Have you ever considered the connection between stress and acne? If you're using quality skin care and your nutrition is on point but your acne still lingers, stress could be the culprit. In my own personal situation, my adult acne flared up because of a stressful event in my life. Chronic, unresolved stress leaves us with excess inflammation in the body which then leads to a weakened immune system along with an increased likelihood that the body will attack itself, as in autoimmune diseases. All of this will do nothing to help improve your acne and could be a contributing factor as to why your acne lingers. For me, I notice a direct correlation between stress in my life and the appearance of my skin. My acne easily flares up if my stress levels stay too high for too long.
How should you deal with this? Obviously, it's not possible to be 100% free of stress 100% of the time. Life presents challenges and unexpected circumstances do arise. I'd like to share with you a few key things I recommend you consider.
When I first wanted to heal my acne through nutrition, Google became my best friend. I honestly didn't know much about nutrition, and I definitely didn't understand how food affects our body and our skin. One of the first concepts I encountered while researching adult female acne was a vegan diet.
Vegan noun, a person who does not eat or use animal products.
While my cystic acne was at it's height in severity, I went vegan for many months. In the beginning I did notice some improvement in the appearance of my acne. However, in the end being vegan didn't win out for me. While my diet is still largely plant based, I don't eliminate all animal products. I want to share with you my thoughts on the vegan diet, specifically as it relates to acne.
The benefits of a vegan diet can be the large number of plants consumed. When you're not consuming animal protein, you need more fruits and vegetables to fill you up. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help fight inflammation in the body. Acne is a sign of too much inflammation in the body so, logically, it makes sense to consume more fruits and vegetables. The problem that often arises here, and the reason I put can be in italics, it's easy to be vegan and lose sight of nutrition. It's easy to become so focused on whether a not a food is vegan that you forget to evaluate nutritional value. Technically, Oreo's® are vegan. Although I don't think anyone would argue that eating these cookies will help clear your skin. I've seen many times, including in myself, where consuming a vegan diet quickly turns to lots of vegan baked goods, pastas and baked potatoes. These things are fine in moderation but they aren't the super-foods needed to boost our immune system, and can give acne a kiss good-bye.
The downside to a vegan diet is its neglect of healthy fats. When researching a vegan diet I was quite alarmed at how many proponents of this diet still had the low fat mentality that plagued the 90's. The concept of following a low fat/no fat diet is outdated information that was never actually correct. In fact, during the 90's when the low fat craze really took off, heart disease increased as people's waist lines grew. Why did this happen? Most likely it was due to high insulin levels. Instead of eating healthy fats, which keep you fuller, longer, people were eating low- fat crackers, highly refined pastas and low- fat yogurts. All these things spike our insulin levels which leads to excess belly fat, AND many people felt constantly hungry because the very thing that helps keep us full fat was removed from food. What I'm discussing here pertains to weight gain and heart health but, please make no mistake, it's also connected to the appearance of your skin. Warning signs of internal excess inflammation in the body, such as acne, should help us connect the dots: a low-fat/no fat diet won't give us the skin, or the overall health we want.
Vegan diets also eliminate the intake of wild-caught, sockeye salmon. I really can't overstate its benefits to our skin health. First, wild-caught salmon provides a hefty dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids simply means our bodies don't make these fats, therefore, we must get them from food. Omega-6's are also essential fatty acids. However, because of deficiencies in our food supply these days (such as eating grain-fed instead of grass-fed beef, or consuming processed foods containing unhealthy, shelf-stable oils) we are ingesting too much omega-6's and not enough omega-3's. The ratio of these oils should be 1:2 omega 3 omega 6. Unfortunately, our modern diets tend to have a ratio of 1:10 of omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) to omega-6 (inflammatory). [William Sears, MD, The Inflammation Solution,©2015]
Vegan diets also lack astaxanthin. Here we go again with salmon the prize winning fish! Astaxanthin is another reason to love this fish. Astaxanthin gives salmon its beautiful pink color. It's a nutrient that has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Astaxanthin paired with beneficial omega-3's in wild-caught salmon make this fish vital to our diets. Notice I keep writing wild-caught. It is important that you avoid purchasing farm-raised salmon. It doesn't contain the same amounts of the powerful antioxidants. In fact, farm-raised salmon may have pink color added, so it appears more like wild-caught. I also take a fish oil supplement and have noticed a difference in my skin, hair and nails.
