After a year and a half of struggling with acne after living a life full of beautiful skin, I've decided to make this post in hopes of helping the people who feel hopeless and that they will never see clear skin in their life again. Here's my disclaimer- I am a nutrition major at UIC and work in the Whole Body/Supplement section of Whole Foods Market. I am not a doctor nor a licensed dietician as of yet so take this information as you please. If you follow my suggestions, I can guarantee clearer, beautiful skin! This may be long but it will be worth your while
First things first, if you don't believe acne and nutrition are connected, I am terribly sorry but you are WRONG. Bacteria and oil are NOT the enemies here, people! Food is. Your skin is an outer reflection of exactly what is going on inside your body. So the very first thing you need to do is reevaluate your diet and please remember to keep an open mind. Everything I am about to tell you has been proven in scientific journals from around the world, if you'd like to learn more I can leave a list of books, movies and online resources to check out.
Despite the controversy, dairy is in fact linked to acne. Dairy wreaks absolute havoc on your body and skin, especially with the standards of the United States' factory farms. It is pumped full of hormones which we know affect skin, anti-biotics and fed a diet of genetically modified corn, ground up cows, pigs, cats, dogs, and whatever else the 'farmer' can get his hands on for cheap. And ever since the drought, 'farmers' have even resorted to feeding their animals with sprinkles, gummy worms, oreos, you name it.
When dairy enters the body, it causes an extremely acidic environment, so your body's defense automatically needs to neutralize and alkalinize it and does so by pulling key nutrients from other parts of the body like your bones and skin. Not only does dairy rob your body and skin of nutrients, it also is left to putrefy in your intestines for 24-48 hours(which is how long it takes the average human to fully digest food). Now take a minute to imagine what would happen to milk/cheese/ice cream if it was left in an environment that's 98 degrees for a day or two. It actually causes little pustules on the intestines much like say, a pimple! Gross, right? Toxins expelled from your intestines need to find their way out of the body, a quick and easy way is through the skin and BAM, acne.
Also, most people after the age of three stop producing, lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose/milk protein. This is because humans were genetically not supposed to consume our mother's milk after the age of three and certainly not supposed to drink the milk of another animal. If you are one of the following nationalities, you are at an extremely high risk of lactose intolerance or not producing lactase:
Asian descent- 90-100% lactose intolerant*
Native Americans- 95%*
African descent- 65-70%*
Italian descent- 65-70%*
Hispanic descent- 50-60%*
(*Reference: The Food Revolution page 99)
If you gather nothing else from this post, please let this be the one! Your body and skin will thank you.
I'm not going to go as in depth with this topic because there is not enough research done on it but almost everything I said about dairy, also goes for meat. It's acidic, it putrefies in the intestines, and the anatomy of human doesn't agree with meat. Carnivore's(meat eaters) take only about 2 hours to fully digest their food, as I mentioned earlier humans take 1-2 days; we are meant to be omnivores.
If you are an animal eater, you're probably extremely overwhelmed right now but please don't be! There is a vegan alternative to every single thing you can imagine. If someone told me a year ago I would be a vegan today I would have laughed in their face. I never thought I could do it. But it's SO much easier than you think. Some yummy alternatives I have found to my favorite comfort foods can be found at health food stores like Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Fruitful Yield, etc. Here's a few of my favorites:
Cow's milk- almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk
Cheese- Daiya cheese (comes in cheddar, mozzarella and pepper jack
Mac&Cheese- Amy's rice pasta and vegan cheese(made with daiya cheese) OR Vegan Cafe's creamy macaroni & cheese
Pizza- Amy's vegan margarita pizza (you also can make your own with the daiya cheese OR at Whole Foods you can order a vegan pizza fresh made by the prepared foods department, it's delish)
Milk chocolate- Carob, dark chocolate
Chocolate snacks- Hail Merry Chocolate Macaroons- THESE ARE TO DIE FOR! I eat them instead of cookies/chocolate bars/etc.
