My personal paradox between alcoholism and
ego, vanity, eerrrgh, physical health has been an interesting ride, to say the least. A little over three years ago, I was introduced (by a really healthy and beautiful girl) to the Paleo way of eating and have been hooked ever since.
For those who are unfamiliar, Paleo eating includes lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat while excluding foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol or coffee. The diet is based on avoiding not just processed foods, but rather the foods that humans began eating after the Neolithic Revolution when humans transitioned from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to settled agriculture.
So, on one hand, I am eating super clean and on the other, drinking like a fish. Not the ideal ecosystem for optimal wellness. Not the optimal ecosystem for a healthy relationship with the opposite sex either but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
Ultimately, eating Paleo did help me mitigate some of the physical effects of my alcohol abuse, but I would be kidding myself if I said I did not look like shit.
Because I did, in fact, look like shit.
Once lean, with healthy skin and a strong immune system, I became a dough ball with flushed facial tissue and a chronic sneezing problem. I went from 170 to 205 pounds in about 7 months, I was wheezing from the extra weight, sweating like a pig and looked bloated and fish-eyed pretty much every day.
I’d battle back from a bender by sipping some and sitting in the steam room. Soon after acquiring my healthy glow again, I’d be quick to hit the bar and show off my new found health. Only to…get shitfaced and repeat the cycle.
Ugh, the mind of an alcoholic, insanity on every level!
When I started looking at the three main causes of my poor physical presentation, that being my weight, skin and immune system, it was easy to admit that everything I was doing could be healed with some tender love and care with good clean (Paleo) food and attention to better self-care.
Alcohol Causes Leaky Gut and Paleo Eating Can Fix That
First and foremost, it does not take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol prevents your body from digesting food properly. Scientifically, alcohol contributes to a decrease in the secretion of digestive enzymes specifically those from your pancreas. These are the main enzymes required to break down the food we consume and convert the nutrients to repair the body as a whole. With the enzymes running low, food is not digested like it should, and so it just kinda sits there. Nasty! In fact, in chronic alcoholics, the digestion system literally stops working as the pancreas is no longer able to secrete even a moderate amount of digestive enzymes.
Furthermore, alcohol reduces the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help moderate inflammation, and inflammation is being identified as one of the main causes of chronic pain, obesity, and most recently severe depression.
So even though I was eating clean, my pancreas and digestive system were being compromised and therefore no matter how clean I ate, my body was not able to use the food to heal itself properly.
This eventually caught up with me and despite trying to live one way and be healthy, my alcohol consumption was clearly prohibiting that from taking place.
Paleo Helps Heal Poor Complexions Caused by Alcohol
My rosy complexion was quite contrary to the lauded runners glow. Broken capillaries and facial flushing is probably the most common skin sign of alcohol consumption. Even in moderation, alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate. Over time, dilation of blood vessels can become permanent, leading to ectasia (spider veins). These affect mainly the face, chest, abdomen, arms, and hands. The permanent dilation can be caused by not only the direct effect of alcohol on the blood vessels but in some cases due to liver damage from long-term overindulgence. Furthermore, damage to these small blood vessels can cause them to be leaky, allowing for fluid to enter soft tissue like the skin, giving a puffy swollen appearance.
I can attest to this personally as my alcohol abuse had me looking like one of the 7 dwarfs. I’m already on the short-side and being 200 pounds and puffy faced with a rosy complexion made me well…less attractive.
Alcohol also prevents your body from extracting water from urine in the kidneys. This means alcohol can dehydrate you, and dry skin can appear scaly and wrinkled. Dry skin is also the number one cause of itch (think of eczema) and does a poor job protecting us from the elements and dangerous bacteria and viruses. Alcohol has a negative impact on your vitamin A, B3, and C levels, all of which are important antioxidants for your skin, and vital in the regeneration of new skin cells. Alcohol consumption can also impair the immune system in addition to disrupting the barrier function of the skin. Both bacterial and fungal skin infections are common in those who drink frequently and excessively.
4 Simple Tips for Daily Paleo Friendly Skin Recovery
After beating the hell out of your body and skin with alcohol abuse, you’re going to need some help to get back on track and looking good again. Luckily, we humans are resilient and with a little luck and plenty of rest, you can restore your skin and look younger and healthier with a few simple ideas:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Found in sardines, tuna, Flaxseed, Walnuts and plenty of other foods, these essential nutrients will help your skin bounce back. I did some Googling and found a post that lists the top 12 foods that contain Omega 3. Give that a peek and look around online for additional supplements that can help.
- Bone Broth: My secret weapon to help my total body wellness. is made by extracting nutrients from cooked animal bones, including collagen, and then simmering those nutrients in a broth of healthy root vegetables and herbs to create a nutritious and great tasting sipping beverage that calms the stomach and revitalizes the skin.
- Avocado: Can’t say enough about the amazing avocado. Beauty blogs and such hail the benefits of smearing this superfood on your face and scalp but I like to just eat them and let my body do the rest. My hair, skin, and eyes are brighter and more vibrant and today I eat at least one avocado a day. They also keep you feeling full longer, which is a nice side effect when trying to drop a few pounds.
- Coconut Oil: High in healthy saturated fats, these saturated fats are medium chain fatty acids or triglycerides. When applied on the skin, they keep it smooth to the touch. Due to the presence of these fats, coconut oil also retains the moisture content of the skin, as the fats eliminate moisture loss through the pores on the skin. When ingested regularly, these fats deposit under the skin, thus keeping it healthy and smooth, giving it an even tone and reducing the appearance of the pores.
These are the staples I incorporate daily, along with a balanced diet of cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef and plenty of water and matcha green tea I find myself looking and feeling younger than ever.
Drinking is such a huge part of the social scene, it’s hard to avoid. But when you remember that you’ll spend far more of life in a sober environment, abstaining from alcohol becomes quite logical. Not sure about you, but I’ll take the less gregarious, intoxicated version of myself and trade it for a more reserved, composed and poised, attractive version of myself any day.
Now, whether or not I am indeed as attractive as I think I am is something I will need to inventory; because if I am working my program properly I am well aware that this is just my ego at play!
Ah, the work in sobriety is never done, although the rewards are great.
Look better my friends, stay sober and consider the Paleo lifestyle as an approach towards recovery. It will benefit your skin, energy level, and sleep.