diet and acne

Skin health is strongly tied to diet and it is worth noting that all over the world those pockets of traditional indigenous cultures with low to no saturated fats and no refined sugars rarely experience acne or skin-impacting inflammatory conditions – but once they adopt a Western diet that all changes.

So saturated fats increase arachidonic acid levels that trigger inflammation and acne outbreak directly. Milk and dairy products contain hormones that do likewise, while sugar and sweet foods raises insulin levels that impacts upon inflammation and also can disrupt hormonal balance – particularly the production of testosterone in women. nutritional deficiencies in zinc, magnesium, selenium, omega-3 fats, chromium and the b-vitamin group slows the body’s natural anti-inflammatory responses – the same nutrients that have mood regulating properties to combat the psychological side of acne.

The gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) from borage oil not only inhibits the conversion of arachidonic acid but borage is considered a vibrational antidepressant – GLA also balances mood and hormones. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fish oil is also very effective for similar reasons.

Antioxidant levels and quantities of vitamins A and E are general found to be quite low in acne sufferers. Fruits and vegetables are a brilliant way to increase those stocks – but apart from antioxidants found in the pigments that colour bright fruit and veg, those same beetroots, bell peppers, red lettuce and carrots etc also contain anti-inflammatory compounds – so even less acne outbreak. The bonus of a little olive oil over the salad of bell peppers and carrots draws out their oil soluble nutrients, replenishes those good dietary fats and also tops up those a and e vitamins.

In terms of hormonal fluxes – diet does influences hormone levels particularly testosterone, estrogen and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone) via foods that naturally promote their production and foods such as fats and dairy that mimic their action or introduce disruption – but perhaps the biggest factor affecting human hormones is the glycemic load of your daily diet – this entails just how quickly the food you ingest is released into the bloodstream as blood sugar and how that impacts on your insulin levels and there after that chain reaction to acne outbreak. I suggest you investigate a GI/GL-diet or take up more exercise to improve insulin function.

home treat-ment

Love not war bath salts (lavender and Epsom salts) – Acne can be an emotional journey, puberty and hormonal fluxes which contribute to acne can be an emotional rollercoaster ride and the two combined can be seriously stressful. The shocking thing- the catch 22 of it – is that stress aggravates acne flare-ups and acne flare-ups increase stress levels. Worry alone can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, anxiety raising unhelpful cortisol in the blood stream while simultaneous depleting reserves of zinc, selenium and magnesium – the very minerals that help us fight acne. So loving yourself with a pampering lavender and Epsom salt bath can calm the stress levels and also introduce back some of those depleted minerals and other nutrients as well as phytochemicals to collectively calm outbreak too. Win Win!!


• 2 cup Epsom salts
• 1 cup baking soda
• ½ cup sea salt
• ½ cup lavender flowers (supplement with extra essential oil if intended for use with wounds)
• 21 drops of essential oil of lavender

You will also need
• A zip-lock or re-sealable freezer bag
• A sheet of baking parchment / wax paper
• A mason jar or other container

Method: Add all dry ingredients into a bag – seal and shake well. Add 7 drops of essential oil, seal and shake – repeat 3 times. Spread the salts out onto wax paper/ baking sheet and allow to air dry for approximately 1 hour – stir about midway. Store in airtight containers. Utilize as required.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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