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Nov 24, 2015

How Diet and Drink Affect Your Face

You probably have experienced a lackluster or pale complexion after a few too many cocktails, but did you know that drinking milky lattes could also be giving you dark circles under your eyes, and spots on your chin? Did you know that spidery eyebrows and forehead wrinkles could be chocolate induced?

Skincare specialist and Naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib has found gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol to be particularly damaging to the complexion. Each taxes the body in specific ways, and contributes to aging symptoms such as spots, puffiness, changes in skin tone, premature fine lines and wrinkles or sagging. Over the past ten years, Nigma has become convinced that what you eat, and its effect on the health of your gut, is fundamental to the way your face ages.

Typical symptoms: Droopy eyelids, dehydrated skin with feathery lines across cheeks, reddish cheeks and nose, deep nasolabial folds, pronounced lines or redness between the eyes.

Nigma calls it 'wine face' because these characteristics are distinctive of women who enjoy a glass or two on most nights of the week, however these aging characteristics can be triggered by any kind of alcohol.

Alcohol dehydrates the skin, which worsens the look of fine lines and wrinkles. The deeply ageing nasolabial lines, can lift and lighten as soon as you stop drinking and become rehydrated.  Additionally, alcohol is known to inhibit the action of the enzyme that the body uses to fight the skin-destroying inflammatory process, so a couple of glasses of wine could be enough to allow the inflammatory process to take over, resulting in highly colored cheeks and a red nose.

Alcohol is high in sugar, which damages the protein collagen - vital for keeping skin elastic.  According to face mapping, the space between the eyes is associated with the liver and cause the deep lines or redness between the brows.
Like hot drinks and spicy food, alcohol can cause the delicate capillaries of the cheeks and nose to dilate, drawing blood to the surface of the skin.
If this happens frequently, they remain enlarged, giving a permanently ruddy appearance.

What Should I do?
Take a short alcohol break (three weeks, to allow your gut to rebalance) then sticking with an 80/20 rule.  Abstain for 80 per cent of the time, but enjoy an odd glass in the other 20 per cent. Choose lower-sugar wines such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, merlot or pinot noir.

Typical symptoms: Pasty white hue, sagging under the eyes, thinning of the skin, gaunt look, lines and wrinkles on the forehead, painful pustular spots all over the face.

The problem is that sugar triggers a process called glycation, which is when excess glucose molecules attach themselves to collagen, making the normally springy, elastic collagen fibers rigid and inflexible.  This causes the skin to sag and thin, and lines and wrinkles to appear prematurely.  According to face mapping, the forehead is associated with the process of digestion, which is why 'sugar face' may manifest as blotches or wrinkles on the forehead.

Too much sugar affects fat distribution, too, with sugar lovers ending up with a gaunt appearance because their face loses the fat that should keep it looking plump.  But it's at the gut level that sugar is really disruptive. It has such an impact on the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut that it can trigger pustular acne on the face, shoulders and chest.

Sugar increases insulin levels, which can stimulate production of the stress hormone cortisol.  Because cortisol instructs the body to divert energy to more essential tasks, blood vessels around the face constrict, resulting in washed-out skin.

Insulin imbalance caused by sugar highs and lows can put undue stress on the adrenal glands, which, among other tasks, control eyebrow hair. Eyebrows that have become fine and thin could be a sign of adrenal exhaustion where the overworked glands start to under-perform.

What Should I do?
Cut back on sugar, and see the immediate and lasting impact on your face. For best results, cut out additional sugar entirely, avoiding cakes, biscuits, fruit juices, refined carbohydrates and processed food.  Even if you just cut your intake in half and gradually wean yourself off sugar, you will notice rapid improvements in your complexion.

Typical symptoms: Bags and dark circles under the eyes, swollen lids, small white spots and bumps on the chin.

If your body is struggling to digest milk and dairy products you may have one or all of these symptoms. Lactose in milk is one of the most common food intolerances. Problems can develop in later life because we lose the enzymes that allow us to digest lactose effectively.

Sometimes your body could be struggling to digest the proteins in milk and you won't have any symptoms.  This could be prompting your immune system to trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals that have an impact on every part of your body, including your skin.

The same inflammatory process that causes redness, swelling and heat around a sprained ankle or splinter, for instance, can trigger puffy eyelids, under-eye bags and dark circles on your face.  What’s more, a glass of milk can contain over 20 hormones and chemicals, some of which occur naturally and some which will have been fed to the cow, such as antibiotics, anti-fungals, growth-promoters and painkillers.

These disrupt the balance of your hormones and trigger an over-growth of skin cells, which can block pores and trap bacteria.  According to face mapping, the chin is connected to the reproductive organs. This is thought to be why hormone-influenced spots often cluster on the chin.

What Should I Do?
If you suspect your facial aging is dairy-related take a break from all forms of dairy for three weeks - the impact on your face can be striking.

Typical symptoms: Dark pigmentation patches or spots around chin, puffy red cheeks.

Lots of us are sensitive to gluten - a protein found in wheat, barley and rye has been shown to increase the inflammatory response. This can leave the face looking bloated, inflamed or swollen.  Eventually, this affects cells responsible for producing pigmentation in the skin, leading to age spots and darker patches on the chin.

A reaction to gluten takes its toll on the immune system, in turn disrupting the delicate balance of reproductive hormones, resulting in spots or dark pigmentation on the chin, the area associated with the reproductive organs.

Some patients who have been suffering for years from rosacea - a skin condition characterized by a red rash over the cheeks have found it entirely controlled or much improved, when they removing gluten from their diets. If you have the symptoms of gluten face, nothing will make your skin look as good as it can accept removing gluten from your diet.

What should I do?
Cut it out, drink more water and eat more fiber. You find that the puffiness disperses, and skin tone improved, and your cheekbones more prominent.

Nov 3, 2015

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Lentils

This hearty and filling side dish goes well with almost anything and everything. Bastyr alumna Carly Kellogg, MS ('13), RDN, who shares this recipe with us via her blog, says the key to making it well is cooking your lentils and sweet potatoes to the right texture or consistency. She adds that this dish has a healthy serving of fiber, folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, making it a great option for people with diabetes and anemia.


1 inch kombu

2 tsp sea salt (divided)

2 tbsp olive oil (divided)

4 medium sweet potatoes, chopped

1 cup organic brown lentils, uncooked

1⁄2 medium white onion

2 tbsp pure maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Chop sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces, 1/2- to 1-inch
cubes. Place in bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and mix well.

2. Spread sweet potatoes onto foiled baking sheet and bake until soft, roughly 30-40 minutes. The
smaller your sweet potato pieces, the faster they’ll cook.

3. Place the dry lentils in a strainer and wash with cold water. Pour the lentils into a small pot and cover with water at least a couple of inches above the lentils. Add the kombu and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.

4. Once lentils have boiled, reduce heat to a simmer and cook them until soft and tender, 20-30
minutes. Do not overcook your lentils or they’ll become too mushy. Once lentils are at the desired
consistency, remove your pot from the heat source and add 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt. Mix well. Let the
lentils sit in the salt water while you prepare the other ingredients.

5. Chop the onion into small bite-size pieces to match the size of your sweet potato pieces. Spread on a

foiled baking sheet, combine with 2 teaspoons olive oil, then cook for about 15 minutes until softened and golden brown.

6. Strain your lentils and add them to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and onions, then mix.

7. Add maple syrup to the mixture and taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste.

8. Transfer to serving bowl and serve hot as a side dish to your meal. Savor this warming dish with a piece of fresh salmon or tangy BBQ tofu.