I have been dealing with adult acne for most of my adult life. You name it, I’ve been on every medication recommended to me by the dermatologist from antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, retin-A , hormone replacement, diuretics to name a few. But, no one took the time to address the root cause to why I was having acne. Of course, it would get better but then turn around and get worse again leaving me pleading for the newest, latest treatment on the market! It was only in the last few years did I learn I had food intolerances to gluten and dairy and eliminating the two that helped me clear up my skin.
Start cleaning up your diet and watch your skin clear up.
Your Digestive system is screaming every time you eat processed and refined sugars, gluten and even dairy containing foods! For many of my patients, I also want to rule out any other food intolerances they may have and be unaware of. Once this is eliminated, symptoms dramatically improve. I also want to ensure their digestive tract is functionally optimally by analyzing stool samples to ensure there are no bacteria overgrowth since this could be inhibiting the metabolism of foods, thus causing malabsorption worsening acne.
For some patients as simple as going “Gluten Free” improves their symptoms as gluten is very inflammatory. However, sugar is also a big culprit! I suggest eating foods low in glycemic index. Sometimes when people go gluten free they substitute with high glycemic foods making their acne worse. As our mothers used to say “eating sugar causes acne”, there is some truth to it. Low glycemic load foods reduce both occurrence and severity of acne (1).
Diary has androgenic activity and has a positive correlation with acne. A reduction in diary improves acne significantly (1). A simple milk substitution with almond, coconut, or even hemp milk makes a big difference and improvement. I personally know when I’m eating more dairy than I should, my face always lets me know!
These healing foods are also what worked helping my complexion and skin improve. I try to encourage everyone to try it out as well.
Indulge in Garlic:
Garlic not only keeps vampires away, but it also keeps acne at bay. This sulfur rich food has great anti-inflammatory properties as well as potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that makes it a great adjunct in acne treatment and prevention. It’s also great to help the body detoxify impurities from the liver. I encourage patients to cook with garlic as much as they can. Your breath may be kicking, but at least your skin will be clear!
Fermented foods like kimchi, saukraut, miso, kombucha are all probiotic rich foods that help beat acne. Although there’s limited evidence, probiotics regulate cytokines within the skin and in turn upregulate the IGF-1, both of which influence the formation of acne. My goal is to make sure I’m eating some sort of fermented food every day. Taking a probiotic supplement often may not be enough.
Nutty for Nettles:
Nettles are not only great for detoxifying the kidney but nettles also have compelling anti-inflammatory effects making it great for acne sufferers. I encourage my patients with allergies to take it as well during peak seasons. Try some nettle tea 2-3 times/day for 2 weeks and watch your skin glow.
Almonds and brazil nuts are full of zinc and selenium which can aid in the reduction of acne. Supplementing with selenium and vitamin E improved acne in 29 patients (2). Zinc works by reducing the inflammatory response to bacteria as well as carrying vitamin A to the skin increasing cell turnover. This is also how Retin-A, and Accutne work. (3,4)
The days of your mom telling you to avoid chocolate is over. Dark chocolate actually helps improve the appearance of acne. This potent antioxidant, rich is flavones, in its natural form (>70% cacao) and in small doses, is great at fighting off free radicals while preventing premature aging as well. So no need to break up with your chocolate affair; you can still have your chocolate and eat it too!
1.Nguyen, Tam. MD, Acne Improvement: Easy Ways to improve your care. The Journal of Family Practice/ Feb 2013.Vol 62, No2
2.Michaëlsson G, Edqvist LE. Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity in acne vulgaris and the effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Acta Derm Venereol.1984;64(1):9-14.
3.Truong-Tran AQ, Ho LH, Chai F, Zalewski PD. Cellular zinc fluxes and the regulation of apoptosis/gene-directed cell death. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1459S-66S. Review. ^
4.Nelson AM, Zhao W, Gilliland KL, Zaenglein AL, Liu W, Thiboutot DM. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin mediates 13-cis retinoic acid-induced apoptosis of human sebaceous gland cells. J Clin Invest. 2008 Apr;118(4): 1468-78. ^