Acne causes and remedies are as relevant among teenage women as they are among adult women who are going through menopause. In this post, I have tried to simplify and condense the huge amount of information that is available on the subject.
I have luckily not had the misfortune of suffering from acne or skin breakouts. The odd spot once a month was enough to throw me into a tailspin so I can sympathise with those that struggle with either of these conditions.
Acne is a result of high blood sugar and chronic inflammation. These, in turn, trigger hormonal reactions that lead to increased sebum (oil) production on the skin leading to blocked pores and overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria.
The gut is an important player in our immune system. If the balance is compromised the liver then goes into overtime pumping out hormones. Keep your gut happy and your skin and body will thank you for it.
Food is the best way to maintain a healthy gut.
Foods To Avoid If You Are Prone To Acne
Cereals and grains
Foods high in carbohydrates cause the body to produce more insulin to deal with the higher levels of sugar in the blood. This is a major cause of inflammation which can upset the gut.
This evil stuff is one molecule away from being plastic. You may as well be chowing down on a piece of Tupperware. They are made by cooking vegetable oils to very high temperatures, adding hydrogen and a catalyst metal like nickel. Your body has a difficult time digesting the molecules in this ingredient and so inflammation occurs.
Sugar, junk food or highly processed food
These may increase insulin levels which can increase hormone production and so inflame follicles and cause the skin to make excess sebum.
Coffee magnifies your stress response causing the liver to produce more of the hormones that deal to stress and that in turn causes the skin to react.
The jury is still out on soy products but evidence suggests that the phytoestrogens can upset our delicate hormonal balance which can cause or inflame acne.
Dairy contains hormones which can cause inflammation in humans. The insulin spike that dairy can create can cause the liver to produce even more of the damaging hormones so double whammy. The heightened insulin activity can also cause your skin to produce excess sebum (oil) which can cause blocked pores and so more spots.
As with the milk products eggs can cause an insulin response setting up inflammation. If you find you are okay eating eggs make sure they are from hormone free chickens.
If you are not gluten intolerant then it is unlikely that it would cause acne for you. However for those of you who already have acne and haven’t yet found the trigger perhaps cutting gluten out of your diet for a while could be something worth trying.
So, we’ve explored foods that can inflame or cause acne what about foods that can help to improve the inflammation. Nothing new here. The foods that improve your health are the same ones you should be eating to improve your acne.
Foods to include
Our anti-inflammatory friend Omega-3 can reduce the effects of skin rashes and acne. Foods high in the fatty acid are:
- Oily fish such as salmon and sardines
- Chia seed
Foods high in probiotics will help maintain healthy bacteria in the gut helping to restore hormonal balance. Foods high in probiotics include:
- Yoghurt, the kicker here is that dairy can inflame acne so maybe try making your own coconut or almond milk yoghurt as an alternative.
These are the foods made up of soluble fibre that only your gut can digest. These are the foods that feed the probiotics and so are just as beneficial in helping to reduce inflammation. Foods high in prebiotics include:
- Leafy greens
- Garlic, onion, leeks, chives
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Apple cider vinegar (organic)
Anti-oxidant rich foods
These are the foods packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that help reduce cell damage. Foods high in antioxidants include
- Berries especially blueberries and raspberries
- Nuts especially walnuts
- Dark green vegetables such as Kale and Collard greens
Zinc supports the liver in helping to keep skin in good condition and one study showed that Zinc sulphate applied topically can help improve acne. Foods high in zinc are:
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
When the body is out of balance the skin produces sebum which oxidises and becomes squalene peroxide. Vitamin E and selenium supplementation will go a long way to slowing down this process and improving acne.
Other Things To Consider When Trying To Combat Acne
Stress doesn’t cause acne but can be a factor in setting up the environment where acne can be triggered. Blood flow and oxygen can be directed to fighting the stress and away from areas such as the skin leaving it unhealthy a prone to clogging and breakouts.
Exercise can help reduce stress and keep the body in tip-top condition. Just remember to wash the face after exercising to remove sweat and bacteria from the skin.
Try to stick to natural skin products to avoid inflammation. Look for products that are non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) and are free of pore-clogging ingredients such as olive oil.
Vitamin C and Zinc are proven to be more effective than benzoyl peroxide.
Make sure to cleanse the pore-clogging oils from your skin twice a day with a clean, soft cloth.
Keep hair back from the face and consider a shampoo that is free from sodium sulphates.
I hope this post may go some way to helping those of you who are affected by acne.
I would love to hear about some of your experiences and if there is a particular routine you have that helps. Please comment below.