Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects millions of people. It is caused when pores get blocked by excess oil, sweat and dirt. When these clogged pores get infected by the P.acnes bacteria, it causes eruptions on the surface of the skin. A good diet promotes good skin health. Some foods and supplements contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial as part of an acne treatment regimen. Some foods are excellent anti-oxidants that flush out all impurities in the body. Hence, eating a healthy diet that contains fruits, vegetables and cereals rich in vitamins and minerals is important.
A Good Acne Diet
A good acne diet can help combat acne outbreaks. So, here are certain categories of food that are acceptable even for those with acne.
Fresh Vegetables : Other than potatoes, almost all fresh vegetables are an acceptable part of an acne diet. Here is a list of a few fresh vegetables – all greens like parsnip, radish, broccoli, lettuce, watercress, mustard greens, parsley; onions, carrots, squashes, all peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower and more.
Avoid all starchy tubers, green beans and peas during the first 30 days of an acne diet. Then slowly introduces yams, sweet potatoes, peas and beans.
Fresh Fruits : Avoid dried fruits that have a high glycemic index. Otherwise all fruits can be part of the acne diet – all berries, oranges, apples, plums, pears, melons, papaya, watermelon, grapes etc.
Meat, Eggs, Poultry : Under this category, you can consume lean beef trimmed of all fat, lean pork – chops, roasts and loins and skinless breasts of chicken, game birds or turkey. You can safely consume 6 eggs per week. Buy omega-3 eggs where possible.
Organ meats can be eaten but some like liver and kidneys do contain environmental contaminants. So if you like organ meats then go for calf liver. Choose free range meats where possible for these will not contain pesticides or hormones and will be rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. People who like exotic meat should choose lean meat.
Seafood : Eat fresh water fish caught in lakes and rivers. These contain less mercury and pesticides. Avoid big fish like shark, sword fish or tuna. Since they live longer, it is likely that they will have greater concentration of pesticides in their body.
Good seafood to consume includes salmon, catfish, halibut, mackerel, cod, haddock, red snapper, monkfish, bass, herring and such.
If you like shellfish then go for crabs, lobster, crayfish, oysters, shrimp, scallops, mussels etc.
Oils : The right oils for cooking promote good health. Use stable oils that do not get oxidized by heat. (SAT) Saturated fatty acids are the most heat resistant. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are the next in line. However, SAT increase blood cholesterol levels. Hence use cooking oils high in MUFA and low in PUFA and SAT. Olive oil, canola oil and avocado oil are the best choices of cooking oils.
When cooking, make sure you cook on low or medium temperatures. Try not to eat seared foods cooked in high temperature. Instead, try sautéing food and cook for short periods only.
Nuts and Seeds : Your acne diet must definitely avoid all peanut products for at least 30 days. Some nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts and coconuts contain lectin that causes red blood cells to agglutinate. Some people have nut allergies and must avoid them all. Those who love nuts can eat them in small quantities.
Omega-3 fatty acids : An acne diet must be rich in omega-3 fats like ALA, DHA and EPA. ALA can be got from flaxseed and flaxseed oils, soybeans and canola oils. DHA and EPA are mostly got from fish – salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and halibut-, fish oils, free range meat etc. Eating a diet higher in omega-6 rather than omega-3 is harmful. Unfortunately, this is what most people in developed countries consume.
Maintaining the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is necessary to promote good health. Omega-3 reduces inflammatory conditions and prevents dead skin cells from building up.
Vitamins : Vitamin A can reduce keratin and sebum production. It is found in foods such as chicken liver, beef liver, cheese, eggs, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that is found in foods such as seeds, vegetable oils, fresh dark leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, seeds and nuts. Vitamin E fights free radicals in the body.
Whole grains and dairy products : While both these are needed for overall good health, they are not essential part of an acne diet. Fruits and vegetables contain more fiber content than whole grains. Oats are the only whole grains with good fiber content. Hence, your diet will not suffer if you replace your whole grains with fruits and vegetables. Similarly consume only the required quantity of dairy products that provide sufficient calcium to the body.
Water : Drinking plenty of water promotes good health by flushing out toxins. These toxins can cause acne. Consume 3 liters of water a day if you are a man and 2.2 liters of water a day if you are a woman.
Acne Diet : Precautions
There are not too many risks involved with an acne diet. Most of the risks have to do with supplements like vitamin A and zinc. Make sure you eat control your daily caloric intake. Increased calories can increase levels of androgen. This can increase sebum production, clog pores and cause acne.
Based on clinical studies, a good acne diet seems to be one that is rich in colorful vegetables and fruits and has a low glycemic index. It should also be rich in omega-3 fats. Taking a good multi-vitamin supplement and zinc gluconate (30-50mg) per day is also beneficial. Do not worry too much about your diet for it does not drastically affect acne symptoms. You can enjoy overall good health and lose weight with healthy foods.