How to Manage Your Acne with Diet

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The diet-acne connection is strong, and making some changes to what you eat have been shown to be just as effective as abrasive topical acne treatments in extreme cases.

The first food group which has been strongly associated with skin problems is dairy. Milk and milk products are pro-inflammatory; and in people with already unstable hormone levels they can promote inflammation and increase acne production in your skin by leading to excess oil production. Not everyone who eats dairy will be affected by these pro-inflammation hormones (such as IGF-1), some bodies with a stronger immune system can automatically re-balance the hormone levels after dairy consumption and no problems will appear whatsoever. The best way to find out if dairy is the cause of your skin issues is to eliminate it for 4 weeks and see if you notice any improvements. Check out our tips for going dairy free to help you make the move.

Too much sugar and simple carbohydrates in your diet lead to elevated insulin levels, which affects a variety of hormone pathways in your body. Higher levels of insulin lead to excessive production of the IGF-1, a hormone which promotes overgrowth of skin cells inside pores and increases oil production in your skin, two factors which are essential for acne progression. Moreover, chronically elevated insulin levels in the body increases the levels of androgen (male) hormones, which have been well documented to further increase oil sebum production. Making the change from white refined flour to wholegrains and reducing your sugar intake can have a huge effect on skin quality.

Since acne is an inflammatory skin condition, reducing the levels of inflammation in your body by eating anti-inflammatory nutrients can help clear your spots for good. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, help regulate IGF-1 levels and kill off bacteria associated with acne progression.

Last but not least, zinc levels in your body have been strongly associated with skin conditions. Zinc helps maintain skin integrity, reduces inflammation, promotes wound healing, helps kill and suppress acne bacteria, and may also reduce skin oil production. The best dietary sources of zinc are oysters, spinach, dark chocolate, and nuts.

There is no overnight solution that will clear your acne up, perseverance and making lifestyle changes can help you manage your acne better, alongside appropriate medication.

Donia Hilal is a certified nutritionist with a degree in Nutrition from King’s College London. Her work focuses on women’s health in the Middle East, wellness, weight loss, and optimal pre- and post-natal nutrition. Passionate about real food and evidence based nutrition advice, Donia welcomes and enjoys guiding clients throughout every stage of their journey towards a healthier, happier life.

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