FALLBROOK – Graduation is right around the corner and teenagers will be faced with the added stress of achieving physical perfection. However for many, feeling beautiful or handsome in their caps and gowns will face one major obstacle – acne. Skin blemishes affect the majority of adolescents, and can be a major source of embarrassment. But it isn’t just teens who are troubled by this matter, one in five American adults suffer from acne as well.
People spend a lot of time and money to try and solve their acne problem – over the counter creams, lotions, washes, trips to the dermatologist and prescriptions. However, during this process, the cause of the inflammatory bacterial condition of the skin (known as acne vulgaris) is often overlooked.
“Guidelines of Care for Acne Vulgaris Management,” put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, outlines systematic protocols and a provisional roadmap for treatment, steering doctors towards many harmful prescription medications. It’s a rare instance for a dermatologist to stray from these guidelines, referring to the diet to address the cause.
One of the common acne medications, known as Accutane, has dangerous side effects which a doctor should warn about.
Acne is primarily a disease of the western world and can respond well to natural treatment. Unhealthy cultural dietary habits mixed with exposure to toxic environmental elements contribute to not only diseases and obesity, but bacterial skin conditions as well.
The average American’s diet contains high amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates. These products can lead to insulin spikes which activate growth hormones. Growth hormones (most commonly testosterone) can trigger sebum (skin oil) production that the glands cannot secrete fast enough. This leads to blockages in the hair follicle and thus acne.
Dietary recommendations for acne
• Avoid sugar and refined foods: In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, young men with acne problems placed on low-glycemic diets for 12 weeks, showed significant improvements in acne and insulin sensitivity.
• Avoid dairy products: William Danby, MD, a skin expert who promotes the possible dairy-acne connection, explains that the two may be related. “Milk contains components related to the hormone testosterone that may stimulate oil glands in the skin, setting the stage for acne.” For those worried about losing a source of vitamin D and calcium, don’t worry. One can easily get more usable calcium from eating leafy greens like spinach, kale or broccoli, and almonds!
• Drink plenty of water: Drink one quart of clean filtered water per 50 lbs of body weight, not to exceed three quarts. Reverse osmosis filtered water is best. To remember to drink enough water throughout the day, always try and carry a water bottle.
• Know your vitamin D level: Without adequate vitamin D, a body cannot control infection, in the skin or elsewhere. On sunny days, one should get outside to expose their arms and legs to some sunshine. Supplementation with 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day can easily increase Vitamin D levels. Of course, it’s always best to test one’s vitamin D levels to know exactly how much they need to supplement.
• Take a probiotic: Levels of naturally occurring, healthy bacteria can be reduced in the body by stress, poor diets, and some medications. Recent research discovered that probiotics may reduce the number of acne lesions. A 2001 study found that administering 250 mg daily of L. acidophilus and B. bifidum improved acne and also reduced the side effects of antibiotics. The theory behind this treatment is that probiotics reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, two important causes of acne.
• Take a good Omega 3/6/9 Fish Oil (EPA/DHA/GLA): High levels of testosterone can also cause acne. GLA (borage oil) provides high-intensity support for hormonal balance and healthy skin. Skin is the largest organ in the human body and is often the first visual indicator of an essential fatty acid deficiency. EPA and DHA – the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil – and GLA – the essential fatty acid found in borage oil and evening primrose oil—are crucial nutrients for skin health and function. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) reside in the membranes that surround skin cells, where they regulate a large number of cellular processes that directly impact skin health.
There may be many other imbalances within one’s body chemistry or an underlying problem with their liver contributing to acne symptoms.
According to article author Debi Foli, it all starts with the Symptom Survey at straightnutrition.com/tools/symptom-survey or call (888) 820-7374. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and contains the opinion of the writer. One’s individual health status and any required healthcare treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of one’s choice.