When you have acne, it’s probably not your first line of defense to change your diet, but when all else fails, it may be your savior. If you’ve tried everything to get rid of those stubborn, painful bumps, you know you’re already capable of commitment, so give yourself a pat on the back and prepare to give it another shot!
What Exactly is Acne?
Your skin is covered in tiny holes called pores. When the skin’s oil glands produce excess oil called sebum, it can clog your pores, resulting in whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, or pimples. Dead skin cells, bacteria, and sometimes yeast, can clog pores and lead to acne. So what causes these changes in your skin? Acne can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, poor skin care, and unfortunately genetics, but many people don’t know that diet can also have an effect on the skin.
So How Does Food Affect the Skin?
You may already know from experience that eating too much sugar can cause breakouts, but why is that? Sugar, along with pasta, white bread, and white rice, is a simple carbohydrate. These foods cause a rise in blood sugar, which triggers a spike in the hormone, insulin. Having too much insulin in your body can cause your skin to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores and acne. Other foods like dairy, saturated fats, and trans fats, can also affect your skin because they stimulate the release of hormones that lead to excess oil production.
What Foods Should You Eat Instead?
Low Glycemic Diet
- The general rule here is that if a food looks healthy, it’s probably not going to cause or worsen acne. It’s best to follow a low glycemic diet, which is a diet that is low in simple carbohydrates and does not cause spikes in insulin. Instead, you should incorporate complex carbohydrates, which can be found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Vitamins and Minerals
- Along with following a low glycemic diet, there are some vitamins and minerals that have also been shown to help improve acne. The first is zinc. Zinc is a mineral that is important for wound healing, and immune system, and metabolism function. Foods rich in zinc include lentils, quinoa, spinach, kale, red and white meat, and seafood. Also shown to improve acne are vitamins A and E because they have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is important for immune function, eyesight, and proper functioning of the organs, and vitamin E helps the body fight against free radicals. Some great sources of vitamin A include carrots, broccoli, and squash. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
- Unfortunately, there are no magical supplements that will cure your acne forever, but supplementing these nutrients may provide some benefit. However, it is always best for your body if you obtain these nutrients through your diet as they can be absorbed more easily.
Written by GUADS intern