Anyone who has acne can appreciate how difficult it can be to get rid of. Many people, like myself have tried a variety of ointments and skin cleansers with minimal improvements. One largely overlooked strategy to help clear up acne is to focus on diet.
To understand the effect of diet on acne, it is important to understand what acne is. Acne is a skin condition, characterised by the inflammation of the sebaceous glands (the small glands in the skin which secrete oil into the hair follicles) which causes the glands to become clogged with dead skin and excess oil. The severity of Acne differs between each individual, most commonly appearing as pimples, black heads and white heads on the face, neck and back. Follow the following three steps to help put an end to that persistent acne.
1) Choose Foods With a low Glycaemic Load
Glycaemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods which contain carbohydrates rise blood sugar levels. To fully understand the complete effect that a particular food has on blood glucose levels, you need to know both how quickly the glucose will enter the blood stream and how much carbohydrate the food will deliver. Glycaemic load (GL) accounts for both of these. Foods which have GL of 20 or above are considered to be high, thereby rapidly spiking blood glucose levels whereas foods with a GL of 10 or below are considered to be low. Foods with a high glycaemic load tend to be refined or processed foods such as white rice, which has a GL of 29 per 150 g and potato, where 1 medium potato has a GL of 36. Alternative carbohydrate sources which have a low GL include lentils which have a GL of 5 per 150 g and vegetables such as carrots which have a GL of 2 per 150 g.
After you have eaten a food with a high glycaemic load, your body releases insulin, a hormone which helps store excess glucose as glycogen or fat. Having excess insulin in your body causes hormonal fluctuations and inflammation which can promote the development of acne. To further aid in the reduction of acne, you can add foods to your diet which help reduce inflammation. Examples of these foods include those which contain omega 3 fatty acids such as fish and eggs, basil, rosemary, broccoli and ginger.
2) Ensure you are Consuming Enough Zinc, Vitamins A and E and Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Many individuals who suffer from acne find that they benefit from getting enough zinc, vitamin A and vitamin E in their diet. Zinc plays an important role in regulating metabolism and hormone levels. Thus, consuming enough zinc prevents your hormones from getting out of balance, which can contribute to acne. Examples of foods rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, cashews and turkey. Vitamin A helps to fight infection, thereby helping to prevent the pores from becoming infected and eventually developing into acne. Food sources rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens. Lastly, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E both help to reduce inflammation in the body. This can help to prevent acne from becoming red and aggravated. Foods rich in vitamin E include spinach, almonds and avocado. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids include fish, walnuts and flaxseed.
Alana Willis is passionate about all things health and nutrition. You can usually find her at the beach, with a smoothie in one hand and a good book in the other, soaking up that great Aussie sun. She is currently completing the Bachelor of Science and Master of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Sydney and foresees herself one day running her own dietetics practice. With a major in psychology, Alana is fascinated by the relationship between food and our mental state, and how our psychology can be used to implement healthy eating behaviours.
Alana’s keen interest in health and nutrition is reflected by her writing. With her scientific background, Alana critically analyses everything she hears and reads, ensuring that her writing is current and evidence based. You can see more of her writing featured in the Dietitian Connection Newsletter and the Feel Great Challenge founded by biggest loser host, Hayley Lewis.