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 secret, big 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.
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.
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!
hey sSers! just a quick post to let everyone know about our switch to a new line of probiotics. for the past several months, we had been selling probiotics and digestive enzymes by kyo-dophilus. while we still love this brand, we wanted to introduce a more powerful probiotic into the clinic for our clients. our new probiotics are called jarro-dophilus by jarrow and they contain 25 billion viable cells per capsule, as opposed to 3 billion in kyo-dophilus. the new probiotic also contain 8 different strains versus kyo’s 3. these shelf-stable probiotics are enteric-coated, which means that they can survive stomach acid and reach the small intestine intact, increasing the spread of beneficial gut bacteria. these probiotics are more potent meaning that some clients may need to slowly work up to the suggested dosage.
jarrow probiotics (legally has to) list dairy and soy in trace amounts as some of their ingredients. this is because some strains of the jarrow high potency formula were grown on growth media that includes dairy and soy. but, after the growth period the strains are filtered off and washed away from the culture medium. this leaves little to no trace of dairy and soy remaining. the strains are then added to a carrier, like potato starch, and subsequently encapsulated. bottom line – the minuscule amount of dairy and soy content of these probiotics should not pose a problem for those who are prone to acne. we chose to carry this brand because:
- we believe in the importance of digestive health for clear skin,
- this brand has been proved by third party researchers to be shelf stable, and are enteric coated and
- jarrow is one of the leading probiotic brands in intestinal and immune health that you can easily find anywhere.
we will be reviewing other brands of probiotics and perhaps will start carrying these other brands to survey the best of what’s available on the market.
hey sS’ers, lots of changes with manufacturers these days it seems. our latest shipment of the derma-e hyaluronic and pycnogenol eye cream came in a newly designed box, which signals change. often times, manufacturers will loop new formulation AND packaging changes together, to use up excess packaging that’s purchased in large quantities far in advance.
upon closer inspection of the ingredient list, derma-e has replaced an acne-safe emulsifier, “glyceryl stearate”, with a non-acne-safe one, called “glyceryl stearate SE”. tricky because they are so similar, but thanks to us, your acne detectives, we’ve caught the culprit!
for your reference, above you’ll find a picture of the old packaging with the SAFE formula, and the new packaging with now unsafe-acne formula, which we would recommend you avoid if you are at all acne prone, especially on your upper cheeks or temples.
until we research, test and find a suitable cream replacement, we suggest max + jane’s lovely eye nutrient. it’s an ultra-rich, silky gel that provides hydration, protection and rejuvenation within a beautiful, all natural formula. we sell this at the clinic and in our online shop for $34.95. (ps, this eye serum is made by our clinic manager, liesse’s mom, in new mexico!)
here are the max + jane’s eye nutrient ingredients:
vegan hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, cucumber hydrosol, vegetable glycerin, jasmine sambac, rosemary, xanthum gum, silk peptides, calendula oil, and carrot seed oil.
thanks for supporting us, your patience with our research, and your continued trust in us!