Acne doesn’t save itself for teenagers, it plagues adults too with women baring the brunt of it. According to the NHS more than 80 percent of cases of adult acne occur in women.
In its simplest understanding, acne presents itself when hair follicles in the skin become blocked. Naturally the products you use on your skin, and your methods for keeping it clean, are hugely important when it comes to tackling the condition. But, as anyone who has witnessed the result of a period of binging can attest, what you eat impacts how your skin looks.
Fixing your diet isn’t a cure-all, there are plenty of factors that contribute to acne and breakouts – smoking is a major no-no if you want great skin – but, in a multi-pronged approach to treating acne, nutrition plays an important role.
Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston – who sees her patients out of her Harley Street and Croydon clinics – tells us what we should be eating, when we should be eating it, and what foods we should avoid if we want to rid our skin of acne for good.
Missing breakfast and allowing long periods in between meals can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels which can impact your insulin production and lead to inflammation, oily skin and unsightly blocked pores – all precursors of breakouts and acne. ‘Missing meals, especially breakfast can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to blood sugar highs and lows,’ Bishop-Weston explains. ‘Your body then has to use insulin to regulate the sugar.’
Your morning caffeine fix might not be helping the situation either. ‘Stimulants such as caffeine may also trigger the release of stress hormones and lead to inflammatory blood sugar spikes. Have breakfast within an hour of waking and then space meals and snacks to be about 4-hours apart where possible. This helps to avoid the lows which can lead to cravings for fast-release carbs and stimulants,’ she explains.
Don’t just cleanse your face, you need to cleanse your insides too
It’s far from glamorous but keep your body’s internal workings running as smoothly and cleanly as possible and you’ll see the results in your skin and frequency of breakouts. Bishop-Weston tells us, ‘If we clog up our bodies on the inside we’re more likely to use the skin as a detox channel reducing skin quality. Ensure cleansing daily bowel movements by having 1.5 litres of filtered water a day, seven handfuls of vegetables and two of fruit, plus whole-grain carbohydrates, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds, especially chia and ground flax seeds.’ So eating a balanced diet with protein and fibre (to ensure regular loo visits) is essential if you want to kick your acne to the curb. Bishop-Weston also recommends taking a probiotic supplement, ‘beneficial gut bacteria are needed for bowel cleansing and hormone excretion.’
Feed Your Hormones
Keeping your hormones in check can help to minimise your monthly outburst of spots. ‘Eat slightly steamed cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale to balance your hormones,’ says Bishop Weston. Steaming your vegetables only ever so slightly preserves the natural nutrients and vitamins found in the them that you would otherwise sacrifice if you boil them thoroughly. ‘Additionally,’ continues Bishop Weston, ‘top up on colourful vegetables and fruits to supply your cells with protecting antioxidants. Food in oranges, reds, and purples are particularly protective.’
To make life super easy, Bishop-Weston has devised an easy-to-follow guide on what to eat and what to avoid. Just print and shop.