Protein is composed of amino acids and it is necessary for tissue repair, maintenance and growth. My intentions for discussing protein is not to add kerosene to the heated protein debates that permeate the health and nutrition industries.
Nor am I advocating a vegetarian lifestyle. I want make my readers cognizant of the potential link between poor protein digestion and acne. According to some nutritionists, humans are not designed to consume large quantities of meat.
Some people may not produce the ideal amount of hydrochloric acid and enzymes needed to appropriately digest meat. As a result, the stomach and intestines cannot break down the proteins into the amino acids as well as they need to be.
Consequently, these incompletely digested proteins, or peptides, can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. However, your body may respond to these peptides by forming antibodies to attack the peptides. This attack causes inflammation, which may manifest itself in the form of acne. I can give a first hand account of how poor protein digestion can provoke acne inflammations. When I began training for my first figure competition, I was on a high protein diet.
Normally, when I alter my exercise routines, I may experience a mild onset of acne because my hormones are adjusting to my new lifestyle and sometimes my testosterone levels may increase. But in few days my body acclimates to the changes and the acne goes away. I was on a high protein diet for over a month, eating about 100-120 grams of protein a day.
During this time I began getting small inflammations deep in my skin. The formations were not painful, yet annoying all the same. At first this type of acne was only around my neck then spread all over my face. After almost two months of these eruptions, I determined that this was not just my usual hormonal response to exercise. That’s because these acne formations felt and looked different from my hormonal type acne, or the type of acne a woman may receive just prior to menstruation. While doing research, I finally come across information for this type of acne.
While reading an article about incomplete digestion of protein, it described an acne formation that seemed volcano like. That is, the zit was under the skin and formed a volcano-like surface but instead of going outward, the pore went inward. The article explained that excess protein attracts water from the lymph, blood, cells close by, and the outer skin.
Too much protein in inner layers of the skin dehydrate the outer skin. This produces the volcanic shape of excess protein induced acne. Was protein causing the acne? Instinctively, I was thinking, if I’m getting in the best shape of my life, shouldn’t my skin respond with a clear healthy glow? Obviously, I was doing something wrong.
With persistence, experimenting and research I discovered what my body was telling me- I was eating way too much protein or I was not digesting it properly and the result was acne. At first, I thought I might have a food allergy to the eggs so I filtered them out for over two weeks. No change with the acne, it only persisted.
Then I followed the advice of the article and significantly reduced my protein intake. If you are like me, you may have asked, “Where do you get all of the protein you need to build muscle?” Well, I ate nuts, whole grains, green vegetables, and a protein shake to get proteins. My muscle mass steadily improved even while consuming around 75 grams or less of protein a day. I realize the controversy surrounding my above statements.
Nevertheless, I reiterate, the human body is a mass of intelligent mystery, not a statistic authenticated by scientific gestures. I must add that to gain even more muscle mass in a shorter period, I have doubled my protein consumption to 150 grams a day. How did I do it without provoking acne? I chew my foods properly and relax while eating, whereas before I ate my protein rich foods too rapidly.
Then, to reduce the transit time of the proteins through my intestines, I consumed additional fiber to ensure that digested fish, poultry and meat were not overstaying their welcome in my colon. Recall that waste buildup in the colon can lead to acne.
Moreover, I work my muscles more intensely than before so they need the additional protein for growth. Also, I drink a gallon of water a day because the colon needs it to properly rid itself of the digested protein. There are health experts that agree the most Americans are eating too much protein. In his self- titled, Ultimate Anti-Aging Program, Gary Null, Ph.D. stresses that the average adult is getting an overload of protein. He urges that our protein should come from non-animal sources, which are non-putrefying and not disease-causing.
Null recommends consuming only 60-70 grams of protein a day unless you extremely active or have a disease. But the typical adult consumes about 120 grams of protein daily. What happens to this protein? Since the body cannot store the protein most of it gets converted to fat. Moreover, excess amounts of protein dehydrate the body causing the liver and kidney to perform extra cleaning duty.
Does your skin look dehydrated? Are you consuming protein in excess of your dietary needs? You may wish to alter your consumption of protein or simply ensure that you are chewing your food properly.
Again, nutrition is very subjective topic that requires time and testing to safely implement. Please note that blanket statements such as people are eating too little of this food or too much of that food are annoying and non informative. The centerpiece of sound nutrition is balance. This means eating what you need when you need it. Humans are not clones. What may work for Joe Malloney may not work for Suzy Que. In the final analysis, we have to educate ourselves about our own body and make the healthiest choices possible with that information.