Is wine, sugar, dairy or gluten wreaking havoc on your complexion?
It comes as no surprise to hear that alcohol isn’t great for the skin, I’ve certainly woken up after a night of too many cocktails looking gaunt, saggy and wrinkled! But did you know milky lattes could be responsible for the dark rings under your eyes and the spots on your chin? Or that your forehead wrinkles and thinning skin is down to those bars of chocolate you love?
Naturopathic doctor and skincare specialist Dr Nigma Talib – who treats celebrities such as Sienna Miller and Penelope Cruz is convinced and has the research to back it up, that food and drink has a direct and sometimes instant impact on our faces. Resulting in recognisable symptoms she identifies as ‘Dairy Face’, ‘Wine face’, ‘Sugar Face’ and ‘Gluten Face’ – She claims to be able to identify the main dietery issues effecting the skin by looking at the face of a patient.
If you were lucky enough to get a consultation with Dr Talib the first step would be a stool test, apparently this provides vital clues to what’s causing their skin problems. She states that glowing skin comes from the gut. Coining the term ‘Digest-Ageing,’ which she says relates to what we eat and how we digest it – or not – and its effects on our skin. In her book she explains the gut is the control centre for the entire body. Anything that goes wrong in the gut will cause symptoms all over your body – it will absolutely show problems on your face, sooner or later. Her mantra “a problem in your bowels will eventually create jowls”…. I’ve had some major bowel issues clearly!!
Here Dr Talib demonstrates how to identify the issues and what to do about it:
By using face mapping techniques she can specifically identify what we’re putting into our system that causing skin ageing symptoms. Termed as the ‘Wine face,’ ‘Gluten Face’ ‘Sugar Face’ and ‘Dairy Face’ – She claims that most people have a combination of all four’. And having read her book I definitely have a combination of at least three (Wine, Sugar & Gluten)
Let’s take a closer look at each of the above faces and the symptoms to help identify under-lying problems:
- Lines and wrinkles on the upper forehead
- Sagging under the eyes
- Spots, all over the face, particularly pustular/cystic acne
- Gaunt look to the face
- Thinning of the skin
- dark greyish or pasty white hue to the skin
There are a number of reasons why sugar causes premature ageing and it’s clearly explained in the book, but to give you a quick snap shot… Sugar is an inflammatory food, and inflammation is a fundamental cause of ageing. But sugar also triggers a process called “gycation”. When you eat sugar it’s turned into glucose, your body’s preferred fuel. However if you create more than the body needs at any one time and that excess isn’t burnt or transported into cells to be stored it, it remains in the bloodstream where it can attach it’s self to collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm and youthful. If the sugar molecules start to attach collagen becomes rigid and inflexible – this causes the skin to wrinkle and sag.
Sugar is incredibly addictive (studies using rats showed sugar to be more addictive than cocaine) and removing it from your diet is tough! But Dr Talib shares some advise on how to handle Sugar cravings:
- Increase your protein intake: This helps balance blood-sugar levels and prevent crashes that make craving worse. Each meal needs to have a portion of protein: Meat, fish, eggs or pulses
- Don’t be afraid of fats: It helps stabilise blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Healthy sources such as avocados, nuts, and oily fish are also anti-inflammatory foods, giving your skin an extra glow (see Juice of the week)
- Don’t give up carbohydrates completely: Instead switch to whole grains such as; quinoa, wild rice, buckwheat which gives more substantial blood sugar levels. This helps to further prevent the blood-sugar peaks then troughs that lead to sugar cravings.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners: They prevent you from losing the sugar cravings, but also negativily change the the make up of the gut bacteria.
- Consider taking supplements: The mineral chromium, the herb fenugreek and the Ayurvedic herb Gymnema sylvestre all help to balance the blood-sugar levels and may play a role in reducing cravings.
- Handle cravings: If sugar craving hits, drink a glass of water. It can help the craving pass.
