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Holiday Food & Your Skin

By Jim Fackrell, PAC

Holiday Food & Your SkinThe holidays are upon us. A time to give thanks and spend time with friends and family. For some it’s the end of a long anticipated wait for the holiday feast, Grandma’s Deviled eggs, Aunt Betty’s Pumpkin Pie or even the Roast Beast. For others, it’s the anticipated, dreaded weight gain that seems to be associated with the festivities. For many, the holidays can bring pain or flaring of chronic conditions that can be caused by the feast itself.

There’s an old saying, ‘You are what you eat.’ Foods can affect children, adults and the elderly. Multiple conditions can be aggravated by the foods we eat. Conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis and even arthritis just to name a few.

Acne is one of the most common skin problems. Acne is not limited to teenagers, however, it can affect people of all ages and skin types. Diet alone is not the cause of acne, but studies have shown that diets with a high glycemic index can flare or worsen acne. High sugar/high fat diets can increase sebum production and promote inflammatory responses in the body which can flare acne.

People who overindulge in sugary foods tend to have more acne breakouts when compared with people who eat a diet of fresh, non-processed foods like fruits and vegetables. Limiting or avoiding a high glycemic diet seems to promote clean, healthier skin resulting in fewer breakouts and decreasing overall inflammation in the body.

Psoriasis is a complex and inflammatory process that can also benefit from diet. For instance, the number of people suffering from psoriasis is lower in regions where the diet consists mainly of fish, olive oil and nuts that help reduce inflammation. For instance, fish high in Omega-3 slows the release of inflammatory hormones and can reduce redness, scaling and itching of the skin.

Gaining weight or being overweight can worsen the severity of psoriasis. Some foods that worsen psoriasis, like alcohol and sugar, are also linked to weight gain. Eating more anti-inflammatory foods and, for some, following a gluten-free diet can decrease the severity of psoriasis as well as that of heart disease commonly associated with psoriasis.

Eczema is most common in young children but affects adults of all ages as well. Food allergies can exacerbate eczema in some kids. Babies and young children are more likely to have food triggers than older kids. Some foods are more likely to trigger the symptoms than others. The foods that cause 90% of all food allergies are milk, eggs, shellfish, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and fish. A new possible culprit may be GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) and the body’s response to them. Food allergies/sensitivities may not be the cause of the eczema, but can be something that may flare the condition and increase the overall inflammatory response.

Inflammatory Foods
High sugar, high fat foods and alcohol are not the only inflammatory foods. Red meat and poultry are foods that can have a high hormone content and a high inflammatory index. These foods can increase the inflammatory response in the body and may lead to the increased pain and suffering of those afflicted with arthritis or chronic pain.

Setting Goals
While diet alone cannot fix everything, eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet can help in an
array of health issues. I’m not suggesting that we eat ‘rabbit food’ for the holidays, but do suggest informing yourself and giving thought to what you are eating, including setting goals for your non-holiday diet and just maybe having one less slice of Aunt Betty’s Pumpkin Pie.

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