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223: Can Eating Healthy Make My Skin Rashes Worse?

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Are you one of those people whose skin gets WORSE the cleaner and healthier your diet becomes?

This is one of those things people don’t talk about that can really get someone down because diet changes are so heavily pushed as a one-stop solution to clear up your skin.

So if you’ve ever felt like you just didn’t “try hard enough” or “eat clean enough” because your skin got worse, know that you’re not alone.

Though I don’t have an exact reason WHY this happens, I do have clinical observations that I can share.

My hope is that you’ll stop blaming yourself (or thinking that you’re just doomed) and encourage you to dig deeper than food to address triggers to your skin rashes.

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In this episode:

  • Answering the question: Can eating clean make your skin rashes worse?
  • What it means if your skin gets worse the cleaner + healthier your diet gets
  • Diets I’ve seen clinically cause skin rashes to get worse in some individuals
  • Connection between skin flare-ups and diet shifts

Quotes:

You are not a failure if eating “clean” or making healthy diet changes actually makes your skin rashes worse!

Those with rashes that are “diet-resistant” or worsen with a healthier diet often have gut dysbiosis.

 

Bowl of healthy vegetables and ingredients

Can Eating Healthy Make My Skin Rashes Worse? (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #223 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today’s episode, I want to answer a question that I periodically get from listeners and potential clients about issues with diet changes that they find to be REALLY puzzling.

Basically, you go through all motions to “clean up” your diet and eat really healthy, but it seems like the diet you choose to do or just changing the foods you eat causes your skin to get worse.

Yes… I said worse!

This might surprise you — and it doesn’t happen to everyone — but there are people out there who ate the standard American diet or even possibly a pretty junk-filled diet who noted a significant worsening of their skin rashes when they cleaned things up.

Most people find that improving their diet and removing processed foods normally helps!

But there are some who discover the opposite and it’s incredibly frustrating, to say the least.

 

Vegetables and other healthy diet ingredients

Why Would A Healthier Diet Make My Skin Rashes Worse?

If you’re in this camp where your skin seems to get worse as you add more unprocessed, homecooked foods to your plate, know that you’re not alone.

I don’t have an exact figure on how many people this impacts, but it’s one of the frustrating situations that I, unfortunately, encounter in my practice.

This particular situation is pretty similar to those who eat very cleanly (and are very strict with their diet), yet see no improvements in their skin at all.

Yes, there are people who have rashes that seem to be resistant to dietary approaches (even those with coined names like the Eczema Diet).

This situation can lead to you towards a disordered relationship with food because…

  1. Everyone around you promoting a diet-only approach to addressing skin issues assumes you either aren’t strict enough or you’re sensitive to these foods leading to an unnecessarily restrictive diet (and food fear).
  2. You become afraid to make any “healthy” changes to your diet because of what it will do to your skin leaving you to eat in a way that may be suboptimal for your best health.

So if you’re a practitioner listening to this episode, be incredibly cautious assuming that this type of reaction is simply due to food sensitivities and requires an even more strict diet approach.

If there’s one thing I try to stress over and over again on this podcast — it’s that everyone’s skin rash puzzle is different.

Some of the issues going on are simply not food-fixable.

At the point in time and based on the cases that I’ve worked with where this was a factor — I believe that this points towards gut microbiome dysbiosis.

Instead of fearing food, use the “problematic” foods as a clue on the journey towards identifying root causes!

This is something that a skilled clinical nutritionist (like myself) or a functional dietitian can absolutely help you with.

For example, if you assess your diet and find that the introduction of lots of dark leafy greens, legumes, and other fresh fruits made your skin worse, could it be that these foods are higher in FODMAPs (fermentable starches) that feed gut flora which can absolutely impact rashes.

If you suspect a salicylate sensitivity due to the content of this naturally occurring phytochemical, consider that the waste products from gut bacteria (specifically benzoate) could be overburdening Phase 2 liver detox.

This is a sign of a higher need for the amino acid glycine to help transform benzoate to hippurate which then can be urinated out of the body.

If bone broth and other “healthy” higher histamine foods make you itchy and feel worse, consider a histamine overload picture and look deeper than just blaming the food alone.

And please friends and fellow practitioners — run a functional stool test to find out what’s actually going on!

This can be so very illuminating.

In my clinical practice, we tend to find that those whose rashes are “diet-resistant” or worsen with a healthier diet often have dysbiosis (an imbalance of organisms living in the GI tract).

 

Keto diet meal

Which “Healthy” Diets Can Make Your Skin Worse?

The diets that I’ve seen make some people’s skin worse include:

  • Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)
  • Whole30
  • GAPS diet
  • Strict Paleo
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Vegan or plant-based diet
  • Carnivore diet

By sharing this list, I’m not saying that these diets are inherently bad.

There is a time and place for these different diet options, but…

As you know, I’m relatively diet-agnostic believing instead that each person should focus on finding the best food combinations to nourish your body rather than subscribing to any particular diet dogma.

Given that your microbiome has a certain pattern, any significant shift in foods can spell trouble.

I caution you away from blaming the food, but instead, take this as a sign that something is going on under the surface that needs to be addressed.

Because it may not be the food itself, but instead what happens to the food when it interacts with your microbiome.

If you use the food shifts as a tool to dig deeper (and you actually dive into your case with a tool like my Skin Rash Root Cause Finder), you’ll probably discover more to help your skin (and health).

So instead of panicking or feeling like a failure because one of these diets (or just eating healthier in general) has made your skin worse, know that it’s merely a sign pointing to something going on internally that you can absolutely do something about.

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts to share about this, leave a comment below so I can address them.

And if you know someone who has struggled to see any improvements with diet changes OR has actually found their skin to get worse with diet shifts, please share this episode with them so they can understand what’s likely going on.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!

You are not a failure if eating “clean” or making healthy diet changes actually makes your skin rashes worse!


Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.


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