The biggest challenge our customers face next to eczema is acne; both are inflammatory responses to a deeper issue. Between prescription, drugstore and other high-end treatments, there’s a confusing variety of remedies for problem skin. Few really work, and those that do must be applied and reapplied, again and again, right! Many simply fail to deliver, leading to frustration and a problem that won’t go-away.
As the largest organ on your body, one of the skin’s roles is to act as the backup organ for the kidneys and liver, says certified nutritionist Lauren Talbot. “When these organs are at capacity, and are being worked overtime to neutralize and rid the body of unwanted toxic waste byproducts, the skin becomes the easy access channel for elimination.” In other words, the skin’s job is to eliminate toxins from within the body. So, if you haven’t found a treatment that works for you up until this point, you may want to consider an inside-out skin clearing approach.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Across the board, estheticians and dermatologists agree that foods with a high glycemic index can cause and aggravate acne and inflammation. The Glycemic Index measures a food’s impact on blood sugar. High blood sugar stimulates excess cell growth around pores, causing pimples and systemic inflammation, according to Laurie Neronha, esthetician and acne specialist. A change in diet will certainly help to remedy the problem and we’ve sought the experts’ who’ve shared what is considered to be the best foods to eat and the which foods avoid in order to see healthy, clear skin.
DAIRY: “Dairy contains of lactose, which is essentially sugar. But even worse than the insulin spike lactose causes are the naturally occurring hormones in milk. Those hormones ultimately trigger inflammation. In study conducted by Harvard University, a direct correlation was established between high-school dairy intake and acne, where the more milk was consumed, the higher the incidence of acne. Those who consumed more milk during high school also experienced more acne later in life, especially if they drank skim milk, which contains a higher concentration of sugar to compensate for the loss of flavor caused by taking out the fat. And where there’s more sugar, there’s more insulin, and ultimately more acne,” says Kotsopoulos.
Sugar & High Glycemic Foods:
Sugar, refined grains (bleached flour, instant oats, white rice), and processed, high-glycemic foods like cereals, commercially baked goods, pasta, junk-foods, fast food, soda and fruit juice, all speed up the aging process of our skin and can also cause acne. These foods trigger hormonal fluctuations and cause a spike in blood sugar, which forces a spike in insulin. “High blood sugar/insulin is associated with inflammation and expedient aging.
Highly Processed Foods:
Talbot stresses that one should avoid “ingredients you cannot pronounce. If your body does not recognize it, it considers it a poison and tries to eliminate it through the skin.”
“Foods that contain chemicals, pesticides, artificial additives, and highly processed oils act as toxins in your body,” says Kotsopoulos. “Some toxins promote inflammation as well, like highly refined vegetable oils (and the foods fried in them), trans fat, animal-based saturated fats, and an unbalanced amount of omega-6 fatty acids. Inflammation encourages bacteria to grow in the blocked pores,” leading to breakouts and stressed skin.
Cutting out the foods listed above will likely lead to clearer skin—especially if you were regularly consuming them before. However, adding foods that support healthy skin and minimizes inflammation will minimize acne and produce a healthy, natural glow.
Research has shown that there are certain foods that can help in the fight against acne. Essential fatty acids found in olive oil, flax seeds, walnuts, and cold water fish (wild salmon, sardines, mackerel) can help tame inflammation and improve acne.
AVOCADOS – Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins A and C, and fiber, avocados help brighten dull skin, smooth tone, and moisturize on a deep cellular level.
COCONUT OIL– Coconut oil possesses antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which help promote a healthy intestinal tract, important because most of the body's disruptions begin in the gut. Additionally, coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, a great emollient for the skin.
WILD SALMON – One of the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats help keep your skin looking youthful, supple, and moisturized. They are also highly anti-inflammatory which reduces the body’s stress hormones and decreases clogged pores. Salmon also has selenium which is a mineral that protects from sun damage.
GREEN TEA – Studies show that green tea helps fight acne. South Korean researchers found that EGCG reduced oil production and significantly improved acne in an 8-week randomized, split-face, clinical trial. Drink more green tea throughout the day; try applying cooled tea bags or a cloth dipped in cooled green tea to acne-prone areas of your face for 10-15 minutes.
WALNUTS – Walnuts have omega-3 fats that strengthen the membranes of your skin cells, increase moisture, and boost suppleness. In addition to omega-3, walnuts are also rich in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Walnuts also provide moisture to the skin and prevent sun damage,” says Kotsopoulos.
SWEET POTATOES – Vitamin A is an antioxidant, and thus can interrupt the free-radical damage process that causes skin to look and act older. This helps prevent wrinkling and increases collagen production. Vitamin A is effective at managing acne and eczema, as well as improving discolorations and wrinkles from sun damage.
“In just one sweet potato you will find more than 200% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A. From one sweet potato, you’ll get three grams of fiber which keeps your digestive tract healthy and functioning properly, helping to keep your breakouts to a minimum,” says Dr. Bank.
ALMONDS – Almonds boast a high percentage of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that is incredibly nourishing to the skin and protects it from damaging UV rays. It also contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which moisturize the skin and keep it hydrated and soft. They also pack a good amount of protein which is the building block of skin so vegetarians and vegans do well incorporating them into their diets.
FRESH BERRIES – Berries are about as antioxidant rich as it gets for a plant food. Their pigment comes from a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin which helps buffer and prevent damage from toxins and free radicals on the skin. They contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that fights the break down of elastin and collagen and protects from sun damage. They also provide a boatload of vitamin C which stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, for youthful, glowing skin.
GREEN SMOOTHIES – We love green smoothies because they have a host of antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are extremely hydrating and help flush toxins from the body! It’s best if you can obtain organic or even home grown produce. Fresh will often have more flavor than frozen, but get what you have access to. You can swap one fruit for another but one or two fruits are sufficient. Go beyond this and you’re increasing the sugar content of your smoothie.
There’s no rocket science to blending up a smoothie. You’re simply combining 5 or 6 elements of fruits and vegetables to create a drink that is chock full of fresh, whole-food sourced vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients!
Beyond these goodies, be sure to drink several glasses of water throughout the day to hydrate the skin and flush toxins out of the body!
From my own personal catalog of experiences with skin challenges over the years, I can say that simplicity is rewarding. I personally don't have a lot of time to invest in regimens and strict dietary routines but I do know that consuming a diet rich in unprocessed [real] food can and will transform your skin. That is the key, summed up in a single sentence. That also means letting go of the rest: processed foods, junk, beverages, dairy, pastries, fast food, beer and other 'yeast' containing products.
In addition to this, I noticed even more improvements in my skin, hair and nails when I gave up my daily black coffee habit (acid forming) and switched over to a daily intake of mixed-greens powder (out of respect for my time). Green powders are effective at alkalizing and detoxifying the body when you don't have time to juice your own veggies.
When you combine healthy eating with holistic skin care, you will transform your skin and shave years off of your appearance!