Clinical nutritionist Gina Rose Urlich explains how adapting to a wholefoods diet can work wonders in treating acne and skin blockages through feeding the skin the fundamental nutrients it requires to function.
Our skin is the mirror to our internal health and is your body’s way of telling you when something is not quite right.
Acne is a very common skin condition affecting both genders and can present itself at any age. Emotionally, acne can be challenging because it is a visible condition that can have a huge impact on a person’s self-esteem and emotional health. It is not uncommon for those with acne to feel self-conscious, anxious and depressed due to the physical aspects of the condition.
The key to successfully controlling acne is to determine what is causing it in the first place. You can apply all the right topical treatments in the world, but it will not budge if you don’t address the underlying cause. Beautiful glowing skin really does begin on the inside.
There are so many contributing factors attributed to the onset and progression of acne. For some individuals, it can be more obvious—such as a poor diet—while for others there may be a combination of elements that could include:
- poor blood sugar regulation
- insulin resistance
- high insulin like growth factor (ILGF)
- systemic inflammation
- under-functioning eliminatory organs such as a sluggish liver or poor bowel function
- lymphatic congestion
- poor circulation and sweat production
- hyperproliferation (excess production) of skin cells due to vitamin A deficiency
- excess sebum production due to zinc deficiency
- a hormonal imbalance – the most common reason.
Let’s talk about hormonal acne
It’s not just a teenage issue and many women are confronted with congestion and cystic acne in their 20s, 30s, 40s—right through to menopause. Sex hormones, when balanced, are like an intricate symphony each playing specific roles within the body that can make you feel alive, vital and glowing. When unbalanced they wreak havoc on the body and can cause—to name a few—acne, anxiety, exhaustion and weight gain. Hormonal acne normally presents itself around the jaw line, chin and neck and may be associated with conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
The main female sex hormones are oestrogen (dominant in the first half of a woman’s cycle) and progesterone (dominant in the second half of a woman’s cycle). We also produce small amounts of testosterone. Too much testosterone stimulates oil production in the skin… hello pimples!
Don’t ever underestimate the effects stress has on the body
Stress is a big one when it comes to acne. It promotes inflammation in the body, impairs blood sugar regulation and it takes away our beautiful production of progesterone. See, progesterone is produced from the adrenal glands, the same place our stress hormone (cortisol) is produced. When our body is under stress (physical, caffeine or excessive exercise) or we are feeling emotional stress (perception of pressure) our cortisol rises and progesterone drops… again, hello pimples!
What can I do?
With the help of a health professional you can determine the underlying cause of your acne. We are all unique and what may be contributing to another’s acne could be very different to your own. Hence, the many different treatment options.
While there are specific treatment options and supplements dependent on the underlying cause, there are some fundamental nutrients the skin relies on to function:
- Adapting to a wholefoods diet that is macro-nutrient balanced—that means protein, good fats and complex carbs with each meal—will support your body’s healing process.
- Hydration—aiming for 2-3 litres of water a day will help flush out toxins accumulated in the skin.
- Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, silica, antioxidants and essential fatty acids are all nutrients the skin loves.
- Bone broths are rich in collagen, which is needed to make skin supple and radiant. Collagen-rich bone broth will supply your skin with the tools it needs to support itself.
- Natural, toxin-free skin care! Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and absorbs everything you put on it. Toxins in beauty products mess with hormones, place a load on the liver and contribute to acne. Be savvy with your products.
The emotional aspects of acne can be overwhelming and people can go from disliking the acne to completely disliking themselves. Getting to the heart of the health issue is where the magic lies.
Appreciating how amazing the body is, and how it communicates when something is not right, is a gift.
The lesson: We need to nourish, live, move and love ourselves.
Gina is a Brisbane-based clinical nutritionist and lover of wholesome food with a real passion for using the power of nature to heal the body. Gina is a practitioner specialising in women’s health, including hormonal issues and fertility.
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