28 Feb Considering Stimulants and Our Skin
Most people depend on stimulants to get them through their day. It may be that morning coffee to start the day, that sugary afternoon snack to keep going, or that glass of wine at night. “Everyone has a vice” is something I hear all to regularly. But what are these vices, or stimulants, doing to your skin? Is your coffee the reason why your skin has acne? Everyone is different, however I feel the need to highlight some important effects stimulants have on our bodies. Specifically, the effects of coffee, alcohol, smoking and sugar on our skin.
Coffee. The aroma of coffee excites many people in the morning. In fact, it makes a lot of people’s mornings! I completely understand this. I don’t drink coffee regularly anymore, but I do remember a time when I felt this way. I have maybe one cup of coffee a week at most now, since I switched to tea (there is a huge variety out there now a days). It sounds impossible, but if you find a good transitional tea (I started with a black “piña colada” flavour, yum!) It’s not that hard. You just have to make the decision, like anything else. Why should we try to limit our coffee consumption? More importantly, what is coffee doing to our skin? The main issue with coffee, is the effect it has on our hormones. It excites our adrenal glands, which promotes unnecessary stress hormones (insulin) in the body, creating acne! Further, stress can also stimulate cravings, especially sweets! I’ll explain why sugar is bad to follow. Lastly, coffee strips precious minerals from our body, and ruins our intestinal system. This leaves us with less nourishment, and an even lesser chance to be able to absorb future nourishing foods!
Sugar. Now don’t get me wrong, fruits and natural sugars do not apply here. I’m talking about refined sugars founds in processed foods! Our bodies functions optimally on a healthy amount of quality carbohydrates. Unfortunately, people consume poor quality, refined sugars daily. What are these sugars doing to our body? Again, sugar (like most stimulants), cause hormone fluctuations in the body. The glucose raises Insulin levels. What is the problem with insulin again? Too much insulin creates an overproduction of oil on the skin. Our body still requires insulin, but high sugar creates a high response. These high forms of sugar also spike our blood level, creating mood crashes later in the day. Refined sugar in the body becomes one big inflammation. Stay away from all that white garbage, and opt for “low GI” foods, or balance out your meal with some protein. That way, the body will absorb the nutrients slowly, and therefore more optimally.
Alcohol. This is pretty obvious. Although alcohol becomes a depressant in large quantities, it actually stimulates at the beginning! Additionally, the sugar content in alcohol creates a larger void in our bodies. Why is it that we reach for a glass in a stressful situation, or to help us sleep? Well, alcohol releases GABA in our bodies (a relaxant hormone). This may sound good, but with the additional sugar, and the large amounts most people consume (half a glass would do the trick), it becomes no Saint. Not to mention the “empty calories” alcohol has, or the lack of motivation that results the next day. It’s not worth it. Smarten up!
Smoking. Smoking effects the lungs. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are connected to the skin more than any other organ. This makes sense. It is the one organ we have that connects first with the outside world. Each breath we take can nourish and oxygenate our lungs, to blood, to skin. It’s no surprise that smoking is detrimental to our skin. This is something that people just need to quit. There is no cutting down, there is no “once in a while”. A good friend of mine in medical school once told me something interesting about smoking. When comparing a full time smoker, who stopped when they were, lets say, 25, to a part time smoker who has one cigarette a day (all their life), the full time smoker ends up being better off! I believe this is because of the stimulant factor it has on our body, and how damaging stimulants are (especially to our blood). I used to smoke! I know this is hard. If you think you want to quit, you do. And if you think you can cut down or only have “a couple smokes when you drink” – think again. Everyone started with the intension to not become addicted. If you have a drag, you will be hooked again. Just stop, and quit thinking it is impossible. End of story.
The effects of these stimulants are obviously not great for us. As disappointing as it sounds, this is all to provide awareness. Don’t be fooled by the “studies” that state coffee, or alcohol is good for you. Most people hear this and drink them like water as a result. Treat these like a treat, and be aware of how you feel and how your body reacts. If you have stubborn skin and don’t know why it isn’t getting better, this article may be something to consider!