Does What You Eat Affect How You Look?
One of the biggest skin care myths is that fried foods and chocolate cause acne. You’ve heard it before and maybe you believe it because when you eat a lot of junk foods, you may see the results show up on your skin in the form of pimples. While it is still a myth and there is no research that shows these foods directly cause acne, it is factual that eating nutritiously has a positive effect on the skin. Here we will discuss how a healthy diet including some very important nutrients, will keep your skin healthy, prevent breakouts and speed the healing process of existing pimples.
Hormones and Acne
Simply put, acne is caused from an increase in androgens (male hormones) which increase sebum production causing pores to clog and acne bacteria already in the pores normally, to multiply causing an inflammation. To prevent acne, it would make sense to prevent the increase of hormones and excess sebum production. Research shows that foods high in fat cause stimulation in the hormone production and this hormone increase can be slowed by eating a diet of unprocessed, “clean” foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
Low Glycemic Diets and Acne
Eating a diet rich in foods that are low on the glycemic index seem to have an impact on acne. These are foods that are low in sugars and do not cause insulin levels to spike, thus causing an increase in androgens. Low glycemic foods include lean meats, vegetables, fish, cheese, eggs and legumes.
Fiber and Acne
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber which aids the body’s digestive process. A slow or malfunctioning digestive process has been shown to cause a build-up of toxins in the body which ultimately show up in the skin.
Fatty Acids and Acne
Fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet and can help keep the skin healthy because they help control the production of androgens, the male hormones that can cause an increase in sebum production. Fatty Acids are found in oils and fats that make up certain foods and are considered “good fats” since they aid in cell membrane strength and function and also help the body get rid of excess cholesterol in the arteries. Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 are the 3 fatty acids that you need daily. Omega-3 can be found in avocados, walnuts, dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, and wheat germ oil, to name a few. Some sources of Omega-6 are olive oil, olives, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. Foods rich in Omega-9 are cashews, almonds, sesame oil, pecans and pistachios.
Vitamins A, B, E, and Zinc and Acne
Zinc and Vitamin A help regenerate the skin and control the sebaceous glands and its secretions. Some foods rich in Vitamin A and Zinc are soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, mangoes and carrots.
Dairy and Acne
There is much debate about whether or not hormones given to cows to increase milk production are harmful to us. We do know however, that hormones are passed from the cow to the milk and into us and we know that hormones are strongly linked to acne development. Cutting down or eliminating dairy from your diet is a good way to see if you are dairy sensitive and may just be something that will improve your skin. Just make sure you get enough calcium from other sources such as almonds, walnuts, spinach, and kale. The good news is, these foods are also high in other nutrients beneficial for skin health.
Since every skin type and lifestyle is different, you as an individual should observe any correlations between your food habits and acne breakouts. What is not disputed is the fact that unprocessed foods high in vitamins are essential for overall health including the skin.