For Best Results . . .
How many skin health products come with a lifestyle plan? Not very many!
You may be surprised at some of the strategies we advocate. This is not the usual “cut your fat,” “move more, eat less,” “everything in moderation,” mantras that—let’s face it—don’t work and can actually be harmful. (Cutting fat and calories, for instance, has been shown to cause gallstones, even within the first few weeks.) Lifestyle advice provided here comes from experiences with thousands and thousands of people who have adopted these practices, often with spectacular results. These strategies help you have better skin because they help you enjoy better health—reduced inflammation, reduced resistance to insulin, weight loss (when appropriate), fewer gastrointestinal struggles and numerous other health benefits.
We are interested in seeing you enjoy the most magnificent results in skin appearance. We want to see you reduce the appearance of wrinkles, support skin moisture, and enjoy youthful, smoother skin. We want you to enjoy the skin you may have had 20, 30, or 40 years ago, by increasing skin thickness and moisture, and reducing the effects of the sun. You can take your program for skin health further.
We are interested in strategies that improve overall health that are reflected on your skin. We are not interested in concealing or covering up blemishes, sun damage, or prematurely aging skin or other cosmetic strategies that have nothing to do with health. We are interested in seeing you obtain genuine health that is reflected on the skin—a BIG difference.
So, for best results in obtaining the best and healthiest skin you can have, we also advise:
- Do not smoke—It is well established that cigarette smoking accelerates skin aging. You’ve likely seen this in long-term smokers who look many years older than their chronological age. Smoking is also associated with poor wound healing, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, psoriasis, and hair loss. In short, don’t smoke!
- Avoid sugar—Similar to wheat and grains, sugar raises blood sugar. This raises insulin and leads you down the path of insulin resistance, i.e., poor responsiveness of organs such as liver and muscle to insulin. This causes your pancreas to produce more insulin that blocks weight loss, leads to inflammation of the skin and other organs, and disrupts the intestinal microbiome. This last effect—disruption of the intestinal microbiome—can have profound skin effects. The end result is better health reflected by healthier skin.
- Go light on alcohol—While not as disruptive over skin health as cigarette smoking, too many beers, glasses of wine, or other alcohol source can lead to skin inflammation and puffiness.
- Restore nutrients lacking in modern life—Among the most important: magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and iodine. Restore these four common nutrients and you restore responsiveness to insulin and reduce inflammation, effects that are reflected on the skin.
- Eliminate foods made with wheat or grains—This surprises many people. After all, haven’t we all been told that eating more “healthy whole grains” is beneficial and reduces weight gain, colon cancer, heart disease and other conditions? Surprise: None of this conventional “wisdom” is true, but are false interpretations of the evidence.
Wheat and Grains: The Great Skin Disrupters
A few facts about wheat and grains that you probably did not know:
Wheat and grains yield appetite stimulants—The gliadin protein of wheat and related proteins in other grains (e.g., secalin in rye, hordein in barley, zein in corn) are incompletely digested by humans and thereby yield peptide fragments that have opioid properties in the human brain that stimulate appetite—did you catch that? Partial digestion of wheat and grains yield opioids that stimulate appetite. Banish all wheat and grains and appetite is dramatically reduced. There is also a form of opiate withdrawal syndrome that can occur over the first several days of wheat and grain elimination experienced by about 50% of people following this lifestyle.
Wheat initiates autoimmune diseases—The gliadin protein of wheat opens intestinal barriers to food and bacteria, the phenomenon that initiates many autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. It also means that wheat plays a major role in a variety of skin rashes such as seborrhea, psoriasis, and rosacea.
Wheat and grains raise blood sugar—There are few foods that raise blood sugar higher than wheat and grains. This is due to the carbohydrate unique to wheat and grains called “amylopectin A.” High blood sugar triggers release of insulin, a phenomenon responsible for playing a role in several skin issues including acne and inflammatory edema (water retention).
Wheat and grains cause nutrient deficiencies—You’ve been told that wheat and grains are required for B vitamins and fiber. You were not told that modern wheat has been enriched in something called “phytates” that bind minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, others) and cause you to pass them out in the toilet and can cause mineral deficiencies. Wheat consumption, for instance, is a common cause of iron deficiency anemia due to the binding of iron by grain phytates. (And you can obtain plenty of B vitamins and fiber from foods such as legumes, meats, and vegetables.)
Wheat and grains are bowel toxins—A protein that is completely indigestible by humans called wheat germ agglutinin (present in wheat, rye, barley, and rice) is directly toxic to the human gastrointestinal tract, inflaming the intestinal wall and damaging the hair-like villi that line it. Intestinal inflammation is bad for skin health, as intestinal inflammation can be reflected on the skin.
Bottom line: Eliminate wheat and grains and replace them with healthier choices and you can add considerable advantage in your journey to health, including better skin health.
Surviving Wheat and Grain Elimination
Everyone survives, of course, the process of banishing all wheat and grain products from the diet. But the first several days can be distinctly unpleasant, a withdrawal and detoxification process that results from removal of gliadin-derived opioid peptides.
For most people, this process begins within 24 hours of avoiding wheat and grains and is experienced as nausea, headache, fatigue, and depression. It helps to know that this a necessary process to be freed of the appetite-stimulating, blood sugar-raising, and inflammatory effects of these foods. This opiate withdrawal process typically lasts 3-5 days.
