GOT ACNE? DISCOVER 3 FOODS TO AVOID AND 3 FOODS TO EAT
As is the case with a lot of young people, my struggle with acne began in my teens. Ironically enough, I remember actually admiring my older friends when their first small pimples started emerging, because in my eyes it meant they were grown, until one of my friends pointed out that acne was the absolute last thing you ever wanted to have. Man was she right. The moment my face went from the smooth, clear skin of my pre-adolescent days to the full blown blemish covered skin of my teens was when my world turned upside down. Nothing I tried worked. It was a major source of stress and shame for me. It wasn’t until recently, after a lot of research and trial and error that I finally was able to clear my skin. I discovered that one of the biggest factors that impacted the condition of my skin was the food I put into my body.
Unfortunately, far too many people are falling behind in getting the proper amount of nutrients from their food on a daily basis. In the largest study to date, it was shown that on average we only consume a meager 1.5 servings of dark green and deeply colored orange or yellow veggies. As if that weren’t alarming enough, at least half of Americans don’t meet the necessary minimum recommended dietary allowance of the vitamins and minerals that aid in supporting healthy skin. So if people aren’t getting their fair share of fruit and vegetables, what are they eating instead? If you’re thinking fast food, you’re right. It’s been cited that 8 in 10 Americans report eating at fast-food restaurants on a monthly basis. Almost half of those surveyed said they eat fast food at least weekly. That statistic probably doesn’t surprise you. After all, when was the last time you drove pass a McDonald’s that had an empty parking lot? Excluding a major holiday, pretty much never.
On the other hand, nourishing our bodies with food that energizes and stabilizes us from the inside out has had a significant impact on the condition of skin. This isn’t a new revelation. In the 1930s, doctors observed that the Inuits, who ate a diet high in fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, had radiant, youthful and blemish free skin. It was documented in the journal Northwest Medicine (1943) by Dr. Jon Straumfjord that the Inuit’s diet, rich in omega 3 fatty acids and high in vitamin A, was what kept them acne free. The benefits of eating such a diet don’t just stop there. Research shows that eating a diet rich in fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids leads to a less aged appearance, increased energy and a great body to boot.
Eat Like a Celeb
Researchers and Inuits aren’t the only ones who know what’s good for them. Recently, I made my weekly trip to the health food store and lo and behold, who do I bump into, but none other than Carla Gugino, star of such films as Spy Kids, Batman v. Superman, Wayward Pines and San Andreas. Not only did she eat in the café, but she also picked up a few items before she left. In a recent interview with Architectural Digest, she mentioned that she keeps lots of fruits and veggies in her refrigerator which she adds to green superfood powders that she puts in shakes. However, when she’s away from home and still wants to feel like she’s at home one of the items she has to have with her is a Vitamix. Trust me, this woman’s skin is just as pretty in person as it is on screen. So if fruits and veggies are good enough for a talented, beautiful and glamorous celeb, they’re definitely good enough for everyone else. Now that we better understand the importance of having a balanced diet, why don’t we dive into which foods to avoid and which ones to eat to keep your skin happy, healthy and glowing?
What Not to Eat
- Dairy. Long hailed as the key to strong bones, dairy has become a common staple in the American diet. It’s been promoted by celebs from Salma Hayek to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Got Milk?” ads and embraced by moms looking for a good source of calcium for their growing kids. Unfortunately, drinking cow’s milk can encourage or worsen breakouts for some due to the added hormones used in cows to fuel their growth. These hormones help elevate male hormones called androgens. Increased androgens equals increased sebum or oil production, which in turn contributes to acne.
- Processed Food. Much of the food that lines grocery markets is processed. Bread, pasta and cereals have had their nutritional value greatly decreased after being refined. In 2002, a study was conducted showing that the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Ache of Paraguay reported zero cases of acne among 1300 participants. Both groups didn’t go anywhere near the food found in the typical Western diet, such as cereals, chips, cookies and bread. After observing the lack of acne in those populations, it was suggested that diet has a direct link to acne.
- White Sugar. Americans have a thing for sugar and aren’t afraid to show it. Have you ever heard of the phrase “as American as apple pie”? Well, not only is applie pie synonymous with American culture, so is eating sugar period. Sugar may be sweet, but it does a mean job on your body by making your blood sugar spike quickly. When this happens, your body releases the hormone insulin, which may play a role in aggravating acne.
What to Eat
- Spinach. This dark green vegetable is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6. The antioxidants found in vitamins C and E are known for attacking free radicals. This is good news since free radicals can lead to oxidative damage. Research suggests oxidative stress does play a significant part in the development of acne. Free radicals are so destructive they are even responsible for contributing to a number of diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer.
- Kale. Also rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, kale has recently come into the spotlight as a powerhouse vegetable. Much like spinach, it too is a potent anti-inflammatory food, armed with the amazing ability to throw free radicals off track to reduce the damage they cause within our bodies.
- Parsley. Not just a pretty garnish, parsley is another soldier in the war on free radicals. It too is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Parsley contains lutein which is a carotenoid that offers the added benefit of improving your eyesight. You can also get it from the above mentioned vegetables kale and spinach.
It’s easy to enjoy the many benefits of eating spinach, kale and parsley. One of my favorite ways to make sure I get a healthy serving of those 3 rock star veggies is to make a green smoothie in the morning.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is provided as an information resource only. It is not to be used or relied upon for any treatment or diagnostic purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education. It should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition, such as if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a mental condition. Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
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Jonathan V. Straumfjord, “Vitamin A: Its Effects on Acne,” Northwest Medicine 42 (August 1943): 225.
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Elizabeth Shimer Bowers, “Healthy Diet, Healthy Skin,” www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/diet-and-skin
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