Acne is pretty common, with around 85% of teens developing acne throughout puberty. However, the condition is becoming increasingly common in adults. Up to 55% of people over the age of 25 struggle with persistent acne and blemishes. Studies have shown that acne is more common in populations that have a westernised diet and lifestyle, with very few cases of acne seen in non-westernised societies.
While acne is seen as normal because it is so common, it can have damaging effects on mental wellbeing. People with moderate to severe acne can suffer from poor body image and low self-esteem. Studies also report increased levels of anxiety, anger and depression in individuals with acne.
The good news is adjusting your diet and lifestyle can make noticeable differences in your skin.
Watch your sugar intake
Sugar is in everything, so you need to read your food labels because it’s easy to overconsume. High sugar intake can trigger excess oil production in the skin and increase keratinocyte growth, leading to blocked pores and inflammation, causing breakouts. Switching to diet or sugar-free options still cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, so it’s best to avoid these altogether. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, biscuits, pasta and flour can contribute to blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance. You want your diet to consist mostly of whole fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy grains such as quinoa, brown, red, wild or black rice, millet, buckwheat and oats.
Reduce your dairy intake
Increased dairy intake has shown to increase the severity of acne, especially milk consumption. Elevated levels of IGF-1, found in dairy, have been found to increase oil production and the number of acne lesions in both teens and adults with acne. Dairy can also increase levels of androgens which interfere with cell turnover and contribute to hormonal driven acne. The protein casein that is found in dairy can cause inflammation, contributing to breakouts. Eliminating dairy for four weeks will allow you to see if you are reacting to dairy. But if you do choose to eat small amounts of dairy, choose goat or sheep dairy as they contain a less inflammatory form of casein.
Eat a nutrient-dense diet
Eating a range of colourful fruit and vegetables will help you get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need to support your skin. Nutrient deficiencies are prevalent in acne. Zinc may reduce inflammation in the skin and prevent the growth of bacteria associated with acne. Another essential nutrient for skin health is vitamin A, needed to create healthy skin cells and plays a critical role in the healing of the skin. Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation in the skin, regulate keratinocyte growth and oil production. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in skin health as it is needed to produce collagen, which is necessary for healthy skin structure and heals wounds and scars.
Any form of exercise will give benefits to your skin by regulating insulin levels and removing toxins from the body. Moving your body will also help with blood circulation, making sure that your skin is getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to heal. Another significant benefit of exercise is that it helps to reduce our stress hormones. It is important that when you are exercising or working up a sweat that you avoid wearing makeup as it can block pores.
The next steps
If you feel you have tried all of the above and your skin still isn’t clearing up, you may want to look into functional testing. There are numerous causes to acne, and if nothing is working you will need to dig a little deeper. Testing can allow you to search for infections, inflammation, oxidative stress and your hormone balance, all of which may be contributing to your skin condition.
To find the root cause of your acne and receive a personalised diet plan please use the contact section to get in touch.