Acne is a disorder that can be diagnosed by blackheads and breakouts being present on the skin which results in the formation of blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules and or cysts. Hormonal changes and androgen dominance affect acne and can occur at any life stage such as pregnancy, prior to the menstrual cycle, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, stress and anabolic steroid use (common in muscle builders) therefore varying degrees of acne may be seen as a result.
Contrary to popular belief acne is not an infectious or contagious disease (it is a myth that acne can be spread). Breakouts develop when the oil gland and hair follicle, become blocked due to oil and dead skin cell build up. Acne sufferers tend to produce thicker, stickier oil due to higher levels of squalene and wax esters and lower levels of free fatty acids. Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, is lower in acne sebum which is thought to relate further to the congestion. Increased intake of Omega 3 fatty acids has therefore been seen to improve congested skin.
Certain foods are best avoided and nutritional supplementation in particular zinc and magnesium have proven to be beneficial in many cases. Nutritional supplementation should only be taken when recommended by a qualified health care practitioner however as many supplements can interfer with prescription medications.
Whilst break outs on the skin can be a sign of internal disharmony topical irritants may also be the pimple forming culprits. Contributing factors may be due to application of congestion provoking ingredients such as heavy oils e.g. coconut, isopropyl myristate found in make up, cosmetic red dyes (found in blush, bronzers, tanning products, lipsticks and foundations) and heavy oil or silicone based cosmetics such as make up primers. This type of acne is commonly known as acne cosmetica but the good news is that it can be easily fixed by swapping cosmetics to a natural mineral make up and good quality cosmeceutical brand.
Our diet can play a big role in the condition of our skin. Whilst food does not cause the physical formation of acne some foods can certainly trigger breakouts.
• Foods that cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin can stimulate the production of IGF 1 in the liver which in turn can stimulate the androgen hormones that stimulate excess oil and acne. Avoid high sugar foods such as sugary soft drinks, lollies, cakes and chocolates. Some high carbohydrate savoury foods can also promote an insulin spike so avoid chips, potatoes, rice, bread and pasta type foods.
• Hydrogenated fats. These artificially processed fats are found in processed foods such as processed meats, packet foods and can promote insulin sensitivity, alter cell membrane function and aggravate an oily inflamed skin. Avoid processed foods such as processed meats, sausages, pies, biscuits, packet soups and sauces.
• Gluten. Eating too much gluten can lead to an increased production of a protein called zonulin which can affect gut health and lead to poor nutrient absorption. Many acne sufferers have been found to have low levels of the mineral zinc.
• Dairy. Dairy and animal products such as milk, cream, butter, cheese and fatty meats may increase IGF1 and promote inflammation which may worsen acne.
• Alcohol and drugs. Alcohol, recreational drugs and self prescribed medications such as pain killers can put unnecessary strain on the liver, an important organ for detoxification of the body. The liver filters toxins and breaks down old hormones and may not be able to do so effectively if it is overburdened. Too many toxins in the diet may leads to breakouts in the skin as the skin is also an organ of detoxification and elimination.
Read all Fiona’s bM posts HERE & stay tuned for her new book which comes out in September