We’re fast approaching that time of year when we feel sluggish, bloated and like we really should have said no to that extra mince pie and finishing the bottle of fizzy wine. With a mindset actually crying out for a change in diet and lifestyle, kicking the festive season into touch with a detox actually sounds appealing!
While you might think cutting back and getting onto an exercise drive will do your skin the world of good too, it could actually make it worse. Dermatologist Dr. Daniel Glass who heads up The Dermatology Clinic in London says when it comes to choosing a diet which will help you shed pounds fast, you could end up with a skin and hair disaster.
Losing weight can also equal losing hair if you do it in a hurry. “Crash dieting may help weight loss in the short term, but it can also have a number of negative effects on your body, including hair loss,” explains Dr Glass. “Everyone’s hair goes through a growth cycle, called the ‘telogen phase’, which is a period of time when the hair stops growing and sheds. Approximately 10% of your hair is in the telogen phase at any one time, and this results in normal shedding levels of between 30 – 150 hairs every day. If you are under severe stress, either physically or emotionally, this can cause you to lose your hair, which is a condition known as ‘telogen effluvium’.”
This means that instead of losing the average amount of hair, your hair in this shedding phase sky-rockets to 30. ”It has been well documented that a cause of enhanced hair loss may be due to excessive and or extreme dieting and associated weight loss,” adds Dr Glass.
Most crash or extreme diets work by restricting calories and also eliminating food groups. As there are so many out there, the effects they can have on your skin are varied too. “The potential long term effects of dieting on your skin depends on exactly what type of diet is being followed, how long it is adhered to and your nutritional status before starting the diet,” says Dr Glass. “If an unusual diet is adhered to for long enough, then there is a greater risk of nutritional deficiencies developing.”
Many diet plans encourage the cutting of carbs – including wholegrains – or red meat: ‘Both of which are good sources of iron,” explains Dr Glass. Prolonged limitation of these foods could lead to an iron deficiency which may result in itchy skin, hair loss and a sore tongue. To ensure that this doesn’t happen it’s essential to choose your diet wisely and accept it could take you a few weeks longer to get to your goal – but your body will thank you: “Make sure you keep an iron-rich diet which is still healthy and allows weight loss.”
And, iron is not the only vitamin or mineral which commonly takes a hit in levels when a diet is started. As well as a really considering the nutritional content of the foods you are excluding or significantly restricting, it’s also important to know the effects a deficiency can have so you can take action if your body is crying out for a vitamin fix. “A Vitamin A or K deficiency can cause changes in the skin colour and bruising,” says Dr Glass. “Vitamin B deficiency may result in a sore, red rash at both sides of your lips.” So, look out for the little signs so you can remedy the problem sooner rather than later.
While we long to look like a clear-skinned, glowing fitness model as we take to the dark streets to run off the excesses or battle it out for a space in gym class with all the newbies, after a period where we perhaps didn’t work out as much as we should, that might not happen “There is a type of acne that can occur when starting a new fitness regime is known as Runner’s acne; a sub-type of acne that occurs at the site of repeated friction or mechanical trauma for example, on skin under headbands, tight bra straps or waist bands.” This type of friction differs from heat rash and forms either a basic acne spot; a blackhead or whitehead.
“In contrast heat rash the rash is all uniform red bumps on the skin which can be itchy,” says Dr Glass. “Acne generally tends not to be itchy, but can vary from person to person.” To ensure you stay acne free, make sure your skin is clean and make-up free both before and after your workout and also try to avoid restrictive clothing and accessories that can block the skin’s pores and follicles.”
Instead of piling on weight in December and then signing up for a gym membership and detoxing your way through January, there’s plenty of ways to have it all. You can switch up dark chocolate for milk chocolate, add in piles of colourful vegetables and soups at big mealtimes so you fill up with nutritional goodness and make sure you do some exercise each day, whether that’s a long walk, a bike ride or a YouTube exercise class. At parties, remember that drinking water in between each glass of wine is a great way to make sure you don’t overdo the alcohol, and start your days with a green juice. You’ll find that when January rolls around you won’t feel as though you need to do a crash detox diet.
If you found this useful, Spice Girl Mel C told us how she stays fit and healthy and find out what top Los Angeles fitness and beauty expert Christine Bullock had to say about her best tips for total body wellness.