Tip: On the days you enjoy salmon for dinner it's okay to skip your fish oil supplement. This will help you stretch your budget a bit farther as well!
Lastly, I encourage you not to place yourself in a "diet camp." What I mean specifically is avoid anything that promises weight loss as its single goal. It can lead to an all or nothing mentality, in which you feel guilty if you are ever in a situation that makes it impossible to eat and still stay within the diet's strict guidelines. What I do encourage, instead, is focus on real, whole-food nutrition. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Opt for organic produce and meats when possible. If unavoidable, be very selective in the purchase of processed foods. If you're curious what to look for when purchasing processed foods, you can read more here.
Have you ever tried, or are you currently following a vegan diet? Have you noticed an improvement in your skin, hair, and nails? How are you currently eating, and how does it make you feel? Please comment!
For optimum health it is better to avoid processed foods. But it's difficult these days to do that.. Life seems to be busier than ever and it seems we have less time to dedicate in the kitchen than in years past. It's no wonder women resort to picking up boxed packaged items, and foods in the freezer section.
I'm all about balance nutrition shouldn't be viewed as all or nothing. When clients come to me for coaching I make it a point to meet them where they are. It's all about giving yourself grace. Do what you can with the knowledge, information, budget and time you have.
While I do cook mostly from scratch there are a few things I purchase prepackaged. However, there are KEY things I look for before buying a processed food; and there are certain factors I won't compromise on.
In order to manage acne it is best done from the inside out. Focus on nutrition to bring your skin to an improved state of health. Examine all facets of your diet.
If, for example, buying jarred marinara sauce works for you right now, great! That's what works in my house as well. Let me share with you some key things to look for in any packaged food you buy.
We live in a world of quick fixes. It seems like everywhere you look there is an advertisement for something that will help you to "look good and fast." This can be tempting and many of of us fall prey. After all who doesn't want to look good in a bikini by Friday or have perfectly clear skin in only one month? I know there was a time in my life when I fell for this stuff all the time! And guess what? Some of it worked! The problem was nothing worked for long and then I was right back where I started.
Today I want to talk to you specifically about treating acne and how those changes may look.
We tend to think of acne as being only an external issue. After all, it's clearly visible on our skin so a really good face wash should clear that up, right? It's not that simple. Acne is often a sign of a deeper internal issue. Where I see women face trouble is they only address the visible signs the acne. By failing to look deeper their acne continues to resurface causing them to move on to the next greatest skin care.
Our skin is an organ. In fact, it's our body's largest organ! When we view our skin this way, instead of simply an outer barrier, it's rather silly to think our skin doesn't paint a larger picture.
For years I was on an acne skin care line. My face remained clear as long as I continued using the product and it worked for 8 years! This led me to believe my acne had been eradicated. I thought it was gone and all I had to do was continue to buy this certain face wash. I could not have been more wrong!! The acne skin care line was simply a band aid, masking a much bigger problem. All at once the product failed to deliver it's usual results and I was left with an enormous mess my skin had never looked worse. I was devastated.
For the first time in my life I was forced to look at other options. I naturally tried a few other skin care lines all to no avail. After a bit of research I learned there was a holistic side to healing acne. What?! I had never before even considered that there was a root problem to my acne, never mind addressing it.
The most important shift I made was my mindset. You can read about that here. The second shift was changing the way I ate. I created a plan and stuck with it for a solid 6 months no cheating, no slipping. What I noticed were slow changes and sometimes the healing was cyclical there were a few times my skin 'purged' during this period.
Because of this, some people thought I was nuts. Some questions I received:
Shouldn't your skin be completely clear with all the dietary changes you've made?
Is your body getting proper nourishment?
Why are you doing this to yourself? Aren't you miserable? You know I have a friend who sells acne skin care. You should call her.
Maybe you've heard a few of these yourself?
I do believe all these things were said with good intentions. Spoken by those who cared about me, it really was an act of love not malice. However, I knew deep down inside that I was on the right track and I had to tune these voices out.
