My new article is up on Ditch The Label, all about the relationship between acne and diet, what foods you should cut down on and which nutrients you should consume more of if you suffer with the skin condition. To check out the article on Ditch the Label, click here.
Contrary to popular belief, Acne is something which affects people of all ages, not just teens. What’s more, it doesn’t just affect appearance. Acne can have negative impacts on the self-confidence and mental health of a person dealing with it. Here, you’ll find some advice from the expert nutritionist, Lizzy Rose Clough on how to kick Acne’s butt for good… Here’s what Lizzy has to say:
What is the link between diet and acne?
Acne is a common dermatological condition that can start at any age, affecting millions of young adults around the world. It is estimated that 80% of the population aged 11-30 years are affected by this skin condition. Having suffered from severe acne myself for several years, it was only when I got to the root of the problem that my acne cleared: Diet.
What is acne?
Acne occurs when the skin’s pores become clogged with dead skin cells and excess sebum. This creates an environment for bacteria (which normally lives harmlessly on our skin) to thrive. The skin can become inflamed, leading to the development of spots, nodules and cysts.
Our skin is the body’s largest organ (weighing an average of 2.7 kilograms). Around 25% of all bodily waste exits the body via the skin. The condition of the skin depends on a number of factors including age, genes, hygiene, circulation, immune system, environment, psychological state and of course the most important thing – what you eat.
“A healthy diet and lifestyle can help to eradicate acne”
Foods contain hormones that can stimulate the oil glands in the skin and the over or under consumption of essential fatty acids can cause skin inflammation or dampen it. Examples of foods that can cause inflammation are fried foods and refined sugar. Foods such as chia seeds and brazil nuts are good because they are an anti-inflammatory.
What foods & drinks should you cut down on?
Certain research has suggested the natural hormones found in dairy products can lead to a hormonal imbalance and therefore an eruption of spots. Dairy is also a natural source of sugar which can increase inflammation and can be difficult for our body to digest. Great alternatives are almond milk and nutritional yeast which can be used as a replacement for cheese.
*Note: If you do reduce your dairy intake, make sure you are having enough calcium through incorporating chia seeds into your diet every day.
Many studies have suggested there is a link between refined sugar and acne. Refined sugar can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and therefore lead to a possible break out. Try cutting back on the consumption of sugary foods to see if you notice a difference.
Processed Foods & High-Glycaemic Foods
These foods can trigger a spike in insulin and raise blood sugar levels. They can also trigger potential hormonal fluctuations and contribute to inflammation. Foods such as white bread, white rice, potato chips, cakes, cookies are all an example of high-glycaemic foods. Consider replacing them with foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and sweet potatoes.
What nutrients should you consume more of?
Not getting an adequate amount of zinc can in some cases cause acne. This essential mineral promotes cell repair, helps the lymphatic organs efficiently eliminate waste and can stabilise the formation of sebum within our pores. Foods rich in zinc are best absorbed when eaten with a protein-rich meal – try adding a tsp of pumpkin seeds with your porridge in the morning!
Foods rich in zinc: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, quinoa
Studies have shown that the trace mineral, selenium, is excellent for acne. It can dramatically increase your antioxidant levels, critical for preventing blocked pores, and can help to reduce inflammation in the skin. Brazil nuts contain more selenium than any other food. By introducing one (that is all you need) into your diet every day, you will be getting 462% of your recommended intake!
Foods rich in selenium: brazil nuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds
Cortisol is the ‘stress’ hormone that when elevated, due to anxiety or worry, can exert several biological effects on the body. A link between stress and skin problems, such as Acne, is becoming more apparent as it can cause the skin to secrete sebum, clog pores and in some cases, aggravate acne or even contribute to a flare-up. You can reduce stress by increasing your intake of the essential, calming and relaxing mineral magnesium through the foods mentioned below:
Foods rich in magnesium: brazil nuts, quinoa, spinach, lentils
Vitamin E is fantastic for acne because it helps to prevent whiteheads and blackheads. It is the second most abundant antioxidant in your body and helps your skin to heal from acne damage and scarring. You can reap the benefits of vitamin E from consuming a balanced and wholesome diet of vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Foods rich in vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, leafy green vegetables
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, often referred to as good or healthy fats, help to reduce and regulate any inflammation in your body and skin. They also improve insulin response (sugar in our blood), promote healthy cell membranes and help to regulate a hormonal imbalance. Try topping salads with walnuts or a sprinkle of milled chia seeds to derive the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods rich in omega-3: chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds