We’ve all done it: overdosed on movie theater popcorn or pizza and woken up the next morning feeling bloated but what you don’t realize is that a sprinkling of pimples a few weeks later can be traced back to your onetime indiscretion.
Now, armed with new research on the biochemical processes of digestion, scientists, clinicians, and dermatologists are revisiting the idea that a healthy diet is the key to a glowing, acne-free complexion. Save face by eating right. Here, experts tell us what foods to eat for a flawless visage.Be IN THE CLEAR:
Move over, MILK: the mix of growth hormones, proteins, and testosterone precursors like 5-alpha-androstanedione – the stuff that makes it an effective growth agent for babies – can tamper with adults’ hormone levels, which critics argue leads to acne and health problems like diabetes. The reason? Milk bumps up cell proliferation and sebum production, resulting in clogged pores. If you’re acne prone, Danby advises avoiding milk for at least six months, and trying unsweetened vitamin D – supplemented almond, rice, coconut, hemp or soy milks instead. I prefer a mix of almond & coconut with granola/ cereal.
Skip Starchy Carbs: Refined carbs increase insulin secretion, which is thought to promote acne by helping testosterone clog pores and ramp up oil gland secretion. An occasional croissant won’t hurt, but eat processed carbs daily and you’ll notice problems. So swap your lunchtime sandwich for a leafy green and lean protein.
Fill up on Fruit: Experts say that acne is a disease of post-industrial Westerners: In countries where natives eat just fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean proteins, it hardly exists, thanks in part to the population’s low levels of free radicals and high concentrations of antioxidants. We’ve heard about the connection between free radicals and wrinkles, but a 2012 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that oxidative stress, or damaging cellular activity, in pores allows acne-causing bacteria to flourish. When cravings hit, try eating produce and drink green tea for its free-radical busting polyphenols.
Go with your Gut: Your skin and digestive tract are linked, says cardiologist and cleanse expert Dr. Alejandro Junger, author of the best-selling book Clean; your facial skin merges with your lips and mouth, which connect the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. “If you want beautiful skin,” says Junger, “you need a beautiful gut.” Take a probiotic daily to replenish healthy bacteria, like Lactobacillus acidophilus, or add natural sources, like tempeh, into your diet.
Get Fishy: The heart and brain health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acid DHA found in salmon, haddock, and sardines have gotten lots of attention. But according to a study published in the journal of Lipids in Health and Disease, another fatty acid, EPA, seems to inhibit pro-inflammatory compounds, like prostaglandins, which can act as a “starter gun” for acne. Aim for 6 ounces of fish a week, says naturopathic physician Dr. Alan Logan, co-author of Clear Skin Diet.
Credit: Joanne Chen for Marie Claire Beauty