Dealing with Specific Skin Problems
As well as giving you beautiful skin, a balanced diet can also help alleviate some of the most common skin problems, including age spots, acne, eczema, psoriasis, canker sores, and varicose veins. Studies show that the vast majority of skin problems respond to “healing” fruits and vegetables that are easy to juice. They include apples, apricots, berries, cantaloupe, grapes, mangos, papaya, pears, carrots, cucumber, leafy greens, beets and beet greens, pumpkin, squash, and watercress.
Crash-dieting can trigger acne, so don't overdo it! Extreme changes in food intake such as almost total avoidance of fat or inclusion of fat as the sole source of food greatly destabilizes the amount of secretions from the pores, which has been found to be a major cause of acne.
In addition, consuming a sufficient amount of essential fatty acids (found in nuts, olive oil, and oily fish) can help ward off the dryness that can trigger acne. Other healing foods that tackle skin problems include soy products, edible seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and flax), lentils, oats, seaweed, spirulina, whole grains, and yogurt. Drinking eight glasses of water daily, which can include the water in your juice, can help flush out toxins that create skin problems.Alleviating Acne
The age old adage that we are what we eat holds particularly true in the case of skin ailments like acne. Studies conducted on Inuit children after World War II indicated that eating a balanced diet with lower-glycemic carbohydrates and fats such as fresh vegetables and juice helped prevent acne. The more saturated fats and junk food the children in the study consumed, the more likely they were to develop acne.
Chronic acne may also signal you're not getting enough essential vitamins, including beta-carotene (found in kale, parsley, and carrots); vitamin E (found in spinach, asparagus, and carrots); folic acid (found in spinach, kale, and beet greens); selenium (found in turnips, oranges, and red Swiss chard); chromium (found in apples, green peppers, and potatoes); zinc (found in ginger root, carrots, and parsley) and essential fatty acids (found in green juices). On the flip side, foods high in trans-fatty acids, including milk products, butter, margarine, shortening, and hydrogenated vegetable oils, can exacerbate acne.
If you have acne, it may be time to cut back on the burgers and fries. That's because fast food is a leading culprit in acne — and not just because of the fat and carb overload. Fast food is also packed with iodine, which can result in skin flare-ups when consumed in excess.
Food allergies can also trigger acne or skin problems. When you eat a food you're allergic to, your body creates toxic substances to fight the allergic reactions. The body expels the toxins, and zits and blemishes pop up. Common food allergies include soft drinks, chocolate, tomatoes, milk, and junk foods made with refined carbohydrates. If you break out every time you eat a certain food, you may want to see a dermatologist or allergist, who can administer blood tests that help isolate the culprit.
Sluggish digestion can also cause acne. When your body doesn't eliminate toxins and allergens from your kidneys and bowels quickly enough, the results can show up as acne. If you're prone to regular or chronic breakouts, consider putting your skin on a cleansing or detox diet.
Juicing for Acne
Fortunately, many fruits and vegetables naturally help clear up breakouts, so juicing is an ideal way to prevent or clear up stubborn cases of acne. Beta-carotene, which is abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables, is a natural way to reduce sebum production, while vitamin B6 can help prevent acne breakouts associated with menstrual cycles. Zinc helps reduce inflammation and facilitates healing and tissue regeneration, and chromium can help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance levels.Alleviating Age Spots
Age spots, often called liver spots because of their unattractive brown color, can crop up on your face, hands, arms, or legs, and make you look and feel years older. Age spots are actually caused by free radicals — toxins that accumulate in your body and trigger everything from acne to cancer — as well as dietary imbalances and deficiencies.
To alleviate age spots, use juicing to fill in the nutritional gaps. Nutrients that eliminate age spots include beta-carotene (found in kale, parsley, carrots, and spinach); vitamin C (found in spinach, green peppers, kale, parsley, and citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons, grapes, cherries, and grapefruit); and vitamin E (found in carrots, asparagus, and spinach). In addition, you might want to put your skin on a cleansing diet that eliminates caffeine, alcohol, fast food, junk food, and foods with a high sugar content.Easing Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a medical condition that occurs when skin cells grow too quickly. Faulty signals in the immune system cause new skin cells to form in days rather than weeks, causing a pile-up of itchy silvery scales and thick, scaly skin called plaques that typically develop on the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp. About half of people with psoriasis also have dull nails with pits and ridges.
