This is a guest post from Natalie, the blogger over at Nutrition with Confidence. I’m so happy to have her share her top 10 nutrition tips for acne with us.
Natalie is a certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (NTP) who helps women with acne, low mood and low energy to experience more confidence, vibrant energy, and clearer skin. Her journey started with soothing the aftermath of childhood trauma which manifested as acne, PTSD, anxiety, depression, eating and gastrointestinal disorders. Natalie began learning more about gut health and the benefit of nutritional therapy to improve mood and energy. She has lived the connection between gut health, skin health, and psychological wellbeing by changing her nutrition and reversing food intolerances. Research supports Natalie’s experience and she has discovered she is not alone in it. Natalie is passionate to guide others who need nutritional support in this stressful life to become more resilient. If you are sick of persisting acne, lack of motivation, being sleepy in the afternoon, being easily overwhelmed, and experiencing brain fog, Natalie will help you create a plan to feel more motivated, confident in your energy levels and have less anxiety about your skin’s appearance.
Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Acne
Acne is not only annoying, it hurts. It influences your confidence, your freedom to go out without makeup, causes impulses to constantly check your face, and is sometimes itchy, painful and out there where the whole world can see. Unfortunately, in our society, having acne is shameful and means that something is wrong with you. I disagree, but if you are still tired of having the itchy and painful side effects of acne, here are 10 nutrition tips to help get rid of it! The truth is, what we put in our bodies has an effect on our skin and acne.
Meat stock and bone broth made from bone and ligament tissue of organic pastured animals contains minerals and amino acids, like glycine, that are more readily used for the rejuvenation of fast dying cells like our skin and our intestinal walls. In fact, your skin regenerates every 27 days. The collagen and gelatin from meat stock and bone broth make up 75% of your skin proteins. Environmental damage can inhibit the body’s ability to replenish collagen in the skin so it is essential to eat exogenous proteins to replace the old.
Eat Probiotic Foods
Gut health is a big part of skin health because toxins that build up in the gut have nowhere else to go but the skin. Poor digestion can feed opportunistic bacteria and create imbalances in the gut microbiome (the diverse ecosystem of bacteria in your intestines). This creates infections and inflammation in the gut which start to expel toxins that leach into the bloodstream. Eating probiotic rich foods helps balance the ecosystem so opportunistic bacteria don’t take over (like weeds in a garden). Bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium that are often lacking in the standard american diet are essential for healthy skin because they allow for proper detoxification. Try eating sauerkraut, beet kvass, kimchi, lacto-fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and/or take a probiotic pill daily.
Eat More Fiber
The recommended daily intake for fiber is 25-30 grams, yet the typical intake in a Western diet is 15 grams per day. The benefits of fiber in the diet are unanimous among doctors and especially for gut health. Fiber helps sequester toxins and pulls them out of the body. In one study, intake of 30 grams of fiber a day improved acne in adults (1). Fiber in the form of vegetables and some fruit should be a top priority over grains because most grains are high glycemic which can promote hyperinsulinemia and lead to more acne.
Eliminate Sugar and Refined Flours
High glycemic diets leading to hyperinsulinemia (pre-diabetes and diabetes type 2) causes an increased production of sebum which has a direct role in the presence of acne. High glycemic diets from grains, processed sugar, and little fiber can also feed pathogenic bacteria in the gut and inhibit this primary detox pathway. In some non-western populations, no acne was present and this has been attributed to diet and lifestyle (1). Another cohort study found an association between high glycemic index foods and longer acne prevalence, whereas two randomized controlled studies indicated a low-glycemic diet had less acne risk (2).
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) with Meals
Drinking 1 tsp of ACV in 4 oz of water with meals supports digestion of proteins and improves the entire digestive breakdown and absorption of nutrients. This keeps the digestive tract moving smoothly for detox support and also allows for nutrients to be utilized more efficiently. When your detox system is working there are less toxins that are expelled through your skin.
Drink Celery, Cucumber, and Cabbage Juice
Fresh celery, cucumber and cabbage juices are beneficial to healing the intestines, supporting stomach acid production and bile flow which improves overall detoxification. Improving the number one detox pathway of the liver and digestive system helps alleviate the burden on your skin.
Eat Vitamin A Rich Foods
Vitamin A is an antioxidant found in the liver and in your skin. It is a fat soluble vitamin which means that it should be eaten with fats, especially a balance of 1:4, omega 3s to omega 6s. Cod liver oil contains an adequate amount of vitamin A and D which are common deficiencies in Western diets. These vitamins have several functions in the skin and detox pathways that are often low in the presence of acne. Vitamin A and D keep keratins (cells in the sebaceous glands) from over proliferating and causing acne (2).
Eat Zinc Rich Foods
Zinc is a mineral shown to influence anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory enzymes which might help reduce acne (2). Zinc is primarily known for its support of the immune system and is part of cell growth, cell division, wound healing and breakdown of carbohydrates. Many people with acne are deficient in zinc and may also have poor stomach acid production which can impede digestion (1). Zinc rich foods are liver, grass fed red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, and pumpkin seeds.
Acne is the result of an inflammatory process that is progressed by reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by certain cells. Typically your body creates antioxidants to help clean up these ROS but they can be low in people with acne. Eating antioxidants like vitamins A, E, and D (found in cod liver oil and liver), flavonoids (found in basil, blueberries, onion, broccoli, and dark chocolate), glutathione (found in spinach, avocados, asparagus, okra), and resveratrol (red grapes, and mulberries) will supply the clean up crew to reduce ROS prevalence in acne (1). Think colors on your plate and you will have a variety of antioxidants in your diet.
Eat Raw Milk or Avoid Dairy with Sensitivity
The prevalence of acne increases from consuming skim milk, especially in the form of black heads and clogging of pores. This is thought to be due to the hormonal imbalances that skim milk undergoes during processing (1). People often have sensitivities to dairy and wheat, among other foods that might be contributing to overall inflammation in the body. This inflammation taps out your antioxidants and nutrients allowing acne to proliferate. Raw milk is unprocessed and unpasteurized, which means it is fully alive and full of nutrients and enzymes that support digestion, hormone health, and skin health.
Nutrition has a huge impact on our skin health and overall health. While acne can be annoying and feel like a hopeless battle at times, the nutritional changes mentioned above are a good start in promoting clearer skin. The one benefit of acne is that it tells us that there may be nutritional deficiencies at play, food sensitivities, and/or imbalances in the gut microbiome that we can now nurture. Implementing nourishing, nutrient dense foods into your life will improve your immune system, fight inflammation, and heal your skin.
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