Adult acne is humiliating. We’re not supposed to have pimples when we’re of a certain age. Right? Well, I suffered from it for years and tried every kind of medication dermatologists prescribed. The medicines worked while I was on them, but the acne always returned.
Years ago, more than one dermatologist told me not to worry about my diet. I was told there was nothing I could do, except (of course) take the costly medicines they prescribed.
Eventually I was led to a couple of dietary discoveries that have helped me combat breakouts for many years, despite the fact that in middle-age, I still have acne prone skin.
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First, it’s important to understand that pimples occur when our pores get blocked by sebum (oil) secreted by the sebaceous glands, and that oil combines with dead skin cells. The combination of the oil and skin cells creates a “plug” within the pore. That plug creates a breeding ground for acne causing bacteria which is called Propionibacterium Acnes (p. acnes). When too much p. acnes mixes with the plugged pore, it causes inflammation and the result is a zit.
While it’s true that our hormones contribute to breakouts, because the hormones cause the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil, if p. acnes is kept in check, pimples are not inevitable.
American teenagers almost all experience acne. But is that because it’s just the way it is, or is it because teenagers tend to eat a high glycemic diet? Studies that suggests it’s the latter. Here’s a link to a study performed in Kitava Island Papua New Guinea where there is NO acne among teenagers: http://www.healwithfood.org/acne/kitava-acne-free-diet.php
Puberty is puberty no matter the culture and hormones cause the body to produce more oil during puberty, but the teens living on Kitava Island eat a low-glycemic diet and THEY DO NOT HAVE ACNE. The bacteria is controlled.
How can WE control acne-causing bacteria? That is the important question.
Everyone has p. acnes on the surface of their skin. However people who are NOT acne prone produce less of it.
One thing many people don’t know, or consider, is that p. acnes is also present within the digestive tract. THIS is why diet most definitely does have an effect on acne.
One way of controlling acne is to mitigate p. acnes within the digestive tract. This is what antibiotics do. If you’ve even taken antibiotics for your acne, the medicine has killed p. acnes internally, which helps your body to produce less of it on your skin.
Unfortunately, most antibiotics kill the “good” bacteria along with the “bad” and those good bacteria help our bodies control other issues, like Candida, which is why you may get a yeast infection if you take an antibiotic.
What if we could ingest foods that would control p. acnes without killing the good bacteria that helps fight yeast proliferation?
Well, we CAN. Here are a few things that control p. acnes internally.
1. green tea
2. aloe vera juice (unsweetened)
3. apple cider vinegar (diluted)
4. plain (unsweetened) yogurt
Incorporate these into you diet daily and you’ll have fewer breakouts. But wait… If you want excellent results, you should ALSO reduce your intake of high glycemic foods. I’ll explain what these are in a moment. So please read on.
Green tea, aloe vera juice, apple cider vinegar, and yogurt taken internally have all been found to reduce the amount acne causing bacteria within the digestive tract. The amount to take varies from person to person, and you should do some research before trying them, but here are my suggestions:
Green tea: 2 strong cups in the morning.
OR, Aloe vera juice (unsweetened) 8 to 10 oz.
OR Apple cider vinegar– one tablespoon in an 8oz. cup of water.
AND Yogurt, at least one 8oz cup a day.
What’s worked best for me is the combination of aloe vera juice and yogurt. If you hate plain yogurt, you can try Acidophilus supplements instead. Follow the suggested use recommendations on the label.
As I mentioned, these remedies work best in combination with eliminating certain foods from your diet.
Foods you to consider limiting are:
1. cows milk
2. high glycemic carbs: breads, pastas, white rice, white potatoes, cookies, cakes, pastries, and anything made with white flower.
3. processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup, candy, sugary sodas and juice drinks
One reason milk causes breakouts and plain yogurt does not, is because of the good vs. bad bacteria. Yogurt contains live cultures, including acidophilus, which helps to control bad bacteria. Milk, on the other hand, does NOT contain those beneficial cultures and, in fact, milk fat can cause breakouts. Cows milk is also full of hormones, including androgens, which stimulate the over production of oil. Cows milk has also been shown to cause a spike in insulin levels in the blood, which also contributes to acne.
This explains why MILK chocolate will cause acne in some people, whereas DARK chocolate that does not contain milk fat or butterfat generally does not cause breakouts.
The reason high glycemic carbohydrates and sugar cause breakouts is because high glycemic carbs and processed sugar cause elevated levels of insulin in the blood. According to Dr. Jessica Wu, author of FEED YOUR FACE, high blood insulin has been linked to an increase in the production of skin cells. As we mentioned above, too many skin cells block the pores when they bind with the oil produced by our sebaceous glands. High glycemic carbohydrates also cause more androgens (hormones) in the blood. These hormones stimulate the over production of oil. Dead skin cells + excess oil causes more bacteria, which = ZITS!
Years ago, doctors assured their patients that diet had no bearing on acne, but that has since been proven false. Diet absolutely affects acne prone skin. If you are NOT acne prone, that means your body doesn’t tend to produce much acne causing bacteria, so you can eat sugar, milk and carbs and not breakout. But if you ARE acne prone, it means that your body tends to be a breeding ground for the proliferation of acne causing bacteria, so you have to limit those foods if you want to maintain clear skin.
A few more foods that will HELP your acne-prone skin:
1. Sweet potatoes. High in vitamin A, sweet potatoes are a skin “super food” with a low-glycemic index and they contribute to “cell turnover” meaning they help the body shed old skin cells.
2. Leafy greens. They’re high in LUTEIN, which contributes to skin health.
3. Fatty fish high in Omega 3s: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna. Omega 3s fight inflammation.
4. Almonds and Flaxseed—also high in Omega 3s.
5. Foods high in zinc (lean meats, lentils, oysters). Zinc is an anti-inflammatory that helps control acne causing bacteria.
Hope this information will set you on the path to vibrant, glowing skin.
For more information please read my anti-acne book, VIBRANT and CLEAR, How to be Acne Free, Naturally!
As always, wishing you good health and great beauty. ~ Toni Ann Johnson
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