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When it comes to skincare, we often put so much attention on the outside that we forget about our insides. Once upon a time, a common acne myth was that French fries and chocolate were to be avoided at all costs if you wanted clear skin. Now we know those foods don’t necessarily cause acne, but some foods do have properties that can trigger breakouts. And overall diet plays a role in how our body functions, especially when it comes to our largest organ – our skin. While few experts believe diet is the primary cause of acne, these are a few pointers that could help you determine if your diet is affecting your acne disproportionately.
Keep a food diary. Because each of us responds differently to what we eat, tracking your diet and acne for several weeks may help you identify whether certain foods are causing acne breakouts. If a food is suspected of causing acne, eliminate it from your diet. However, considering that a pimple or blackhead starts in your pores weeks before it appears on your skin, you will need to eliminate a suspected food from your acne diet plan for 3-4 weeks.
Massage is also a great stress-buster. However, if you have body acne you should avoid the massage oils traditionally used because many are heavy and will clog pores. A better bet is to bring your own noncomedogenic moisturizer for the therapist to use on your body. It’s also best to avoid having your face massaged as rubbing can further inflame irritated skin.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of adding omega-3 fatty acids, or “healthy fats,” into your diet. That’s because their anti-inflammatory properties provide numerous health benefits. While there is little debate that inflammation can arise as a byproduct of acne, recent evidence has emerged supporting a role for inflammation at all stages of acne development. With that in mind, Korean researchers in 2014 conducted a 10-week study testing the use of omega-3 supplements on participants with mild to moderate acne, and found a significant decrease in acne lesions. Omega-3s are essential fats which the body cannot produce naturally; we can only get them from the foods we eat. So consider adding foods like wild salmon, avocado, flaxseed oil and walnuts to your diet to get the natural benefits of omega-3s.
It’s important to distinguish the difference between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. While both provide certain health benefits, research shows that, on average, we consume far too much omega-6 in our diets in the form of vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, soybean, and corn. Given that some omega-6 fatty acids can actually promote inflammation, they can negate the positive effects of omega-3s so maintain a proper balance of these two fatty acids in your diet.
Vitamin A, a natural antioxidant that plays a role in cell functionality, fights off toxins and free radicals, and promotes the normal shedding of dead skin cell build-up inside the pores. Add foods rich in Vitamin A to your diet like sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, bell peppers, fish and tropical fruits
The low-carb diet has been around for many years now thanks to its weight-loss benefits. But there’s another reason to ease up on the complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates found in sugary, starchy or processed foods spike your blood glucose levels, which signal the pancreas to create more of the hormone, insulin. Too much insulin can cause many problems, among them an increased propensity for acne.
Our best advice is to focus on maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, one that balances both emotional and physical health, exercise and nutritional needs. Go for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A and free of added hormones and antibiotics. Reduce your intake of iodine and foods high on the glycemic index like white pasta, rice, bread and sweets to keep your blood sugar and insulin production under control. And opt for low fat proteins (chicken, fish, lean beef) and dark leafy greens. The more you can use diet to control acne the less likely you’ll be visiting the dermatologist’s office.