Two weeks ago, I went to Whole Foods and stocked up on coconut milk, almond butter, frozen veggies, fresh berries, organic meats, wild salmon, and quinoa. My boyfriend could interpret what this meant: Lauren is back on another food detox. It started last Summer when I completed Dr. Frank Lipman’s two-week Be Well Cleanse. This is a 14-day program in which you eliminate the food groups that most people are sensitive to, including gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, nightshade vegetables, and eggs, among other things, replacing them with a plant-based diet that includes select organic lean meats and fish. You also drink three shakes a day incorporating Dr. Lipman’s special blend of powders and take supplements.
I learned a ton about myself, my habits, and my skin. Though I have yet to return to the official cleanse, I do repeat some of the guidelines from it when I feel off-balance, seem bloated, or have less-than-desirable skin (blochy, broken out, puffy under-eyes). Typically, I try to eliminate gluten, dairy, and sugar for about a week or two until I feel and look better. Within three days of sticking to this diet plan, my skin brightens, I fall asleep easier and earlier, and my jeans fit better. It’s not about dieting or losing weight; it’s about creating harmony within my body. A healthy gut undeniably yields more gorgeous skin. According to Dr. Lipman, “Your skin is your largest organ and a window into what’s going on inside your body. Poor food choices that cause inflammation can lead to numerous skin issues.” If a cleanse is a bit dramatic for you, no worries. You can still reap some of the benefits by making these seven food swaps. Dr. Lipman outlined which foods to avoid, why they are toxic for your skin, and what to replace them with.
1: Eliminate: Cow’s Milk Cheese
“Dairy is such a trigger for skin problems such as acne,” said Dr. Lipman. “All dairy, even if from grass-fed organic cows, comes from lactating cows. It’s therefore full of hormones from the cow, which can translate into hormonal acne in humans — particularly because it boosts male hormones, which are linked to acne. A 2009 review of 21 studies, for example, found that cow’s milk increased both the number of people who got acne and its severity.”
“These foods have no lactose but can be used in the same way as other cheeses,” he explained. “Enjoy them as spreads, seasonings, and snacks.”
2: Eliminate: Crackers and Processed Carbohydrates
“Processed carbohydrates are all foods that increase insulin,” the doctor informed me. “This includes white bread, sweetened cereals, pasta, baked goods, white rice, and sugar-sweetened food and drink. These processed foods break down quickly and turn to sugar, causing a spike in insulin. Scientists have found that more insulin means more acne! Processed foods are also made with processed, man-made oils, such as canola oil, soybean oil, and other ‘vegetable oils,’ which are proinflammatory. And more inflammation means more acne.”
“These crackers are full of good-for-you healthy fats and protein,” he said. “They are also low in sugar and full of fiber to balance blood sugar and insulin levels.”
“How green is that green juice?” Dr. Lipman questioned. “If it tastes sweet, it most likely has too many sugars. Many green juices have up to 50 grams of sugar! And they often lack the natural fibers found in whole fruits, which are so helpful in moderating insulin release. And remember that more insulin means more acne. So if you can lower your sugar intake, your skin will definitely be clearer.”
Instead of a juice, Dr. Lipman suggests a yummy smoothie that is high in healthy fats and protein. Here’s one of his favorite recipes.
“Soda is full of sugar and other artificial chemicals, all of which produce inflammation inside the body,” he advised. “Your skin is your biggest organ, and even though it’s on the outside of your body, it’s a window into what’s going on inside. Not only does soda increase insulin levels, but diet soda especially disrupts the necessary and healthy bacteria found in your gut. Skin issues such as rosacea, eczema, acne, and more are all evidence of an imbalance of gut bacteria.”
“Kombucha is a drink that is fermented, and therefore it’s full of probiotics, or gut-healthy bacteria!” the doctor said. “So drinking kombucha can help repopulate your healthy gut bacteria and rebalance your microbes. In layman’s terms: by fixing your gut, you can clear up your skin! It can be that simple.”
“Canned soup is full of sodium and BPA (bisphenol),” he noted. “All of the salt in canned soup can make your skin retain water and appear bloated and dry. In addition, BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which causes problems with hormones. It’s also a foreign chemical that can enter your body and cause inflammation.”
“Bone broth is soothing for the gut and healing for its lining,” he explained. “It also contains collagen, which can work wonders in improving the elasticity of your skin.”