soy and acne: why we avoid this food for clear skin

here at skinSALVATION, we encourage our clients to adopt several healthy dietary changes, one of the most important being the avoidance of soy products. i know, i know – isn’t soy supposed to be a healthy wonder food, a complete protein dream? as all skinSALVATION clients learn, soy may not be as healthy for clear skin as we’ve always thought. this seemingly harmless legume may be reeking havoc on your endocrine, digestive and detox systems, contributing to painful acne in the process.

from an sS perspective, here are the top three reasons to avoid soy, especially if you are acne-prone:

1. soy can alter hormonal balance

soy contains phytoestrogens, or plant constituents that are structurally similar to the estrogen that we produce in our bodies.1 phytoestrogenic plants can affect our own hormones by altering the levels of estrogen in our bodies relative to other sex hormones.2 these phytoestrogens replace our biologically-produced estrogen in our cell receptors, disrupting the body’s hormonal balance and often resulting in a decrease in estrogen production and an increase in androgens.3 elevated androgens, specifically dht, can greatly impact the formation of acne by causing our glands to produce more oil. but let’s step back for one moment and talk about the liver. we all know that the liver’s primary function in the body is detoxification. our livers constantly work to remove not only toxins from our bloodstreams, but also excess hormones. estrogen happens to be the primary hormone that needs to be detoxed from our bodies, partially due to the nearly ubiquitous presence of xenoestrogens (also known as endocrine disrupters) in plastics, beauty products and in harsh household cleaners.4 if we bombard our bodies with this extra estrogen from plants and from our environments, our livers become taxed and are unable to perform their daily detox duties. and if the liver cannot perform its detoxing duties, it relies on other organs, like the skin, to pick up the slack. this can result in hormonal acne breakouts. additionally, these phytoestrogen-induced hormonal fluctuations can be especially detrimental for women dealing with pcos, infertility and other endocrine issues.5,6

2. soy inhibits the absorption of vitamins, minerals and protein

another major contributor to acne is inadequate nutrient absorption, either due to a poor diet or due to an impaired ability to absorb nutrients from foods as they move through the digestive tract. soy is a member of the legume family, along with other beans, chickpeas and peanuts. legumes, like nuts and seeds, are designed to survive the digestive systems of whichever creatures consume them so that they can reproduce successfully.7 in order to ensure their survival, legumes emit protective substances called lectins, which are associated with increased intestinal permeability and with inflammation of the gut.8,9 soybeans also contain phytic acid, which binds to vitamins and minerals like calcium and zinc, actively preventing their absorption.10 zinc, in particular, is crucial for keeping acne at bay because it helps reduce systemic inflammation and it can help lower dht levels.11 and even though soy is technically a complete protein, it is rife with protease inhibitors, which interfere with the digestion of protein.12 so put down that soy cappuccino – we all know about the anti-nutrient powers of coffee, after all – and start sipping a coconut milk matcha latte instead!

3. soy can be inflammatory

while it may be tempting to argue that cultures all over the world have been consuming soy for centuries to no detriment, we must keep in mind the ways in which soy crops have changed over time and in alignment with a western agricultural model. in traditional japanese cultures, soy was used only in small amounts at meals and was often fermented before consumption, allowing for easier digestion and for fewer hormonal impacts.13 soy is now rarely fermented and constitutes a relatively large percentage of western diets in the form of fillers in processed foods (soy lecithin, soybean oil, soy protein, etc). jumping from 8% gmo in 1997 to 94% gmo in 2014, soy is the most frequently genetically-modified crop in the united states today and it usually comes packed with a host of endocrine-disrupting pesticides.14 additionally, soybean oil is one of the most inflammatory omega-6 oils – the oil is extracted from the soybean using hexane, a solvent that has been characterized by the CDC as a neurotoxin.15 these chemicals, along with the indigestibility of legumes, elevate our internal inflammation levels, exacerbating acne breakouts.

looking for some alternatives to soy? here are some essential sS tips:

  • choose other legumes or green peas over soybeans or edamame
  • switch out that soy sauce (yes, including bragg’s) for coconut aminos by coconut secretbig tree farms or trader joe’s.
  • ditch the soy milk and start experimenting with rice, oat or nut milks. they’re delicious and creamy and you can even save money by making your own! califia farms and new barn are great options.
  • opt for products that use sunflower lecithin over soy lecithin – become a master label-reader!
  • if you’re vegetarian and need the protein, try pea protein, cheeses made from nuts, and black bean burgers with quinoa for the protein boost. check out kite hill nut cheese in the refrigerator section of your local natural foods store.

