Skin Problems on a Standard American Diet

I just dug up this picture from the summer of 2010. I had spent about 3 months traveling in Australia with a tour company, and my diet was AWFUL. And by awful, I mean the standard American diet. Cereal at breakfast. Sandwiches at lunch. Pasta at dinner. Grains, grains, grains, grains. Lots of pasteurized, low-fat dairy. High omega-6 PUFA oils. Cheap meat. A fair amount of alcohol. Pretty much every non-Paleo food item on the market. Gross.

I had a REALLY bad reaction to this diet. Not only did I gain weight, even though I was exercising essentially every day – hiking, swimming, rock climbing, etc. – but my skin went CRAZY. I never had acne in my life but for some reason this diet just made my skin go nuts. Maybe it was the PUFA oils causing inflammation. Maybe it was the blood sugar fluctuations affecting my hormones. Maybe it was the horrible lack of vitamin A and omega-3s, combined with excessive sun exposure. Either way, my skin did not react well. I took a picture of my face at the peak of inflammation and what I believe was follicular hyperkeratosis from vitamin A deficiency.

I am very embarrassed about how bad this is, but I just feel like its important to show people what can happen when your diet is really bad (or really normal, depending on your perspective)

So anyway, the only reason I’m posting this horrible picture is to show that everyone is vulnerable to the dangers of the standard American diet of grains, low fat dairy, and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. I had never had acne before, and since I’ve gotten back onto a healthy (and now paleo) diet, I haven’t really had any problem with it since.

I’m hoping this post will be a good motivation for anyone dealing with skin problems to give Paleo a try. Bad skin is NOT only genetic, and is very affected by diet. You might be genetically predisposed to having skin problems, but you don’t have to live with it.

Just to show how much things have changed in less than a year, here’s a more recent skin picture:

For obvious reasons, I’m a bit more happy to show this picture! As I said before, I’m hoping this photographic evidence will demonstrate how much of a difference a proper diet can make not only to your weight, your digestion, and your energy, but also your skin!

PALEO = The BEAUTY diet! 😉

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  1. Wow, this is an amazing comparison. I’m a firm believer in the power of diet, this just proves it for me. I’ve been interested in paleo. I don’t think I could stomach the organ meats but most of the paleo diet is appealing to me. I have lived largely sugar and grain free for over a year now and it has changed my life and energy level. I lost about 48 pounds and feel so much better. I would not want to go back to the standard American diet. I was behind someone today in the checkout line buying little debbies, chips, processed chip dip and soda. It makes me sad that people can not see the need to get rid of the junk in their diet. I have also noticed that people who eat this way are not glowing but their skin is more ashen/yellow in appearance. There is a difference in how you look and feel if you are eating right. I am trying to focus on good fats, lean meats, fruits and veggies. I love coconut oil and flour and see that some of your recipes contain coconut.

    I look forward to checking out your website and recipes. Thanks so much!

    Tracey M.