Diet and acne is such a complicated issue! Complicated because there is so much theory out there as to how and why what we eat is related to how much acne we get. I want to make a very important note right here.
The most important thing is that you do not stress about what you eat.
I’ve become concerned by a growing pattern of eating disorders in women who are eating for their skin. So if you are feeling any emotions of guilt, anxiety or shame for what you’re putting into your body, then hopefully this information will clear a few things up for you so that you can start enjoying your food again.
The relationship between food and acne
What we eat and how our skin responds is not as black and white as we think. There seem to be three main problems:
- Many people on the Internet claim to have found the “answer” when really they tried something that worked for their unique body and constitution, so it won’t necessarily work for you. This can be confusing!
- If we have an underlying “condition” that is causing us acne, then eating the wrong foods can sometimes make this problem worse. We can then believe that the food is giving us acne, when it’s not quite the case. Fix the root problem and you can likely eat that food again without experiencing a breakout.
- If you truly believe that a food is going to give you acne then it probably will.
Let’s look at each one, and then we’ll look at some diet suggestions.
Don’t follow someone else’s “diet”, eat intuitively
Diet is a dirty word, it creates stress and restriction and let’s be honest, being on a diet is never a fun thing. It’s also very important to understand that there is no one diet that will work for everyone, especially when it comes to healing the skin.
My advice to you is to stick to an organic, wholefoods diet with as much variety as possible. Choose foods that you love and enjoy! Eat it raw or cook it … it doesn’t matter if you’re eating fresh, lovely whole organic foods. Want to step it up? Then you can start adding things in from there.
When there are exceptions
It’s rare, but sometimes serious food allergies can cause acne. If you feel this is you then get some allergy testing done. There are many types of allergy testing and keep in mind that sometimes your body is sensitive to a food that it will eventually grow out of, or the sensitivity is only mild. Blood testing picks up the big allergies while kineseology testing can pick up every minor little reaction. Avoid the big ones and you’ll be okay. When it comes to your acne the minor allergies are very unlikely to be the direct cause of your acne.
Sugars and simple carbohydrates (the big one)
If you have an excess of androgens, androgen sensitivity or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), then your acne will likely improve considerably with a reduction of the sugars and simple carbohydrates in your diet.
The link between these foods and acne is actually quite simple. The digestion of sugars and simple carbohydrates can lead to a rapid increase in insulin and the insulin like growth factor (IGF-1). This is even more the case for those of us who typically have a fast metabolism OR insulin resistance (insulin resistance occurs when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin and unable to use it as effectively). Raised levels of IGF-1 can lead to raised levels of androgens – which is one of the leading causes of acne. If we have too high levels of androgens then our skin can produce way too much sebum, which then of course can get clogged in the skin as whiteheads and blackheads and create the beginning of acne inflammations.
You can get saliva testing done to see if you do have elevated levels of androgens, or you could simple try reducing the amount of sugars and simple carbohydrates you consume (which to be honset is a great thing for everyone to do anyway for our health and well being!). If you do get testing done just keep in mind that you can still have androgen sensitivity even if your levels come back normal.
What are simple carbohydrates?
There are two types of simple carbohydrates: monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides consist of only one sugar, and Disaccharides consist of two chemically linked monosaccharides.
Simple carbohydrates include most sugars and we already know to reduce those. Other examples include white flours and milk. This is the main reason why a lot of acne information advises to cut or reduce milk, because of the lactose sugars it contains.
While foods like honey, fruits and some vegetables are classed as simple carbohydrates, they also contain many wonderful vitamins and minerals so we actually want to keep them in our diet in moderation. The simple carbohydrates that we want to reduce as much as we can include those that provide us with very little to no nutritional value, such as processed table sugars and white flours.
Remember reducing simple carbohydrates also includes all foods that contains these whole ingredients, for example breads, cakes etc.
If you want to get serious about reducing your sugar intake for a while then I recommend using yacón syrup and natural stevia leaves (if you can get dried leaves that’s ideal) as alternative sweeteners. You can also use xylitol if it’s made from birch, not corn. You can read more about sugar alternatives in this blog post – What Are The Best Sweeteners To Use On A Low Sugar Diet?
What does eating intuitively mean?
Eating for the skin is all about eating intuitively. It’s a combination of learning what is good for your body and what is good for your emotional health. The basic principles of eating intuitively include:
- Eat foods that make you feel physically good! Once you start “tuning in” to everything you eat then you’ll quickly learn what foods make you feel good and what foods don’t. It’ll then make it really easy to stick with eating just the “good feeling foods”.
- Put positive intentions and affirmations into what you eat – don’t put something into your body that you’re feeling crummy about. However usually it’s not about your food, it’s about your mindset. More about that later.
Is an underlying condition making your skin more sensitive to foods?
There can be an underlying condition that makes us more reactive or sensitive to foods that we eat. Hormonal imbalances such as high levels of androgens, progesterone or cortisol and insulin resistance are the big ones. In addition we can also have a liver that is quite toxic or be way too stimulated or stressed.
