Food intolerances are responsible for a lot of us experiencing breakouts and if you suffer with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) like me; you will probably find that the relationship between your skin and your gut health are very closely linked.
A lot of the blemished beauties out there have heard that there are some foods in particular that can make acne worse.
Should we be avoiding sugar and dairy?
Although cutting out both of these has massively helped clear my skin; it may not necessarily be the cause of your acne.
So why do so many people get such good results from cutting these two things out of their diet?
Sugar and dairy affect our hormones in different ways but both cause further inflammation which can increase our chance of breakouts.
I recently discovered that I had a severe intolerance to dairy and this could be one of the contributing factors to why I still have acne. But even if you don’t have an allergy to dairy; you could still find that it is triggering your breakouts. This is quite a hot topic among nutritionalists, dermatologists and conventional doctors; as there is some disagreement whether acne can be caused by dairy. However, the hormones present in milk products can interfere with chemical reactions and transmissions within our cells. This can impact our health in a number of ways but the main and most relevant to acne; is it’s link to inflammation.
In the thirteen years I’ve had acne, I was really hoping the answer to clear skin would be to eat more donuts! You can imagine my disappointment! After researching about how sugar spikes in the blood cause inflammation, I knew that I would inevitably have to cut out white refined sugar. Only a couple of days after going cold turkey; I realised I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms. To satisfy my cravings I ate a handful of dried fruit and nuts with a large cup of herbal tea. Cutting sugar out of your diet completely isn’t easy! Not only because of the constant test of willpower but because sugar is hidden in many everyday food items. Once you have passed the tedious phase of checking food labels; you will find you are much more aware of how you nourish your body.
you gotta nourish to flourish
Whenever I talk to nutritionalist about my skin, they prefer to put emphasis on what we need to eat rather than dwell on what we need to cut out. By learning and appreciating what food was doing for my skin, I became so much more aware of what I was putting into my body. I developed a respect for food and I marvelled at how incredibly powerful it is.
Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help fight the damaging affects of free radicals which can lead to inflammation and breakouts. Free radicals are caused by external and internal factors such as; smoking, fried food, alcohol, radiation, air pollution, infection, toxic substances and sunbathing.
Antioxidants like selenium reduce inflammation by increasing the blood circulation and cell metabolism which in turn helps to reduce breakouts.
TOP 5 SOURCES OF SELENIUM:
- Brazil nuts:1 oz (6-8 nuts): 544 mcg (over 100% DV)
- Yellowfin tuna: 3 oz: 92 mcg (over 100% DV)
- Halibut, cooked: 3 oz: 47mcg (67% DV)
- Sardines, canned: 3 oz: 45mcg (64% DV)
- Grass-fed beef: 3 oz: 33 mcg (47% DV)
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid most commonly found in fish oil. It is broken down into two types of fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
EPA prevents acne by greatly regulating oil production and boosting hydration. It is also a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, protecting and repairing the skin from damage.
TOP 5 SOURCES OF OMEGA 3
- Atlantic Mackerel: 6,982 milligrams in 1 cup cooked (174 precent DV)
- Salmon Fish Oil: 4,767 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (119 percent DV)
- Cod Liver Oil: 2.664 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (66 percent DV)
- Walnuts: 2,664 milligrams in 1/4 cup (66 percent DV)
- Chia Seeds: 2,457 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (61 percent DV)
I am a big believer that stress is the root cause of most ailments.
How incredible then that a mineral such as magnesium can help reduce the effects of stress-related skin irritations such as acne and rosacea.
As well as its detoxifying properties to cleanse the top layer of our skin, it also reduces the amount of sebum produced.
TOP 5 SOURCES OF MAGNESIUM
- Spinach cooked: — 1 cup: 157 milligrams (39 percent DV)
- Swiss chard cooked: — 1 cup: 150 milligrams (38 percent DV)
- Dark Chocolate: — 1 square: 95 milligrams (24 percent DV)
- Pumpkin seeds: dried — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrams (23 percent DV)
- Almonds: — 1 ounce: 75 milligrams (19 percent DV)
Otherwise known as ‘friendly bacteria’ probiotics are essential for our digestive health as well as our skin.
As someone with very poor gut health, increasing my probiotic intake is essential for me to clear my acne. Unfortunately due to how the food industry has evolved; a lot of probiotic rich produce is treated with antibiotics making it harder for us to obtain good bacteria from our food naturally.
But it is easy to ferment food at home to create your very own ‘good bacteria’.
Why don’t you try making these probiotic rich foods?
- Natural live yoghurt
If you have taken medication in the past to treat your acne, you will have probably upset the levels of good bacteria in your gut. You will notice a significant change in your skin by increasing your intake of probiotics. Lactobacillus acidophilus and the yeast saccharomyces cerevisiae have been proven to give the most beneficial results.
If you would also like to take supplements to support a healthy gut; it is important to research the quality. Some brands promote their products to contain live bacteria but you need to specifically look for bacteria that will reach the gut alive.
In addition to this, it is important to consider that probiotic supplements contain a different strain of lactobacillus acidophilus to the strain that we produce naturally. This means that it is not guaranteed that the bacteria will attach and stay present and instead it could merely behave like a visitor; depending on how long you take the supplement for.
Vitamin C activates our natural healing powers. It protects us from acne scarring and repairs irritated, damaged skin. Like antioxidants; vitamin C helps to fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation.
TOP 5 VITAMIN C SOURCES
- Kiwi Fruit: 1 cup contains 164 milligrams (273 percent DV)
- Bell Peppers: 1 cup, raw contains 120 milligrams (200 percent DV)
- Orange: 1 cup contains 95.8 milligrams (160 percent DV)
- Strawberries: 1 cup contains 89.4 milligrams (149 percent DV)
- Papaya: 1 cup contains 86.5 milligrams (144 percent DV)
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation. It strengthens capillary walls improving moisture and elasticity within the skin. It also plays a vital role in balancing your endocrine and nervous system, naturally balancing our hormones.
TOP 5 VITAMIN E SOURCES
- Sunflower Seeds: 1 cup — 33.41 milligrams (220 percent)
- Almonds: 1 cup — 32.98 milligrams (218 percent)
- Hazelnuts: 1 cup — 20.29 milligrams (133 percent)
- Wheat Germ: 1 cup plain, uncooked — 18 milligrams (120 percent)
- Mango: 1 whole raw — 3.02 milligrams (20 percent)
Vitamin A (sometimes referred to as retinol), speeds up the renewal of skin cells, stimulates collagen production and hydrates the skin. In my opinion it is the most effective vitamin for improving acne and scarring.
TOP 5 VITAMIN A SOURCES
- Butternut squash: — 1 cup, cooked cubes: 22,869 international units (457 percent DV)
- Sweet potato: — 1 medium, cooked potato: 21,907 international units (438 percent DV)
- Kale: — 1 cup, chopped: 10,302 international units (206 percent DV)
- Carrots: — 1 medium raw carrot: 10,190 international units (204 percent DV)
- Beef Liver: — 1 ounce: 8,881 international units (178 percent DV)
Keeping well hydrated is one of the best things you can do for a glowing complexion. The best thing about it is, its a cheap and easy solution to clearer skin. All we have to do is remember to drink it! Another way to increase your intake of water is to eat foods with high water content.
Keeping hydrated improves the digestive system by flushing out toxins from the body, which in turn gives us a healthy glow.
Try incorporating hydrating foods into your diet each day to maximise your hydration levels.
Seek professional advice:
It’s important for me to mention here that I am not a nutritionist and for best results you should seek advice from a professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.