What you're eating is ruining your face

If you haven't read Dr. Nigma Talib's book (Younger Skin Starts in the Gut), reading it will blow your mind, cause you to question your behavior, research the claims in hopes of disproving them, fail, become somewhat depressed, and then finally become motivated to change your behavior. (That is exactly what happened to me when I read it.)

Although I highly suggest reading it in full, Dr. Talib's advice is too amazing to sit on your bookshelf until you find the time so I'm sharing a summary here (and shouting it from the mountaintops, and boring my coworkers with it, and my husband, etc.)

Before we begin, let's start with a little exercise based on the premise of Dr. Talib's book, which is that consumption of sugar, dairy, wine, or gluten causes distinct signs of aging on your face.

Take a look at the below diagram, read the descriptions of each, and then look in the mirror at your own face. Do you have any signs of Wine Face, Dairy Face, Gluten Face or Sugar Face (or all four...)?

Sugar Face Symptoms:

  • Sagging under eyes
  • Widespread blemishes
  • Pustular or cystic acne
  • Thinning skin
  • Dark gray or pasty white hue to the complexion
  • Lines and wrinkles on the upper forehead

Dairy Face Symptoms:

  • Under eye bags
  • Darkness under the eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Widespread acne and blemishes
  • Pale cheeks
  • Concentrated pimples on the chin

Wine Face Symptoms:

  • Lines between the eyebrows
  • Enlarged pores 
  • Reddish cheeks
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Feathery lines across the cheeks
  • Deep nasolabial folds 

Gluten Face Symptoms:

  • Puffy cheeks
  • Jowls
  • Blemishes across forehead
  • Bloated appearance to face
  • Redness or red spots on cheeks
  • Blemishes or dark patches on the chin

Why is this happening?!

In the book, Dr. Talib explains that sugar, dairy, wine (and all alcohol), and gluten are all common causes of inflammation that lead to the symptoms described above.

We are all familiar with acute inflammation, the response your body has to injuries like cuts and bruises. White blood cells rush to the area to repair the damage, resulting in redness, swelling and discomfort.

Dr. Talib suggests that consuming sugar, dairy, wine and gluten cause a similar inflammatory response in our bodies but that it is chronic and long-term, leading to a variety of health issues in addition to the aging face scare tactic that she used to lure me in to reading her book in the first place! Here are some of the reasons why they're so bad in cause you want to fact-check her like I did:

  • Sugar leads to glycation, a process that breaks down the collagen essential for keeping your skin firm and youthful
  • Dairy is extremely difficult for our bodies to digest because we lose the enzymes that process dairy as we age
  • Wine is full of sugar, sulfites, pesticides and alcohol which dehydrates you, causes your liver to work overtime, and disrupts your gut bacteria
  • Gluten causes a leaky gut for many people, which means that things you are supposed to be digesting literally leak out of your digestive tract to who-knows-where in your body

I have Wine Face, and I'm going to fix it

Although I cut gluten and dairy from my diet earlier this year at the insistence of my dermatologist (and with great results), I love wine - in full disclosure, I have a glass or two almost every night. Dr. Talib showed me that as a result of that habit, I may have Wine Face (!!!!) and am likely causing myself to age quickly and paving the way for future health issues. Considering that I am pushing 31 and willing to spend $130 on an ounce of Skinceuticals serum to keep my skin in tip top condition, this is NOT ACCEPTABLE and I decided to do something about it.

Before any of my fellow winos freak out, know that the book advises that moderation can eliminate the issues. Dr. Talib suggests taking four straight days without alcohol each week, and keep it reasonable (no more than three glasses) on the "off" days.

I'm testing her theory by cutting out wine entirely and replacing it with La Croix, Perrier and chamomile tea during the work week. Although the logical part of my mind would love to do a full month without any wine or sugar, the illogical impulsive side of my mind lacks the will power to survive the holiday party circuit under such austere circumstances. (Suggestions welcome.) I'm considering this advance training for 2017 behavior changes...

If you're a fellow candidate for Wine Face (or Sugar, Dairy or Gluten Face) and considering making some changes, I'd love any ideas you have on healthy substitutes for wine and chocolate, or cheesecake and French bread. (For the record, I just got hungry typing that...)

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a chance to check out this book!