If you’re finding a high sensitivity to foods then once you apply the treatment techniques from this website you’ll likely find some relief and therefore be able to have a lot more leeway with what you eat.
One example is if you have raised cortisol levels (the stress hormone) then consuming stimulants like coffee, black tea or even chocolate could contribute to raising these levels a little more and then making the root problem of your acne worse. Once your cortisol levels are back to a normal range, then it’s likely you’ll be able to enjoy coffee (in moderation) without experiencing so much of a trigger to your stress levels or your acne.
If you truly believe that a food is going to give you acne then it probably will
Mindset is huge. We’re powerfully creative beings that can in fact create whatever we want. But our subconscious often gets in the way so it’s much easier to create acne (because often we actually believe deep down for it to be true) than to clear it.
What you believe and what you think about what you’re eating is hugely important. If you’re about to put food into your mouth that you really believe is going to give you acne or potentially will give you acne then just don’t eat it. Work on shifting your belief patterns to instead consciously and unconsciously believe that that food will instead nurture your heart, mind and soul to create more peace and joy in your life. Before you eat a food set this intention, add this vibration into your food. If there is any doubt then work on it! The idea is not to go without or to eat less, the idea it to feel really great about what we’re eating, no matter what you choose to eat.
I have a health background and promote organic whole foods, but that is my decision. Decide what you would like in your diet for yourself and don’t let anybody else judge you for it. But especially – make sure that you don’t judge yourself.
Gut & Digestive Health
Have you ever been to a natural therapist who has told you that you need to work on your gut or digestive health? The problem with being told this is that most of us don’t really understand how it relates to our acne and how making our digestive system healthier will make our skin clearer too. Without this motivate we’re unlikely to stick to a digestive health treatment plan. Part of my intention with this website is to empower you with the knowledge to understand exactly how each part of your body is related to your acne. And my hope is with this knowledge you’ll then have the motivation to stick with a plan to get clear.
How our gut and digestive health is related to our acne
The deeper you get into understanding this work the more you realise that every part of our body is intricately linked. When we look at one area of our system, then often it’s linked to another. Our gut and digestive health is one great example because it’s so closely linked to our hormones and therefore the acne we’re working towards healing.
When we have an imbalance in our gut and digestive system, such as an overgrowth of Candida, parasites, bad bacteria or fungi, then we can produce excess levels of the enzyme beta-glucuronidase. This enzyme has the ability to prevent the excretion of estrogens that are ready for elimination, so that they reabsorb back into the body. The result is either too much estrogen and/or a build up of toxic bad estrogens. Read more about bad estrogens in the Balance Your Estrogen section of this website.
How to improve your gut and digestive health
Adding more raw foods to your diet will help to add in more natural digestive enzymes to your system. Also consider taking a good quality plant based digestive enzyme supplement.
Adding in top quality probiotics are also always a great idea. If you can afford it go top shelf and opt for the best quality probiotic you can find. When it comes to probiotics better quality does make a big difference.
Ensuring your have adequate levels of stomach acid is one of the best ways to improve your digestive health. Having enough stomach acid will help your body to better digest food and absorb minerals, and therefore function at a much more optimal level. This article explains why stomach acid is so important. It also includes how to do a simple at home test to see if you are low, and how to naturally increase your stomach acid levels – The Acid Test.
If you would like to learn more, I recommend this book: Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You
You an also talk to your health store or a natural therapist about going on a gut cleanse program. If however from reading this website you are already making significant changes to your diet, then I recommend you hold off on a gut cleansing program for about three months to allow for your new diet changes to assimilate into your new lifestyle and body. We want to keep things gentle and simple!
I have seen the worst cases of eating disorders from Candida diets for the skin. In my personal opinion Candida diets are one of the most difficult and most intense diets to be on if done properly. Remember that we naturally and healthily all have Candida in our system, it’s just when it becomes an overgrowth that it becomes unhealthy. Before you launch yourself into a Candida diet try instead sticking to a low sugar and low simple carbohydrate diet (which is the recommendation for healing the skin anyway), and see if that works. If you have tried everything and your skin is still breaking out, then look into deepening your digestive and gut healing with the potential of a Candida cleanse.
The Anti-Androgen Detox
After consulting with many, many women who needed to go on a temporary anti-androgen detox, I decided to create this easy to follow guide. This detox is the best way to eat for clearing acne, and I recommend it to all women who are going on their clear skin journey.
The detox is only six weeks because that is enough time to monitor how your skin responds to this way of eating. After the six week period is up, you can then begin to add in foods one-by-one that you took out, to further monitor how your skin responds.
You can do this diet eating meat or as a vegetarian or vegan. My personal long term diet is the vegetarian version of this detox, with moderation. When I first begin eating like this I thought that perhaps it would only be for about one month, but after the month I felt so good and my skin looked so good that I stayed on it indefinitely!!
You can get your copy of the anti-androgen detox by clicking here.