Diet and Skincare

If you have oily skin, dry skin, or acne-prone skin, you know how important it is to have a solid skincare regimen that includes quality products and up-to-date knowledge of new developments in skincare technology. You also know that there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to achieve healthier skin, such as regular exercise, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. But diet plays a big role in caring for your skin as well—sometimes with surprises.

Dry Skin: Your skin is flaky, tight, and dull. Your worst season is winter, when your skin is exposed to harsh temperatures and moisture-sapping indoor heating. Your first thought may be to drink more water, but doctors say that while drinking lots of water is good for your skin, it will do little to help excessively dry skin. Why? Because the water in your skin cells comes from your metabolism, and the water you drink just gets excreted in your urine.

Surprise solution: eat a diet with plenty of good fats, which your body will then metabolize into water for your cells. This means olive oil, flax oil, and fish oil. Another unexpected solution for dry skin is sulfur, which kicks up the metabolism and prevents cell hardening and drying. You can get sulfur from eggs, onions, garlic, and asparagus.

So for breakfast, have some scrambled eggs (with some colorful veggies thrown in, as they're rich in antioxidants), a tuna sandwich made with regular mayonnaise and chopped onions for lunch, and a stir-fry with vegetables, whole grain pasta (high in B vitamins, which are also good for dry skin), and garlic sauteed in olive oil for dinner.

Oily Skin: The good news is that years from now, you'll look great. Your skin will be supple and young and no one will guess your age. The bad news is that right now your skin is shiny and has a thick, mottled appearance with enlarged pores. The greasy sheen that you keep blotting with tissues is due to an overproduction of sebum from the sebaceous glands, which are concentrated in the infamous T-Zone. Your skin type is tricky, though, as there is very little you can do to combat oil-production. Oily skin is caused by a combination of genes and hormones. If your parents have oily skin, you're still in the turbulent phase of puberty, or you’re on a form of birth control (or all of the above), chances are your oily skin is due to one of these factors. But there are some dietary changes you can make to combat the oozing oil.

Eat foods that are high in B vitamins. A slight B-vitamin deficiency can cause oily skin, so eat a diet rich in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and organ meats. Or you can take one to two tablespoons of brewer's yeast a day, which is also good for your immune system and eczema.
Go vegetarian. Just as those suffering from dry skin should eat more fats, those suffering from oily skin should consume fewer fats. You can do this by simply upping the veggies and grains and cutting meat from your diet two or three days a week. Have two vegetables with a meal (salad and broccoli, or squash and asparagus) and instead of making a pasta-dish with ground hamburger, try making it with black beans. These are easy ways to cut down the amount of fat you consume to keep your skin from overproducing oil, but it's equally important to stock up on quality products that will sop up the oil and refine your pores.

Acne-Prone Skin: Your skin-type tends to go hand-in-hand with oily skin, but yours is much easier to manage. Studies have found that diet plays a key role in the maintenance of acne-prone skin, and one study even found that three out of four adults that suffered from acne saw a dramatic decrease in breakouts when they changed their diets. The obvious change to make is the reduction of sugars and fats in your diet. But the surprise solution: unpasteurized sauerkraut. Lacto-fermented vegetables are essential for bowel cleansing and increasing healthy bowel flora, which equals clean, healthy skin, and the sulfur in the cabbage is particularly beneficial to your skin. You can make unpasteurized sauerkraut yourself by looking up recipes online, or you can purchase unpasteurized sauerkraut at health-food stores.

Another surprise solution for preventing acne breakouts is eating mostly raw or whole foods. The process of cooking and refining foods produces chemicals and toxins that the body tries to excrete through the pores, creating pus and inflammation. Furthermore, the process of cooking food often erases its nutritional value, cooking out the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that your body needs.

Conclusion: Different skin types require different skincare regimens. A person with dry skin shouldn’t use alcohol-based products, just like a person with oily skin shouldn’t load on products made with oil or wax. The same holds true for diet. A person with dry skin should avoid caffeine and eat more good fats, while a person with acne-prone skin should cut out the sugars and eat more raw, unrefined foods. So find out which category you fit into and enjoy your meal.

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