Meat- There are plenty alternatives you can buy frozen
I also have amazing recipes for vegan chili and vegan black bean burgers that won't make you miss meat.
Aside from animal products, the next trigger for acne is sugar. Yes all types, brown sugar, white sugar, refined sugar you name it. It causes spike in blood sugar and is also very acidic in the body. Most people have heard of and are familiar with the link between sugar and acne so I won't dive into this topic either.
I believe this next trigger comes close to animal products, and that is processed food. Now, I'm not going to be unrealistic and say cut it out completely, but look at the ingredients. Make sure you know what every ingredient is on that label and the fewer the better. Although it may be a few bucks more expensive, chose USDA organic products when possible; they are much more nutrient dense and have far less toxins. Toxins=acne. Shifting toward a clean diet is key.
So now that you've taken away part of your diet, what will go in place? The most nutrient dense, detoxifying, brightening, strengthening foods out there. Crowd out the bad stuff with good stuff. My recommendation is to start off every morning with a smoothie. I believe this is sosososo important! You can get a blender for about $40 at a department store and it will be a great investment in your health. Smoothies should always contain fruits AND veggies! Greens in particular, they are cleansing and detoxifying. You can chose either frozen or fresh fruit, whatever you prefer and through it in your blender. This is usually what I do:
Strawberries, blueberries, mangoes/pineapple with some carrot juice. Then I blend in a stalk or two of kale(remove the middle stem and just use the thin leafy parts) and a few handfuls of spinach. The magic ingredient I end with is a scoop or so of Vibrant Health's Green Vibrance. They also sell this at health food stores or you could always find it online. This stuff is absolutely amazing and essential if you don't get enough greens/vegetables in your diet. It contains just about every green vegetable and seaweed you could think up, PLUS special detoxifying herbs PLUS 25 billion probiotics and at least 95% of your daily value of all the fat soluble vitamins(A,D,E,&K)! If you're not a fan of the consistency/taste of this product you could also try Sunfood's Sun Is Shining which is very similar to Green Vibrance. Feel free to do research on these products, there's lots of good feedback on the net. You will see a difference in your skin just a few days into using it.
If like myself, you have been eating animal products and junk your whole life, your body is probably extremely toxic. I recommend doing a full body cleanse to kick start results. I'm not saying go on a crazy water or juice fast- just adopt your new lifestyle and give your body that extra push it needs. There are cleanses you can get at health food stores. I have tried a few and my favorite has to be Garden of Life's RAW Cleanse- I noticed a different in my complexion just a few days into it. It's raw, it's vegan, it's only seven days, it's amazing. What most people don't understand about cleanses though is that once you cleanse your body, those toxins end up getting filtered through your liver and kidneys which if your body is very toxic, can be a heavy load on your liver. I recommend doing a liver cleanse right after a cleanse or during a cleanse. Good supplements for this are: Himalaya's LiverCare and Soloray's Liver Blend. You can take them at the same time; they just utilize certain herbs that assist the liver in detoxification.
These will rid the body of many toxins but not from everything. Chances are, if you have ever eaten meat in your life, you have worms. 85-90% of American's have worms in their intestines. Worms, along with candida/yeast overgrowth can be major causes of acne. It's really gross but the good news is, you can get rid of them all with one herb. I refer to this herb as magical because of how well it works. Oil of Oregano is the most anti-microbial, anti-bacterial herb known to man. In placebo studies it actually worked better than penicillin and amoxicillin in killing bacteria. Want to know the best thing about it? It doesn't touch your good bacteria, it only kills the bad bacteria unlike anti-biotics which kill ALL bacteria, even your good flora. Oil of Oregano has more benefits than I could count on all my fingers and toes, I'd encourage you to do more research on the benefits of the herb. I'd recommend doing the Oil of Oregano for a month straight, twice a day. I prefer the tincture but it also comes in capsules. I've found Gaia's Oil of Oregano to be one of the cheapest, but most effective. If you have worms or candida/yeast overgrowth, a month should be plenty of time to get your gut in balance. You should absolutely notice a difference in your skin within a few days with this one; it is extremely powerful stuff.