footnotes

1. ieh. (2000) phytoestrogens in the human diet (web report w3), leicester, uk, institute for environment and health. posted october 2000.
2. davis, s.r., et al. (1999) phytoestrogens in health and disease. recent progress in hormone research. 54:185-211.
3. nagata, c., et al. (1998) effect of soymilk consumption on serum estrogen concentrations in premenopausal japanese women. journal of the national cancer institute. 1998; 90:1830–1835.
4. mccormick, k. (2017) the liver’s role in hormone balance. connections: an educational resource of women’s international pharmacy.
5. patisaul, h.b., et al. (2014) soy but not bisphenol a (bpa) induces hallmarks of polycystic ovary syndrome (pcos) and related metabolic co-morbidities in rats. reproductive toxicology. 2014 nov; 49:209-18.
6. chandrareddy, a., et al. (2008) adverse effects of phytoestrogens on reproductive health: a report of three cases. complementary therapies in clinical practice. 2008; 14:132–135.
7. franco, l. & genovese, m.i. (2002) nutritional significance of lectins and enzyme inhibitors from legumes. journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 50 (22): 6592–6598.
8. puszatai, a. (1988) biological effects of dietary lectins. recent advances of research of antinutritional factors of legume seeds. 17-29.
9. chen, a. & donovan, s. (2004) genistein at a concentration present in soy infant formula inhibits caco-2bbe cell proliferation by causing g2/m cell cycle arrest. the journal of nutrition. 134 (6): 1303-1308.
10. 
sandberg, a.s. (2002) bioavailability of minerals in legumes. british journal of nutrition. 2002 cec; 88 suppl 3:s281-5.
11. stamatiadis, d., et al. (1988) inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase activity in human skin by zinc and azelaic acid. british journal of dermatology. 1988 nov; 119(5):627-32.
12. american nutrition association. (2015) review: the whole soy story. 38(2).
13. kresser, c. (2011) 9 steps to perfect health – #1: don’t eat toxins. posted 28 january 2011.
14. usda. (2016) recent trends in ge adoption. economic research service. 
15. centers for disease control and prevention. (2017) organic solvents. national institute for occupational safety and health.

quickie post : smoothie shortcut!

saw this online and had to share.  on your meal prep days, chop up and portion out your smoothie ingredients to make for quick breakfasts on the go!  i like to add a couple TB of chia seeds for protein and fiber, and if i don’t have nut milk on hand, i’ll throw some nuts into the bottom of the blender cup and whip up all the ingredients with water.

acne-safe ice cream!

what’s the scoop on acne-safe ice cream?

summer is right around the corner, and with the hot weather comes the siren song of the ice cream truck! it tempts our collective sweet tooth with soft-serve and ice cream bars. if you’re worried that you might not survive an acne-safe summer without frozen treats, we’ve got you covered! back in february, ben & jerry’s added three new flavors to their acclaimed dairy-free almond milk ice cream line. this left us all wondering: are they acne-safe? can we finally eat a bowl of cherry garcia on a hot summer night without fearing an impending breakout? at skinSALVATION, we take frozen dessert pretty seriously! we read some labels and put ben & jerry’s almond milk ice creams through our rigorous ingredient-auditing. while the creative and iconic vermont flavors still shine in the new ben & jerry’s dairy-free ice creams, they all contain a few acne-triggering ingredients. here are the culprits:

soy lecithin (in all flavors) – while we encourage our clients to avoid soy as much as possible, we’ve found that soy lecithin in small amounts does not aggravate most acne-prone skin.

soybean oil (in coconut seven-layer bar and chocolate fudge brownie) – soybean oil is highly inflammatory, so we recommend steering clear of these two flavors as much as possible.

coconut oil (in all flavors) – it’s not the end of the world if you consume coconut oil, but try not to let it come in contact with the skin around your mouth.

carrageenan (in caramel-almond, coffee caramel fudge, cherry garcia and coconut seven-layer bar) – this is an iodine-heavy thickener derived from seaweed and the body flushes excess iodides out through the skin. for that reason, we suggest limiting your consumption of these four flavors.