I have seen this same scenario with my clients who are working so diligently to get to the root problem of their acne. Family members and friends think they are nuts! I think the two main reasons why are:
Did you know stress is one of the top 5 factors contributing to your acne?
Think about it. How many times have you had a huge breakout appear right before a special event? How about break outs that show up before a job interview?
When healing acne you must look at the whole picture and stress is definitely apart of it.
Obviously, it's important to reduce our stress levels. I don't think anyone would argue that going through life while constantly worrying is a productive, healthy way to live. The problem is it would be impossible to completely eliminate all stress from our lives. I don't care who you are you deal with stress to some extent on a regular basis.
Stress doesn't only revolve around big, life issues. Although that can definitely be apart of it. It's also the smaller things that lead to stress and sometimes I think these may be worse. These little issues are easier to ignore and therefore they can build upon each other until you have a mound of stress.
What exactly happens when we are stressed that would cause a breakout? There are a few factors.
I've never had great skin. Visits to the dermatologist were a regular part of my years as a teenager. But as a teen, I never would have imagined that I would be battling the same cystic acne during my 30's. But here I was, 33 years old staring in the mirror with an acne riddled face staring right back at me. Why was I plagued with this problem and what on earth could I do to fix it? Nothing seemed to be working for me.
I remember the moment vividly. I gave myself a long look in the mirror and the thought occurred to me, could this be the rest of my life? Might I suffer with acne forever?
Here it is; the most important thing I did to help rid my face of acne. I made up my mind that I could not, would not live this way any longer. I no longer saw myself of a helpless victim. I shifted my mindset and viewed myself as a woman with a decision to make. This was the catapult that propelled me forward.
At this point I recognized that my acne was stemming from my poor gut health. I knew that's where the answers lied, but I didn't really know what the specific answers were. So I prayed and asked God for guidance. It immediately became clear to me. Now it was up to me to put it all in motion...and that's just what I did.
My entire diet changed. I had to shift not only what I was eating, but also how I was eating. My relationship with food completely changed. For me this meant not quite fitting in in a few social situations. It meant carrying a small lunch bag with me everywhere I went so that I was never without something that was suitable for me to eat. I never wanted to be caught with an excuse to eat something that wasn't going to help me reach my goal. I prepared for every situation and I stuck to my plan.
Today my skin is much clearer without the use of acne medications. When I do get a breakout, it's usually not a surprise to me and is typically a result of excess sugar, too much stress, or lack of sleep.
What's staring back at you in the mirror? What is your "I can't live like this the rest of my life"? What is your current mindset about it? Helpless victim or a woman with a decision to make?
Everything is connected: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You can teeter totter if one of these legs is broken, but what happens when two are broken? The table comes crashing down. Our minds are powerful! The number one reason I see women not looking and feeling their best is they haven't made up in their minds 100% to commit to it. They want the results but they aren't fully there yet with the changes that need to be made. I get it because I was there myself sometimes the comforts we're used to are more comfortable than the pain in our life is painful.
Are you ready to shift your mindset? Are you ready to toss out the excuses and propel yourself forward? I offer a complimentary consultation to see if we're a fit to work together. No obligation to buy. I look forward to helping you look and feel your best!
Do you agree that drinking water is important to your health? It's not exactly a newsflash that our bodies need water to function properly. Maintaining a proper weight and having a beautiful, glowing complexion are both helped with proper water consumption. If we know water is crucial to our bodies, the question then becomes how much water should we consume each day?
I've found that there are two main views on this very subject. One view is that getting enough water is simply a mathematical equation. The equation is based on your weight. Along this same view point is that you should drink 8, 8 oz glasses of water per day. That's easy enough to remember, but is it enough water?
The second view point is that you should listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty. In fact, some health experts who fall into this category believe that drinking too much water, especially around mealtimes, can dampen your digestion and lead to gut issues. I've read countless articles that argue you shouldn't drink water 30 minutes prior to your meal, during your meal and up to 30 minutes after you've finished eating.
Which method is correct? Is it a clear calculation or does it involve getting to your individual body's needs?
Unfortunately, many people are out of touch with their bodies. We stink at listening to our body when it tells us we are hungry or thirsty. This is key, and for most of my private-coaching clients I find this is where they need to start. Learn to listen to your body!
Here's the method I advocate: