There’s a common assumption that because people are on a high fat, low-carb diet known as the keto diet that they will get oily skin and have issues with their complexion. It varies depending on how a body reacts to any new diet, but many people who consume foods like avocado, meat, and butter report having a clearer and brighter complexion. There are many high-fat foods that we discuss in the Body Reboot book that are healthy to eat and can help a person lose weight and potentially help their skin clear up and experience a better complexion. Below we discuss how the keto diet may help skin improve and why that’s the case.
Insider explains why having oil in your diet can make the skin glow. They also explain how the keto diet may also help with acne.
“High oil content in the diet can make the skin look dewy and healthy, as more oil is released onto the skin by the oil glands,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Guanche, MD.
“There isn't a lot of research on how the ketogenic diet may affect skin health, but in theory, a ketogenic diet could be beneficial for acne,” said registered dietitian Suzanne Dixon. “Higher levels of insulin and related hormones can worsen acne, and the ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels,” she added.
“Many foods that are beneficial for the skin can be included in a keto diet,” said Alisha Temples, licensed nutritionist at Fueled and Fed Nutrition. “These foods include non-starchy vegetables like spinach, collard greens, cucumber, and cauliflower,” she explained. Other foods include plant-based fat sources like olive oil and avocado, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, she added.
“The keto diet focuses on good quality fats, including omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids that benefits the skin and can prevent sun damage,” Daniels added. When on the keto diet, you avoid trans fats that are found in fried and processed foods, she said. These foods can cause inflammation, acne, redness, and a loss of collagen, she added.
Is the keto diet the holy grail of aging? Ketogenic Diet Resource seems to think so. They argue that because a ketogenic diet reduces oxidative damage and thus may prevent dieters from getting conditions such as ALS, traumatic brain injuries, and Parkinson’s disease.
Ketogenic diets and the resulting ketosis and ketone bodies slow the aging process in several ways. The list below includes links to the relevant studies supporting the statements.
A ketogenic diet reduces oxidative damage within the body, and increases the production of uric acid and other potent antioxidants. This has important implications because recent reports here and here have suggested that ketosis and the resulting ketone bodies may provide relief for and reversal of several neurological disorders in which oxidative stress at the cellular level is strongly implicated as a cause. This would include Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. Here's another study which showed that one ketone body in particular (beta-hydroxybutyrate) can slow down aging by triggering gene expression which modifies factors associated with aging.
Ketosis supports mitochondrial function by increasing mitochondrial glutathione, an important antioxidant which works directly within the mitochondria. This is important because orally ingested antioxidants such as those in our food don't make it into the mitochondria very easily.
Ketogenic diets reduce baseline blood sugar levels, which reduces the rates of glycation and the formation of advanced glycation end products, substances generated by high blood sugar which increase tissue damage, diabetic complications and aging.
All low carb diets improve blood sugar control and reduce hunger as they mimic the effects of fasting. Several studies have shown that reduced calorie consumption decreases oxidative damage within the body.
Low carb diets in general reduce triglycerides, which are fatty acids in the blood stream. Elevated triglycerides are markers for increases heart disease risk and inflammation.
The Ketogenic Diet Resource briefly touched on how the keto diet affects blood sugar levels. Well, it turns out that because the keto diet reduces blood sugar levels, it’s likely people will experience a decrease in tissue damage and aging. The Nutrition study from 2008 explains why this is the case below:
In subjects with untreated type 2 diabetes, we previously determined that a weight-maintenance, non-ketogenic diet containing 30 % protein, 50 % fat and 20 % carbohydrate (30:50:20) decreased the percentage total glycohaemoglobin (%tGHb) by 2.2 % glycohaemoglobin over 5 weeks compared to a diet recommended for the American public (protein-fat-carbohydrate 15:30:55). Both the fasting and postprandial glucose were decreased. The objective of the present study was to determine if increasing the carbohydrate content from 20 to 30 % at the expense of fat would still provide a similar effect on %tGHb, fasting and postprandial glucose concentration. Eight men with untreated type 2 diabetes were studied over a 5-week period. Results at the beginning (standard diet) and end of the 5-week study were analysed. Body weight was stable. Fasting glucose concentration decreased by 40 %; 24 h glucose area response decreased by 45 %. Insulin did not change. Mean %tGHb decreased by 1.7 (from 10.8 to 9.1 %), and was still decreasing linearly at 5 weeks. In conclusion, a high-protein, 30 % carbohydrate diet could be a patient-empowering method of improving the hyperglycaemia of type 2 diabetes without pharmacologic intervention. Long-term effects and general applicability of this diet remain to be determined.
Here's another study. The researches found that one specific ketone body (beta-hydroxybutyrate) can trigger gene expression which changes factors that affect aging. In other words, the Endocrinology and Metabolism 2013 study revealed that ketone bodies can slow down aging.
Traditionally, the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB) has been looked upon as a carrier of energy from liver to peripheral tissues during fasting or exercise. However, βOHB also signals via extracellular receptors and acts as an endogenous inhibitor of histone deacetylases (HDACs). These recent findings support a model in which βOHB functions to link the environment, in this case the diet, and gene expression via chromatin modifications. Here, we review the regulation and functions of ketone bodies, the relationship between ketone bodies and calorie restriction, and the implications of HDAC inhibition by the ketone body βOHB in the modulation of metabolism, and diseases of aging.
Ketone bodies are emerging as crucial regulators of metabolic health and longevity, via their ability to regulate HDAC activity and thereby epigenetic gene regulation. Ketogenic diets provide a partial phenocopy of CR, through their effects on insulin, IGF, Foxo3, fatty acid metabolism, AMPK and mTOR. The finding that βOHB is an inhibitor of HDACs, together with the coincidence of biological effects of ketone bodies and HDAC inhibition, suggests the fascinating possibility that βOHB could be an endogenous avenue to attain some of the benefits of lifespan extension seen with HDAC inhibition in model organisms. It will be of great interest to define the molecular targets of HDAC inhibition by βOHB in specific tissues and metabolic states, investigate whether βOHB regulates HDAC-targeted pathways like autophagy, and determine if these effects culminate in enhancement of longevity by βOHB in mammals.
Everyday Health mentions a dermatologist’s thoughts on how reducing inflammation can possibly lead to people experiencing less acne.
Although it seems counter intuitive to eat more fats and fewer carbohydrates for clearer skin, to Jennifer Gordon, MD, a dermatologist in Austin, Texas, that’s exactly how keto may help improve your complexion — provided you’re cutting back on the right carbs and upping your intake of the right fats. By eliminating simple carbohydrates in particular, you’re targeting the body’s excess inflammation — which is a huge promoter of acne. “It’s usually simple carbohydrates that create inflammation,” she says. “When you lower inflammation in the body, you can see this in your skin as feeling more radiant, less red, and less congested.”
And, the blog Klog further explains how the keto diet can clear up your acne:
When your body enters ketosis, your body is using slow-burning fats rather than fast-burning sugars. This means your insulin levels are more consistent. In addition, removing sugars—and ineffective carbs that turn into sugars—will on its own help with managing skin concerns such as acne and oil production. This of course is not solely thanks to keto diet, but the diet does keep you away from these foods. Another theory behind the keto diet is the increased intake of healthy fats can have beneficial implications for your hair, skin, and nails.
“Making sure that you are eating the healthiest fats is key,” says Norton. “Coconut oil is probably one of the best foods on the planet. It doesn’t really work that great putting it on your skin, contrary to what most people believe, but it’s great for your skin and hair if you are eating it. Avocado is another excellent fat. Avoid foods fried in hydrogenated oil and all soy products. Soy is an endocrine disruptor, which can definitely cause a breakout.”
While there are many studies on the effect of ketogenic diet on epilepsy, there are some starting to be done on its effect on weight loss and skin. “The science behind ketogenic diets is strong when it comes to specific disorders, especially epilepsy,” says Alpert. “Newer studies have shown it to also be effective for weight loss and even some trials showing positive effects on cholesterol.” Norton adds, “There is also research to back up the positive impact of a ketogenic diet on skin, especially when it comes to clearing up acne.”
It’s pretty cool that the keto diet has the potential to improve our skin, and besides giving you a healthy glow, there are many more benefits. Learn how the keto diet can help you and transform your health in the Body Reboot book. Help us cover the cost of shipping and visit this page to get a free copy of the book before they disappear.
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally achieve your weight loss goals!