I suffered badly from acne from the age of about 13 to my mid-twenties. Unfortunately for my children, it has a large genetic component. If both parents had acne, 3 out of 4 of the children will have acne. My father had such bad acne on his back, that he failed the medical when they tried to conscript him for World War II. So even acne has benefits!! When I was suffering from it, the prevailing wisdom in the mainstream media was the acne was not affected by diet. Crisps, chocolate, chips would not give you spots was the key message.
I agree that demonising one particular food isn’t wise, but how could it be possible that what you fuel a growing body, with hormones going wild, wouldn’t be expressed it their skin??
If I was talking to my teenage self, what advice would I give? I have thought a lot about this, having little children with beautiful skin and dreading what might happen to it.
Dairy : The first thing I would do would be to eliminate dairy foods. Milk contains oestrogens, progesterones, androgens, glucocorticoids and IGF-1 (inulin like growth factor). These hormones stimulate sebum production. It is this sebum that plugs the hair follicle, allowing bacteria to grow.
Glycaemic Index : Eat a low GI (glycaemic index) diet. Chronic consumption of high GI foods promotes hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, leading to more IGF1 and androgens. Examples of low GI meals would be brown rice salad with tuna, capsicum, celery and spring onions.
Fibre : Increasing fibre helps improve glycaemic control, that is, how your body’s blood sugar responds to carbohydrates. This will also help with bowel clearance and hence hormone clearance. Foods such as flaxseeds are particularly useful.
Water : Drinking lots of good quality filtered water will help clear hormones through the kidneys.
Foods that should be prioritised include seafood, fruit and vegetables, nuts and lean meat.
Foods that shouldn’t be eaten are foods high in trans-fats (processed, fried foods, baked goods), refined and concentrated carbohydrates (e.g. white flour, chocolate).
Treatments I wouldn’t recommend would be long term broad spectrum antibiotics or the oral contraceptive pill. Antibiotics destroy the microflora in your gut, the very guys that you want to promote to reduce inflammation and improve your immune system. The contraceptive pill will just mask hormonal imbalances and cause a raft of other side effects.
Anything that reduces stress will help – yoga, meditation etc, as will a bit of sunlight. Keep your face clean with a gentle calendula cleanser.
If you are affected by acne, and want a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs, make an appointment to see me for a consultation.