Recently I have seen a lot of clients with persistent acne. They all have their own unique story but the common thing they all express is how frustrated they feel. They have tried many creams, lotions and potions and have often excluded common known dietary triggers but still it persists.
The skin is one of the main eliminatory organs in the body; along with the liver, intestine, kidneys and lungs. The skin has many layers and so to create lasting change you need to be consistent with skin specific eating and supplementation for a long time.
Acne is caused by an over stimulated oil gland that has become infected. Excessive oil production can be caused by hormones, adrenal function, liver and digestive function and diet.
One of the most common hormonal imbalances that can lead to acne is an increased sensitivity or raised level of testosterone and/or androgens. The condition polycystic ovarian syndrome may also be involved with androgen imbalances as well as insulin and blood sugar imbalances. If your acne worsens mid-cycle or around your period, an oestrogen/progesterone imbalance may be to blame. When the adrenal glands are stimulated it creates a stress response in the body. This causes the oil glands to flow excessively and also warm up the body temperature, irritating sensitive skin. One of the hormones secreted is cortisol. Cortisol is excreted when we are stressed. We have all experienced the dreaded breakout before an important event, presentation for example.
Your skin is often the first place to show the effects of an under-functioning liver. When it is not functioning at its best it has difficulty to eliminate wastes and toxins from the body. So instead it pushes the toxins out through the skin, resulting in pimples and acne.
A detox can help give your liver and elimination organs a spring clean and boost your skin. It involves eating the right kind of foods, drinking plenty of water and herbal teas and supplementing with certain nutrients to support the eliminatory organs of the body. By investing time and energy into a detox not only will you have more energy, mental clarity, improved digestion and bowel function, improved mood, clear sinuses you will also experience radiant skin, hair and nails.
So, what foods should you eat to not only support the skin but support the body’s detoxification channels?
Here is a list of the foods to increase in your diet:
* Essential fats and oils – such as oily fish, nuts and seeds such walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, avocados and nut and seed oils
* Plenty of water to flush out the impurities and improve bowel function, 2 litres per day is a good guide
* Eat plenty of protein such as organic eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, lean meats, lentils, quinoa, chia seeds
* 2-3 cups of vegetables per day, rainbow of colours, raw and cooked
* An important step in a skin detox program is to include lemon water first thing every morning to stimulate liver function and hydrate the body.
The foods to remove from your diet that can increase inflammation in the body and skin are:
* Animal fats especially from red meats and pork
* Dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice-cream, butter
* Commercial sweets – baked goods, refined sugars, white flours and trans fats
* Any foods that you may be sensitive, intolerant or allergic to
Lifestyle changes to include that can also help:
* Doing a detox program to support the body’s eliminatory organs. Improving digestion and bowel function will also help with the skin.
* Managing stress with yoga, meditation, mindfulness, laughter, being grateful
* Treating any hormonal imbalances that may be contributing to your skin issues
* Treat your skin carefully and avoid all harsh soaps, foaming cleanser, peels and scrubs. Choose a natural and light, pH balanced skin care line and avoid moisturizing at night. Just let your skin breath and stabilize its own moisture secretions and avoid excessive sun baking and swimming in chlorinated water.
Supplements that may be necessary to support detoxification and skin health include:
* Zinc- hormonal health, skin repair, immunity
* B complex- nervous system, digestive system, skin and metabolism
* Magnesium – nervous system, metabolism, balancing blood sugars
* Herbal liver tonic- to improve the digestion and elimination of fats
* Herbal hormonal tonic – to balance hormones that may be contributing to the skin
These changes need to be undertaken for a long period of time as the changes in your skin will take time. The skin needs consistent care through diet and lifestyle. The entire body is connected so supporting the entire body through diet and lifestyle is essential to get lasting results.
Nicole Haak is an experienced Melbourne Naturopath whose gentle approach and warm nature enable her to be an empathetic and supportive practitioner who takes a genuine interest in her clients’ needs. She has a deep passion for what she does. This is evident by her holistic approach to helping her patients find solutions to their health concerns and improve their quality of life.