4 steps to beating acne!
Updated: Jan 28
Pimples can cause immense stress and insecurity in teens already struggling with self-esteem. 85% of Australians are affected and 50% of these will continue to battle acne in adulthood; the toll is both physical and emotional, often during the most vulnerable years of life. Furthermore, the kinds of nutrient deficiencies often present in accute skin conditions can themselves be a source of mood swings, depression and anxiety.
Alarmingly, both the oral contraceptive pill, and synthetic vitamin A treatments such as accutane, may further hinder the very biochemical pathways in the body that support both mood and skin health by causing oxidative stress and key nutrient deficiencies. It's no wonder that many people are looking for more natural treatments that seek to address the underlying causes of the condition.
4 steps to achieving great skin
1. Determine key nutritional deficiencies.
Deficiencies can occur as a result of diet, genetics, or drug interactions. Teenage boys are often low in zinc for various reasons. Further nutrient deficiencies common in Australia that may compromise skin health include other key minerals, vitamin D, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Functional testing and dietary analysis may help identify the main issues for you. Consult a professional nutritionist to determine which supplements may be useful and the form best absorbed.
2. Address your anti-oxidant status.
Everyone is talking about antioxidants these days, but they truly are a lifesaver for your skin. Oxidative stress damages the cells in our bodies, including skin cells, and is caused by poor diets, environmental pollutants, and emotional stress. Anti-oxidant rich foods that help your skin heal include fresh/raw vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes. Foods that increase oxidative stress include refined sugar, fructose, processed foods, transfats and synthetic food additives. Some people are genetically more prone to oxidative stress than others. Powerful nutraceutical anti-oxidant supplements are available from qualified health professionals and may reduce the systemic inflammation associated with accute skin conditions.
3. Support your gut health
Do you suffer from bloating, flatulence, fluctuating stool quality? Have you taken any courses of antibiotics? Studies show that probiotics play a key role in the health and integrity of our skin. These are the good little organisms that live in our intestines; their numbers can be compromised by a western diet and lifestyle, antibiotic therapy, and chlorine rich water supplies. Unless you eat lots of fermented foods, chances are you may benefit from a good quality probiotic supplement with the right strains of bacteria.
4. Keep your fluids pure
Dehydration is lethal for skin health; make sure you are drinking enough - about 1.8 to 3 litres daily, depending on your individual needs. But what about the quality of the fluids you drink? Sugary drinks, soft drinks, cordials, and refined fruit juices are not beneficial for purifying the body and can increase the strain on the kidneys and liver to detoxify the pollutants that are part of daily life. Caffeinated drinks, which can increase urine output, may actually increase dehydration so should not be counted as part of your daily fluid intake. Herbal teas may be more hydrating. Purified water is best. Go for dechlorinated filtered water.
Always consult a health professional before taking supplements for specific conditions. They can assess your diet and nutrient status to determine which ones are right for you, as well as advise on formulas that are most effective and absorbable. While the science behind nutraceutical development is burgeoning at present, the market is flooded with poor quality products that are ineffective at best and harmful at worst.
Deborah Smart is a Clinical Nutritionist at the Narangba Valley Medical Centre, northern Brisbane.
Book an appointment at Smart NutriMed