Eating skin-friendly foods is easy, and soon you will be able to recognize acne-provoking foods at a glance and form your eating habits accordingly.
Our skin is the largest organ in the body, and it’s incredibly responsive to nutrition. Whatever we eat, good or bad shows up on our skin. Sometimes all it takes to get rid of acne symptoms and rebalance skin is subtle diet changes and brilliant combination of food supplements.
How an Acne Lesion is Born
The energy that we get from foods comes from three types of nutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. When foods are digested, they are broken down into the body’s necessary fuel glucose, a kind of sugar. If we eat foods that cause stress to our body by raising the level of stress-inducing blood sugar, we increase inflammation and oiliness in the skin. Why does it happen? Refined sugar and carbs promote a spike in insulin and IGF-1 in your body. This spike could induce an abnormal male hormone secretion, which causes pores in the skin to secrete sebum more actively. The pore stretches, breaks, oil, and bacteria build up. Then, an acne lesion is born.
All the sweet and starchy foods – including starches such as rice, pasta, bread, cereals, and similar foods. Fruits and juices; milk and milk products; and anything made with added sugars, such as candies, cookies, cakes, and pies are easily converted into sugar and make the blood sugar rise. Making us feel a short but intense burst of energy. Chemical reactions caused by sugar are the number one cause of acne. The worse the acne, the more likely sugar is involved. Eating a sugar-rich food to which the body is addicted leads to a continuous over-abundance of insulin. As a result, there is an overproduction of sebum, which the Asian skin care routine tries to counteract. In such a case the immune system fights the food as if it were an invading organism.
Linking Food & Acne
There is another link between food and acne that is scientifically proven. The male hormone, testosterone, stimulates the production of the sebaceous glands in times of stress. Meat contains hormones and hormone-like substances which can affect the hormonal balance in the body. Dermatologists have reported that women who regularly eat meat are more likely to suffer from acne and excess hair, which they put down to the steroids and hormone levels in the meat.
If you have acne, you should avoid foods that promote inflammation on the cellular level and increase the production of sebum. The easiest way to tell the excellent food from the lousy food is using the glycemic index, which is well-known to people with diabetes. All kinds of bread, well-cooked pasta, noodles, rice, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, crackers, pizza crusts cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, contributing to acne. Proteins such as lean non-red meat, seafood, beans, non-saturated fats and most vegetables have a low glycemic rating. That means they are less likely to cause a hike in the blood sugar level.
Besides from sending blood sugar levels sky-high, sugared foods are proven to reduce your body’s ability to fight off infection. There is medical evidence that ingesting just 100 grams of sugar in any form be it glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or orange juice from concentrate – can reduce your immune system’s ability to function by as much as 50 percent. This effect can last for up to five hours. And since we consume much more than 100 g of sugar every day, the impact can be very long-lasting. What does it mean? While the healthy immune system can heal a pimple in five to seven days, an immune system weakened by sugar intake will not be able to fight the inflammation in the zit quickly. And it may ripen for the whole ten days or even two weeks, most likely leaving an ugly mark behind.
Instead of high glycemic foods, focus on intensely colored vegetables such as arugula, artichokes, asparagus, green beans, beets or beet tops, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Even cabbage, carrots, celery, collards, chards, cucumbers, dandelion, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, radishes, scallions, spinach, zucchini, watercress are all great. Though it’s mainly white, you should not overlook cauliflower. All these vegetables have the lowest impact on your blood sugar. Apples, berries, currants, grapes, apricots, prunes, peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries will make a delicious addition to your anti-acne diet. Feel free to eat them as much as you like.
There has been a suggestion that dairy aggravates acne. Milk contains two proteins; casein and whey. Casein gives much of the allergy problems associated with milk, whereas whey has demonstrated immunological-stimulating properties. Therefore, if you have acne, you may continue consuming dairy in moderation, but only in lactose-free non-fat versions.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids should become a critical part of your diet. Research has shown that essential fatty acids (EFA) can help hormonal imbalances that lead to acne. In fact, people with hormonal related acne have been shown to have deficiencies of essential fatty acids. Although the best source of essential fatty acids would be salmon, I do not recommend eating it more than two times a week. Because most often the salmon you find in your grocery stores may be contaminated with mercury. Still, when you feel like eating fish for lunch or dinner, buy salmon that was fished, not farmed. Or better yet, certified organic salmon from a trustworthy supplier. And here’s a word of caution: The mineral iodine, in high dietary levels, can contribute to acne-causing pores to swell which in turn leads to acne breakouts. To reduce your iodine intake, avoid iodized salt, shrimp, and sea vegetables.
If you want to have clear skin, you should base your diet on lots of vegetables, fruits, and edible protein-rich in essential fatty acids and deficient in cholesterol. Each meal should contain plant proteins, low-glycemic carbohydrates and essential fatty acids that keep you energized for hours.