This article contains a short (yet insightful!) explanation on how to avoid nasty pimples, icky acne and get positively radiant, healthy-looking skin! Check out my book, Love Your Body, for a chapter covering skin health. This article is not as comprehensive as what’s in the book, but it will increase your understanding of the terms I mention in the LYB tome. Okay, urrr, it’s not quite a huge scholarly tome or anything- it’s a pretty smooth sailing, anti-confusing, anti-dry compilation of words, paragraphs and chapters if you ask me! I can’t do boring. I just CANNOT do boring even when I write about scientific research! Actually, writing of (instead of speaking of!) scientific research, let’s dive into the details about how to take control of your skin health and achieve a naturally rosy complexion! Note: there will be no mention of dangerous tanning beds. GROSS!
The alarming stats
American teens: 85% of teenagers in the Western world experience acne. Young adults: over 50% of adults in their 20s and 30s suffer from problem skin. WOWOWOWOW this is huge! If you are suffering from acne prone skin, it looks like you’ve got quite a bit of company. We don’t deserve this! Now let’s take action and tackle the cause.
Cow’s Milk and Skin Health
Drinking milk and consuming dairy products from pregnant cows exposes us to the hormones produced by the cows’ pregnancy, hormones that we were not designed to consume during our teenage and adult years! It makes sense that teenagers’ acne parallels an increase in hormonal activity. Thankfully, we have substitutions for dairy products, like coconut milk, hemp milk, almond milk and even flaxseed milk! Creamy coconut or cashew whipped cream and/or icing is absolutely mouth-watering! The picture you see below is of a slice of vegan coconut cream pie I enjoyed at Cafe Gratitude in Venice, CA called “I am IRRESISTIBLE”. Think coconut custard, dark chocolate swirl and chocolate date crust! SO GOOD! Clearly we do not need nasty, pimple-inducing dairy products to enjoy decadent food! Now for the science:
This is not a result of bovine growth hormone injections or added steroids that’s we’ve added to the milk, but what is in milk naturally. As a commentary in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology noted: “It should surprise no one that milk contains such a heavy complement of growth-enhancing hormones. Milk is, after all, specifically designed to make things grow.”
The most notable hormones found in milk are: estrogen, testosterone and insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Consuming these hormones alters our natural hormone balance, throws our hormones out of whack and let’s just say that it will not increase our odds of obtaining blemish-free skin. Consumption of cow’s milk (or as I like to say, “cow’s boob milk” is pretty terrible for the rest of our bodies too! My aim is never to alarm you, but the science shows that consuming animal products containing these hormones increases the odds of getting diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Eek!
TOR (aka the freaky, malicious enzyme in milk)
The enzyme, TOR (mTORC1), found in milk has been linked to acne and also contributes to an increase in the odds of getting a bunch of scary diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and cancer. CLICK HERE to watch a stellar video by Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org to learn more about the dairy-TOR-acne link.
Plant-derived TOR inhibitors are found in fruits and veggies! The more bright fruits and vegetables we eat, the lower our TOR levels will be and the less likely a pimple or acne will show up on our skin.
Another reason to eat more fruits and veggies to get great lookin’ skin
Blood levels of zinc, carotenoids, and Vitamin E are known to be lower in people suffering from acne compared to those without problem skin. This suggests that a nutrient-rich, plant-based diet helps prevent acne! Where can we find carotenoids? They are most concentrated in green and orange vegetables, and nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E! Although pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds are rich in zinc, zinc absorption efficiency may be low on a plant-based diet, so the best way to guarantee ideal zinc levels is to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, which will ensure that we have optimal levels of iodine, Vitamin D and B12.
I LOVE science! Here are scientific references to science up your la vida healthy and increase your nutrition IQ!
B C Melnik, S M John, G Schmitz. Milk is not just food but most likely a genetic transfection system activating mTORC1 signaling for postnatal growth. Nutr J 2013 12:103. B C Melnik, S M John, G Schmitz. Milk is not just food but most likely a genetic transfection system activating mTORC1 signaling for postnatal growth. Nutr J 2013 12:103.
B C Melnik, S M John, G Schmitz. Milk is not just food but most likely a genetic transfection system activating mTORC1 signaling for postnatal growth. Nutr J 2013 12:103.
F W Danby. Turning acne on/off via mTORC1. Exp Dermatol 2013 22(7):505 – 506.
B C Melnik, C C Zouboulis. Potential role of FoxO1 and mTORC1 in the pathogenesis of Western diet-induced acne. Exp Dermatol 2013 22(5):311–315.
B C Melnik, S M John, G Plewig. Acne: Risk indicator for increased body mass index and insulin resistance. Acta Derm Venereol. 2013 93(6):644 – 649.
Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, et al: A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:107-115.
Melnik BC, Schmitz G: Role of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. Exp Dermatol 2009;18:833-841.
El-Akawi Z, Abdel-Latif N, Abdul-Razzak K: Does the plasma level of vitamins A and E affect acne condition? Clin Exp Dermatol 2006;31:430-434.
Amer M, Bahgat MR, Tosson Z, et al: Serum zinc in acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol 1982;21:481-484.