December 2015       << Home         Printer Friendly PDF          Volume 14 Issue 12

Food, Sex, and Attractiveness
Part 2: The Role of Skin (Color, Oiliness, and Acne) and Body Odor

Excellent health is attractive. Our appearance to others is within our control and largely dependent upon the food choices we make. Last month's newsletter (Part 1: The Role of Body Weight; November 2015) focused on the role of body fatness in attractiveness. The rest of the picture of health involves the appearance of our skin and the odor of our body.


The Skin's Role in Attractiveness


Beyond the health messages conveyed by the amount of fat carried under the skin, a closer look at the skin itself reveals other fundamental clues to our health. A sick person will often be described as "looking gray." Pallor and blue/gray skin tone is a result of poorly oxygenated blood in the blood vessels close to the skin's surface. When the red blood cells in the arteries and capillaries are rich in oxygen, they are naturally bright red. Red blood cells turn blue in color as they release their oxygen to organs, such as the brain, liver, lungs, and skin. This is why veins, for example those on your forearm that return blood to the lungs for re-oxygenation, are blue.


Impairment of circulation results in the reduction in the actual number of cells present in the capillaries, thereby producing pallor (paleness). With poor circulation, cells also linger in the vessels, allowing time for red cells to turn blue and changing skin to a blue/gray tone. A person may then be described as "not being in the pink." These bloodless signs of poor health are unattractive.


Microscopic Examination of Blood
Cell Flow Impaired by Dietary Fat


Fats and Oils in Diet Cause Sludging of Blood Flow


Vegetable and animal fats impair the flow of blood. In fact, vegetable oils cause more severe and prolonged sludging of the blood than do animal fats. Prior to a high-fat meal, red blood cells bounce off of one another and the circulation flows freely. When fat enters the bloodstream it coats the surface of the cells, causing them, within the first hour, to stick together and form clumps; slowing the flow of blood. Six hours after the meal, impairment to the free flow of blood may become so severe as to cause the movement of blood to stop entirely in many small vessels. As a result of these changes, the oxygen content of the blood decreases by 20%. Several hours later, as the fat is removed from the cell surfaces, the clumps break up and the blood flow returns to the tissues. Because most people eat three or more high-fat meals daily, their circulation is compromised all day long. The effects of reduced circulation from dietary fat go far deeper than the skin, causing angina, impaired brain function, high blood pressure, and fatigue.





 Unsightly Oily Skin and Acne


The standard dogma that we hear from essentially all medical doctors is that oily skin and acne have nothing to do with the foods we eat. This belief dates back to a single article published by Dr. James Fulton in the Journal of the American Medical Association almost half a century ago (1969). The results of this study have been justifiably criticized and the conclusion discounted for more than 35 years.


Dr. Fulton studied 30 adolescents (14 girls and 16 boys) attending an acne clinic and 35 young adult male prisoners with mild to moderate acne. The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America funded the research and provided two kinds of candy bars: one with and one without chocolate. Both bars were made mostly of fat and sugar and had similar amounts of calories (557 to 592 per bar). The subjects added one or the other bar to their usual daily food intake for the next four weeks. Nothing else was changed in their diet during the experiment. Dr. Fulton and colleagues then counted the pimples on their young faces. Forty-six of the 65 subjects stayed the same, 10 were better and 9 were worse. Not unexpectedly, the rate of sebum (a fatty substance) excretion increased by 60% with the addition of either kind of the high-fat, high-sugar candy bar, with or without chocolate, in all subjects. The conclusion from this work, affecting the lives of billions of people for nearly half a century, is that "diet has nothing to do with acne."


Multiple studies of people living on their traditional native diets, almost all of which are low fat-diets, based on starches, vegetables, and fruits, have found that these people have little or no acne. However, when they start eating the Western diet, acne becomes an epidemic among their population, as do other diseases of modern civilization (obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and prostate and breast cancer). Examples of well-studied populations living without acne include the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea, who live on a diet of 70% carbohydrate from plant foods (sweet potato, taro, cassava), and the Ache' of Eastern Paraguay, with a diet of about 70% of the calories coming from manioc (cassava, a root vegetable).


Africans eating plant-food-based diets show similar freedom from acne. Southern African Bantu adolescents have an incidence of acne of 16% compared to the whites in Africa with a 45% incidence. The Zulu have been reported to develop acne only after they move from the villages to the cities and adopt a Western diet. People in both Kenya and Zambia have far less acne than do blacks in the USA. People from Malaysia living on rice-based diets have been reported to have no acne problems. A rice-centered diet is also the reason people in rural Japan have had very few skin troubles until recently. Even Europeans following lower-fat diets (Crete, Southern Italy) have less acne compared to those in Western Europe on higher fat diets. The Yemenite Jews following a healthier, lower-fat diet than European Jews report less acne, too.


The Western diet is clearly the cause of acne, which affects up to 85% of teenagers living in industrialized countries. More importantly, replacing meat, dairy, vegetable oils, and other junk foods with very low-fat, starch-based foods cures the acne. Please note: Many people following a vegan diet suffer with oily skin and acne, because they consume plentiful amounts of vegetable oils, margarines, soy cheeses, and vegan cheesecakes.


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Blackheads and whiteheads result as dietary fat accumulates in blocked sweat/sebaceous ducts of the skin. Fortunately, with a change to a healthy, low-fat diet the excess oil found on the skin and hair vanishes within about four days, and after a month the unsightly acne pustules, blackheads, and whiteheads are also healed.


Body Odor's Role in Attractiveness


Chemicals in the air enter our nostrils and then stimulate small nerve endings from a stalk in our brain known as the "olfactory lobe." These nerves directly enter into the emotional centers of our brain called the "limbic system." Here odors stimulate our most intimate emotions, including love, sexual desire, and anger. Billions of dollars are spent on sprays, liquids, creams, and lotions in an attempt to cover up unpleasant body odor, and many scents are specifically intended to increase sexual attractiveness. In reality, no amount of manufactured chemicals in perfumes and deodorants will cover up malodors exuded from the bodies of people eating an animal-food based diet.


The most offensive smells to human beings are produced by the breakdown of proteins by bacteria into individual amino acids in the intestinal tract. More specifically, the digestion of sulfur-containing amino acids, cysteine and methionine, produce malodorous hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan, respectively. To appreciate the aroma of these volatile sulfur compounds, think of rotten eggs or the sulfur pits at Yellowstone National Park. Foods of animal origin contain far more sulfur-containing amino acids than do plant foods. (A few plants foods like garlic and onions, however, are noted for their high sulfur content and distinct odor.)


Comparison of Sulpher (Methionine) in Various Foods


(Based on calories consumed):

Beef provides 4 times more than pinto beans
Eggs have 4 times more than corn
Cheddar cheese has 5 times more than white potatoes
Chicken provides 7 times more than rice 
Tuna provides 12 times more than sweet potatoes



The sulfur gasses produced in the gastrointestinal tract next diffuse through the bowel wall into the bloodstream. Traveling to the lungs the circulating sulfur is exhaled, producing bad breath (halitosis). Thoroughly cleaning the mouth by brushing and flossing, will not remove the outward flow of malodorous sulfur vapors that appear with each breath. However, improving breath odor is quickly accomplished by eliminating high-sulfur foods: meat, poultry, cheese, eggs, fish, and all other animal-derived foods from the diet.


Patients attending the McDougall Clinic have been tested at the beginning and the end of the Program for sulfur compounds in their breath with a monitor, called a Halimeter. After seven days of eating starches, vegetables, and fruits, and eliminating all meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and other animal foods, the volatile sulfur compounds found in their breath were cut in half.


Circulating blood also brings the malodorous sulfur compounds from the bowels to the skin, creating repugnant body odors (BO). The effect of diet on body odor has been tested in a real life experiment: Seventeen male odor donors were tested on a ''meat'' and a ''nonmeat'' diet for two weeks. Axillary (armpit) pads were used to collect body odor during each separate period. Thirty women assessed the axillary pads for their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity, and intensity. The women reported that the odor of donors when on the non-meat diet was "judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense."


The final destination of this sulfur gas is at the end of the intestinal tract with the flatus and the stool. Attendees of the McDougall Program report a consistent change in their gas from their high-fiber, vegan diet. They joke, "We do make more gas now, but it smells better. Before when we ate meat, poultry, fish, and dairy foods, it smelled like something died."


Beyond Intimacy


Beyond activities related to sexual reproduction, as discussed in Part 1: The Role of Body Weight, attractiveness gained from better health plays important roles in most other interactions between people. Consider the value of health to a business. Unhealthy employees spend valuable work hours worrying about and dealing with their minor and major ailments, from constipation to cancers. Many employees feel so poorly that they dread starting their workday. Poor health in the workplace results in reduced productivity and intellectual capacity, as well as increased absenteeism. Overweight people and those with diabetes have been found to have fewer opportunities for a higher education and better employment. Because illness contributes to the failure of businesses, everyone involved will be consciously or unconsciously attracted by clues of good health.


It's the food! People spend thousands of dollars buying expensive cars and clothes to distract from their underlying unpleasant appearances. Many suffer the pain of plastic surgery to enhance their desirability, yet most have failed to bring out their real underlying magnetism; at no financial cost at all. After saving the money you once spent on beefsteaks, feta cheese, and potato chips, you will then be able to purchase those outward trappings that were once your only option to superficially enhance your attractiveness.


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