Nutrients that Help Ease Psoriasis
Scientists believe psoriasis may also be triggered by a poor diet or allergies and that specific nutrients can help alleviate or prevent it. Excessive shedding of skin can lead to a zinc deficiency, which is detrimental to skin health because zinc is necessary for absorbing linoleic acid, a fatty acid that promotes healthy skin. Pumpkin seeds, which are high in both zinc and linoleic acid, can alleviate deficiencies, as can parsley and carrots, which are high in zinc. Selenium (found in chard, ginger, and red Swiss chard) helps decrease inflammation associated with psoriasis, while beta-carotene (found in carrots, kale, and cantaloupe) helps combat substances responsible for triggering accelerated skin growth. People with psoriasis should avoid nuts, citrus fruit, and tomatoes, which can aggravate the condition.
Studies show that psoriasis is often triggered by stress, a skin injury, or strep throat, although triggers are not universal, and what triggers psoriasis in one person may not cause it to develop in another. The disease is also believed to have a hereditary component, making some people more susceptible to it than others.
Other fruits and vegetables that help ease symptoms of psoriasis include ginger, which reduces inflammation; beets, which have natural detoxifying agents; pineapples and papayas, which have enzymes that promote digestion and help decrease accelerated skin growth; and spinach, kale, and beet greens, which are high in folic acid.
Consuming a high-fiber diet that contains a lot of raw food can help alleviate psoriasis because the fiber helps bind toxins in your bowel and reduces the rate of skin cell growth. You can also reduce the incidence of psoriasis by eliminating alcohol from your diet, and by going on a cleansing or detoxification diet (see Chapter 6).
Canker sores are shallow painful sores in the mouth. They can occur anywhere in the mouth — on the inside of your lips, the insides of your cheeks, the base of your gums, or under your tongue. Canker sores are different from fever blisters or cold sores, which are usually on the outside of your lips or on the corners of your mouth.
Anyone can get canker sores, but women and people in their teens and twenties get them most often. While canker sores often run in families, they aren't contagious. It isn't clear what causes canker sores, although researchers suspect they may be triggered by stress, menstrual periods, food allergies, and poor nutrition, especially deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid.
Nutritional Help for Canker Sores
Cultured milk products, including yogurt, cottage cheese, and buttermilk, as well as garlic and onions, can help relieve pain and heal cankers. Other nutrients that help ease and heal canker sores include iron (abundant in beet greens, broccoli, parsley, and spinach); zinc (found in carrots, ginger, parsley, and garlic); folic acid (found in cabbage, beet greens, spinach, and kale); and beta-carotene (found in carrots, kale, parsley, and spinach).
Avoid coffee, alcohol, animal protein, and foods high in sugar and citrus, which produce excess acid in the body that contributes to canker sores.Vanishing Varicose Veins
Varicose veins usually occur in older or pregnant women and are caused by a restriction of blood flow from the legs toward the heart. Blood pools in the veins, giving them an unsightly purplish tone and making them appear to bulge from the skin. Varicose veins are also caused by high blood pressure, which causes blockages; a lack of blood flow resulting from overly tight clothing; obesity; and lack of exercise.
Hemorrhoids are actually varicose veins of the anus or rectum. To alleviate hemorrhoids, eat a high-fiber diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables, which will help prevent constipation and eliminate unnecessary straining during bowel movements.
Foods high in vitamin E (wheat germ, legumes, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, herbs, and soy) help improve circulation and reduce the incidence of varicose veins. Vitamin C (found in citrus fruit, peppers, berries, and leafy greens) helps strengthen blood vessels, while garlic and onions help break down the fibrin surrounding varicose veins and also contain anti-clotting agents. Dark-colored berries, including cherries, blueberries, and blackberries, help strengthen the walls of the veins and increase their tone.