Acne is a common problem. Unfortunately, our lifestyle, including our diet and stress levels, often exacerbate this condition. Everyone wants a solution, but few look at the root causes, one of which is our diet.
Contrary to the common myth, it’s not just chocolate and fried foods that lead to acne. Many acne-promoting ingredients are found in some foods you might consider healthy. These include processed foods such as granola bars and cereals, and even diet foods that promote a low-calorie content. These foods are often inflammatory, contain no real nutrients, and may also promote a high glycemic response due to their effects on insulin in the body.
Remove processed foods from your diet, along with gluten, all added sugars, and fast food. Just doing that will likely improve your skin health quickly, without the need for gels and creams that can lead to toxicity through harmful chemical exposure.
In fact, most gels and creams don’t work nearly as well as the natural foods listed below. These options are also much more affordable, and are easy to implement on a day-to-day basis.
Pumpkin is an amazing food to take advantage of, especially if you’re looking for a way to boost your intake of fiber, iron, and vitamin C. Pumpkin is packed with soluble fiber that helps lower blood sugar, which is key to reducing the hormonal response that leads to acne.
Pumpkin’s beta-carotene content is primarily responsible for its skin benefits. Beta-carotene helps to lower inflammation which can lead to acne, as well as a range of other health conditions. Its orange hue also gives skin a natural glow — just don’t overdo it! Pumpkin overdose can actually turn your skin orange, though it won’t cause any real health issues!
Eat half a cup of pure pumpkin each day, and you’ll likely see clearer skin in just a week!
Camu camu berry
Camu camu berry is about 50 times higher in vitamin C than oranges per ounce! Vitamin C helps clear acne and promote youthful skin by fighting inflammation, reducing free radicals, and aiding in collagen production. Camu camu berry is also very low in sugar, unlike many other fruits.
Acne is sometimes a sign of insufficient beneficial bacteria in the body. Your body needs an abundance of healthy bacteria not only for beautiful skin, but also for a healthy immune system. Did you know that your immune system is found largely in your gut? This system is responsible for more than just fighting off the common cold, it also helps to fight off the bad bacteria which leads to acne.
To help promote beneficial bacteria in your gut, eat an abundance of probiotic foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and real (not processed) pickles. You can also take a high-quality probiotic supplement, but keep in mind that food sources are nearly always best.
Sugar is packed with inflammatory and acne-promoting properties. Consuming it can lead to glycation in the cells, which promotes aging and an inflammatory response. This can trigger the production of unhealthy compounds that may increase sebum production, which leads to acne. Sugar also promotes unstable insulin levels, which disrupt blood sugar balance. When this happens, hormones change and as a result, inflammation occurs.
Your best bet is to ditch the sugar, and eat natural and healthy carbohydrates. The best options for your skin are root vegetables, steel-cut oats, beans, legumes, and low-glycemic fruits.
Get rid of gluten
Gluten can promote inflammation in those sensitive to this natural protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Though these grains in whole form are not technically dangerous to non gluten-sensitive individuals, it’s the way they are processed and produced today that increases the gluten protein and makes them hard to digest. Any food that causes digestive problems can damage the lining of the intestines and cause an inflammatory and allergic response.
Acne is a common sign of gut imbalances and digestive problems, so if you’re eating gluten and have poor skin health, try eliminating all sources of gluten (especially in processed foods). Use gluten-free oats, quinoa, and amaranth in your meals instead.
Drink green tea daily
Green tea is highly alkaline in the body, which helps get your pH under control. Unlike some other sources of caffeine, green tea is also high in antioxidants known as catechins, which help reduce inflammation and improve skin health. Green tea is also high in chlorophyll, denoted by its green color, because it is not as highly heated and processed as darker black teas.
Drink a cup or two of organic green tea daily, and add a little squeeze of lemon to improve alkalinity and skin health even further.
Cleanse your face with coconut oil and apple cider vinegar
This combo is a great alternative to makeup removers and toxic chemical-based toners. Remove your makeup with coconut oil — it works great for this purpose, and also contains lauric acid, which fights bad bacteria on the skin. Using this in place of toxic chemicals and creams will reduce the inflammatory response on the skin. It will not cause irritation, and it will provide a barrier for unhealthy bacteria.
After you’ve removed your makeup with coconut oil, cover a cloth with hot (but not too hot!) water and wipe down your face. The heat will help kill any bacteria, and also remove excess oil. Next, pat your face dry, and then dilute one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of water. Wipe your face with this mixture, which will cleanse the pores, remove bacteria further, and balance the pH of the skin in order to protect it. It might stink, but the odor goes away quickly!
Apple cider vinegar is packed with good bacteria that kills harmful bacteria while also decreasing inflammation. Unlike toners, it will not dry your skin out, and will improve your skin naturally over time.
Use a baking soda application to treat pimples
Baking soda is a great way to reduce acne spots like pimples, or even major cysts. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply like you would a regular acne cream, and let it sit for two to three hours. In a few hours, you’ll likely see that the liquid coming from the blemish is gone, the spot will be deflated, and the alkaline effect of baking soda will remove excess redness and irritation.
Other tips for great skin
It’s also smart to base your diet on as many green foods (such as leafy green veggies) as possible. These foods directly contribute to beautiful skin and assault acne where it starts: inside the body.
At the same time, increase your water intake, add in other healthy whole foods, and always include fiber and anti-inflammatory protein with each meal.
Healthy fats are essential, too. A few great options are raw avocados, raw almonds, walnuts, chia, and flax seeds. These foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, which promote beautiful skin while also reducing inflammation.
Getting adequate sleep and decreasing stress in your day-to-day life can also improve your skin health, but never disregard your diet as one of the most important factors. You might also opt for natural makeup and facial cleansers in order to reduce your chemical exposure even further.
How do you care for your skin naturally?
—The Alternative Daily