Managing acne-prone skin has become increasingly difficult these days. One would think the availability of the huge amount of resources in form of new products and ample advice available on the Internet would make the struggle easier. However with the raging pollution, indisciplined lifestyles and conflicting advice from people, you probably end up confused as to what would really help your case. Usually, the solution to most of our problems lies in our lifestyle. Our work hours, physical activity, sleep hours and food habits determine the functioning of our body and hence inevitably influence the health of our skin. Hence, irrespective of whether you are undergoing medical treatment for your acne, the most natural way to heal your skin is to improve your diet and physical activity and align it with the needs of your skin. Not only will this boost the effectiveness of any medical treatment, but will also improve your overall health.
Diet modification for acne
Acne is a skin disorder resulting from improper keratinization, i.e. the replacement of skin cells. Such improper skin renewal and retained old cells lead to blockage of skin pores and oil glands which in turn, trap sebum under the skin serving as breeding grounds for acne-causing bacteria. Acne is usually caused by the impact of hormonal imbalance, i.e the improper levels of metabolic and sex hormones, on sebaceous glands. As the skin uses vitamins and minerals from your food to renew itself and build new cells, the food consumed makes an impact on your skin health. Though food consumption forms a very small part of the skin renewal process, the foods influencing hormone levels can help control and treat acne indirectly. Hence, a balanced diet and good nutritional habits can go a long way.
More specifically, some foods, which are known to have a high glycaemic index (GI), increase your blood sugar levels drastically, which, in turn, influences levels of hormones like insulin, which again interacts with sex hormones, thus making your acne worse. Hence, people with acne prone skin are advised to maintain a low GI diet, comprising of low-fat foods rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and proteins like salad, cereals, wholegrain bread, fruits and vegetables, red meat, fish, legumes and nuts. Such foods are digested slowly, raising your blood sugar levels gradually, and hence your insulin levels remain undisturbed. Hence your sex hormones do not experience any sudden changes so as to trigger your acne.
Similarly avoiding high-fat, hormone-laden, refined and processed foods is advised as they are high GI foods and tend to raise your blood sugar levels drastically and suddenly, thus making your face break out soon. While proper medical treatments are still the only way to cure severe acne, an improved diet can certainly help improve the effectiveness of the treatment. The best way to know what suits you is to take note of what foods make you break out consistently soon after consuming them and then avoiding such foods as far as possible or at least reducing them to occasional treats at best. For example, some people break out within a day or two of consuming chocolates, sugar or dairy products, hence its best to avoid them even if you’re undergoing clinical treatment.
Here are some nutrients you should try to include in your diet for better acne control:
- Vitamin A – Present in foods like salmon, fish oil, carrots, broccoli and spinach, Vitamin A is one of the most effective ways of regulating your skin renewal and effectively controlling acne at its very root by stopping acne-causing sebum from getting trapped under the skin.
- Vitamin C – Being a strong antioxidant present in lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, and papaya, this vitamin has a calming effect on inflamed skin and promotes the production of essential proteins like collagen and elastin for skin renewal.
- Vitamin E – Another antioxidant present in foods like nuts, sunflower seeds, olive oil, sweet potatoes, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, and avocados, helps in nourishing the skin and promotes faster healing of acne and acne scars
- Water – Helps keep skin hydrated, flush out toxins and is essential for skin renewal and metabolism
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory component found in foods like fish oil, flaxseed oil, cold water fish, sunflower seeds, walnuts and almonds, even researches show that supplements can significantly reduce acne
- Zinc – Found in foods like turkey, Brazil nuts, almonds, and wheat germ, this mineral makes the skin inhospitable for acne-causing bacteria and helps calm inflamed skin.
Exercises for acne
Acne is influenced by factors like your environment, work, stress, skin care, and sleep as much as it is affected by your food. When it comes to physical activity, one has to walk a very thin line to get it right. While some sources say that physical activity is good for reducing acne as it reduces stress, regulates the production of cortisol and releases endorphins, hence reducing your acne, some also argue that exercising can stimulate testosterone production as well as cause excessive sweat, both of which can lead to a surge in acne. While both the perspectives are factually correct, balance is the key to reaping the benefits while avoiding the disadvantages.
Regular exercising can have a detoxifying effect on the body and skin and helps stabilize your hormones by maintaining a healthy weight. When we exercise, a healthy amount of oxygen is delivered to our skin cells, our liver function is encouraged which helps in detoxifying our body and the sweat produced helps in cleansing out our pores of sebum and debris. For people with acne prone skin, gentle workouts like mild cardio, yoga, breathing awareness, pilates, meditation, and Qigong are probably the best options. However, excessively strenuous exercise, can block your pores and irritate the skin due to the sheer amount of sweat and increase in your testosterone levels, hence triggering your acne.
Hence, if you love hitting the gym, its extremely important to stay hydrated, choose pre workout C4 without artificial sweeteners or sucralose, avoid touching your face during a strenuous workout like sets on the pec deck and wash up immediately after a workout session to avoid any sort of blockage of pores or inflammation.
Keep your gym outfits clean and wash them every day. Dirty outfits can cause an acne breakout.
Keeping the above diet and exercise tips in mind will help you improve your acne prone skin slowly but steadily. However, always remember that nothing can be a substitute for proper medical treatment. Hence if you have chronic cystic acne, visit your dermatologist immediately and maintain these diet and exercise routines on the side to help accelerate your healing.
Author : Jessica Smith
Jessica is an avid reader who enjoys getting lost in the world of books. Holding on to her passion for fitness, She Believes that a healthy diet is a key to healthy living.