Acne not only affects our skin it can have a devastating impact on our mood and self-esteem. Acne is a disorder that can be diagnosed by blackheads and breakouts being present on the skin. Acne can be classified as a genetic predisposition to a malfunction of the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin. This results in the formation of blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules and or cysts. Hormonal changes and androgen dominance affect acne and can occur at any life stage such as pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, P.C.O.S, stress and anabolic steroid use (common in muscle builders) therefore varying degrees of acne may be seen as a result.
Acne is not an infectious or contagious disease (it is a myth that acne can be spread). Acne develops when the oil gland and hair follicle, become blocked due to oil and dead skin cell build up. Acne sufferers tend to produce thicker, stickier oil due to higher levels of squalene and wax esters and lower levels of free fatty acids. Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, is lower in acne sebum which is thought to relate further to the congestion. Increased intake of Omega 3 fatty acids has therefore been seen to improve a congested acneic skin.
Certain foods (as discussed later) are best avoided and nutritional supplementation in particular zinc and magnesium have proven to be beneficial in many cases. Nutritional supplementation should only be taken when recommended by a qualified health care practitioner. Supplements can react with medications and can affect health conditions such as high or low blood pressure so professional recommendation is important.
Other contributing factors may be due to application of congestion provoking ingredients such as heavy oils e.g. coconut, D&C red dyes, heavy oil or silicone based cosmetics. This type of acne is commonly known as acne cosmetica but the good news is that it can be easily fixed by swapping cosmetics to a natural mineral make up brand.
Foods to avoid:
- Foods that cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin can stimulate the production of IGF 1 in the liver which in turn can stimulate the androgen hormones that stimulate excess oil and acne. Avoid high sugar foods such as sugary soft drinks, lollies, cakes and chocolates. Some high carbohydrate savoury foods can also promote an insulin spike so avoid chips, potatoes, rice, bread and pasta type foods.
- Hydrogenated fats. These artificially processed fats are found in processed foods such as processed meats, packet foods and can promote insulin sensitivity, alter cell membrane function and aggravate an oily inflamed skin. Avoid processed foods such as processed meats, sausages, pies, biscuits, packet soups and sauces.
- Gluten. Eating too much gluten can lead to an increased production of a protein called zonulin which can affect gut health and lead to poor nutrient absorption. Many acne sufferers have been found to have low levels of the mineral zinc.
- Dairy. Dairy and animal products such as milk, cream, butter, cheese and fatty meats may increase IGF1 and promote inflammation which may worsen acne.
- Alcohol and drugs. Alcohol, recreational drugs and self prescribed medications such as pain killers can put unnecessary strain on the liver, an important organ for detoxification of the body. The liver filters toxins and breaks down old hormones and may not be able to do so effectively if it is overburdened. Too many toxins in the diet may leads to breakouts in the skin as the skin is also an organ of detoxification and elimination.
Cutting out aggravating foods, reducing inflammation in the diet and taking good care of the skin can dramatically improve an acneic skin. For more information download my free clear skin eating guide