Should you experience these effects, here are some strategies that you can adopt that minimize these effects, most helpful over the first 7-10 days:
Hydrate more than usual—You will find that you urinate more than usual at first, an effect that can leave you dehydrated and lightheaded.
Salt your food and water—A dash of salt on your food and even your drinking water helps keep your blood pressure from dropping during the first several days.
Indulge yourself—Watch a funny movie, call a friend, get a massage. The withdrawal/detoxification process is unpleasant but temporary, so treat yourself to enhance the likelihood you complete the process successfully.
Caution: If you are on medication for high blood pressure or high blood sugar
Prescription medications that reduce blood pressure or blood sugar can cause dangerous drops in blood pressure or blood sugar on this lifestyle. For this reason, medications that reduce blood pressure or blood sugar need to be reduced or eliminated at the start. This is best accomplished by a healthcare practitioner who understands this process.
Many people, for instance, reduce their insulin doses (long- and short-acting) in half and decrease subsequent doses based on their blood sugars. Likewise, drugs such as glipizide, glimepiride, and glyburide, because they can cause low blood sugars, need to be reduced or stopped by your doctor before starting. Blood pressure medications also need to be reduced or stopped, but some drugs (beta blockers such as atenolol, metoprolol, and carvedilol; clonidine) will need to be tapered gradually to prevent the withdrawal process these agents can cause; your doctor should advise you on how to accomplish this.
It is therefore necessary to consult your healthcare provider before you begin this lifestyle change. If your doctor does not understand what you are trying to accomplish, find one who does. (Functional medicine practitioners, integrative health practitioners, and naturopaths are the best choices.)
For best results, we avoid . . .
- Wheat and grains—This includes rye, barley, spelt, corn, oats, rice, sorghum, millet, triticale
- Sugar—In its many forms such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, agave nectar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, and many others
- Artificial sweeteners—Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine, as they all disrupt the intestinal microbiome and thereby add to insulin resistance and inflammation
- Processed foods—with long lists of ingredients. There are just too many potentially hazardous ingredients that disrupt health, especially the intestinal microbiome, such as preservatives (e.g., potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate) and emulsifying agents (e.g., polysorbate 80, carboxymethylcellulose, carrageenan).
Vegetable oils, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil—The modern American diet, rich in these processed oils, adds to inflammation.
For best results, we include . . .
- Whole foods—of the sort that don’t require labels, foods such as eggs, avocados, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, legumes. Whole foods generally do not require labels and do not contain long lists of unwanted ingredients. Most of your shopping at the grocery store should be in the produce and meat departments.
- Fermented foods—Kimchi, fermented sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and veggies that you ferment yourself on your kitchen counter provide huge advantages in health, including skin health. This is because fermented foods help reduce insulin resistance and inflammation and help build a healthy intestinal microbiome.
- Plenty of vegetables—Asparagus, leeks, daikon radish, dandelion greens, onions, garlic, shallots, radishes, mushrooms, turnips and beets shine here, as they nourish advantageous gut microbes that play a role in skin and overall health.
- Safe flours—Rather than wheat and grain flours that disrupt health, we choose flours and meals that are benign yet yield delicious pie crusts, muffins, cookies, and other baked products. We therefore choose from almond flour or meal, coconut flour, ground golden flaxseed, and others. Yes, you can entertain friends, keep children and grandchildren happy, and enjoy holiday dishes while enjoying familiar foods with none of the skin or overall health impairments.
- Safe natural sweeteners—When a recipe calls for a sweetener, choose natural sweeteners that don’t disrupt bowel flora or have other adverse effects. This list includes stevia, monk fruit, allulose, inulin, and erythritol.
- Fats and oils—The evidence is clear: there is no need to reduce total or saturated fat. This advice was based on flawed evidence and never enjoyed genuine scientific validation. Following advice to cut fat is destructive to health. We therefore choose healthy fats and oils, especially extra-virgin olive oil, butter, avocado oil, and coconut oil. There is no need to choose lean cuts of meat but consume the fat. Never discard the skin on fish or poultry, as it is rich in collagen. Olive oil is an especially important oil to include, as it exerts important anti-inflammatory effects.
Choose Safe Sweeteners
We choose sweeteners that do not disrupt the intestinal microbiome, do not raise blood sugar, or have other adverse effects.
There are commercial blends of safe sweeteners, also, such as Swerve, Lakanto, and Whole Earth Allulose Baking Blend.
You can indeed enjoy muffins, cookies, cakes and other baked foods on this lifestyle, provided they are created using healthy flours or meals and sweetened with safe sweeteners.
Among the flours and meals we choose:
- Almond flour or meal—The flour is created from blanched almonds, the meal from whole almonds
- Ground pecans, walnuts—most useful for creating pie crusts
- Ground golden flaxseed—a useful “secondary” meal to increase structure of baking products
- Coconut flour—also a useful secondary flour. (It yields too dry a product when used alone.)
- Tigernut flour—ground from a root vegetable
- Sesame seed flour—Buy bulk sesame seeds, not the small quantity sold in the spice aisle.
- Sunflower and pumpkin seed meals
Almond flour/meal, ground golden flaxseed, and coconut flour are the most popular, often used in combination (e.g., 3 1/2 cups almond flour + 1/4 cup flaxseed + 1/4 cup coconut flour).
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