and if you’re sensitive to gluten, stick with chunky monkey and cherry garcia – these are the gluten-free options!
before you run to the nearest corner store to nab your favorite frozen pint, we’ve got one more caveat: the sugar content of these ben & jerry’s products is a little high. even though an ice cream flavor named after a beloved hippie rockstar sounds irresistible, cherry garcia and the rest of these flavors contain higher amounts of sugar than other non-dairy ice cream products on the market (25g per half cup vs. 13g in coconut bliss, 12g in almond dream and 5g in jöne’s gelato). sugar and soy can negatively impact acne-prone skin (more on soy in a new blog post coming soon). we recommend treating these ben & jerry’s products as occasional indulgences and seeking soy-free options for your regular ice cream cravings instead. if you can’t resist, the winner of the most acne-safe b&j’s flavor award is chunky monkey – so choose your vermont’s finest flavor wisely!

if you’re feeling adventurous and want to branch out into the decadent world of acne-safe ice cream just in time for summer, here is a list of some of our favorite brands that pass the sS test:

– coconut bliss – the house favorite! a dreamy, creamy coconut base that surrounds fun flavors like cinnamon chocolate fusion and ginger cookie caramel (check it out here)

– so delicious – a carrageenan-free product line! watch out for coconut oil and soy lecithin in some flavors and then bask in this super sweet and texturally-authentic ice cream (check it out here)

– jöne’s paleo – this smooth and squeaky-clean paleo gelato can be found all over the sf bay area and in whole foods stores across california (check it out here)

– mr. dewie’s – an oakland-based mom & pop ice cream company that shies away from soy and gluten and opts instead to amp up the protein content of its creations with creamy cashews (check it out here)

– almond dream – these products also contain small amounts of carrageenan for thickening purposes, but they are delicious! watch for soy lecithin in the chocolate chips! (check it out here)

– make your own! the internet is full of dairy-free ice cream recipes featuring homemade nut milks, coconut milk and even hemp milk! use our pinterest page to guide your courageous culinary endeavors.

(if you want to link to actual recipes, here are a couple – i’ve never made them but i trust these people)
this post was created for you by diane.

celebrate skinSALVATION’s 9th birthday with us!

skinSALVATION is celebrating 9 years of helping empower people with the tools that they need to get, and keep, clear skin FOR LIFE. we would love for you to join us in our celebration on march 25th from 3pm – 6pm. we will have cocktails, an acne-safe and soy-free noodle bar from mau vietnamese restaurant, and hundreds of dollars of gifts from skinSALVATION, kabuki spa, mateo’s taqueria and more. come hang out with kim and the entire skinSALVATION crew and let’s have a great time!

 

our favorite acne-safe restaurants in san francisco + the surrounding bay area

at skinSALVATION, we love to eat.

we love to grocery shop, cook meals at home and enjoy meals that are prepared for us by loved ones. we love to go to the neighborhood restaurants where they know us by name, and join year-long waitlists to have fine dining experiences. we love eating food that fuels our bodies and teaching our clients how to choose foods that will fuel theirs.

we consider cooking at home to be the most acne-safe option because it means that you have complete control of what goes into your food. often times when you eat out, there is hidden dairy, soy and cloggy cooking oils in dishes that you wouldn’t expect.

however, we recognize that we live in a mecca of some of the world’s most wonderful restaurants, so we’ve begun a list of some of our personal favorite places to eat acne-safe food. this list will be updated as we remember gems that we’ve experienced before and as we explore new restaurants.

note: not everything on these restaurant’s menus is acne-safe. make informed eating decisions by asking your server if dishes contain dairy or soy. they are happy to tell you and may be able to make substitutions to accommodate you.

pro tip: when a friend or a date asks you out to dinner, offer to cook for them or suggest a restaurant from this list where you know you’ll be able to find something to eat that fits your dietary restrictions. you can check out the menus online ahead of time and even call to ask about ingredients so that you already know what you’re going to order before you get there.

