Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Clear (and Wrinkle Free) Skin

Chronic Silent Inflammation is aging and a root cause of most of the degenerative diseases so common today.  And it is a root cause of acne. 

It is bad for everyone, but for those of us with the right genes, it leads to acne.  Inflammatory events cause skin cells to be malformed and not exfoliate properly leading to clogged pores and acne.  They also age you.  So the same diet that clears acne also prevents wrinkles! 

Study: Inflammatory events are involved in acne lesion initiation

Study: Oxidative Stress affects acne

 Unlike Acute Inflammation like the fever, redness and swelling that occurs in response to injury and illness and then goes away, Chronic Silent Inflammation is subclinical, meaning there are no outwardly visible signs. And when it continues, it causes numerous problems in the body.  The body has many inflammatory responses, some involving the immune system and some not.  And there are many triggers such as stress, pollution, trans fats, and sugary and other high glycemic foods

How to follow an Anti-Inflammatory diet: Some Foods and habits promote inflammation and some counter it.  

Consume primarily Anti-inflammatory foods.  This means almost anything from a plant that isn't a seed, poisonous and that you aren't allergic to.  Anything that's an antioxidant is anti-inflammatory. These antioxidants are primarily in the color and flavor.  So consume tons of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially greens and berries.  Also, a few white or pale things such as onions, garlic, cabbage and cauliflower.   Also, spices, herbs and teas.  These flavorful plants and plant parts are super concentrated sources of antioxidant anti-inflammatory nutrients. 

Besides plant foods, animal products high in Omegs 3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory.  This means fish as well as products from animals that eat their natural diets rather than grain. Venison, Bison, Beef and Lamb from pastured animals and eggs from hens roaming free outdoors where they eat insects, worms and various plant foods. On that note, be careful about farmed fish. Some fish are suitable for farming and some aren't. Salmon aren't.  Their relatives such as trout and and arctic char are better.  Tilapia are wonderful for farming as they can live crowded together in small ponds and tanks and consume only vegetarian food.  Just be sure the come from a country with high standards on feed and keeping those crowded tanks clean. Oh, and the best way to avoid mercury from wild caught is to consume the smaller and less predatory fish such as sardines, herring and small species of mackerel and trout.  These are also fatty fish so amongst the best sources of Omega 3s.  

By consuming the above foods, you'll also be consuming more of the nutrients that help your body manage blood sugar.  

Avoid Inflammatory Foods, the worst of these being sugar and high glycemic foods and meals and trans fats.  Also, seeds, especially grains, and products from animals fed on grains are all somewhat to very inflammatory and should be limited as you balance them with lots of anti-inflammatory foods. This is primarily because they are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential, but most people get far too much in their diets from bread and cereals, vegetable and grain oils and products from animals fed grain. We need more omega 3s, less omega 6. So limit grain consumption, avoid grain oils and try to get as much of your animal products from pastured animals as you can. 

Avoid trans fats by avoiding hydrogenated oils such as margarine and vegetable shortening.  Also, foods cooked in grain and vegetable oils at temperatures above their smoking point. This means avoiding most commercially prepared baked and fried foods. These oils go rancid very easily.  They should be in dark bottles and refrigerated. Not sitting on supermarket shelves or your counter in clear plastic. Or better yet, just avoid them. Vegetable oil and shortening doesn't come from vegetables, by the way. It comes from grains and soybeans. Use coconut oil and olive oil for most of your cooking. Again, you should only keep a small amount of olive oil at room temperature and store the big bottle in the fridge. 

Elevated insulin levels cause inflammation which worsens acne and scarring

Do not wait until you develop diabetes to worry about keeping your blood sugar stable. 

Elevated blood sugar also causes loss of elasticity in tissues. All tissues, your skin, your arteries, your organs, all of them.  Elevated sugar floating around in your bloodstream causes damage to arteries and other tissues. This is the real cause of heart disease, not cholesterol. Cholesterol is the spackle your body makes to repair the damage. Every time you spike your blood sugar higher than would ever occur if we hadn't invented added sugar and refined grains, you cause aging damage to occur. 

Fat and fiber lower the glycemic impact of a meal

So always combine high glycemic foods such as sweet fruits and vegetables and the obvious processed foods such as bread and cookies with low ones like meats, eggs, beans and nuts.  And the number one tip I can give you--DON'T DRINK SUGAR! at least not without a meal to reduce the harm.  You are basically pouring sugar into your bloodstream when you have a soda or juice between meals. 

Also, anything you have an intolerance for is Inflammatory. You need to figure out what intolerances you might have and avoid or address them.  Some can be solved by such things as promoting digestive enzymes that help digest protein, fats, etc. But that's for another post on digestive health coming soon. 

And finally, abdominal fat is a big source of inflammation. Visceral fat (around your middle) in particular causes inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Lifestyle Habits

Manage Stress. Take daily walks, Meditate. Dance. Do a hobby that you enjoy. Whatever works for you.

Get a good Night's Sleep.  Night being the keyword.  We are meant to sleep in the dark and go out into the daylight in the morning.  Melatonin, the neurotransmitter that promotes sleep, is a potent antioxidant.  It is made from Seratonin which is made from certain nutrients and stimulated by daylight.  In the evening, when you should be in dim light and darkness, it's converted to melatonin to stimulate sleep and keep you asleep.  This cycle of exposure to daylight and darkness affects so many of your body's processes. Try to keep it as natural as possible.  There will be more in a later post about sleep and the circadian cycle.

Avoid pollution, especially smoke and automobile exhause.  Try to avoid sitting in traffic and be careful where you walk and jog.

Regular low to moderate intensity physical activity Walking, dancing, yard work, etc. Prolonged intense workouts such as jogging, half hour to hour intense cardio, etc are inflammatory and damaging due to oxidative stess. Also, our energy systems were never designed to fuel for such prolonged intense activity.

Study: Exercise as a Mean to Control Low-Grade Systemic Inflammation

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