While working as a beauty industry consultant and spokesperson in the ’80s and early ’90s, I bought into mainstream dietary mantras such as, “Avoid rich foods, chocolate, fats, and cheese if you want to have clear skin.” But ironically, eating a low-fat diet didn’t help my skin look good at all—it was chronically dry, and I would often break out in rashes. Moreover, trying to adhere to what I then considered a healthy diet resulted in the development of an unhealthy relationship with food. I struggled with an eating disorder for years and developed liver problems and other health issues.
I finally regained my health with a combination of foods and supplements that I pieced together through trial and error. I was eating more fat than I had in years, and had virtually cut out sugar from my diet. Not only was I feeling healthier, but I literally woke up one morning and found that clearer skin was one of the many beneficial side effects of my new diet and supplement plan. All of this was a revelation, and it prompted me to share my newfound knowledge with others in my book, The Truth About Beauty.
For skin issues like chronic acne, hives, psoriasis, rosacea, skin tags, or more rare disorders like sebaceous hyperplasia and schleroderma, topical treatments can help to a certain extent—but they don’t address the root causes of these conditions. The right diet, however, can heal from the inside-out. Gluten-free and Paleo-style diets that focus on protein and vegetables can work wonders. And what may be even more effective for a growing number of more digestively, hormonally, or metabolically challenged folks like my former self is a higher-fat, lower-sugar, and possibly even no-grain approach.
Real-Life Success Stories
I have taught this “low-impact” dietary approach (meaning it has a low-impact on blood sugar) for more than a decade at my Total Transformation Program retreats. Attendees learn the diet plan I developed 20 years ago to recover my own health and sanity regarding food, as well as cooking tips and supplement options. Perhaps most importantly, they learn to listen to their bodies—how to physically feel (without carb counting) when their “metabolic thresholds” have been crossed in order to achieve and maintain body-wide health. Here are six, real-life, dramatic skin (and body-wide) transformations resulting from this approach.
- Former seven-year bulimic Courtney’s chronic deep cystic acne along her jawline—which had not responded to years of lower-fat diets or even herbal detox approaches—simply cleared up (along with her eating disorder, insomnia, and amenorrhea) in just over a month—and has not returned since.
- Jacqui’s PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) symptoms of hypoglycemia, back acne, and extremely oily skin, reduced for the first time within the first week of altering her diet.
- Sonja’s skin tags, which she had removed regularly from under her armpits, literally all fell off within a month of shifting from Paleo eating to this stricter approach.
- Beth broke out in hives of unknown cause after literally every meal, which had also destroyed the physical relationship with her husband because it was intolerable for her to be touched. After three weeks of eating according to my program, the hives completely ended.
- Ann was motivated to pursue a degree in nutrition mostly to get to the bottom of her sebaceous hyperplasia. She tried juicing and a dairy- and meat-free diet, to no avail. After two weeks of my low-impact eating program, she began to feel, for the first time ever, the raised oil gland lesions characteristic of this skin condition soften and flatten, and milia (small cysts) and whiteheads disappear. Her face has continued to get smoother until this writing, a year and a half later.
- Former psoriasis sufferer Tom frequently travels for work. His wife was the first to try my diet, and when Tom was home he would eat low impact along with his wife. He noticed that his psoriasis improved when he ate this way, and flared up again when he traveled and ate differently. He began eating the low-impact diet exclusively, and within three months, his psoriasis virtually disappeard.
There is now a new wave of research suggesting that the way I healed my body—and the dietary choices that led to it—was not a fluke. This way of eating achieves both nutritional ketosis (a fat burning state known to be anti-inflammatory) and cellular resensitization to the hormone leptin. Until recently, leptin was thought to primarily regulate energy intake and expenditure as well as appetite and metabolism. But in 2010, research published in Experimental Dermatology, suggested a potentially major connection between the leptin’s metabolic effects and skin inflammation, wound healing, and immune modulation (even hair growth!).