Recently, I’ve been sharing my story, regarding hormonal acne. I’ve broken it down, into parts, because healing acne doesn’t just come from one area - it’s a process, that takes healing (and time), in multiple areas. Today, I’m discussing healing acne from within - the primary and secondary foods we feed ourselves, and why each is essential.
** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, or diet. These opinions are my own. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you.
Healing from within is critical in managing your acne; it deals with the food we feed our bodies, as well as the thoughts we feed them. They both are essential.
In a previous post, I discussed the importance of self-care, and focusing on Primary Foods. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition describes nutrition as a secondary source of energy (secondary food). Primary foods, nonfood sources of nourishment, are what really fuels us. These nurture us on a deeper level. The more we fuel ourselves with these primary foods, the less we begin to depend on secondary food. At the same time, the more we fill ourselves with secondary food, the less space we give ourselves for primary food. These primary foods include: Career, Relationships, Physical Activity and Spirituality.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “How does something like my career affect my acne?” But the matter of the fact is that it does; each aspect of your mental health is JUST as essential in keeping your hormones balanced. Stress causes raised levels of cortisol, which can cause excess oil production, which then results in acne.
Last late-summer (when my acne flared up again), I was applying for a promotion at my job, and was really stressed about it. I was in countless, online interviews that (looking back on them now) were blown WAY out of proportion. It was during this time, my face started to flare up. I stressed myself out, and didn’t have an elimination plan for all of that cortisol.
Speaking of cortisol, circulation (and the flushing of it) is essential to glowing, gorgeous skin. This means that moving your body, as well as getting it on, is just as important for your face, as they are for your body.
The best way to give yourself a stress hormone detox is by having a burst of sweaty exercise, or even a really good orgasm!
** Check out My Q-Life’s “Essentials”, which, when met, can cause true balance, in the body.
Pathways of Elimination
Our skin is our biggest organ of elimination, working with the liver, lymphatic system, and large intestine. These organs all act as one unit. What you put into your body – the food you eat, the products you use on your skin and hair, the cleaning substances you handle – must be eliminated properly, if not, then these chemicals that mimic estrogen will stay in your body circulating around. If all of your elimination organs are not working optimally, then your skin will suffer. The leftover, circulating toxins will show up on your face as acne. A buildup of toxins will cause hormonal imbalance. The excess hormones (estrogen and testosterone) will also be prevented from leaving the body properly and cause you to have all the hormonal symptoms – from acne to PMS (Foods to Avoid If You Get Hormonal Acne).
So, how do we rid our bodies of these toxins, so they don’t have an effect on our skin (or other areas)? We focus on each organ of elimination.
Liver: Consume foods that naturally help the liver detoxify. These include: good-quality protein (amino acids supplementation if you’re vegan), glutathione (broccoli, spinach, apples), selenium (poultry, oats, brazil nuts) and cilantro!
Large Intestine: Consume plenty of fiber, which works to clear out your large intestine. Barley, nuts, lentils, beans, apples, etc. are great options!
Lymphatic System: Find ways, each day, to gently-massage your lymph, so the fluid can be pushed through your lymph nodes. Use a rebounder (small trampoline), wear underwear with a cotton liner, minimize use of shapewear, etc.)
Skin: Take trips to steam rooms, or saunas, or think about a hot yoga sesh. When taking a shower, alternate between warm and very cold water, to expand and contract skin cells. Exfoliate a few times a week.
I purchased the book, “Liver Rescue” by Anthony William (Medical Medium). His take on acne is that it is caused by strep, which has been fueled by antibiotic-use, which has a severe effect on the liver. The more weakened our immune systems get, the harder it is to drain our lymphatic system, so it turns to the skin. Thus, healing our livers is essential in healing our acne; (I’ll get to this later).
Foods To Avoid
Remember when I discuss “bio-individuality” at the beginning of this post? This section has a lot to do with that. While each food affects each person differently, there definitely are certain foods that aren’t great for hormonal acne:
Dairy: Dairy products are notorious for creating sluggish lymphatic systems, as well as including synthetic hormones. It’s a huge inflammatory agent, creating leaky gut.
Caffeine: Coffee, black and green teas can strip us of our B Vitamins, Magnesium, and Zinc (just like hormonal birth control), which disrupts our skin’s immune response.
Peanuts: Many people are allergic to peanuts, and this can have effects on the skin, as well.
Soy: the phytoestrogens in soy can create estrogen overload in the body.
Canola, Safflower, Sunflower, Vegetable Oils: these cooking oils have more omega-6 than omega-3 and produces inflammation.
Gluten: Gluten (similar to dairy) can create inflammation in the body, causing leaky gut.
Am I telling you to eliminate all of these foods from your diet? Not exactly. However, if you suffer from hormonal acne, and DO consume these on a frequent basis, I’d absolutely consider taking them out of your diet, for a while. It’s amazing the havoc certain foods can have on our bodies.