Most people are uneducated about probiotics but they are absolutely vital to curing acne. You want more good bacteria than bad in your gut because bad bacteria is what causes acne. You have countless strains of bacteria and about 400 trillion organisms in your gut so when picking out a probiotic supplement, look for AT LEAST 20 billion organisms and as many strains as you can find, the more, the better. Also, many probiotics are grown in dairy! Make sure you look on the bottle that it says free of dairy- dairy probiotics will do the same thing dairy itself does in the gut. One I've found that works well is MegaFood's MegaFlora. It has 20 billion organisms and 14 strains per capsule. It's dairy and allergen free.
I'm very confident lifestyle changes are enough to cure the skin but for some that have severe acne and/or have been on antibiotics need a little extra attention. If you've taken Accutane or routine anti-biotics, you've done some damage to your intestines. But the good news about the body is that amazing ability it has to repair itself. I would encourage you to do all of the above but you should absolutely focus on probiotics. You should be taking double to quadruple the amount I advised above because your gut is so depleted of good bacteria at this point. I would also add in some reparative herbs. The most important and potent of those being Curcumin which is the extracted active ingredient of the herb, Turmeric. It can actually repair the tissues of your organs inside and out; from your gut to your skin. I would recommend 500 mg twice per day for the first month or so and then cut back to one for maintenance. Other reparative herbs include Neem and Amla. There is a product by Organic India called Skin Renew that includes both of these herbs plus turmeric. I would still advise taking the extra curcumin though.
Lastly, but certainly not least I want to talk about mental stability. Most people wouldn't think your skin and your mental state relate at all but they surprisingly do. Have you ever heard anyone tell you if you imagine/visualize/tell yourself something, your mind can make it happen? Same goes here; if you obsessively look in the mirror, think about your acne, tell yourself how bad it is, etc, your mind will actually make what your subconscious is telling you the truth. So if you obsess and think about your skin most of your days, your mind will make it a reality. You have to let go of what you think you know and talking down about yourself and just love yourself! Everyday for the next month take at least a few minutes out of everyday to tell yourself the following:
I can cure my acne.
I have total control over my skin.
The healthier I get, the healthier my skin gets.
Clear skin is no accident.
Curing acne is simple and easy.
I will have clear, beautiful skin.
Just say it over and over again. It's best to do it when you are in a relaxed state or meditating(hate that word, but basically just focus on your breathing, relax and repeat the phrases in bold) This will literally make your subconscious believe exactly what you're telling it. This is exactly like hypnosis; if you can't relax on your own, look up self hypnosis online. There are great resources to learning how to get in the right frame of mind for this to actually work. I never knew mental health and skin had any correlation but it makes total sense. To be totally healthy, you need to be healthy body, mind and soul. You will find happiness when all of these are are in balance.
My goal is to help people. I'm well versed in nutrition, natural medicine and supplements. If I have left questions unanswered or have left you confused please do not hesitate to email me or leave a comment here. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions/concerns. For those who have read this entire thing, I hope I have helped in your journey to having beautiful skin and that you take my suggestions and at least give them a try for a month. You have nothing to lose, only clear skin to gain.
EDIT: ALL! Here is a great resource from Dr. Furhman, MD's website based off of his book 'Eat to Live'. There are plenty of scientific studies on how diet affects acne and also many testimonials of those who have followed his low-fat vegan diet. This website has endless information, resources, recipes, etc.
Here's the link :http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/cat-acne.html
I would also recommend the following books and movies for both healthy skin and a healthy body.
-Eating for Beauty by David Wolfe
-The Beauty Detox by Kimberly Snyder, CN
-The China Study by T. Collin Campbell, PhD
-The Food Revolution by John Robbins
-Diet for a New America by John Robbins
-Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD
-Forks Over Knives
-Hungry for Change