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.

relax and unwind!

by kerry watson

after a long stressful day at work or at home with the kids, making evening “me time” can be a challenge but it’s well worth the effort! prioritizing healthy downtime each night counteracts the negative effects of a stressful busy life, which otherwise takes it’s toll over time. so instead of flopping on the couch and turning on the tv, give your nervous system a much needed break each night by incorporating some of our favorite evening and bedtime rituals

if you enjoy doing yoga but have had trouble finding the time to take a class, try down dog. it’s a totally awesome free yoga app that provides you with your own private yoga class anytime and anywhere. use it at home or in a hotel room or even in your office at work. to have some fun, set little challenges for yourself like 20 minutes of yoga for 20 days. your entire body will thank you!

if you haven’t given meditation a fair try, there’s no better time than the present! especially now that there are so many great free apps available that make it super easy and fun! checkout headspace or calm or my absolute favorite one – insighttimer. i have a fear of public speaking but have had to do it many times over the course of my professional life. meditating for 5-20 minutes before a speaking event has absolutely saved me every time. the guided meditations on insighttimer are wonderful. you can search for a specific topic and length and each meditation is rated by other users so you never end up with a dud. my favorite topics to search for include – manifestation, letting go, sleep and anxiety. it works every time! and kim likes insighttimer for a quick am mediation t wake up verses snooze!

instead of looking at your phone, computer or tablet in bed, reach for a good old fashioned paperback book 1-2 hours before turning in. looking at the light from electronic devices can raise cortisol, a stimulating hormone that tells the body that it’s time to wake up. not exactly, the best thing to do when it’s bedtime. right now, i’m reading all the poldark books by winston graham. if anyone wants them after i’m done just say the word! also, if you have trouble falling asleep, kim likes to listen to brainwave sleep tracks on youtube with the display turned off to keep the room dark. it helps her slip off to dreamland in no time!

whenever i’ve had a particularly trying day, i light a yummy candle, turn down the lights and fill up the tub for a much needed evening soak or acne-safe bubble bath. what better way to let go of the trials and tribulations of a tough day?

and of course, last but not least, don’t forget to cleanse, ice, tone and apply your moisturizer. sweet dreams!

choose natural health newsletter: the large intestine + digestion

one of our vendors, pure herbs (who makes can-sol, the herbal tincture to help control candida yeast overgrowth), puts out delightful and very informative newsletters every month.  with permission from their writer, jeri spencer, i’ve decided to share some of the best ones with you all, in hopes that you can gain more knowledge about how your body works, and how to best optimize the one you’ve got!  we want to empower you to understand and take charge!

any sS’er knows how important digestion is to eliminating the body’s toxins.  toxins that build up within the body often times manifests in the skin (as acne, or rashes) and extreme cases can induce (or be indicative of) more complicated underlying imbalances, like candida yeast overgrowth.

read this and let us know what you think!  take a close look at the ingredients of “know your ingredients” – it’s surprising to discover what’s in products that are marketed as healthy (the product is disclosed at the end of the newsletter).  and i personally love the joke of the month! 🙂

Choose Natural Health Newsletter April 2017

“ALL-DISEASE-BEGINS-IN-THE-GUT.”-–-HIPPOCRATES-2.jpgThe large intestine is the topic of this newsletter.  It has been said you are what you eat.  I believe it goes further to: you are what you eat, absorb, assimilate and don’t eliminate.  Often  allopathic doctors when questioned say as long as it is regular there is nothing to worry about even if you are only having regular bowel movements once every couple of days, weeks, or months,   If this is the case why does the CDC rate Colon/Rectal cancer as the #2 cause of death in America?

If you have ever had a baby and think back to when they were newborns, they would sleep, eat and poop.  When the baby finished eating you could wait a little while and know you were going to have to change the diaper.  As children age, they often get too busy to stop and take the time to eliminate creating a lifelong habit of holding bowel movements  in.   In addition,  the abusive use of antibiotics destroying the good bacteria of the microbiome adds to the development of lifetime constipation.

It is very important to remember the ways of the newborn’s elimination process is the way it should continue throughout life.  For every meal eaten, there should be a bowel movement the next day.  It takes approximately 24 hours for food to digest and pass the entire way through the digestive system.

Know Your Ingredients
cultured grade A reduced-fat milk, sugar, water, fructose or fruit sugar, modified food starch, less than 1 percent milk protein concentrate, modified corn starch, kosher gelatin, agar, guar gum, lactic acid, calcium lactate, vitamin D3 and sodium citrate

Recipe of the Month: Want a way to warm up the digestive system and burn excess fat at the same time, try drinking the Melt Away Tea a couple of times a day.

Morning and Afternoon Melt Away Tea

  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger puree (peel and chop ginger, add water in blender, blend until pureed;  store in fridge)
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper
  • Very warm water.
  • Stevia or Xylitol to taste

Large Intestine Function
The major function of the large intestine is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food matter and transmit the useless waste material from the body.

Joke of the Month: Who’s In Charge?
One day the different parts of the body were having an argument to see which should be in charge.

The brain said, “I do all the thinking so I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”
The eyes said, “I see everything and let the rest of you know where we are, so I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”
The hands said, “Without me we wouldn’t be able to pick anything up or move anything. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”
The stomach said, “I turn the food we eat into energy for the rest of you. Without me, we’d starve. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”
The legs said, “Without me we wouldn’t be able to move anywhere. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”
Then the intestine said, “I think I should be in charge.”
All the rest of the parts said, “You?!? You are just the garbage dump! You’re not important! You can’t be in charge.”

So the intestines shut down.

