Change your diet, solve your skin problems
Skin is the body's largest organ, protecting us from the external environment and holding together our muscles, tissues, bones and internal organs. Yet our skin often takes a beating and the health of our skin is usually a reflection of our overall health. If you are suffering from a skin condition such as acne or rosacea, it could be that certain lifestyle factors are contributing to your skin's health. Diet can play a major role in the condition of your skin, and eliminating certain foods whilst eating more of other types of foods could reduce the severity of your skin problem or even banish it completely! We decided to take a look at a few of the most common skin conditions and see what role diet has to play - and what adjustments you can make to your diet to improve things.
Whether you suffer from it as a teenager or an adult, acne can be unsightly and embarassing, knocking your confidence and self-esteem and making you feel like you don't want to leave the house. Breakouts are one thing, but acne causes large, red bump-like spots to form under your skin, and for many people these spots can be painful. Over-the-counter treatments and prescription medication from your doctor can go some way to eliminating your acne, but what if you want to try and treat the cause of your acne rather than the symptoms themselves?
There could be a link between blood sugar and acne, and eating in a way that ensures your blood sugar stays steady could help to prevent or reduce the severity of your acne. By eating lots of sugary snacks or fizzy drinks, you're elevating your blood sugar quickly, which means more insulin is circulating around your body.
Insulin and acne
A 2007 study explored the possible link between insulin and acne. 43 teenage boys and young men with acne took part in the 3-month study. Some ate a carb-heavy diet, whilst others ate a diet of foods low on the glycaemic index. These foods turn to sugar more slowly when digeted. Those on the low-glycaemic load diet saw more of an improvement in their acne than those eating carb-heavy foods. Its not clear yet whether insulin really does play a role in causing acne, but avoiding inflammatory foods and eating small meals every 2 to 3 hours can help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels high. You should also ensure you're eating a wide range of vegetables daily to load up on antioxidants which reduce inflammation.
There have also been studies in the past linking dairy consumption to acne, so if you notice dairy seems to trigger breakouts, you could try eliminating it from your diet. There are plenty of alternatives out there, from almond milk to soya products and even rice milk - all fairly healthy choices. Fatty acid imbalances in the body could impact your skin, so try eating more omega-3 rich foods such as salmon or mackerel - or taking a fish oil supplement. Grass-fed beef and free-range eggs are healthier choices for your skin (and your body!) than corn-fed animal products.
Whilst most experts agree that diet has very little impact on eczema, there is conflicting advice available. Eczema caused by allergic reactions to food is rare over the age of 4 years old, but some adults can experience worsening eczema symptoms after consuming certain foods. There is no evidence to support a link here, as you may think that it's chocolate that is causing your eczema to flare up when in fact it could be stress that's the culprit.
There has been research carried out which suggests probiotics could be helpful to relieve symptoms of eczema in children. Found in yoghurts and probiotic drinks (or some supplements), probiotics are a healthy addition to any diet, whether you're a child or an adult. A few studies also suggest that drinking green, black or Oolong tea could help to relieve eczema flareups - tea can even help to reduce your stress levels! Omega-3 fatty acids are also said to be beneficial for skin health. Eating a healthy diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy will benefit your whole body, and it will show first in your skin.
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition where the skin flushes bright red - these flushes can last several hours and it's usually the face that is affected. Constant flushing can lead to broken capillaries and bumps and pustules under the skin. Poor diet, stress and lack of sleep could all be contributing factors when it comes to rosacea, but many sufferers experience a flare-up in their symptoms when eating certain foods. Those experiencing rosacea are advised to avoid dairy, spicy food, alcohol and caffeine, or at least cut back on these in their diet.
Eliminating processed foods and caffeine from your diet can help a lot, as well as foods known to cause inflammation. Adding anti-inflammatory, alkaline foods to the diet can be helpful too and increasing your intake of vitamin A, found in foods such as sweet potatoes and carrots, can strengthen capillaries and reduce the severity of flushes. Staying hydrated, getting eight hours' sleep a night and minimising stress in your life - we recommend meditating for a few minutes every day - can really boost your skin health too.
Looking after your skin starts from the inside - eating a well-balanced diet, elminating any potential triggers for your skin condition and getting plenty of exercise to flush out waste and toxins from the body can go a long way towards ensuring healthy, glowing skin.