Acne, Are You Really What You Eat?

Doctors might tell you that your oily skin and acne have nothing to do with the foods you eat. Next time you hear that, ask for the evidence. Although often denied by American scientific establishments, chronic skin conditions are linked to less than ideal diets. Simple diet modifications focusing on real whole foods, including varying fruits and vegetables with good fats can help to clear skin problems after 6-8 weeks. This would mean trading in acidic and inflammatory foods like highly-processed meats, refined oils, foods high in additives, dye, GMO’s, and fast food…at least that’s what it took for me.

Everyone knows that acne is related to surging hormones during adolescence, but to blame acne on puberty is like blaming heart disease on old age. People get more heart disease as they get older, but that could be because they eat a less than ideal diet. Heart disease does not exist where people eat healthy, such as in rural Africa and Asia. Heart disease is also more likely to be reversed when sick people change to a healthy diet. Same story with acne.

I struggled with what is considered hormonal acne since I was a teenager. Let me caveat that by saying that I was also a heavy meat eater. I would not eat a meal without meat and I was not willing to give up whole milk, YIKES! For years I used over the counter acne creams, cleansers, serums, Rx eczema steroid creams. In retrospect, I was really harsh to my skin, inside and out…between the overly acidic diet, super-hot showers, and skincare bottles full of chemicals, my skin was overwhelmed and inflamed, to say the least. I dried my skin out, covered my face with makeup & the rest of my body with chemical-laced hard water & lotions. I popped, picked, over-scrubbed to no avail! I finally admitted that my methods, products, and diet were not helping and that it was time to do something completely different.

I also have sensitive skin that prone to hyperpigmentation (dark spots), whether I pick an imperfection or not. I didn’t figure that last bit out until I actually took a full step back and started researching & educating myself. My doctor, through testing, confirmed that my body still craved the extra hormones (animal products and meat) and offered birth control pills. I politely opted out of that treatment plan. I started making my own skincare products, changed my skincare routine as well as my diet. As my body released the hormones and detoxed, my acne became so unbearable before things changed for the better. This taught me another valuable lesson; I detox through my skin. Although it was tough at first, with these changes, I begin to see positive lasting effects that didn’t revert when I stopped using my product.

Fast forward, I stuck it out and became even more committed to the changes that I was making. I even challenged myself to go makeup-free most days, ha! Looking back, I probably could have put some concealer on, but I was tired of covering up and kept the long-term goal in mind…better, healthier skin. Some of the most important information that I came across and personally experienced was the ways that diet causes acne:

Ways Diet Causes Acne
1) A high-fat diet increases the amounts of fats in and on the skin (sebum). Please note that it does not take much fat on the skin to plug the pores, feed the bacteria, and cause acne in susceptible people.
2) The rich Western diet increases sex hormones causing precocious puberty (girls mature at 12 rather than 16 – boys mature earlier too). Earlier maturation of women is known to be associated with more severe acne. Excess male hormones (androgens) in men and women are well known to cause acne and increase the production of sebum.
3) Growth hormones adversely affect the sebaceous glands causing them to become easily plugged. Insulin-like growth hormone-1 is known to be increased by dietary protein (meat, poultry, etc.), and especially by dairy products. Research shows elevated IGF-1 levels are associated with more acne.

Other factors that may play a lesser role are:
4) Acne is promoted by a lack of antioxidants and other plant-derived nutrients that keep the skin healthy.
5) Poor circulation to the skin from a high-fat diet allows the skin to be more susceptible to acne.
6) Fat and oils, brought to the skin by hands by touching the face can plug the pores and feed the bacteria.

Multiple studies of people living on their traditional native diets – almost all of which are low fat-diets, based on starches, vegetables, and fruits – have found these people have little or no acne. When these healthy people learn the Western diet, acne becomes an epidemic – as do the other diseases of modern civilization (obesity, heart disease, diabetes, prostate, and breast cancer).

Back to my story…Whenever I eat something that I should not eat, I notice that I will get a pimple or two within the next two weeks. When I wear a full face of makeup, I am 100% certain that my forehead will breakout. However, when sticking to my skincare routine with my products, eating more of what I should be eating, drinking enough water, and nourishing my body with herbs, I could go a full day or two without even washing my face. I usually choose not to, but the point is everything is better when I exercise patience, get the proper nutrition, and being gentle on my skin.

Everyone is different; we all have to find what works for us. Are you getting what you need from your food? Are you really what you eat? Think about this for yourself.

Be Well!

Until Next Time!

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