We used to think that chocolate and greasy foods contributed to acne. Though it is still a mystery exactly how acne breakouts work, who gets them, and why, we know that there is no direct causal link. Still, one’s diet does affect acne, significantly. So it pays to know which foods to avoid, and which will help stave off acne, make breakouts less frequent, and less severe.
A lack of the right nutrients can contribute to this condition, particularly antioxidants that fight free radicals. Make sure you are getting sufficient amounts of vitamin-E, vitamin-C, selenium, zinc and carotenoids. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, with a variety of different colors, will ensure you’re getting enough. These vital nutrients help fight free radicals that attack the skin, eliminating collagen. They also allow the dermis to repair itself.
Though data is still unclear, eating lots of processed foods can increase hormone production and insulin, both of which can contribute to acne. These types of foods also cause inflammation, bad news for the skin. Some say to stay away from dairy, but no data yet exists linking dairy to acne. Alcohol, however, contributes to acne and so does gluten, so limit the amount of these you consume.
Eat a diet rich in whole food plants. This helps induce the circulation of IGF-1 binding protein, which may decrease your risk of acne. Be sure not to overeat. Sebum is the natural oil in the skin that blocks pores. Restricting calorie intake can lower the amount of sebum produced. Eating foods with lots of phytoestrogens such as tofu and anise can help inhibit the production of acne-producing enzymes. A small amount of dark chocolate is good as well, as cocoa improves blood flow, helps hydrate the skin and increases insulin sensitivity.
Avoid foods that cause inflammation and go for ones that lower it. Green tea, for instance, has anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, flax seeds and other sources, can decrease inflammation, eliminate free radicals, and repair skin damage. Use a variety of spices when cooking. Ginger, cinnamon and turmeric are all anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory.
Lastly, be sure to take care of your GI tract. It may seem unrelated, but a healthy gut can promote overall health, curb excess hormones and preserve your skin. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli all help maintain GI health. Probiotics such as yogurt and kimchi are great for this area as well.