What to Eat to Treat Acne and Other Skin Disorders
Acne affects the glandular and digestive/detoxification immune centers.
Give peas a chance if you have acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, or any other dermatological disorders or just want to avoid them all. Green peas, black beans, red tomatoes, and all vibrantly colored foods top the list of skin-healing foods. Color is the key to nutrient density and Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) value; foods with high ORAC values are high in antioxidants.
Acne, an inflammatory skin disorder characterized by pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads afflicts not just teens but as much as 80 percent of the population at one time or another. Acne is the result of not simply poor skin hygiene, but more often of overactive oil glands. Inflammation—indicating a blip in the workings of one or more of the body’s immune centers—can be triggered by a genetic predisposition, PMS, the use of oral contraceptives, Candidiasis, food allergies, certain medications (including thyroid medications, steroids, and immunosuppressive drugs), hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies, as well as by a diet high in saturated and hydrogenated fats or an imbalanced pH (too acid or too alkaline)—not to mention excess dietary iodine, which irritates pores.
(Iodine source foods include iodized salt, shellfish, and fast foods, the biggest offender.) One of the problems, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is that the skin (your body’s biggest organ) functions as an emergency detoxification organ, and when the liver and kidneys are overtaxed, the skin takes over. But this handoff can cause dermatological conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and beyond. Here’s what to do about it.
What to Eat
If hormone imbalance is the problem, or part of it, more zinc and omega-3-rich foods and supplements can help reboot your metabolism.
It’s also possible that you’re a victim of dermatological insulin resistance, meaning you don’t process sugar well. This causes surface bacteria to convert sugar to acne-causing acid. Accentuate the positive: go on a sugar fast to test out the possibility; then eliminate the negative (all sugars).
Skin disruptions can be calmed by increasing soups (and other juicy foods) that plug vitamin A (and beta-carotene), vitamin B complex, fiber, zinc, and enzymes into your diet, plus vitamin C foods that fight free-radical skin damage caused by the sun, pollution, cigarettes, and more. (Did you know that your chin may also break out if your digestive system is out of balance? The jawline and chin correspond to the intestinal region, say traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.)
Beans, peas, tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and other foods that supply the carotenoid lycopene help stabilize cell membranes and restore the skin’s integrity under the sun. Eat plenty of melon, squash, carrots, spinach, parsley, cucumbers, and cabbage-family vegetables. hTe ascorbic and caffeic acids in cukes soothe and reduce inflammation. (Cukes also supply fiber for your heart and potassium and magnesium to lower blood pressure.)
Add herbs with high antioxidant value such as oregano and marjoram. Don’t forget leafy greens for folate, which protects you from trace amounts of arsenic. In very small amounts, arsenic can cause skin disorders as well as cancer, diabetes, and coronary disease.
Water is also EMS for the epidermal wellness (which is one reason soup is such a skin saver). Drink six to eight glasses of filtered water daily, and use some of it to wash down a daily supplement of acidophilus- and bifidus-friendly bacteria (especially if you’re on acne-fighting antibiotics or steroid meds that destroy friendly bacteria). For more probiotic power, include yogurt or yogurt whips, dips, drinks, or yogurt-based soups three times a week.
When used externally, all teas suppress inflammation that leads to outbreaks, and when taken internally, especially stinging nettle or cleavers tea, they fight free radicals. The calcium and folic acid they supply reduce swelling and redness.
What Not to Eat: Foods to Subtract
What you don’t put on your plate or in your bowl matters, too. Decrease your intake of processed foods, refined foods, red meat (a source of inflammatory arachidonic acid), refined carbohydrates (especially refined sugar), starchy foods, salt, and alcohol to improve your face value.
Consider Sensitivities. Food allergies can be a contributing cause of dermatitis, and sensitivity to gluten (celiac disease) is common in victims of skin disorders. Check it out by eliminating sources of gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, bran, wheat germ) from your diet like bread and pasta for a week. Or have your heath care provider administer a diagnostic test for celiac disease. Dairy products are also frequent offenders. Even if you aren’t lactose intolerant, Harvard University researchers warn about a link between dairy products and acne, possibly because of the hormones and bioactive ingredients in cow’s milk, cheese, and ice cream.
Get some shut-eye. Acne and other conditions are often the result of poor sleep and poor hygiene, as well as stress. Nighttime savasana rejuvenates the skin, allowing the lymphatic system to drain off toxins and recharge the immune system.