Acne causing vs acne fighting foods.
Acne sucks, and sometimes it goes beneath the surface. When it comes to hormonal acne you can experience cystic breakouts (large red, painful, inflamed bumps with no head). They can last weeks, sometimes even months. If this is you, read on to learn how certain foods may be contributing to your hormonal breakouts, and what foods can help tame the flame.
If you’re anything like me, you LOVE to eat. Food is delicious, food is culture, food is how we survive! But as we get older you may come to realize your body, even your skin is changing. Let’s just say I can no longer run on Rolling Rock and Greg Specials (the bomb sandwich from my local bagel spot), and for some reason those skin issues you should’ve experienced in your high school years are now appearing in your 20’s-30’s… and may be even worse. Now look, i’m not saying diet is the root to everyones acne. I’ve come across people who will eat the crappiest of crappy food and still have immaculate skin (that my friends is genetics). Then you have skin like mine, that acts up whenever something is wrong (I consider it a blessing in disguise).
Certain foods can effect your hormone levels. Especially if you already have a hormonal imbalance, which in turn can affect the state of your skin. Coming from someone who’s tried nearly every topical / oral acne medication from their dermatologist (I refused accutane). Finally, I took matters into my own hands. I wanted to know how I can help my body, FOR my body, and I thought: food is what FUELS us, our body runs off what we put in it. It only makes sense that it could effect nearly every system in our body, including our endocrine system (hormone production). After a bit of research and self experimenting, I’ve conducted a list of the top foods that fueled my cystic acne / hormonal imbalance, and what foods help balance me out.
Acne Causing Foods
- Dairy / Whey: Milk and dairy products are known to contain a hormone known as insulin-like growth factor 1. This hormone increases the production of androgens (testosterone) and in some cases progesterone. This increase in hormones can worsen existing hormonal imbalances or kickstart a hormonal imbalance in humans. Thus increasing sebum production and the chances of acneic breakouts.
- Sugar / Simple Carbohydrates / Saturated Fats : Both spikes blood-sugar and insulin levels which increases inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation breaks down collagen and elastin, the two essential factors in maintaining healthy skin. While the body process’s the two it also tends to increase oil production in the body which can lead to excess breakouts. (ex: white bread, pastas, wheat, potato chips, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars). P.S: There are two different kinds of carbs, simple and complex. Simple are the ones you want to avoid as listed above. Complex carbs take longer to process and are healthy for the body. Examples would be vegetables, whole grains, brown rice and legumes.
- Free Radical producing foods: Certain foods produce free-radicals in the body. Free-radicals promote inflammation and disrupt cellular development / healing, directly affecting the cells membrane. Not only is this bad for your skin but for your body as a whole. These foods include processed meats like sausages, salami, bacon, etc.
- Soy: It’s important to consume soy in moderation (especially women). Soy increases androgen production in the body, similarly to dairy. In turn, if you struggle with hormonal acne it might be a good idea to limit your soy intake.
- Alcohol: Ugh I know it pains me to say this, but alcohol can be linked to negative skin conditions. Alcohol itself won’t affect your skin, but the impact it has on certain bodily functions can affect your hormone levels. Thus worsening hormonal breakouts. It’s also dehydrating and speeds up signs of aging. Now I love myself a drink, but I do take alcohol breaks when I feel my skin / body needs it.
Acne Fighting Foods
- Dark leafy greens: Pact with vitamin A which slows the production of sebum while flushing out toxins and strengthening the skins protective barrier. As well as vitamin E and chlorophyll which help to fight those free radicals we talked about. Let’s not forget about beta-carotene, helping with the cellular repair of the skin. Examples: spinach, kale, swiss chard, parsley.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are amazing for your skin, both internally and topically. Vitamin C: anti-inflammatory / anti-aging, Vitamin E: cellular repair and renewal, Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide): balances oil production, supports the skins barrier, minimizes pore size. Beta carotene: as mentioned before, helps the skin in its natural healing process and encouraging cell renewal. Examples: berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries), orange and yellow foods (sweet potatoes, oranges, squashes, turmeric, lemons, etc).
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Helps to balance in the skins oil production and hydration levels, prevent breakouts and delay signs of aging! (sounds pretty amazing, huh?). Examples: cold water fish such as salmon and tuna, nuts and seeds such as cashews, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds.
Give it a try
Limiting / cutting certain foods out of our diet can be hard. Trust me, i’m German and Italian and my mother is an amazing cook. But if you’re like me and you’ve tried almost every topical / oral acne medication there is, then taking a look at your diet is something to consider. I’m not saying deprive yourself of the cultural / delicious experiences food can bring. But try to cut some of these acne inducing foods out and up your intake on these acne fighting foods for at least a month. See how it treats your skin and then better judge it for yourself. Everyones body is different, its always a good time to get to know yours a little better.
I myself took the full plunge and went vegan. No, I don’t believe veganism is right for everyone and I’d never push my beliefs on someone. However if it is something that interests you, all of my recipes on this site are vegan and easy. Also feel free to checkout my post on Why I Went Vegan as well as my instagram @nomadikhealth and @skinskillsbybriana for all things plant based and skincare.