Would you be surprised if I told you that one major barrier between you and clear skin is...well...you? Everyday life choices affect the way you look, the way you age, and the way your body and ultimately your skin functions. Inflammation is a major part of what causes acne vulgaris in the first place. Nutrition is a heavy hitter when it comes to the arsenal of weapons I recommend to battle against inflammation. What you put on your plate fuels your body and sustains the complex and extraordinary systems that keep you alive and healthy. So what are the best choices that you can make when it comes to getting the maximum results for your skin?
The Acne & Inflammation Diet Connection
There is a strong connection to what we eat and how we look. Inflammation from our diet wreaks havoc inside and out. How can it be possible that in the midst of plentiful food supplies, the majority of us deny our bodies and brains the nutrients we need to fight inflammation? I believe it mainly boils down to knowledge. Most of us are raised to believe that we need to eat according the this food pyramid.
We have learned a lot about inflammation reducing diets in the last few decades, so let me outline some of the basics.
Inflammation Reducing Diet Ingredient #1
The failure to eat an adequate, high-quality protein rich diet results in the breakdown of your cells and it makes it very difficult for your body to repair them. This sort of damage is totally avoidable. The majority of the population replace the protein we need with large quantities of foods that rapidly convert to sugar in our bloodstream. This leads to an immediate inflammatory response in the body. As I stated above, there is a whole host of health related issues - acne vulgaris is one of them - that is caused by inflammation. High quality protein is vital to supporting and repairing your cells, thus reducing inflammation in your body. Understanding this will make it much easier to avoid the cupcake or the bowl of pasta, and go for the grilled fish.
Inflammation Reducing Diet Ingredient #2
I hope I didn't just lose my readers by mentioning fats. So many automatically recoil at the thought of purposefully eating fats, thinking that eating fats makes you fat. The aversion to fats in our current culture is, in my opinion, dangerous. Essential fatty acids are critical for the healthy function of cells. Our body desperately needs to be a well oiled machine.
There definitely are bad fats out there. Not all fats are created equal, and I will outline what fats are beneficial to aid in the reduction of inflammation through your diet. Essential fatty acids and monounsaturated olive oil promote good health and thus, beautiful clear skin, and thus, you would be wise to welcome these healthy fats into your diet, and will no longer avoid them.
Inflammation Reducing Diet Ingredient #3
Carbohydrates are necessary for the body to function. We must meet these nutritional needs in an intelligent way, and for me, this means that carbohydrates come from a low-glycemic source in the form of fruits and vegetables. Think about what a smart decision it is to fuel your body with inflammation reducing, vitamin, mineral and anti-oxidant packed foods rather than the nutrient stripped highly processed starchy foods found on most supermarket shelves. With every bite, you can either help or harm your body. When choosing your fruits and vegetables, go for fresh or frozen, but avoid canned items because they have been put through a heating process that destroys many beneficial nutrients and add unwanted salt and sugar.
Inflammation Reducing Diet Ingredient #4
Healthy, acne free skin is not the result of drinking diet soda and orange juice. I always tell my clients to drink water and lots of it. If you don't drink water, your cells can't function. You will not be able to flush waste from your cells. If you are dehydrated, your body develops inflammatory compounds, which as we have learned, leads to many health issues, acne being only one of them. I drink 8-10 glasses every day and urge my clients to do the same. Take a glass of water with you to bed and drink some before you close your eyes. Drink the rest as soon as you wake up the next day, and follow that up with 8-10 more. Hydration is vital to anyone trying to incorporate an inflammation reducing diet.
The Acne and Inflammation Reducing Diet
Below you will find a list of foods that you should incorporate into your diet. These foods support your body with high quality nutrient dense foods, and they aid in reducing inflammation, which can lead to beautiful, glowing skin, free of acne.
- Beans (black, kidney, Lima)
- Bell Peppers (green, orange, red, purple, yellow)
- Broccoli rabe
- Brussels sprouts
- Chicken (white meat)
- Chilean sea bass
- Cottage Cheese (low-fat)
- Crab meat
- Egg whites
- Feta cheese
- Filet of sole
- Ginger (fresh)
- Honeydew melon
- Leafy greens
- Lentil soup
- Monk fish
- Oatmeal (NOT instant)
- Olive oil
- Onions (red & white)
- Parmesan cheese
- Peaches Pears
- Smokes salmon
- Snow peas
- Swiss chard
- Tea Tomatoes
- Tomato juice
Antioxidant Heavy Hitters
Best Choices in antioxidant rich foods:
- Bell Peppers
- Cantaloupe & Honeydew melons
- Dark Leafy Vegetables (spinach & kale)
Acne and Inflammation Causing Diet
There is a link between sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates,- foods that rapidly convert to sugar in your system - causing inflammation on the cellular level throughout your body, including your skin. When blood sugar levels are elevated in the body, there are a number of chemical reaction that occur that create inflammation.
Simple sugars - foods that include table sugar, honey, molasses, and maple syrup - should be removed from your diet. These may taste good, but they ultimately lead to acne breakouts, weight gain, and tooth decay. These foods have little to no nutritional value and create an immediate inflammatory cascade on the cellular level. To keep your skin clear, and your appearance youthful, avoid these foods completely:
- Alcoholic beverages (this includes beer, wine, hard liquor, apertifs)
- Banana Breads
- Cream Cheese
- Cereals (except Oatmeal - non-instant)
- Corn syrup
- Dried fruit
- Fruit juice
- Fried foods
- Half & Half
- Hard cheese (except feta, Parmesan, and Romano
- Heavy cream
- Hot dogs
- Ice cream
- Jams & jellies
- Soda (including diet)
- Whole milk
While some of the foods listed here do have nutritional benefits, such as corn, pasta rice and bread, they cause more problems than benefits. These foods generally cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and create the inflammatory response that we need to avoid in order to keep our skin clear of acne vulgaris breakouts. Carbohydrates should be limited to what we find in whole grains such as oatmeal (non-instant), legumes and beans. You will find that these foods are absorbed slowly into our system and do not provoke an inflammatory response from a surge of sugar into the blood. To attain healthy, glowing skin we need to provide a slow, steady release of insulin into our bloodstream.
The Acne & Inflammation Diet Connection
Now that you understand that what we choose to put into our bodies has a great impact on our health, wellness, and diseases such as acne, I hope you find great pleasure in beginning to implement these into your daily routine. Please leave a comment and tell me what changes you have made in your diet to help reduce inflammation, and make sure to share this article with anyone who has tried everything to get rid of their acne, but nothing seems to work. This may be just the thing to get their skin cleared up.