The 10 Best Foods to Help Reduce Acne and Improve Your Skin
Acne and blemishes are not just an unfortunate symptom of puberty. There are also a considerable number of adults who have acne problems as well. There is no exact science that links skin conditions to nutrition, however, many people feel that they can make the connection between food and breakouts.
Greasy, high-fat and high-sugary foods are at the top of the list of foods that “clog our pores” and increase the oil produced in the skin. By balancing our diet and eating more wholesome, nutritious foods with plenty of vitamins and minerals, we not only become more healthy, but our skin, teeth, hair, and nails will reap the benefits too.
Before focusing on the best foods for acne free skin, it is important to discuss what acne is and how it develops.
The sebaceous glands in the skin produce an oil called sebum, which is a mixture of oil and wax that lubricates the outermost layers of the skin to preventwater loss. The pores are how the sebum “travels.” They act as the canal. Hormones (specifically, testosterone) play a large part in the function of these glands. It’s been shown that high levels of testosterone increase the production of oil, which encourages the production of excess keratin, a protein that attaches to the oil and blocks the pore. This oil and protein plug results in inflammation or swollen pores. Now that we know testosterone plays a major role in the production of oil and keratin, and therefore acne, we can look at foods that lower levels of testosterone.
The Best Nutrients for Curing and Preventing Acne
Foods rich in the following minerals have been shown to decrease the likelihood of breakouts:
- Vitamin A – is a major ingredient in many acne treatment medications and creams. This is because it helps to regulate the skin cycle and prevent pore clogging. Be careful not to take in too much vitamin A, however, as it can have toxic effects. You should take in no more than 10,000 IU per day.
- Zinc– some studies have shown that people with severe acne have lower levels of zinc in their system. Since it helps fight infection, it’s likely that it also helps acne by fighting off P. acnes – the infectious growth that results from clogged pores.
- Vitamins E and C – are antioxidants and thought to clean out the skin and, when combined together, have a calming effect on the skin.
- Selenium – is a mineral with antioxidant properties and, combined with vitamin E, can help prevent damage and breakage of the skin.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – help reduce inflammatory responses in the body, including the skin. They support the normal functioning of the glands and oil production as well.
- Glutamine – is an amino acid that helps with acne by balancing the blood sugar and stabilizing the stress response. It can be found in all kinds of fish and meat, as well as in a supplemental pill.
- Saw Palmetto- is a berry extract that can be taken in pill form. This helps balance and maintain a normal level of testosterone.
- Water- Hydration is the key here. It cleans out the toxins in the body and gives you healthier-looking skin by assisting in regeneration and metabolism.
The 11 best foods that are rich in the above vitamins and minerals and help cure and prevent acne breakouts are:
- Green vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens, and spinach.
- Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds
- Sweet potatoes and brown rice
- Salmon, sardines, and tuna
- Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits
- Turkey and other meats
- Fish oil and flaxseed oil
- Wheat germ
- Special mention: garlic! Garlic has amazing antiviral and antibacterial properties.
While diet plays a role in curing and further preventing acne, there are other steps you can take to reduce the level of testosterone in your blood. A normal level of testosterone is definitely good, but an excess can trigger aggressiveness and irritability in addition to the sebum and keratin imbalance. Regular cardiovascular exercise, reducing stress, and following a healthy diet will go a long way to reducing testosterone levels and making your skin look healthier and clearer.
The Best Foods to Avoid for Acne Prone Skin
The first foods that you will want to remove from your diet are those which increase testosterone. These include alcohol, caffeine, saturated fats, and sugar. Paying close attention to your nutrition will help you not only feel healthier, but look healthier too. The other foods to avoid include:
- Dairy: – should be avoided as much as possible. Some studies have shown that the hormones used to help the cows grow increase androgen, which increase the production of sebum.
- Sugars: – Try to reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet. High sugar foods such as candy bars, chocolate, soda, cakes, donuts, potatoes, breads and other sugary foods should be avoided at all costs if you’re trying to clean up your skin. Studies have shown that those who eat a lower sugar diet have clearer skin. This is likely because higher insulin levels lead to higher androgen production which further leads to more oily, clogged skin.
Start removing those foods from your diet and replacing them with those listed in the Best Foods for Acne Prevention section and you should start to see the difference within a few weeks.