ACNE. It’s the worst. It sucks. It makes you feel self conscious, dirty, and like you have to hide behind makeup everyday. It can really mess with your self-esteem. And can even cause you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on treatments that just don’t help.
I’ve had acne since, I don’t know, the 6th grade?? It’s always been the worst on my cheeks and jawline and a combination of white heads and cystic acne. I’ve tried so many creams, pills, and masks to no avail. I’ve been on Accutane twice. I’ve taken birth control, several antibiotics, and probiotics. I’ve used Tazorac, Differin, Retin-A, Acne Free, Onextron, and Green Cream. The list goes on and on.
As you can imagine, I get very frustrated when people blame acne on diet alone, and claim that all you need to do is clean up your diet to clean up your skin. Sorry, but that’s just not true. While I don’t claim to have the perfect diet, I eat pretty damn well. Vegetables, berries, greens, nuts, avocado, lean proteins, and yogurt make up most of my diet. I keep sugar to a minimum and don’t even get me started on gluten. Gluten is not the reason for cystic acne!
I personally am done with going to the dermatologist just to be prescribed more band aids in the form of pills and creams. I want to get to the root of the problem and prevent acne from happening altogether.
So if diet isn’t the reason for my acne, what is? I think it’s always been hormonal with some genetics sprinkled in there, too. It started when I was going through puberty, continued in early high school, and came back on & off in college and beyond. Throughout these times I can look back and identify hormonal changes and imbalances whether that was from puberty, birth control, or stress.
Now, I am still on a form of birth control and have made that personal choice for my life. I realize this could be and probably is the root cause of my acne, especially because I get the majority of my pimples on my jawline. But sometimes ya gotta just weigh the pros and cons of your life decisions, and this girl is not ready for a baby any time soon! However, I figure if I can optimize my diet to be as acne-fighting and health-promoting as possible, then maybe I can clear up my acne or at least improve my skin!
Causes of Acne
- Pimples form due to clogged pores, oil production, dead skin cells, and bacteria
- Hormonal changes can contribute to acne by causing the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives can also effect sebum production. And low amounts of androgens circulating in the blood of women can worsen acne.
- Certain medications, including corticosteriods, androgens, or lithium can worsen acne.
- Diary, sugary and starchy carbs may trigger acne.
- Stress can make acne worse.
- Avoid dairy (especially conventional), sugar, and starchy carbohydrates.
- Chocolate has been linked to acne in the past, but we don’t have proof of causation. At least 70% dark chocolate will most likely not contribute to acne.
- Avoid fried and fast foods which contain hydrogenated oils.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods: kombucha, kefir, yogurt, fermented foods like sauerkraut, and other cultured vegetables
- Eat zinc-rich foods: sprouted pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Eat Vitamin A rich foods: spinach, carrots, beef liver, sweet potato
- Eat Vitamin C rich foods: berries (especially barberries), lemons and other citrus fruits, tomatoes
- Include lots of fiber: vegetables, leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds, beans
- Have clean, lean protein at meals to keep blood sugar balanced: organic chicken, grass-fed beef, organic eggs, wild caught fish
- Choose healthy fats: salmon, walnuts, avocado, other nuts and seeds, coconut
- Drink hibiscus and/or Rosehips tea
- Drink water! At least half your body weight in ounces daily.
Meal & Snack Ideas:
- Chia seed pudding made with full fat coconut milk, vanilla, oats, and berries
- Avocado egg toast or sweet potato “toast”
- Green smoothie with spinach, avocado, blueberries, lemon, ginger, almond milk/water, cucumber, protein powder, flaxseeds
- Marinated kale salad with a lemon juice and avocado oil vinaigrette, barberries, pumpkin seeds, seared salmon, avocado, chopped veggies
- Chicken soup with celery, carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, bell peppers, chickpeas, topped with avocado cubes
- Fajita bowl with sliced grassfed sirloin, bell peppers, onions, spinach, lots of Mexican spices, topped with avocado and lime juice
- Salmon/Chicken/Shrimp bowl with sauteed or raw veggies, greens, quinoa, sprinkled with walnuts
- Carrots and roasted pumpkin seeds
- Raspberries and walnuts
- Omega 3’s
- Tea Tree Oil for direct application to blemishes.
- Vitamin C
- Evening Primrose
- Elderberry Syrup
- Collagen Peptides
*Note: I am currently taking a probiotic and Vitamin C with Rosehips. The probiotic because I am trying to avoid dairy and the Vitamin C because I thought it was cool and cold season is upon us. Supplements aren’t necessary, you can still get these nutrients from the foods listed above!
- Exercise and get a good sweat in to detox skin 2-5 times per week.
- Wash face with a gentle cleanser morning and night.
- Do not pick at blemishes! This only makes them worse can causes scarring.
- Use a gentle exfoliant 1-2 times per week to get rid of dead skin.
- Use topical cream or gel on breakouts.
- Treat yoself and get a facial every once in a while.
- Or do an at-home mask (love to do this while I’m traveling and have a hotel room to myself!)
So here’s the real question..should I post before and after pics?! It’s hilarious to me when people show “before pictures” with like one pimple. My befores might scare some people! But in all seriousness, I have been including these acne-fighting foods in my diet for the past couple months and I’ve definitely seen an improvement.
Even if you don’t have acne, incorporating some of these foods or habits will help improve the overall appearance of your skin, and improve your health, too! Do any of you have any great skin tips? Let me know in the comments below!
The Enclycopedia of Healing Foods