Treating Acne With Nutrition?
As someone who has suffered with acne in the past I’m weary about repeating myths about what causes it. After trying a number of treatments the only one which eventually worked for me was a contraceptive pill. Now, as I’m coming off the pill, I’m back to seeing what other treatments are on offer. Peroxide based creams and antibiotics are pretty much the only option given by the GP in my experience, but I’d like to hold off on them for as long as possible.
There’s not too much evidence that what we eat and drink actually causes acne but it may be able to help manage it. It’s caused by the overproduction of sebum (the oil on your skin) which blocks pores and allows bacteria to grow within the skin follicles. It’s often genetic or caused by hormonal fluctuations – sometimes during teenage years or pregnancy.
As well as a good cleansing routine what else can we do to help reduce the symptoms? There is some evidence that diet could help reduce the symptoms or that certain foods may make acne worse.
Acne is an inflammatory condition and cow’s milk contains hormones that stimulate testosterone production which increases sebum. Milk may also increase inflammation making spots redder. Proteins like whey and casein are present in milk. They are often added in larger amounts to skimmed milk to make it taste less watery and they can cause a hormone similar to insulin called IGF-1 to be released, which is known to trigger breakouts.
Conversely, foods which contain probiotics such as yoghurt, pickles, miso, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut and Kefir are thought to calm inflammation. They are thought to have a whole host of other benefits as well so enjoy these as part of your regular diet if you can.
Eating foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to spike could be important in keeping acne under control. Leafy greens, berries and natural proteins are all good choices whilst it’s best to regulate processed foods, refined carbs or very sugary treats.
Anything which helps hormones to balance may also help acne. This includes herbal teas, broccoli, almonds, avocados and quinoa. Keeping a healthy balance between Omega 3 and 6 is also a good idea – think healthy fats and oils.
Exercise can be another powerful tool to balance hormones and reduce inflammation. It helps regulate testosterone, growth hormone and insulin as well as enhancing the immune system and increasing energy.
Sleep helps keep stress hormones balanced, builds energy and allows the body to recover properly. Excessive stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity, trouble with performance and a higher susceptibility to anxiety, weight gain and depression. To maximise hormone function make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine as these might not be great for your skin. Try switching coffee for peppermint or other herbal teas and reduce alcohol intake by trying fresh fruit smoothies, non-alcoholic cocktails or fruit waters.
Vitamin D almost acts like a hormone inside the body and has important implications for keeping inflammation levels low. So get some sunshine or enjoy foods rich in vitamin D such as eggs and mushrooms. You can even massively increase the amount of vitamin D in your mushrooms with one easy trick!
Do you have any of your own methods of dealing with acne? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 #preggieveggie