“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. -Albert Einstein
After two years on a mostly vegan diet, my skin was at its worse. I was at my wits end, and I was searching for answers.
I had tried altering my levels of fat and protein intake from plant sources and processed soy foods, but nothing was working. In fact, adding in more of those manufactured "vegan" foods made my skin even worse.
I decided to launch into some research on the link between vitamin deficieny and the skin. The information I found is staggering.
Vitamin A, E and Zinc
Research was done on two groups of people: those with moderate to severe acne and those without. The results from the study showed that the group with lower levels of Vitamin A and E had higher amounts of acne. Those with lower levels of zinc also saw a worsening of acne.
The signs of Vitamin A Deficiency are the following: night blindness, dry eyes, higher chance of respiratory, lung and ear infection(s), acne, cystic acne, skin flaking, dry scalp and dandruff.
As soon as I read that list, I understood.
Vitamin A helps acne by reducing the amount of sebum, or oil, produced by the skin. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and helps to reduce free radicals both on the skin and in the body.
The best way for your body to integrate nutrients for proper functioning is through the diet.
Vitamin A sources in the diet: liver, dairy products, fish, dark leafy green vegetables, yellow, orange and red fruits and veggies.
***One article I read suggested that it is best to get most of your Vitamin A from animal sources if you have a bad or compromised gut micro-biome. Because if you have a gut biome that is not functioning properly your body is not efficient at converting Vitamin A from plant sources. (Signs of a bad gut= IBS, crones, constipation, diarrhea, use of antibiotics over a period of time...you get the idea.)
Vitamin E sources in the diet: almonds, raw seeds, swiss chard, spinach, kale, plant oils, pumpkin and sesame seeds, mustard greens, hazelnuts, avocado, broccoli, parsley, papaya, olives.
I also love adding a plant based protein powder into my daily routine and this one from Arbonne is delicious and adds 20 vitamins and minerals (including vitamin E!) to your daily routine.
Zinc sources in the diet: pumpkin seeds (57% of daily value+++), grass fed beef, lamb, cashews, chickpeas, mushrooms, chicken, kefir, natural yogurt, spinach, raw cacao powder.
Zinc is super super SUPER important because it helps kill acne causing bacteria. One study found that high amounts of digestible zinc was almost as effective as minocycline, an antibiotic often prescribed for moderate to severe acne.
I prefer not to eat meat, so I take a supplement of Zinc Picolinate 22 MG one time a day after a large meal. Zinc Picolinate is the most easily absorbed form for the body, however, I would suggest talking to a doctor or pharmacy tech before taking it. (Taking a Zinc supplement could offset the amount of copper in your body, and that is not good either, so make sure you are getting enough sources of copper.)
Gut Health and the Skin
The role between gut health and our skin is staggering. It makes sense that if you have bacteria in your gut that is out of whack, your bacteria on your skin will also be out of whack.
Skin is the body's largest detox organ, so if you are missing key nutrients and getting too much of one thing (for me it was an increase in carbs, even the good kind!), your body will respond to try to help you out.
Acne is simply your body sending you a signal that something in your lifestyle isn't working for your benefit.
I highly suggest taking a pro-biotic such as the one from Arbonne called Digestion Plus. It is formulated with pre-biotics which help our bodies to produce more good bacteria and less bad. It's also super easy to use because you add it to water or any type of drink and it's tasteless. No pills, no problem!
I've been adding in some all natural yogurts, kefir, full fat cheeses and some organic skim milk into my diet and the results on my skin are staggering. Overall my diet has been more balanced and I have less redness, less irritation, less acne!!!! It's only been 1 week and I can't wait to see even more results.
However, I want to point out that I don't believe one diet fits all. I truly believe it's best to experiment and find what works best for you and your body.
My old vegan diet of oatmeal, bananas, tofu, soy yogurt, more bananas and more oatmeal was simply not cutting it. Now I am eating balanced, whole foods consciously and with moderation.
My best friend Jessica said it best when it comes to finding balance in our diet: "Eating carrots once in your life will not help you to be healthy. Just as eating a dessert every once and a while will not stop your progress of being healthy."
Sources from research:
Links to shop: http://www.jisellehenderkott.arbonne.com