Low-carb, sugar-free, don’t eat fats, avoid salt blablabla.
Are you also sick and tired of influencers that promote diets and fads that don’t make any sense? Yeah us too. But what really, REALLY annoys us is when I come across social accounts that encourages “skin diets”. Of course, there have been studies that show avoiding certain food groups can possibly help different skin conditions, but everyone is different. The way I’m going to digest a pineapple will be completely different from Megan. What works for one person, might not for the next…and many of these results are anecdotal and probably a lot to do with a placebo effect.
We can’t stop talking about how “excess” impacts our body, health and skin, but what about the other way around? What actually happens if you don’t have enough of something? How does food deprivation affect your skin health? We want to spin the idea of removing things from your diet, and prove you that food should be enjoyed rather than feared…a slice of cake from time to time won’t make your skin breakout!
To explain the effect of food deprivation on skin, we were inspired by the amazing Deliciously Ella Podcast Episode “Calories, Carbs, Fats & Sugar”, where these terms that we come across everyday were brilliantly explained. Keep on reading for our de-brief of this information.
Calories (unit) - The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C . Calories have created a whole platform of confusion! In fact, people look at it as a food measure because it helps to estimate what they put in their body and what they eliminate (through exercise for example). However, the body is a complex system and there are some variations in the number of calories absorbed by the body and how many calories the food contains! An example is almonds, if you eat 100 calories, you actually absorb 70% because of the amount of fibres that aren’t broken down as easily, which are harder for the body to digest. Depending on the food group that you are eating, the calorie will be broken down differently! For example, 2-3% of the fats calories will be used in the energy itself it takes to break down fat. On the other hand, proteins will use 25-30% of its calories to be broken down by the body.
Effect on skin
If you are trying a diet to treat a certain skin condition, remember that a lot of the information that’s out there is not based on sound scientific research. The problem with diet based on calorie counting is that by cutting food based on their “calorie number” rather than the nutrient content, you are automatically cutting down essential minerals and vitamins. These all play an important role in skin’s healthy. Vitamin A, for example, is needed for cell function and regeneration, while Vitamin C helps collagen formation and protects us from free radicals. In addition, dieting can lead to poor skin health, tired skin, darkness around the eyes, loss of skin volume leading to flaccid tissue and a crepey texture.
Fats - How many times have we scrolled down though our Instagram home page or the explore feature to find influencers talking about “cutting fats “ in their diet? There is such a negative stigma attached to the word “fat” which causes fear. Fats are friend! In fact, they can be very beneficial for your health. Fats are another form of energy in the body, a good carrier of Vitamins A, D & K and also provides a cushion for our vital organs. Let’s not forget that our brain is made out of 60% of fat!
The fats that we want to avoid are trans fats, as these raise the level of LDL or “bad cholesterol” in our bodies, which over time cause health problems. Fats that we want to limit in our diet are saturated fats. They can be found in animal fat and full cream dairy products. If consumed in high amounts, they can also impact the level of LDL. The fats that our bodies love are polyunsaturated fats, which are Omega 3 & Omega 6! Olive oil, sesame oil, avocado, seeds, salmon are essential in our diet to make sure that our bodies get the right nutrients it needs.
Effect on Skin
Polyunsaturated fats, also know as free fatty acids are a principle component in healthy cell membranes. Skin needs free fatty acids for the production of both healthy sebum and epidermal lipids, which form the bilayer structure of the natural barrier function. They are thus essential to keeping skin supple and protected, while also helping skin absorb lipid based substances.
Many acne sufferers believe that by removing all types of fats, their skin will magically clear up. But this is false! Free fatty acids are essential in the formation of the acid mantle, which maintain balance within skin. Therefore, removing them will not make your skin less oily or prevent acne!
Generally speaking, depriving the body of essentials free fatty acids will result in a lipid dry skin or asteatosis, which has a number of adverse effects on skin such as accelerating the ageing process, poor barrier function & imbalance of the acid mantle.
The Low-Carb Diet has also been clogging up our social feeds! In fact, carbohydrates have become the number one enemy, causing us all guilt and shame just by looking at them. First things first, carbohydrates are not just bread and pizza, lots of fruits and veggies contain carbohydrates. They are essential in everyone’s diet and provide the body glucose! The reason why this group of food is demonised is that we have taken it too far with the amount of carbs we come across. In fact, refined grains are present in most processed foods (pastries, biscuits etc.). However, we tend to forget that carbohydrates are also present in whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables and dairy too!
If you eat carbohydrates you may weigh more due to the water retention that comes along with carbs, not necessarily because you have gained weight. This is why, if you cut them completely from your diet your scale will show you’ve lost weight fast (meaning you have lost some water content which will bounce right back up when you add them back in!).
Effect on Skin
Like mentioned above, if your diet doesn’t contain enough carbohydrates, all your body’s function will be affected, which will reflect on your skin as a tired and sluggish looking appearance.
Again, not all sugar are bad for your health. The problem that we currently have with this food group are “free sugars”. They are the sugars added in processed foods like syrups, honey, sucrose and fruit juice. Therefore, enjoy the natural sugars that you get in food from fruits & vegetables. The problem here is excess sugar; the key is moderation.
Effect on Skin
Cutting sugar completely from your diet, can sometimes help certain skin condition as it decreases inflammation throughout the body. However, most whole foods essential to our body’s function contains natural sugars! They are essential to provide energy and make sure everything works. For example, a serving of fruit has sugar, plus it is bound with fibres and phytonutrients that support the proliferation of good bacteria to crowd out candida and bad bacteria. Watermelon is a very good example, it has a High Glycemic Index, but is super healthy because of the fibbers that it contains; they keep us full for longer and keep our gut health in top form! Did you know that watermelon contains very low amounts of SPF (4), this is why it is one of our favourite snacks for the beach.
Sodium is an essential nutrient in the diet, it plays an important role in blood pressure. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is often associated with hypertension and heart disease. Not adding enough salt in our diet can, on the contrary, cause health problems such as reduced hydration, muscle cramps, headaches, weakness due to low blood pressure. If you are cooking from scratch, don’t be scared to add salt as it really helps with flavour, cooking process and break down the walls of the vegetables. The most important thing is to avoid processed food that contains high levels (1 Grams of sodium is 2 Grams of salt).
Effect on Skin
When consuming too much salt, skin can become puffy and bloated-looking due to water retention. When not consuming enough salt, dehydration can occur due to the low water levels in the body!
Another important thing to know it that food doesn’t go to the same place in the body, fructose (sugar from fruits) gets digested by the liver, while glucose gets digested by every cell in the body. Plus, we are all unique in the way we digest, so the way one will process food may differ from the next. Therefore, calculating the amount of calories, fats, salt or sugar is not very accurate. Don’t COUNT food, eat in moderation, and when you have that slice of cake, appreciate the feeling of happiness that it gives you! Stop shaming yourself for the way you eat! Food and mealtime, should be a happy part of your day…not something you dread.