Acne is a multifactorial, inflammatory skin condition which occurs when the sebaceous glands at the base of the hair follicles on the skin secrete too much sebum. When this excess sebum backs up, it forms hard oily plugs that block the pores and cause the spots and skin eruptions typical of acne. Should one of these sebum plugs rupture beneath the skin’s surface, a localized bacterial infection can develop.
Hormonal imbalances can lead to an overproduction of sebum, which is why acne is a common complaint during adolescence. Other acne triggers include emotional stress, poor diet, inflammation, imbalance of gut bacteria, and certain medications. Fortunately, there are many foods that balance hormones, lower inflammation, and boost beneficial gut bacteria, all of which helps to prevent and manage cases of acne. Finding the best acne treatment for you often involves looking at these many different factors. Below are some of the best foods for acne that you should be eating for clearer skin.
Turmeric is traditionally popular with yogis to help stretch their ligaments and repair injuries. Its traditional Indian uses are many but it is famed for keeping the skin pure, the blood clean and the life long. It is traditionally considered a blood ‘purifier’ and is often used for beautifying the skin and clearing systemic toxaemia; eczema, urticaria, psoriasis and acne. This improvement in blood flow and quality impacts significantly upon the quality of the skin and turmeric can, therefore, be an excellent remedy for any afflictions of the skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in oily fish such as salmon and are known to reduce inflammation and help balance the immune system. Salmon is also an excellent source of vitamin D, which is critical for a healthy immune system. It contains large amounts of the skin protective antioxidant selenium as well. Try to eat oily fish 2 or 3 times per week.
Gotu kola is a specific herb for inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. Gotu kola balances all 3 doshas and has wondrous effects on the skin through its ability to hasten wound healing and reduce scars. The flavonoids in this plant act as circulatory stimulants that develop the blood vessels in the skin. They increases the rate of keratinisation of the skin, which helps to strengthen the outer protective layer of the body, indicating its use in skin inflammations and cellulite. The saponin content of gotu kola acts as a cleansing and softening agent, the oligosaccharides are moisturising and the phytosterols are protective.
Unheated oils are good for the skin, especially the ones from the vegetable kingdom. Technically, avocado is a fatty fruit. It contains high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, which is not fattening because the oils are easily used by the body for energy. They also contain lecithin; which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Your body needs “good” fats to moisturize the skin from the inside out. It’s useless slapping on moisturizers when your diet is lacking in the oils it needs. Cutting back on the good stuff will only make your skin look less than sparkling. I like avocado because it’s easy to eat – just add it to salad or make a dip and you have eaten some nutrient dense essential fatty acids.
A lemon a day, juiced and sipped with water first thing in the morning or at any break is a wonderful complexion clearer. This little ritual gives your metabolism a kick start, and your liver a much needed mini cleanse and your skin a vitamin C boost. Lemons are very cleansing to the body, so they help clarify the complexion. Other great ways to include them is squeezed over salad, vegetables or sliced in your jug of water, by the end of the day you have infused the lemony goodness into your drink.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the whole body. They contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant that can help reduce redness and speed wound healing. They’re also loaded with beta-carotene, which acts as an antioxidant and the body converts into vitamin A, which is essential for skin health. To help calm acne symptoms include many alkalizing dark leafy greens into your diet.
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the primary fat-soluble antioxidant of the skin. They’re also a good source of the antioxidant mineral, manganese. Consuming a variety of nuts and seeds regularly will likely help in cases of acne. Just 1 oz per day of a variety of nuts and seeds is all you need to boost skin health! As a guide, roughly one tablespoon of flax, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds, or 12 whole almonds/14 shelled walnuts makes up an ounce.
Carrots are fantastic sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, an essential skin vitamin. To reduce acne symptoms, include plenty of fruits and vegetables as they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Beans are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and packed with antioxidants. They also contain hormone-balancing properties. As acne is closely linked to hormone imbalance, including beans as a staple in your diet may help control acne outbreaks.
Zinc is beneficial for acne because of its role in healing and the modulating effects it has on the immune system. It’s necessary for a proper immune response but it also helps to keep inflammation from going to far. This is relevant to acne because acne is largely a result of your immune system attacking bacteria inside your pores which can become aggravated and swollen from an excessive inflammatory response which leads to further inflammation. One double-blind study of 54 patients found that acne symptoms improved by 33% if supplementing with zinc. So a zinc supplement may be beneficial for people with acne. Zinc picolinate or zinc methionine are two efficiently absorbed forms of zinc.
Vitamin A may help to relieve symptoms of acne as it and synthetic derivatives are commonly used to treat acne both topically and internally. It may reduce the amount of sebum produced from sebaceous glands thus reducing likelihood of infection and blocked pores. One study found that compared to the age-matched healthy control group, those with the most severe acne were the most deficient in fat-soluble vitamins A and E. Do not exceed recommended doses of these vitamins.