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Jun06

11 Tips for Radiant Skin

I spent years trying EVERY acne remedy I could get my hands on creams, lotions, supplements green juice, egg white masks, bentonite clay and THOUSANDS of dollars in microdermabrasion. 

You name it. I tried it.

Fortunately, during a desperate google session for "holistic acne cures," I stumbled upon an article about the gut-skin connection. 

For the next couple weeks, I journaled about what I ate and how it affected my digestion and skin. There was an undeniable link. When I ate something that upset my tummy...I'd break out 2 days later, like clockwork.

Interestingly, research shows that acne is NOT caused by poor hygiene or an acne-cream deficiency (like many people believe today) but is a sign of an IMBALANCE. 

A sign of nutrient deficiency, detoxification issues, inflammation, food sensitivities or a diet not well suited to your individual needs. 

Surprisingly, the literature prior to 1960 made this very clear. This association only fell out of favor due to 2 poorly designed studies. Recent research, however, has reconfirmed the link between diet and acne which aligned perfectly with my personal experience.

Once I figured out exactly which foods were giving me issues (ahem, GARLIC!), I went from helpless and frustrated to curious, confident and empowered.

And today, I am (mostly) acne-free! 

Not always, because I sometimes eat foods with garlic unintentionally or because I LOVE them. But feeling as though I have a choice in the matter has made the occasional breakout far more tolerable.

That's what I want for you, too!

So, here are my 11 favorite tips for clear skin:

1. Eliminate sugar and dairy

Sugar and dairy are the two foods most linked to acne. They are definitely triggers for me, too. Milk is the worst form of dairy, especially skim. If you just HAVE to eat some sort of dairy, opt for grass-fed raw cheese in small amounts (like 3 ounces per day) which the literature suggests may not be quite as problematic.

2. Balance your blood sugar

Recent research has found that high glycemic diets (full of carbs and sugar) may cause acne. By eliminating sugar, sugary drinks, fruit juice, caffeine, grains (yes, ALL of them!), processed foods and even dried fruit, you can do wonders for your skin. Focus on high quality fat and protein at breakfast and for every meal and snack. 

3. Nurture your microbiome

Load up on colorful, whole, fiber-rich organic foods like organic berries, kale, swiss chard, brussels sprouts, broccoli, radishes, and spinach. Prebiotics such as onions and Jerusalem artichokes will also support the proliferation of healthy gut bugs and you can find them in our new Superfood Bars. Finally, eat dairy-free fermented foods (like our beef sticks or sauerkraut) at least 2-3 times per week. 

4. Take digestive enzymes and a high quality probiotic

Enzymes help absorb nutrients and gobble up inflammatory proteins from undigested food particles. I like the ones from Pure Encapsulations. 

A probiotic will also help to keep your gut bugs thriving and in balance. My favorite right now is Prescript Assist, but different versions work for different people. Look for one that contains a diversity of probiotic species and at least 50 billion CFU per serving. 

5. Try zinc

Many studies report people with acne often have low levels of zinc and find at least some positive benefit from zinc supplementation. The bioavailability of zinc varies greatly, so be sure to find zinc picolinate, zinc gluconate, and zinc methionine. Avoid zinc citrate and sulfate which have the lowest availability. 

6. Check your vitamin A status.

It is well known that vitamin A (retinol) is very important for healthy skin. Rough, dry skin is often a sign of vitamin A deficiency and synthetic vitamin A has been used to treat problem skin for decades. Opt for natural vitamin A from foods like liver which can improve skin dramatically. But if you're like me and you can't stomach the flavor of liver, try our Grass Fed Organ Complex here. 

7. Curtail intense exercise

I love my super intense, high energy interval workouts! But I've also noticed that if I do them for too long (over 30 minutes) or too many days in a row, they can cause a breakout. Keep your intense workouts short and sweet or spread out.

8. Chill out

Have you ever noticed that you break out LESS on vacation even if you eat poor quality foods? I have. And that's because I am not STRESSED. Try for a few minutes of downtime each day.  This will incite the relaxation response which helps to curb breakouts. Even just 10 deep breaths periodically throughout your day can work wonders. 

9. Trade Coffee for IGNITE.

Caffeine can cause blood sugar and adrenaline surges increasing breakouts. A little-known cause of acne is also low levels of hydrochloric acid. By replacing your coffee with my IGNITE tea, you'll improve your body's ability to produce stomach acid (thank you, apple cider vinegar) AND spare yourself acne-causing adrenaline surges. Get the recipe here!

10. LOVE (or at least learn from) your acne

The stress you feel when you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and loathe your acne is the same as the stress you'd experience if you were being chased by a ferocious tiger. Therefore, JUST hating on your acne can increase your risk of breaking out.

(I'm all too familiar with this pattern, no judgment).

But when you entertain the idea that your acne is here to TEACH you something or get your attention, a magical shift occurs. You get out of victim mindset and back into the driver's seat. So get curious.

Ask yourself: If your acne were here to teach you something, what would it be?

For me, it was to slow down and practice self-care. 

I'm always fluttering around at 100 miles an hour tending to everyone’s needs but my own.

  • My acne was teaching me to STOP. 
  • Slow down. 
  • Pay attention to the foods I was eating. 
  • And prioritize self-care. 

When I do, breakouts are a distant memory. smile

What's yours here to teach YOU?

11. When all else fails: Test, don't guess.

Hopefully, after you incorporate the strategies above, you'll be clear-faced and ready to go. But if not, don't fret! You may just be sensitive to a food that most other people can eat. Like GARLIC! 

IgG food sensitivity testing made all the difference for me! I would have never thought to eliminate garlic because it has so many health benefits for most people. You could also be sensitive to a seemingly innocuous (and beneficial) food like olives. Testing helps rule out that possibility while saving lots of time and energy.

Just remember, no matter how long you've been suffering or how severe your acne is...

Clear skin is possible. 

In fact, it's how things USED To be. 

Acne was practically non-existent in non-Western populations. 

By using the tips above and returning to the dietary wisdom of our ancestors, your skin may start to glow from the inside out, just like theirs! I sincerely hope that it does!

Happy Paleo-ing!
Autumn Smith & The Paleovalley Team