- Pronounced lines or spots between the brows
- Droopy eyelids
- pronounced fine lines and wrinkles under the eyes
- Dehydrated skin with feathery lines across the cheeks
- Visibly enlarged pores
- A reddish skin tone
- Deep nasolabial folds
It’s referred to as wine face but relates to alcohol in general, so don’t think great I drink spirits so doesn’t apply to me because it will! We all know alcohol dehydrates the skin, it’s high in sugar, which as above triggers the skin to sag. The dark cycles under the eyes could be a sign the kidneys are struggling to deal with the alcohol. The lines/spots between the eyes signify an overload of your liver meridian, commonly occurs when you drink in excess.
Giving up alcohol completely would be impossible for me, I enjoy a drink! But there are changes that can be made without the need to eliminate completely. Just making better choices helps:
- Regular alcohol free days: She advises having at least four alcohol free days a week and never drink two consecutive days running to allow the gut to have a chance at being repaired.
- Choose the purest alcohol you can: Try to avoid drinks that contain gluten, as will cause additional issues with gut. Good drinks to consider are: rum, tequila (might be a bit much for a week night!), or potato based spirits. I’ve recently discovered Chase Gin made from potatoes, it’s absolutely DIVINE and I don’t suffer rosacea flare ups if I stick to it. Chase also produce an award winning vodka so worth checking out. Wine for the obvious reason of the sugar is an issue but try choosing drier varieties such as: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Merlot or Pinot Noir.
- Mix with soda or water and not sugary mixers
- Drink water: Drink at least one glass of water for every glass of alcohol – I try this but goes out the window after a few!
- Choose red wine over white: Red has higher levels of antioxidants, magnesium, flavonoids all positives for the skin
- Choose organic wines: To avoid pesticides and commercial yeasts. Try also to choose sulphite-free wines.
- Swollen eyelids
- Under-eye bags
- Widespread acne and spots
- Pale cheeks
- Spots around the chin area
You might notice intolerance as burping or mild nausea after drinking milk. But 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.
And that’s not all. A glass of milk can contain a cocktail of more than 20 hormones and chemicals, some of which occur naturally and some which will have been fed to the cow, such as antibiotics, antifungal, growth-promoters and painkillers.
These disrupt the balance of your hormones – particularly the so- called ‘sex hormones’ oestrogen and progesterone – and trigger an over-growth of skin cells which block pores and trap bacteria.
Finding new sources of calcium:
- Fish: Soft boned fish such as anchovies, pilchards and whitebait
- Vegetables: Broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, chard, kale, rocket and watercress
- Legumes/pulses: Chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts and tempeh
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, brazil nuts, sesame seed, sunflower seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Fruits: Figs, rhubarb and calcium-enriched juices
There’s some great alternative “milks” on the market, the best choices are the unsweetened nut and seed milks such as almond, cashew, coconut or hemp. It also very easy to make your own – there’s recipes shared in the book.
- Spots on the forehead
- Puffy cheeks and jowls – you face looks like you’ve gained weight
- Redness and/or red spots on the cheeks
- Spots or darkened patches on the chin
Lots of us are sensitive to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. While relatively few suffer from coeliac disease (an auto-immune condition when gluten triggers the body to attack itself), the protein has been shown to increase the inflammatory response. This can leave the face looking bloated, inflamed or swollen.
In turn, 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 characterised by a red rash over the cheeks – have found it much improved, or entirely controlled, when they remove gluten from their diets…. That’s me!!
No matter how many supplements you take or how many peels you have, if you have the symptoms of gluten face, then nothing will make your skin look as good as it can except removing gluten from your diet.
Suggested alternatives to wheat:
- Brown or wild rice
- Chia seeds
- Sweet potato
That really is a very brief snapshot, but if any or all of the above relates to you then it’s worth investing in the book to get a comprehensive plan for “Reversing the Signs of Ageing“. It’s packed with information such as how we digest food, the impact of problems such as leaky gut and an in-balance of bacteria, inflammation etc . It helps identify issues and provides a plan on how to tackle those issues. At times I felt it almost too informative and found myself skipping to bits on how to resolve the problem – I’m not big on having to understand the science but for those that are it’s all there.
So, if you’re “Digest Ageing” I’m sure this cleansing plan is for you!