Nutrition & Skin Acne
Acne is a skin condition characterized by comedones, papules, pustules and nodules. Typically affecting teenagers, the main cause of acne is increasing testosterone levels present in boys and girls during teenage years. However, several other factors, such as stress or an intolerance to cosmetics, can aggravate acne and the condition may persist into the 30s and 40s. Proper nutrition can help to decrease the appearance of acne.
Acne and Sugar
It has long been thought that eating too much chocolate causes acne. Researchers now know that sugar, not chocolate, is to blame and have found a link between high simple carbohydrate diets and acne. Foods high in simple sugars, such as soda and cookies, stimulate insulin which promotes acne formation. A study published by The Seattle Times in November 2007 found that young men (ages 15 to 25) who ate a diet of lean meat, poultry and fish, along with fruits and vegetables had a larger decrease in acne than a similar group who ate a high sugar diet.
Acne and Inflammatory Foods
Decreasing inflammation through nutrition can alleviate severe and inflammatory acne, which is characterized by redness and large cysts (also called nodules). Avoid highly processed, high fat and sugary foods. Cut out saturated and hydrogenated fats including margarine and vegetable shortening and use olive oil instead. According to the Acne Resource Center, foods high in essential fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, also decrease inflammation and dilute sebum which decreases chances of clogged pores. Vegetarians can substitute flax seeds, wheat germ or soybean oil for fish sources.
Acne and Dairy
A study published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology concluded that drinking skim milk aggravates acne. Researchers evaluated more than 4,000 teenage boys and found that hormonal constituents in milk responded like testosterone in the body, thus aggravating acne. Previous studies on teenage girls found the same results. Those who drank less milk had fewer outbreaks of acne. Dairy-free milk options include soy, hemp, oat and rice.
Acne and Zinc Rich Foods
Zinc is an essential mineral with several functions including cell reproduction, hormone regulation and wound healing. It regulates the production of testosterone and decreases hormonally-triggered acne. According to the Mayo Clinic, zinc reduces inflammation associated with acne. Zinc rich foods include lamb and veal, mollusks, wheat germ, cocoa beans and peanuts. Several seeds including squash, pumpkin and sesame are also high in zinc.
Acne and Magnesium
According to the Acne Resource Center, magnesium is a helpful mineral in treating acne. Magnesium regulates the output of adrenal hormones that aggravate acne during stressful times. Magnesium is essential for producing lipids and fatty acids that maintain healthy skin cells. Nutritious food sources of magnesium include green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
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