You’re big (the good big). You’re buff. You’re … almost sexy. What’s missing?
Nope, I’m not talking about personality skills, attitude, or your sense of style, although that’s all pretty important, too.
Let’s FACE it – if your complexion is not that good, that ripped physique will only do so much. No matter how attractive you are, an acne party on your face is not attractive. It’s attention grabbing in the wrong way. Sure, you can Photoshop them away from your profile. How infinitely better would it be, though, to look that hot in reality?
Cosmetic products are becoming a real money maker for the beauty business. Thousands of people are throwing away money on topical products promising to “reduce signs of aging”, “clear up skin”, or “achieve flawless skin”. Who can blame them?
Let’s be honest for a moment, shall we, and admit it – we care. We all, at one point or another, have aired a complaint about our skin woes. We want to be worth being looked at. Our self-esteem is often influenced by how we look.
Caveat: I’m not only referring to women here. Men care just as much.
So what are we working with here? How would you describe the skin you’re in? Clear, vibrant, toned, glowing, gorgeous, sexy, smooth n’ soft, healthy? Sweet.
Red, dry, oily, spotty, blotchy, wrinkled, bumpy, pale? Read on.
Skin is the largest vital organ in the body. It has some important functions, too, including temperature control, protection, and elimination. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “third kidney” because it’s expected to eliminate as much as your lungs, bowels, and kidneys do each day.
Like any other vital organ, you must care for your skin. The health of your skin is as much (if not more) an internal issue as it is an external issue.
Although embarrassing and unattractive skin woes like acne are often multi-factorial, the food you eat may be able to solve some of your skin problems. True, there is probably no single food that causes or treats acne. We could, however, say that a single food could help or worsen the severity.
Research on the link between acne and diet is in its infancy. However, more and more research points to a close relationship between the two.
Food may not treat skin issues but it can certainly influence them
But when someone does, nerd-out on them with these facts:
In other words, nutrients affect skin. Food affects skin. Diet affects skin. Some promote the acne process (via inflammation, hormonal imbalance, high blood sugar levels, or oxidative stress). Others suppress and regulate the acne process.
I’d like to zone in on one of our major skin enemies. Acne is a pretty (ugly) big deal. From what we understand so far, it’s a combination of four factors.
Put all these factors together and what do you get? Hair follicles overproducing skin cells that get trapped by oil and a side of bacteria growth. Voila!
Everyone has unique acne triggers.
We know it’s a genetic disease. If your parents had it, you can thank them for your acne struggle. It’s also a hormonal disease. No one really has acne problems till all those hormones start acting up during puberty. Other acne culprits include food allergies, digestive health issues, or stress.
What can make acne worse, though? Poor nutrition.
What we eat can affect the very hormones involved in all that oil production, excessive cell division, and inflammation causing acne.
Thankfully, diet and lifestyle changes can influence skin health. A plus is that diet and lifestyle changes don’t have potentially dangerous side effects. Unlike many of those drugs and chemically-laden cosmetic products. Another plus is that changing your diet and lifestyle is cheaper. Unlike many of those drugs and expensive, chemically-laden cosmetic products. Get the point?
For one thing, stop feeding your body with bad foods. If you’ve got tons of processed foods in your diet (especially pointing fingers at high-glycemic foods that are concentrated in sugar and low in fiber):
– Your insulin levels are up. High insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) increases skin oil production, a huge factor in acne.
– Your body is on fire (inflammation) and under stress (oxidative stress), both contributors to acne and skin damage by free radicals.
-increased insulin levels also raise androgen (a male hormone) levels, which are known for stimulating oil production and increasing severity of acne symptoms.
There’s the obvious no-no’s: Steer clear of hydrogenated oils, trans fats, margarine, or vegetable oils used multiple times for cooking or heated to very high frying temperatures. Also, avoid artificial sweeteners, colors and dyes, preservatives, and limit added sugars.
You’ll be surprised to know acne is mainly a disease of Western civilization. Populations such as the Inuit, Okinawa or Kitavan islanders, Ache hunter-gatherers of Paraguay, and several other rural villages of Africa have nearly no acne.
So the big question is what’s their secret? Staple foods include low-glycemic load tubers, fruits, and veggies, wild game or foraged foods, and non-wheat grains (may be sprouted or fermented) as well as fermented fruits and veggies. Their intake of dairy, alcohol, coffee, and tea is close to zero. Salt, sugar, cereal, margarine, and oil intake is negligible.
What can we learn from these healthy, supplement-free, acne-free populations? Build your meals with whole, unprocessed foods.
Omega-3-rich fish, such as wild-caught salmon, tuna, or sardines, can protect skin from free-radical damage caused by UV rays. They can also counteract the effects of a pro-inflammatory omega-6 rich typical Western diet that tends to fuel acne.
Herbs and Spices
There are many anti-inflammatory spices and herbs that can help ameloriate or prevent acne. Try to get more turmeric and ginger, rosemary and oregano, cinnamon and nutmeg into your dishes.
Skin is 70% water. Are you drinking enough water? Staying well-hydrated helps clear toxins and transport nutrients and oxygen to skin cells. Getting your water in the form of green tea is a plus. Green tea fights the root causes of acne: insulin resistance and inflammation.
Make it a habit to throw some epicatechin-rich cocoa in your morning shake. You’ll be getting the same phytochemicals (that is plant chemicals) that have been used in treatments against skin cancer, psoriasis, wounds, and even acne. One favored antioxidant in cocoa is epicatechin, known to neutralize oxidative stress.
Fruits and Veggies with red, purple, and blue pigments
Some plants have their own sunscreen against UV rays in the form of anthocyanins. They protect against UV rays and hunt down free radicals. The same happens in humans who consume these plants. The anthocyanins in these plant foods can douse the fire of inflammation that contributes to acne and prevent free radicals from damaging skin collagen.
For some reason, there’s this idea going around that eating nuts contributes to acne. BS! Nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or selenium-rich Brazil nuts can help clear up acne. The great thing about nuts is that you’re not just getting more antioxidants. With selenium, you’re helping your body manufacture more of its own antioxidants, such as glutathione. Better antioxidant power can help extinguish inflammation in the skin that contributes to acne.
Eating for skin health can be easy and enjoyable. Build your meals around nutrient-dense foods – a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and cold water fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Note: All views expressed in this blog post are the personal opinions of the guest blogger. mySkin.com doesn’t favor any particular skincare brand or take advertising from any of them. Our scientific algorithm is entirely unbiased and based on your skin profile.
Author bio: This story comes to Myskin.com courtesy of Gerry Morton, an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation and exercise. He is the CEO of Energyfirst.com.