The prevention and healing of acne comes from everything we do. One of the things that we don’t think about as much when it comes to acne is what we consume. One of the best ways to heal acne and keep those flare ups from happening as frequently is to make sure the body is getting the proper nutrition, which can be hard with the typical Western Diet. We tend to have fewer nutrients in our diet because most of our food is cooked. When you cook or overcook your food (refined/processed foods) it causes it to lose vitamins and minerals and destroy the enzymes your body needs to break down and process these foods. When your body has a harder time breaking down food it can’t absorb the remaining nutrients and expels toxins through the skin. Cooked foods generally have over 50% less nutrients then raw foods.
When looking at foods to consume, you want to stay away from anything white or processed. A low glycemic index is ideal for not only a healthy body but healthy skin. When you are eating a higher glycemic index (more refined carbohydrates) your body produces more insulin which leads to sebum productions. Sebum is the oil responsible for the growth of acne causing bacteria. Consider good carbohydrates versus bad carbohydrates when looking at foods. Whole grain breads and pastas instead of white allows your body to absorb more nutrients. Other examples of good carbohydrates (low glycemic index) are brown rice, unprocessed oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, and raw fruits and vegetables. Avoid things like white rice, instant oatmeal, cooked veggies, and white potatoes.
Lean protein is also essential to healthy skin. Eating chicken, salmon, turkey, eggs, and greek yogurt are a good way to get the “good protein”. Eating an excess amount of red meat causes the skin to inflame more easily. Omega 3 fatty acids are another good way to keep down inflammations. Shrimp, tuna, tofu, soybeans, and flax seed (try it in a smoothie!) are good sources of the essential fatty acids. Again, the rawer something is, the more nutrients so try eating fish raw or lightly seared.
Vitamin rich foods are a requirement for the body. As I had mention before, typically the Western Diet lacks at least 50% of the daily recommended value of vitamins and minerals. This deficiency increases the hormone production which in turn triggers acne. Vitamin A prevents and clears up skin infections and is commonly referred to as Retinol. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, spinach, beats, apricots, and bell peppers. Vitamin B5 and B6 are also important. You can find vitamin b in fish, liver, lean protein, beans, and chicken. Vitamin C protects the body from acne scarring and activates healing toward damage. Some natural sources of this are tomatoes, cabbage, melons, kiwi, asparagus, and oranges.
Free radicals are one of the worst things for the skin but also the most unavoidable. You have over 5,000 exposures to free radicals in one day. A free radical is chemical particles that are the by-product of chemical processes. They come from pollution, unprotected skin exposure, and products applied to the skin. One of the worst things you can use on your face is benzoyl peroxide. It is a free radical that causes stinging, itching, and over drying. Essentially everything you use on your body is a free radical and can be treated with antioxidants. Vitamin E helps eliminate free radicals and promotes healing. You can find vitamin E in almonds, corn, eggs, and leafy greens.
Antioxidants contain natural chemicals that attack the free radical and stop potential damage. Two powerful antioxidants are Selenium and Resveratrol. Selenium helps maintain healthy skin and nails and can be found in almonds, onions, garlic, and whole wheat. Resveratrol fights free radicals and helps protect against skin cancer. It can be found in grapes, blueberries, and pomegranates. The lack of antioxidants in our diet could be one of the main causes of acne. Cultures around the world that are mostly plant based have fewer incidents of acne. Good antioxidant rich foods consist of cherries, berries, and spinach. Green tea is also rich in antioxidants and is used for an anti-inflammatory as well.
Water is very important when you are talking about good skin. Water helps diminish breakouts by helping the body flush toxins that would otherwise produce the acne causing bacteria. When you are well hydrates, the body produces less oil. You want to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and eat foods high in water content such as watermelon and cucumbers. Drinking more water will also keep you away from those sugary processed drinks. Another drink you need to watch the intake of is milk. Milk has a lot of benefits to the body and a glass here and there is not going to hurt you. But in recent studies, it’s been shown that people who consume a glass of milk a day have an increased prevalence of acne. The reason being is that milk has a high hormone level in it and those hormones trigger excess oils. Water is the best way to go when you are considering your skin.
When thinking about skin care, you have to think about it from all angles. We mostly think about washing the face and acne treatments. But you have to start with the inside out. What you put into your body is what you can expect out. It is just as important to make sure you get the proper nutrients for your body as it is to make sure you have good hygiene. Finding foods that you like from the examples above can have dramatic changes on not only your skin but your body as well. But with acne, you can’t just fight it from one area; you need to make sure you are looking at all aspects. Eating healthier foods and maintaining your acne from that aspect isn’t going to guarantee you clear skin, it will help. You still need to practice good hygiene, and vise versa.