A majority of our skin’s problems are caused almost entirely by inflammation. Stress, lack of sleep, pollution, secondhand smoke, sun exposure - these can all lead to skin inflammation, a direct result of cortisol overproduction. I’ve found during my research and experience in healing skin as an aesthetician that in addition to all of those things, eating foods to help regulate cortisol production is a great defense we can give our skin to fight inflammation. Unhealthy diet habits can cause a chronic increase in cortisol (the hormone responsible for regulating stress in the body). Many people are aware of the effects cortisol has on weight, but not as many are aware of what it does to our skin.
When cortisol is released, sugar levels in our blood increase. On our skin, it encourages a process called “glycation” that damages collagen, hardening it and increasing the appearance of lines/wrinkles.
- Cortisol decreases our skin’s production of hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer. It can also damage protective qualities making it difficult to keep hydration levels up. When hyaluronic acid production is compromised, our skin becomes dry, acneic, inflamed and damaged.
- Cortisol affects our complexion/appearance/‘glow’. When stress levels levels are high, we produce excess adrenaline, which is helpful if you’re out in the woods running from a predator, but in daily life, it can only hurt and make our bodies produce more cortisol than necessary. When adrenaline is present, blood flow to our skin is decreased (taking oxygen away from it). This allows for toxins to build up, a step that leads many of our skin type’s to develop cellulite and hormonal acne.
LET’S BE REAL FOR 6 SECONDS,...
Getting a good night’s sleep is going to be our very best defense against increased levels of cortisol, affecting our skin’s inflammation most. Now we have even more of an excuse to get plenty of actual, literal, “beauty sleep”. Alas, the ugly truth is that many of us will never allow ourselves ‘enough sleep’.
The struggle is real.
Conclusively, I’ve created a
and gluten free
list of FOODS TO EAT and a very
and cortisol fueling
list of FOODS TO AVOID that may help keep our skin healthy, vibrant and alive.
FOODS TO AVOID:
Factory Farm Beef
Milk chocolate, refined sugar, candy, cake, baked goods
ANY foods that you are sensitive to, especially dairy
FOODS YOUR SKIN WILL LOVE
Berries are very high in vitamin C, which has proven records to reduce cortisol levels successfully. Darker berries (black and blue) are loaded with antochyanins, which also have cortisol lowering benefits. ALL BERRIES are loaded with antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress in the body, leading to lower cortisol levels. The next time you are stressed, grab a handful of blueberries and eat your heart out.
Oysters, Raw Cashews/Pecans/Peanuts/Pistachios, and Sunflower Seeds
All containing Zinc, Oysters take the lead of being the highest known source for Bio-Active Zinc, known universally for it’s cortisol lowering effects. BONUS: oysters are a major aphrodisiac, according to pretty much everyone.
Decaffeinated Black Tea
PACKED WITH THEANINE. Theanine stops and reverses the stress reaction (cortisol) in it’s tracks. I’d encourage everyone reading this to look deeper into it’s positive effects on the body in general - but basically it’s a magical element in stress reduction. Black tea is great to drink in the morning, and even decaf will help start your day off in a major cortisol controlling way. BONUS: drinking warm water helps to repair the skin cells that increase the elasticity of your skin that are affected by harmful free radicals. Subsequently, our damaged skin becomes smoother.
Raw Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
I just don’t feel as though this one needs very much validating. We shouldn’t be eating too much of it, sadly. Instead of eating the whole box, let’s share! Please? Give me your chocolate.
Tofu, Beans, & Eggs
Maybe even together? Why not? All of these foods contain significant amounts of Tryptophan, which is the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness/well-being.
Carbs can help our brain make serotonin, the same substance regulated by antidepressants. But instead of mindlessly having an affair with the chips and salsa/bread basket, go for complex carbs. Stress can cause our blood sugar to rise, so a complex carb like oatmeal won't contribute to our already potential spike in that department.
AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST,…
Worth noting for all of you who are questioning why we shouldn’t drink fruit juice: the way it is typically made strips fruit of it’s fiber causing a cascade of actions that involve elevated cortisol levels. We can drink vegetable juice instead, or juice that at least has more veggies than fruit to be more cortisol conscious.
Thank you kindly for reading, those of you who made it through! I’m hoping to make nutritional information that’s related to skincare a big part of my regular blogging regimen.