Acne – a four letter word that most of us feel shouldn’t have ever existed in the dictionary. While we know about acne and have experienced it sometime or the other, it is one skin problem that affects both men and women alike, but it befriends women more often.
More often than not, you find girls trying to sign a no-acne pact with the almighty and end up singing ‘Mirror mirror on the wall, nahi chahiye acne, not at all! several times a month.
Acne decides to barge in at the wrong time, to be honest. You have to head for a party, wedding, or reception, and boom! There’s a pimple knocking on the wall of your skin to pop up and say hello.
Acne is frequently seen within the age group of 12-24 years starting with puberty, but some women may also experience it in their 30s and 40s as well.
With so much being spoken about acne, once you’ve understood what it is, let’s talk about how food can affect your skin, as they say, ‘You are what you eat’. While food isn’t the cause of acne, there are certain foods that could definitely worsen it.
Here’s a list of foods that you must avoid if you have acne prone skin:
- Refined grains, sugars, and eat carbs in moderation
Refined grains and sugars have the capability of raising your blood sugar levels, thereby leading to an increase in the insulin levels that are required to shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream into the cells. Increased levels of insulin can boost the activity of male hormones or androgens and IGF (Insulin-like growth factor) which hastens the sebum production, leading to Acne.
So, avoid (or ensure you eat in moderation): bread, pasta, noodles, cakes, pastries, cereals, sodas, cane-sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc.
Dairy products have a bad rep when it comes to acne. Dairy can cause a rise in the insulin levels that would ultimately increase the severity of acne. Moreover, cow’s milk is known to have hormones and certain amino acids that could lead to an increase in IGF levels thereby aggravating your acne.
So, avoid (or ensure you eat in moderation): milk, curd, cottage cheese, cheese, lassi, and buttermilk.
- Fast Food
Fast foods have been known to be a major cause of acne. Laden with calories, refined carbohydrates, fats and sugars, fast foods can further lead to inflammation and increase the risk of acne.
So, avoid (or ensure you eat in moderation): burgers, pizzas, French fries, hotdogs, nuggets, sausages, sodas, milkshakes, etc.
Studies conducted on certain chocolate consumers showed that people who consume chocolates are at higher risk of suffering from acne. While the main ingredient cocoa isn’t to be blamed, sugar and milk in chocolates could be the topmost contributors of acne. As they say, there are 2 sides to every coin, so while certain foods could worsen your acne, some foods can help clear your skin.
Here’s a list of foods that are good for you if you have acne prone skin:
- High-Fiber Foods
While the exact reason behind high-fiber foods benefiting acne-prone skin isn’t known, individuals who consume a fiber-rich diet have definitely seen a decline in the pimple count. It is said that high-fibre foods can control your blood sugar levels and hence should be added to the diet if you have history with acne.
So, eat: oats, brown rice, daliya, barley, fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
- Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the body and keep acne at bay. In fact, Omega 3 fatty acids can lower the production of 1GF (Insulin-like growth factor), therefore providing much-needed relief from acne.
So, eat: salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines.
- Leafy Green Vegetables
Green vegetables are loaded with nutrients like Vitamin A, C, K, E and B complex vitamins coupled with minerals like iron, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and manganese that can reduce inflammation, keep your blood sugar levels in check and provide an antioxidant-rich glow to your skin. Say bye-bye to acne by adding green leafy veggies to the diet. Hurray!
So, eat: broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, etc.
- Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of Vitamin E, selenium, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Individuals who suffer from acne usually have low levels of Selenium and Vitamin E in their diets and hence adding a handful of these to your daily routine can work wonders. Protect your skin from damage and infections within no time!
So, eat: almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Berries don’t just look beautiful; berries are loaded with skin-healthy nutrients. Loaded with antioxidants like Vitamin C and fiber, berries can regulate insulin production and keep your blood sugar levels in check owing to lower glycemic count.
So, eat: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mulberries and so on.
In a nutshell, here’s what you need to know:
- Drink at least 12-15 glasses of water every day for glowing skin
- Opt for complex carbohydrates (oats, barley, brown rice, fresh fruits, and veggies) rather than simple carbohydrates
- Consume fresh fruits rather than canned ones
- Add Omega 3 rich foods to the diet (almonds, walnuts, fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds)
- Keep your sugar and salt intake in check
- Try and keep stress at bay – meditate!
- Go slow on the consumption of dairy
- Get enough sleep – 7 to 8 hours
- Sweat it out in the gym – working out can do wonders
- Don’t pop pimples and avoid touching your face
- Say no to refined flour (maida) products
- Avoid outside food, packaged and fried foods
- Minimize screen time as phones and laptops emit radiations that aren’t good for the skin
By Huda Shaikh