My interest in skin care, which predates my interest in nutrition by a decade, started off as a long fruitless search for perfect, acne-free, glowing skin. I experimented in three ways:
- drugstore/commercial skin care products
- do it yourself skin care
This pie chart will demonstrate the efficacy of each method in terms of maximizing the vitality of my skin. The results are based on N=4 (myself and 3 other subjects drawn from pool of family and friends).
I found that the least effective method for achieving great skin was using commercial or drug store brands. For me, a sufferer of acne, blackheads, large pores and oily skin, well into my thirties, the drug store brands, and later, when I earned more, premium brands, did not do much for me. The effects were minimal and very short-lived. Nothing long-lasting.
In order to sell products, the beauty care industry has to persuade you to use its synthetic cleansers in order to get you to first STRIP your face of its natural oils, then ADD back chemically based creams and oils to soften your skin which was what your natural skin oil was doing in the first place! It’s a great business model for getting repeat business.
After going through so many drugstore and then higher-grade department store cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, all in the effort to have smooth, blemish-free, acne-free, healthy glowing skin, I inadvertently stumbled on the most effective way to achieve my holy grail of fantastic skin.
The most effective method was:
– Overhauling my diet first;
– And then using natural solutions to enhance skin quality, by reducing acne, large pores and blackheads.
Essentially, focusing my efforts on what I put INTO my body manifested itself OUTWARDLY onto the state of my skin, and I think this is a universal truth.
So here are my Top 5 methods to get glowing, clear, firm, blackhead- and acne-free skin, via nutrition:
1.) Eliminated, or at the very least greatly reduced, processed food from my diet
Taking this huge step put me on the path to at least 75% of the way to great skin. I avoided eating anything that came in a box or package and I avoided eating anything that has ingredients that I could not pronounce or needed a biochemistry degree to decipher. Sugar and refined carbohydrates constitute major ingredients in packaged and processed foods so eliminating, or greatly reducing, those foods naturally minimized my intake of inflammation-causing sugars and refined carbs .
A dermatologist once said that he can tell which of his patients eat lots of sugar and flour the minute they walk into his office. The impact of consuming too much of these ingredients (and if you eat a Standard American or Canadian Diet, you are consuming lots of hidden sugars and flour) was written all over my skin, and that’s because a processed diet triggers inflammation, including inflammation of the skin.
2.) Consumed nutrient-dense food
This means eating real whole foods that my grandparents ate. Eat eggs, meats, fowl, fish, all manners of veggies, moderate amount of fruit (remember, fruit is nature’s candy). All sorts of wonderful vitamins and minerals are found in whole foods. I avoided trans fat and hydrogenated oils and had to get over my fear of (good) fats like butter and coconut oil and realize this stuff moisturizes your body from the inside out.
3.) Ingested Cod Liver Oil daily
Cod liver oil has fat soluble vitamins A & D, and also omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, super nutrients for body, brain and skin. This stuff has been taken for centuries and some older readers may remember their parents making them take a tablespoon of CLO as kids.
This super food contains large amounts of elongated omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and the sunlight vitamin D, essential nutrients that are hard to obtain in sufficient amounts in the modern diet. Samples may also naturally contain small amounts of the important bone- and blood-maintainer vitamin K. Cod liver oil taken orally helps maintain soft skin and minimize wrinkles. People who take it also mention lack of sunburn.
My preferred brand is Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver oil but that is a prohibitively expensive product, considering that only one company, Green Pastures, produces it. One bottle is approx. $50, not including taxes and shipping costs (if you don’t live in the US) and last approximately 1.5 months. A close second is Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil, available at health food stores. I take 1 teaspoon a day as I am also eating more oily fish like salmon and sardines.
4.) Increased my Vitamin D intake (especially during winter)
Cod Liver Oil is supposed to have Vitamin D but since my people evolved in the sun and I live in a country that has 6 months of winter, my requirements for Vitamin D are higher than the amount found in Cod Liver Oil. This is not simple conjecture, I actually had my Vitamin D levels measured and they were low. I take 3000-4000 IUs daily.
5.) Increased my consumption of bone broth soup
A very traditional dish, found in societies all over the world. I grew up with my mom making bone broth soup (we called it “mereq”) from the bones of sheep, and started to make it myself starting 2 years ago.
Cooking bones, for a long time, extracts minerals such as magnesium calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, sulfate, and fluoride. Minerals that are difficult to get from a Standard Western Diet.
Not only does bone broth soup provide minerals from bones, but those self-same bones nourish body parts related to collagen, such as joints, tendons, ligaments, skin and bone.
Collagen is a word heard very frequently among skin care aficionados. Collagen is what makes skin supple and guess where you can find it naturally? Adding bones with connective tissues and joints like feet and knuckles to the soup makes the bone soup rich in collagen thus helping the skin become smooth and supple.
Interestingly enough, my love of bones and bone marrow, from childhood til now, probably has fortified me with enough calcium to survive unbeatable falls on icy sidewalks and rough play housing with nary a cracked bone. My mother, who loves bone marrow as well, and who has also wiped out multiple time on icy Canadian sidewalks, is the only one of her peers to never crack a bone, even at her age.
Make sure to purchase bones from grass-fed cows or pastured chickens, if you are going to make chicken soup. It’s very important to ensure your food also ate good food. Your skin will thank you for it.
Next post: How to get next level skin through traditional and natural skin care methods.