Pimples, pustules, blackheads and rosacea … oh my! What to do if you have acne and want your skin to get clearer? Try eating a clear skin diet.
Thanks to the book, "The Clear Skin Diet" by Alan C. Logan and Valori Treloar, and other tomes on the subject, there are now some studies that demonstrate how certain foods can help improve your skin.
Some of the foods and nutrients that the "Clear Skin Diet" authors suggest to combat problematic skin include:
- whole grains
- Omega-3 fish oils
- green tea
What’s the most critical nutrient for clear skin?
Acne has a reputation of attacking soda-drinking teenagers’ faces. But adults can suffer from acne, as well. One way to flush out toxins is to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Drinking at least 8-10 cups a day — and eliminating sugary drinks, both soda and juices — may help reduce acne. [Related on MNN.com: Healthy beverages]
Most teenagers — and adults — do not drink enough water. Dehydration leads to older-looking skin and possibly skin conditions like acne.
If you drink milk and suffer from unclear skin, you may need to eliminate milk and dairy from your diet. You might have a food allergy, which could manifest as skin problems.
Foods that spike your blood sugar, such as white bread, pastries and soda cause your pancreas to make extra insulin in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels. But insulin also signals the sebaceous glands to manufacture and secrete an oily substance called sebum, which in elevated amounts causes the bacterium P. acnes to proliferate and clog up the hair follicles.
OK, I’ll drink more water. But what else should I eat?
Eat foods that don’t promote inflammation. Inflammation can manifest in many different ways from heart disease to unhealthy-looking skin. Foods like vegetable oils (especially cooked ones, which are prevalent in fast food) and refined grains are all high in Omega 6 fatty acids.
Opt instead for foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to some people with bad skin that fatty foods can clear skin, cold-water oily fish like salmon have anti-inflammatory properties. Does fish gross you out? No problem, there are other sources of Omega 3-rich foods including walnuts, beans and flaxseed oil.
Squirting a teaspoon’s worth of cold-pressed seed oils like flaxseed in a low-sugar, high-protein smoothie will reduce inflammation.
Be honest with yourself: are you eating enough vegetables? You don’t have to eat plain, raw broccoli, but do boost your intake of fresh vegetables as they contain several compounds like antioxidants, which can help clear up skin.
Besides the obvious like more water and vegetables, what else can help my skin?
Some people who suffer from acne and other skin disorders have poor digestion, especially with dietary fats, which may cause skin pores to clog. Taking dietary supplements like digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar may help. Aloe vera juice also helps with digestion as does supplementing with zinc and B vitamins.
Also, azealaic acid cream is well-known in alternative medicine circles for being a highly effective antimicrobial.
I don’t eat fried foods, which I know are bad for my skin. What else should I avoid?
Alcohol should be severely restricted (and obviously avoided if you’re under age 21). After all, alcohol is a sugar. As mentioned above, sugar can spike insulin levels, possibly leading to an acne-producing domino effect.
For overall health and wellness, including skin quality, eat a diet that is overwhelmingly comprised of all-natural and unprocessed foods. Your skin is your largest organ. Eating lots of junk food will ultimately lead to less than optimum health — and unclear skin.
Judd Handler is a health and lifestyle coach in Encinitas, Calif. He can be reached at CoachJudd@gmail.com.