From the time puberty hits, most of us have to deal with acne every now and then. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself the question, what is acne?
Like it or not, your body is covered in hair follicles - some more visible than others. However, the parts of your body that are more exposed to dirt and grime are also more prone to clogging of the exposed hair follicles, thus resulting in acne.
That said, clogged pores alone do not cause acne. Your genetic make-up, daily lifestyle, and eating habits all play a role… which is why some of us have to deal with spots more often than others.
But what if we told you that paying close attention to what you put in your body could prevent unsightly spots from showing up on the most prominent part of your body? Your skin, after all, is something you wear every single day. So how does your diet affect your skin?
So here’s our list of top eight foods to avoid in order to prevent acne:
Dairy: It has been established that people with a higher level of hormones in their bodies are more prone to acne. Pregnancy is a phase in most women’s lives when their bodies are full of hormones, and the same applies to cattle too. Therefore, consuming the hormones in the milk produced by cattle soon after they’ve given birth can lead to higher chance of acne, especially if you’re already prone to it.
Sugars and carbohydrates: Both added sugars and refined carbohydrates (think bread, cereal, pasta, and white rice, amongst others) get absorbed quickly into your bloodstream. Increased blood sugar, as you can imagine, leads to increased insulin levels in the body which, as it turns out, is what makes acne worse.
This is because more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is generated within the body, which in turn makes skin cells grow quickly and results in greater sebum production. Sebum, the oily secretion on your skin, is what further clogs the hair follicles, thus making your chances of getting acne much worse.
Whey protein powder: With health conscious individuals starting to get dependent on market bought whey protein powders instead of focusing on a balanced meal, the ill-effects of this habit can sometimes go undiagnosed. Not only is whey a primary by-product of milk, but it is also known to contain amino acids which aid in rapid production of skin cells. And you know how the rest of the story goes - more sebum production, clogged hair follicles, then acne.
Foods rich in omega 6 fatty acids: It’s a known fact that omega 3 fatty acids in food reduce inflammation and tend to soothe the skin. Omega 6 fatty acids in food, on the other hand, cause the opposite effect and also threaten to undo the effects of the former. This is why eggs, corn, and vegetable and soy oils make acne worse whereas fish, walnuts and chia seeds can make the symptoms go away.
Chocolate: While there is no established scientific correlation between chocolate and acne, informal studies and tests from as long as one century ago have shown a pattern of increase in acne with increased consumption of chocolate. However, the key ingredient in chocolate, cocoa, does not seem to be the culprit as in some experiments where people who consumed ten times as much cocoa did not get any more acne than those who didn’t. The obvious logical explanation then is that the sugar and milk in chocolate could be the contributing factors. A recent study also showed that chocolate affects the body’s immunity against acne-causing bacteria. So whatever the actual cause may be, it’s a good idea to stay away from chocolate if you’re attempting to reduce the appearance of acne on your skin.
Fast food: The level of carbohydrates, sugars, and flavourings in fast food should by now be self explanatory reasons for why they make acne worse. Add to that the possibility of hydrogenated vegetable oils rich in omega 6 fatty acids, and you have a formula for bad acne.
Fizzy drinks: Similar to fast food, it’s the ingredients in fizzy drinks which make them so bad for your complexion. Carbonated drinks are the biggest culprits when it comes packing sugars, with some of them having close to 15g of sugar per 100g serving.
Alcohol: Not only is alcohol inflammatory, but it also strips the body of its essential zinc absorption. Zinc is considered to be one of the most important elements of acne treatment, mainly owing to its anti-inflammatory properties. So when alcohol serves to both prevent zinc from working in your body and also causes further inflammation, the reasons for staying away from it are self-explanatory.
They say you are what you eat, so paying close attention to what you put in your body and the effect it has on it are crucial. But much like a healthy balanced diet goes hand in hand with exercise for the overall well being of your body, avoiding acne causing foods also goes hand in hand with proper skin care for the overall well being of your skin.
Regularly cleansing your skin to remove impurities, followed by toning to tighten your pores (thus preventing further dirt from entering) are usually the first steps to a healthy skin care routine. Then, based on your skin type and severity of acne, you can choose a moisturiser to prevent dryness as well as a topical treatment for your acne that can soothe the inflamation on your skin.
To hear more from real women with real relief from their acne troubles, visit our skincare page where you will also learn about our step-by-step six week transformation from acne. With cautious eating habits and a disciplined skin care routine, clear skin is now just a few weeks away.