Think of your kitchen as a medicine cabinet.
Eating the right foods can benefit your body and mind — and hopefully keep you out of the doctor’s office. Berries are chock full of antioxidants and help the body fight cancer, while a vegetable-rich diet can reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke. Fatty fish is great for brain and heart health. Some foods are known to reduce depression.
There’s also a strong relationship between food and skincare, which is reflected by skin products containing ingredients like kale, cucumber, watermelon, tea and coffee. The foods you eat — and not just the ingredients in creams and moisturizers — can impact your skin health, too. “Superfoods” featuring antioxidants, vitamins A,C,D, E, omega-3 fatty acids and some proteins are seen as “agents capable of promoting skin health and beauty,” researchers wrote in one study, finding “fruit and vegetables consumption may represent the most healthy and safe method in order to maintain a balanced diet and youthful appearing skin.”
A separate study found that people who followed a low glycemic load diet, steering clear of foods like sugar, white bread and white rice, had less acne (so it seems like your mother was right, after all, about junk food contributing to breakouts).
A Harvard School of Public Health report about anti-inflammatory diets reached similar conclusions — in order to combat inflammation and reduce your risk of illness, load up on tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish and fruits, and avoid refined carbohydrates, fried foods such as French fries, and soda.
The ketogenic diet may be the answer for people looking to shift away from heavily processed food and quickly shed weight. Developed in the 1920s, the high-fat, low-carb diet can improve cholesterol levels, reduce blood sugar levels and possibly blood pressure, and lower triglycerides. It’s also proven beneficial in diminishing seizures for some people with epilepsy.
The diet involves switching the body’s main energy source from glucose (obtained from carbs) to ketones (obtained from fat). In order to reach a state of fat-metabolizing known as ketosis, you need to find the right balance of macronutrients, or macros, usually about 70% fats, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates.
So instead of bread and pasta and potato chips, keto enthusiasts are chowing down on bacon and nuts and zucchini lasagna and peanut butter cookies.
The keto diet is buzzworthy and generating tons of interest. My organic meal delivery company, Fresh n’ Lean, unveiled its keto line in the spring of 2019 due to intense customer demand. The meals involve a collaboration between our chefs and professional dietitians.
Keto diets feature lots of foods that promote skin health, with a focus on good fats, proteins and oils — and little intake of carbohydrates and refined sugars. The diet also lowers the body’s levels of insulin, which is known to worsen acne.
Medical studies about the skincare benefits of the keto diet are mixed but promising. One study published in 2012 by Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found ketosis “reduces several markers of inflammation and … could be effective in reducing the severity and progression of acne.”
A recent study published in September by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed that keto diets high in medium-chain triglycerides — which are found in palm kernel oil and coconut oil — worsened psoriasis-like skin inflammation in mice. But the study’s authors also found that “a well-balanced ketogenic diet, limited primarily to long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) like olive oil, soybean oil, fish, nuts, avocado, and meats, does not exacerbate skin inflammation.”
A ketogenic diet comes with caveats. It isn’t for everyone — it requires dedication and commitment to flip your diet upside down, and ultimately some people’s bodies don’t respond well to such a big adjustment. A small percentage of people also experience “keto rash,” or prurigo pigmentosa, an itchy condition that usually begins on the torso and normally disappears with treatment or a diet adjustment.
As with any major lifestyle change, it’s important to consult with a dietitian and pay close attention to side-effects that crop up after you adjust your diet.
While the thought of munching on bacon and cheese and slathering everything with butter might feel like a questionable weight loss plan, a diet focused on healthy fats like olive oil and avocado offers a more mindful approach to ketogenics. If you’re going to eat a high-fat diet, why not make it high-quality fat?
A keto diet offers an intriguing approach to weight loss that includes lots of foods with medicinal benefits — and great-tasting medicine at that.
Laureen Asseo is the 28-year-old founder and CEO of Fresh n’ Lean, the largest organic meal delivery service in the United States. Laureen was only 18 years old when she founded the company out of her one-bedroom apartment, but over the years, the business grew rapidly and currently operates out of a 55,000 square foot facility with hundreds of employees. She achieved all this without a single cent of outside capital.