its where I got a bunch of new clothes over Christmas. I need to wash everything and then it will probably be fine again. Skin problems suck… I wish you the best in your journey to clear skin!

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Lori and Michelle January 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm

thanks Meagan same to you. sorry about being allergic to chocolate, do you do ok with Carob? we love it.

Meagan January 21, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Yes I love carob!

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Alexia January 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Hello L and M,

I am so happy I stumbled across this post! For a while I have been researching the raw food lifestyle. I have literally read through 11 books on raw foods. I am also wondering if changing my diet will heal my skin. It is so difficult to find what works. I was thinking raw food could be the end all, but it may not be. I may have to find what works for me, using the tidbits of knowledge I gain from different sources. So we will see what happens. I love your blog–I will definitely be stoping by again!

~Alexia
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Lori and Michelle January 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Alexia we thought the same thing when we first when raw, but we did not get the glowing skin so many talked about. We do love raw foods and still a lot of raw foods!! But more because we love them not for skin reasons. We are still finding what works for us. Wish you all the best on your skin journey, and yes please keep in touch.

Carrie January 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I hear you on the skin! I’ve tried everything in terms of diet and nothing ever really gave me that promised glow….acne, cystic zits and general redness were always a problem! Was it fat? sugar? raw? who knows!

Of course I still eat an uber healthy mostly raw diet but Do you know what helped my skin the most? Stopping using all products on the surface. Now I only wash with water and sometimes coconut oil, especially on my eyes if I wear makeup, it takes it right off. I have the best skin I have ever had….try it!

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Lori and Michelle January 23, 2012 at 8:19 am

Carrie, haha sounds like we are on the same page! And yes we are learning to use less product and do not wash our face as much. Thank you for sharing.

Lori and Michelle January 23, 2012 at 8:25 am

Thank you for sharing Carrie, looks like we are on the same page ;) We are learning to use less stuff on our face and do see improvements.

Lauren January 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I <3 you girls. I respect you both so much. If you ever want any thoughts on skin, please shoot me an email. It has been my biggest battle for 10 years and I only wish I understood it earlier in life.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend! Can you teach me how to take photos? I am terrible!!
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Kilee February 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Hi girls! I love that you are doing this skin care series because I have always struggled with acne. Sometimes it will be a little zit and other times it will be covering my chin and forehead. I hope that both of you see good results from your hard work!

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Stephanie February 13, 2012 at 5:59 am

I found that giving up meat helped. Then last year I stopped eating dairy and eggs and that did wonders. THEN the past four months I have doubled my water intake as I suffer from UTI’s and I read that keeping extremely well hydrated helps to keep UTI’s away. As a bonus my skin has been so fantastic. Not only practically no acne wise but general improvement in appearance also. Increasing water intake is definitely something simple and easy for people to do to see if it works for them.
I would like to add that giving up dairy is highly recommended. Dairy is so bad for our systems.

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india-leigh April 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Hey girls,

Your story to discover your own personal, optimum health resonated with me. So many different factors to take into consideration. I feel diet is a bit like religion, I take the best bits that fit for my life but also, you see a pattern emmergingthat all decree…. and most say that stress is a big factor. Most also say meditation works (I struggle with this..I am a fidget, but I do intend to give it a go). It is never all about one thing is it? I had to look at all areas in my life. The healtiest diet in the world wont help if you hate your job etc. but it will support you to a degree. I had bad skin a few years back…post break-up, post exercising frenzy and other stuff besides. Watercress, MSM powder and avocado’s cleared it up for me. It may be worth a try for you? My skin is beautifully clear now. Best of luck. I love your fun blog.
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