Earlier this month I had a dear friend contact me about adult acne. She saw an article I wrote about adult acne and she wanted some more advice on how to get rid of hers.
She wanted advice on two areas. What are the best food to eat, and how does stress play a role in acne.
Let’s start with how acne shows up on our skin. Then I will give a few suggestions how foods can help and why stress makes it worse.
Under normal conditions the skin cells produce oil called sebum that is used to lubricate the hair and your skin. When your skin cells begin to produce too much of the oil, it can mix with the dead skin cells, block the hair follicle and cause inflammation and comedones, or acne, to occur. The build up of sebum makes acne considered an inflammatory condition.
Eating foods that are considered anti-inflammatory supports healthy skin. This would include a whole food diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains like (brown rice, oats), cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, herring), beans, nuts and seeds.
A Mediterranean diet can be extremely healthy. It is also beneficial to include foods that are rich in zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids. Not surprisingly, all of these vitamins and minerals can easily fit into a Mediterranean diet.
Zinc can be found in seafood, whole grains, beans, dairy products, nuts and seeds. Vitamin A is found in many orange-colored foods like sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe, as well as spinach, and dairy products. Vitamin E is plentiful in green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, nuts and seeds. Finally, Omega-3s are found in cold water fish, flax seeds, pumpkins seeds and walnuts.
We don’t yet understand the exact process of how high stress makes acne worse. We are learning more about how stress can worsen an acne outbreak that is already in process.
What we do know is that the skin cells that produce sebum, which contributes to acne have receptors for stress hormones on them as well. During stressful events, the stress receptors on the skin cells are stimulated to produce extra amounts of sebum.