Maintaining healthy, clear skin requires not only a daily skin care regimen, but also a healthy diet and exercise routine. Here, one Klog writer shares how eliminating meat from her diet helped improve and clear up her skin.
People cut meat out of their diets for a number of reasons. Personally speaking, I have gone meatless for months many times in my adult life after realizing that not eating meat drastically improves my digestion. I’ve struggled with digestion and gut issues since college, dealing with everything from gastritis to even IBS constipation.
I’ve found that drastically reducing my intake of refined carbs — like white bread, rice white, and white pasta — along with red meats, pork, and chicken has always significantly helped. This is because meat stays in your stomach longer than vegetables; it’s harder to break down, and as a result can slow the digestion process.
Figuring Out What Worked Best for Me
In an effort to improve my digestion this year, while also trying to lose weight (which I’ve been doing by being on a caloric deficit and working out consistently), I decided to go 80/20 pescatarian/vegetarian this year. This essentially translates into only eating vegetarian or fish dishes this year while still leaving a very small window of flexibility to occasionally having meat so I wouldn’t feel limited. This is especially helpful when I travel. As an aside, I also tried going vegan a few years ago and I was miserable — it wasn’t for me.
In any case, I’ve consumed meat this year less than a handful of times and have tried to stick with my dietary regimen as best as I could. Between going meatless and having green smoothies every morning, my digestion has been amazing. But what I didn’t expect was for my skin to also benefit from this dietary change!
Every time I cut meat from my diet, I tried to make sure I was still incorporating protein by still eating eggs, fish, seafood, and protein-heavy vegetables such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Initially, my brows started thinning a little bit because I apparently wasn’t eating enough protein in a day.
Once my former fitness instructor and nutritionist bestie let me know that I wasn’t eating enough protein, I quickly added a protein powder to my morning smoothies and started making sure that every snack I ate had protein, whether it be hard boiled eggs, mixed nuts, or cheese (which is the only form of dairy my body can actually tolerate that doesn’t trigger breakouts for me).
The Unintended Side Effect of Cutting Meat from My Diet
I started feeling amazing after that, and not only did my digestion improve, but the occasional hormonal acne I would get around my period was not appearing at all. I do also take supplements to keep my skin clear and healthy, but I noticed that after cutting out meat the breakouts simply never happen. It also appeared to help with my rosacea as well.
While there are no studies that prove cutting out meat and adapting a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian diet (that’s mostly plant-based like mine) actually clears skin problems, I did find it to work for me. Also, experts do say that going plant-based can positively impact your skin in numerous ways. In my particular case, I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that my digestion has improved because believe it or not, your gut health really does impact your skin. A healthy gut is literally the secret to better skin — they don’t call it the “second brain” for no reason.
In that vein, there’s a reason why so many brands are coming out with designer probiotics pills and powders that target the gut and claim to clear the skin. It’s because fixing the gut microbiome has multiple benefits including improving skin. In addition to cutting meat from my regular diet, I also use supplements like HUM Daily Cleanse and HUM Skin Heroes Pre- Probiotics. (Interestingly, there are even topical probiotic skincare products that help rebalance the skin’s microbiome. Saturday Skin’s Everyday Glow Set is a perfect example.)
That said, cleaning your gut isn’t just about swallowing a probiotic, which is why cutting out meat, reducing my sugar intake, and reducing my intake of refined carbs like white rice, white pasta, white bread (all of which are processed and loaded with sugar), while also increasing my intake of fresh fruits and veggies, has made such a difference in both my gut and skin health.
The bottom line is that cutting meat has worked for me, but everybody is different. If you’re looking for clear and healthy skin, I highly suggest taking a close look at your diet, paying attention to your gut health, and finding a probiotic that works best for you and your body type.