After a few days, the legs were all wobbly, the stomach was all queasy, the hands were all shaky, the eyes were all watery, and the brain was all cloudy. They all agreed that they couldn’t take any more of this and agreed to put the intestines in charge.

LargeIntestine.pngThe Large Intestine Anatomy
Food and liquid pass through the stomach into the small intestine to the large intestine or colon.  The average length of an adult colon is 5 feet long. Its largest diameter is at the cecum (about 3″) and narrowest in the sigmoid (around 1″). Fecal matter passes through the ileocecal valve from the small intestine into the cecum, the first part of the large intestine.  It then needs to work against gravity and climb up through the ascending colon, around the hepatic flexure (curving area near the liver) across the transverse colon and around the splenic flexure (left side of the body) to the descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum, anal canal and then is eliminated.
.
The large intestine is lined internally by a layer of mucosa. This mucosa contains tiny indentations called the crypts of Lieberkühn. These contain various glands and goblet cells that help in secretion and absorption of fluids.

There is also a large amount of lymphoid tissue that helps in maintaining an immune barrier.

Antibody Production
The lymphoid tissue contained in the large intestine help in the production of antibodies.  These antibodies are produced in part to protect against harmful bacteria and helpful in protecting against infections.

Vitamin Absorption
The good bacteria or probiotics, sometimes called commensal bacteria,  residing in the large intestine play an important part in the continuation of the digestive process.   These bacteria are also responsible for the production of large amounts of vitamins if the intact of nutrient dense food is lacking.  A person eating a typical American diet whose body depended on the formation of vitamins by commensal bacteria may become vitamin deficient; especially if they have a history of drug use like antibiotics which kill the commensal bacteria.

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Know your Ingredients Answer

: Danon Activia Original

before + after micro-needling for acne scars

many of you are curious to know the results of my micro-needling experience to help reduce the appearance of textural scarring from acne. for a reminder about what textural scarring is and how micro-needling may help it, check out this blog post.

i received 6 full micro-needling treatments from natalie at the center for holistic skin rejuvenation in san francisco. during my initial consultation with her, i expressed that my main goal was to help reduce the appearance of the deep pitted scars on my cheeks where i used to have inflamed acne.

what were the treatments like? each treatment was one hour long. she began by cleansing my face with skinSALVATION charcoal cleanser, which i asked her to use to avoid future breakouts. she used a disposable needle roller on each area of my face for a total of about 10 minutes, which felt comparable to the pain of receiving extractions. after needling, she did full body acupuncture to help with internal issues like stress management, digestion, and hormone balance. i would lay on the table for 30 minutes with the acupuncture needles in, a heater on and relaxing music playing. this was my favorite part and felt like a total treat after the pain of the face treatment. at the end, she used safeguard sunscreen to help protect and moisturize my skin.

my skin felt hot and flushed for the remainder of the day and stayed pink for about 3 days post treatment. during these 3 healing days, i used hydrating cleanser morning and night, safeguard spf and hydrating cream. i didn’t use any other active products and did not apply makeup.

i waited at least 10 days before and after micro-needling treatments to receive extractions or chemical peels from skinSALVATION.

other than reduction of textural scarring, what did i notice? the micro-needling helped break up old scar tissue in my chin that looked like small seeds that we could never extract. i believe that these seeds were trapped so deep beneath scar tissue that they hadn’t been able to come to the surface before. micro-needling helped to bring these seeds to the surface, so i had a little bit of a, “purge” where i broke out. ultimately, this helped me be more clear and have a smooth chin.

am i happy with my results? yes. the reduction of my pitted textural scarring on my cheeks is not as dramatic as i anticipated. i hoped that after 6 treatments on micro-needling, the skin on my face would be flawless and as smooth as porcelain, but that wasn’t my experience. however, i love that:

  1. the scarring on my cheeks is much less noticeable
  2. i was able to bring the deep seeds in my chin up to the surface and get rid of them for good
  3. the acupuncture portion of the treatments helped me reduce overall stress and balance my hormones. my usual painful cramping associated with menstruation was MUCH better when i was receiving regular acupuncture from natalie.

who would i recommend this to? i would recommend micro-needling to people who have raised textural scarring on their skin. this might feel like little bumps on the skin that aren’t acne. if you aren’t sure if you have scarring or acne seeds, ask your esthetician at skinSALVATION.

if you have minimal pitted textural scarring, micro-needling may help you get closer to having completely smooth skin. like many treatments, there is no guarantee that you will have 100% success with this treatment. success depends on your skin type, genetics, natural collagen production, and severity of scarring.

the photos on the left-hand side are from before my treatments and the photos on the right are after 6 treatments, approximately 4.5 months later.

 

 

as you can see from the above photos (especially if you zoom in on them), there is some noticeable reduction in scarring on my cheeks and a reduction in hyper-pigmentation. the pigmentation is most likely lighter as a combined result of the micro-needling and chemical peels that i received during this time at skinSALVATION.

note from kim: keep in mind that this series of micro-needling was performed by an acupuncturist, and not a dermatologist.  acupuncturists are (legally) only able to work on the skin’s uppermost, superficial layers of the skin, rendering much milder results than a dermatologist would (who is legally able to access the deeper, subcutaneous dermal layers of the skin).  dermatologists, being board certified and having access to more aggressive tools and treatments, would likely be able to render more aggressive results.  for example, a dermatologist may employ anesthesia to numb you from the pain of going much deeper, into the dermal layers of the skin to stimulate more collagen remodeling, whereas acupuncturists are really only treating the epidermis, or upper-most superficial layers of the skin.

liesse has yet to explore the same therapy with a different, more aggressive approach, and we will be sure to document and share with you the results of further experimentation as we can!

 

 

the opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal experience. this does not reflect the opinions of practitioners who perform micro-needling.