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Western Diets and Acne Problems

The relationship between a person’s diet and acne has been the cause of arguments among skin experts for a long time now. It is only recently that more plausible theories are in place to describe how diet (or in other words, the food we eat) can affect our skin. The most widely accepted view is that while our diet does not directly cause acne, the chemicals we ingest with the food we eat can be the culprits in causing acne breakouts or aggravating existing breakouts.

Acne is in fact caused by clogged hair follicles on the skin. This clogging is the result of the production of excessive sebum by the body, which in turn blocks the pores of the skin. When dead skin cells mix with the wall of a blocked hair follicle, the sebum closes off the pore, giving bacteria a place to thrive. This, then, results in inflammation and infection which is what we know as acne.

Recent studies by skin experts show that people consuming western-style diets, which typically have a high-fat content and include dairy products, have a higher incidence of acne, compared to people whose diets are mostly composed of fruits and vegetables and have a low-fat yet high-starch content. While it is possible that other western-type lifestyle factors can also contribute to the rate of acne experienced, there is no denying that diet plays a significant part in health generally, including the health of our skin.

This is one reason why people with acne are advised to increase their intake of plant-based, fiber-rich food that can assist in avoiding skin disorders. Adding a lot of fruit to one’s diet provides the body with helpful antioxidants that can help rid skin of acne. It is also advisable to drink lots of water to flush toxins from the body, and avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. Some people may find that certain foods can trigger or aggravate breakouts in their skin, although this will usually be due primarily to individual sensitivities. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle helps maintain a healthy body and healthy skin. And, if you do find you are prone to breakouts following eating or drinking certain things, simply avoid them or moderate your intake to limit their effects.

Years of research has also discovered that the average western diet, (based on American-style consumption) lacks vitamins A, C, E, as well as the mineral zinc. Vitamin A, although more popularly known as retinol, promotes healthy vision. It also contains properties that aid in the prevention and healing of skin infections. Thus, forms of vitamin A (which may go by names such as Retin-A or Tretinoin), are an ingredient present in many acne care products. Carrots, spinach, and fruits like apricots, mangoes, oranges, and mangoes are good sources of Vitamin A, and can provide a more natural source of this beneficial vitamin for the body.

Vitamin C is known for its ability to boost the body’s immune system, and for its infection-fighting properties. It is therefore also one of the key ingredients to include in a diet designed to prevent and/or clear skin conditions such as acne. Vitamin C is also responsible for helping to generate collagen in the body. Collagen has a long-standing reputation of improving skin condition, and is claimed to assist in removing acne scars. Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body for a very long time, however, and needs to be replenished. Excellent sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries; and kiwi fruit, although sufficient levels will be obtained from a diet containing a good variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties that help skin recover from stress, and in particular, acne scarring. It also regulates retinol level in humans which helps maintain healthier skin generally. Almonds, corn, eggs, and other green, leafy vegetables are good dietary sources of Vitamin E.

The mineral Zinc has been said to have a major role in acne prevention as much as it is also able to help support a healthy immune system for the body. Sources of zinc include oysters, beans, red meat, and poultry.

It is possible to take supplements of any of these basic vitamins, and zinc, either alone or in a comined multi-vitamin in tablet form, although this form of supplementation will only assist if your diet is truly lacking in these nutrients.

If you suspect that your diet is contributing to poor skin health, it is worthwhile considering a switch – not only will it help your skin, the rest of your body will benefit too!

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