And speaking of elimination, sometimes the only way in figuring out which certain foods affect us, negatively, is to go without them, for a period of time, and then gradually incorporate them back in (one at a time). It only lasts 5–6 weeks and may alleviate symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.
Once you have successfully identified a food your body can't tolerate well, you can remove it from your diet to prevent any uncomfortable symptoms in the future.
Supplements are a tricky topic, for a few different reasons: 1. There literally are thousands of them and 2. They all work differently, for everyone. Do I believe supplements help acne? Yes. Do I believe we should focus on getting them from our food, primarily? Absolutely!
Magnesium. Magnesium is an important nutrient for fighting inflammation (acne is inflammatory). Calcium is part of the body’s tissue matrix—comprising bones, cells, and skin—and is important for skin cell renewal. Taking magnesium with calcium combined in supplement form can reduce inflammation and acne.
Omega-3s. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from fish or flax oil can improve skin significantly. . With fish oil, many women see clearer, softer, smoother skin (as well as stronger hair and nails)in just a few days.
Zinc. Zinc deficiency is a common issue for many women. When we’re deficient in zinc, our pores become easily irritated by bacteria and show redness. Research has shown that zinc supplementation can be very effective in easing acne even when compared to commonly prescribed antibiotics.
Probiotics. We need probiotics for a healthy gut. A common symptom of a damaged and depleted microbiome is acne and other skin issues like rosacea. It’s particularly important with hormonal acne as your microbiome assists your body in processing and eliminating excess estrogen. If you’ve been on the pill or antibiotics for any length of time, probiotics could be key to getting your skin back on track.
B Vitamins. Your skin needs B-vitamins to regenerate and renew as they provide the energy all of your cells need for fuel. Taking a good B-complex every day that includes a high level of B6 will target hormonal or premenstrual acne. B6 prevents skin inflammation and overproduction of sebum (the oil your skin produces that can create acne issues). (Banish Hormonal Acne…)
Now, again, please keep the idea of “bio-individuality” in mind here; I’m just sharing MY experiences, as a reminder of how important trial and error is.
TRUTH: Eating wholesome, non-processed foods is one of the best things you can do for your body (and your skin). And by “non-processed”, I mean NON-PROCESSED. Apples, spinach, blueberries, celery, coconut, squash, sweet potatoes, etc. The best way you can heal your body is by feeding it fruits and veggies.
I have been “gluten and dairy free” for years, and that did make me feel fantastic, however, I was eating a large amount of processed “gluten and dairy free” foods. These were continuing to cause inflammation in my body.
I recently realized that my favorite dairy-free, oat milk (Oatly), contained canola oil, called “Rapeseed Oil” on the carton. Before making this realization, I was consuming Oatly on a daily basis, and contributing to the continuous inflammation in my body. See? Just because something is “healthy”, “dairy-free”, “vegan”, “whatever”, doesn’t mean it’s HEALTHY, or NATURAL!
The same goes for meats. I don’t go by any labels, when it comes to meat. Sometimes I eat it, sometimes I don’t. What I HAVE tried to make a very conscious effort about, recently, is consuming ORGANIC, HIGH-QUALITY MEAT. Again, the helps with the amount of inflammation in the body, and I’ve noticed a difference in my skin.
Now, let’s talk about healthy foods that don’t always react well in your body: For me, they’re bananas. Bananas are wonderful for your liver; they help soothe the intestinal tract, are anti-yeast, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Bananas are wonderful, yet for me, they can contribute to my acne. This is only a conclusion I have come to from my own trial and error. Do I still eat them? On occasion, but I remain cautious now, knowing what I know.
TRUTH: The more supplements you take, won’t necessarily help your acne go away. For months, I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on supplements, and couldn’t figure out which ones were helping, and which ones weren’t doing a bit of good. Trust me. Supplement, primarily, from healthy foods, and focus on the “essentials”, when it comes to supplements - the ones shared earlier, in this post.
TRUTH: Stress is everywhere, and can wreak havoc on your body! For me, it’s all about not letting it get to me. Remembering to breathe, practice gratitude and not take anything too seriously has helped, significantly.
TRUTH: Celery juice has made my skin clearer, but by no means am I suggesting everyone drop everything they’re doing, and buy their grocery store out of organic celery. Celery juice is supposed to heal the liver, due to the celery’s sodium cluster, breaking down pathogens’ cell membranes, and eventually destroying them. Whether you decide to start your morning with celery juice, or not, I would recommend a solid hydration morning routine. Warm lemon water, water, in general. Hydration, first thing in the morning, is a great way to kickstart your liver!
Acne is frustrating, and there are so many different recommendations out there. Before you try one, or get frustrated when something isn’t working, take a look at your Primary and Secondary Foods, and reach out. Remember, you’re never alone!