 

DINING OUT FOR DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

bar agricole has a seasonally based menu chock full of locally grown produce and sustainable meat options. all of their dishes can be made dairy + soy free and the “farm-to-table” restaurant just received another 3-star rating from michael bauer (esteemed food and drink writer for the sf chronicle for over 28 years!). be sure to try a handcrafted cocktail and the $1 pork sausages, served with gut-loving sauerkraut, during their daily happy hour from 5pm to 6pm.

trou normand is the sister restaurant of bar agricole and their made-in-house charcuterie selections are among the best the city has to offer! the protein-heavy menu favors us carnivores, but the citrus salad around this time of year is delicious and vegan, dairy + soy-free.

minas brazilian hosted the skinSALVATION team for our new years dinner and we pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu. they were very accommodating about making dishes dairy, soy and gluten-free for us.

llimon rotisserie has amazing roast chicken, sides + ceviche that are dairy + soy-free. they do have a few dishes on the menu that include soy sauce as indicated on their menu.

tin is a family-run restaurant that serves traditional vietnamese fare. we love to start with the fresh spring rolls, sans peanut dipping sauce, and follow it up with a steaming bowl of phō. perfect for these gloomy san francisco days we’ve been having!

turtle tower speaking of phō, turtle tower is know for this broth based soup, boasting some of the best freshly-made noodles. be sure to ask if they add soy sauce to any of the dishes that you order and if so, ask them to hold it.

*tip: bring your own bottle of coconut aminos in your bag when you dine at asian restaurants. you can add your own instead of soy sauce!

 

DINE IN OR TAKE OUT FOR LUNCH + DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

la taza has a huge menu including many great salads, which you can order without cheese. the kale con quinoa with steak is a staff favorite!

mateo’s taqueria is an upscale taqueria located downstairs from skinSALVATION. we love that they use organic ingredients and will make anything without cheese or crema, just ask for, “no dairy.”

staff favorites: guacamole (ask for no cheese!) + horchata made with almond milk. although horchata is a sweet cinnamon rice milk, it’s often mixed with dairy milk to make it creamy.

mau has delicious + nourishing broth as the base of many of their dishes. their staff is very knowledgable and can tell you if any of the dishes contain soy (a hard feat in many asian restaurants).

gracias madre takes a vegan approach to traditional mexican dishes. we LOVE that they use cashew cheese in their dishes, making them dairy AND soy-free.

burma love is a great burmese restaurant in the mission. some of their dishes contain soy so be sure to ask before ordering. staff favorite is their tea leaf salad (ask them to hold the peanuts to keep it acne-safe).

 

EAT IN THE EAST BAY

teni east kitchen makes an amazing burmese chickpea tofu for those of you who are missing the traditional soy dish.

burma superstar is the east bay mama restaurant of burma love. same rules apply.

mission heirloom is a beautiful paleo restaurant for meals and treats. their brazilian waffles (with cheddar cheese) and their coffee drinks are the only items on the menu to steer clear of. many of their dishes contain coconut oil, which can be problematic for many of us who are acne-prone but is okay in small amounts.

enssaro ethiopian is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and you get to eat it with your hands! the meat sampler and veggies sampler are both amazing.

 

DELIVERY

darn good food

mealmade delivers delicious paleo meals for lunch and dinner in san francisco. a staff favorite is their orange chicken with cauliflower rice.

methodology is a subscription based paleo meal delivery service. their delicious + healthy meals are perfect for people who don’t have time to meal prep acne-safe food for the week. use promo code SKINSALVATION to get 10% off of your first week.

sprig lists all of their ingredients and nutrition information on the website + app so you can check if dishes contain dairy or soy before ordering.

munchery allows you to add filters for things like dairy, gluten and eggs. you have to double check ingredient listings to be sure that there’s no soy added.

good eggs delivers organic groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores across the bay area.

instacart delivers groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores in your area like whole foods, bi-rite, and rainbow grocery.

postmates delivers food from a TON of restaurants in the bay area. some of our favs are:

  • roam artisan burgers, which can be ordered without dairy, and even without a bun!
  • pica pica maize kitchen, which makes gluten-free peruvian style arepas. be sure to ask for yours without cheese!
  • project juice, which has a ton of great soy-free and dairy-free prepared meals. their coconut crepes with cashew cheese + blueberries are a staff fav!

 

SWEETS + TREATS 

wholesome bakery makes cookies + cupcakes free from the top allergens including: dairy, soy, gluten, and eggs. their thin mint cookie sandwiches are a staff fav!

dandelion chocolate makes beautiful dairy-free and soy-free chocolate.

sidewalk juice makes great veggie juices + smoothies. some of their smoothies contain dairy, soy milk or sherbet (super high in sugar!) but they will gladly sub almond milk for you! staff favs are the green energy juice (ask for it without apple + add extra lemon if you’re on candida cleanse!) and the blueberry almond smoothie (ask them to leave out the fro-yo).

boba guys will make any of their delicious boba drinks with almond milk instead of dairy!

 

 

 

 

this article was written for you by liesse + chelsee.