Those of us who’ve battled stubborn acne—and have tried all the products—are no stranger to questioning our diets. Many of us have even completely transitioned to more restrictive eating philosophies in hopes of finally eradicating flare ups.
It’s a relief to know that it’s not just us mere mortals endlessly tweaking our menu in pursuit of a flawless complexion. Some of the most gorgeous stars have likewise struggled to discover which foods please their skin.
Sunny actress and athleisure queen Kate Hudson has shared her own difficulties with a troublesome complexion: “I’ll have three [good] days, and then boom, I’ve got pimples showing up. I’ve had a hard time figuring it out,” the actress told Vogue.
It turns out that a shift to a plant-based diet relieved many of her skin woes, however.
“When I went vegan last summer, my skin was the best it’s ever been—skin tone, pores, everything.”
Never afraid of trying something new, Hudson then switched to a diet rich in animal protein—and it showed up on her skin:“Then I did Paleo, and what was interesting about Paleo was my skin wasn’t as good.”
What gives? The Paleo diet plan emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, so on the surface, it would seem that it could possibly benefit skin. When we look closely at Paleo, however, we see that the emphasis on meat sets it up to be a high-protein diet. Protein is the most difficult macronutrient to digest (especially when it’s in animal form). Although scientific research on the connection between excessive meat consumption and acne is lacking, it’s plausible that when the digestive system and cleansing organs are overburdened with the task of breaking down protein, skin becomes responsible for eliminating toxins—leaving us with increased occurrence of acne.
Furthermore, a diet rich in meat is associated with inflammation. Acne is a form of inflammation, so even if the consumption of meat doesn’t directly cause acne, the inflammation it causes probably isn’t helping—and may even exacerbate—an existing acne problem.
And let’s not forget—meat is often laced with additional hormones, and consuming conventional animal products is associated with increased acne in adult women. After all, acne is a hormonal condition, and we all know how hard it is to balance our own hormones without the interference of synthetic hormones. But what about grass-fed and organic meats? While these more consciously raised meat option may contain fewer agricultural toxins, they’re still nutritionally problematic. According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, raising meat organically doesn’t alter the carcinogens present in meat—and this meat will still pose increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and impaired kidney function.
Finally, it’s been well-established that a diet that fails to promote balanced blood sugar is associated with hormonal fluctuations responsible for acne. It’s therefore often advised to eat a diet that promotes stable blood sugar—i.e., foods including whole grains, plant-based protein, and vegetables while limiting foods that cause a spike in blood sugar, like processed foods, refined sugar, and, interestingly enough—meat! Yep, a high-meat diet actually impairs blood sugar tolerance and may, therefore, play a role in acne.
Why is whole-foods veganism so good for skin? Not only does it skip the aforementioned problems that accompany animal products, it’s full of antioxidant-rich plants. Antioxidants help the body fight inflammation (remember that acne is an inflammatory disorder?). Also, unprocessed plants have fiber. Fiber is our digestive system’s best friend. It helps our bodies naturally detoxify themselves (yep, we’re talking poo), helping take the burden off skin. Phew!
Given what we now know about Paleo and veganism, it’s no surprise that Kate Hudson saw such dramatic changes in her skin when she switched diets! And if you’re wondering if switching to veganism for clearer skin can help you, too, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need celeb status to see results from your diet! I suffered from cystic acne for years (well into my twenties)—but ditching meat and dairy has left me with *way* clearer skin. But unlike Hudson, I’m going to stick with what works 😉
Have you tried changing your diet for clearer skin?
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