You are what you eat. No matter how many times we repeat this phrase It will never get old. For the most part, our health depends on the lifestyle we maintain, including the diet, of course. Naturally, by exploring and adapting the diet we follow, we can affect our overall fitness and wellbeing.
That being said, in the following article, I would like to address a cosmetic side of health that we were all worried about at least once – acne. We have all had some experience with acne (no matter the type). I firmly believe that the first, and the most important step to beating the issue is understating it. So, let’s talk about acne, its causes, and effects, and ultimately how you can affect acne through diet and, you’ve guessed it – juicing.
What is Acne?
Believe it or not, a lot of people can’t tell you what acne exactly is. We often hear (from people of all ages):
– It is the nasty, glossy, greasy stuff that comes out of the skin when you’re tired.
– Acne is when you get blackheads.
– Isn’t acne the pimples on your face, grouped together, right?
Well, every version is right to a degree. Acne is a skin condition. Unlike other conditions, acne isn’t high on the emergency scale. That doesn’t make acne harmless, though. So, what is this condition?
Technically speaking, acne is a skin condition that happens in your hair follicles, once conditions meet. Our bodies are almost wholly covered in hair follicles – even if you can’t see anything coming out of the skin, the follicle, aka the root whole of every hair, is there.
Once a follicle fills with oil, dust, and dead skin cells, the whole is no longer available for healthy processes, like hair growth, and it becomes clogged. This clogged follicle can turn into various types of acne. The most common types are whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples, depending on the location and whether or not an infection occurs.
Acne can be virtually harmless if we observe the issue from a physical point of view. But, thanks to all the consequences (e.g. scars) acne can put a really bad dent into our mental health. As I said, this issue has a cosmetic side to it.
That is why the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure” fits here perfectly!
Acne – Cause, Effect, and Risk Factors
When it comes to our largest organ (i.e. the skin), there is a large number of significant factors that can lead to a condition, acne included. Factors range from hereditary to environmental. Thanks to that wide range, acne can be both chronic and acute. If we were to round down the causes to the most common, it would go like this:
- Excessive oil production on a particular skin spot (most commonly the face)
- Clogging of the hair follicles due to dust and dead skin particles (usually environmental)
- Bacteria accumulating in the damaged or clogged parts of the skin
- Endocrine (hormonal) issue
As you can see, the most common reasons can often be related as well. But, if you notice that your condition is progressing, it should be a sign that it is time for a trip to the doctor. Acne, especially chronic forms, can be an indicator that something bigger, more serious is going on in your body.
But, there’s no need for additional anxiety, considering the fact that stress can also be a factor that contributes to acne development. This skin condition can often have a hormonal cause, which is why teenagers suffer from it the most. To make things worse, the mental impact a skin condition on the face can have is tremendous.
1. Most Common Acne Symptoms
Having a zit from time to time is not a big deal, but if you notice them returning in larger numbers, you might have acne. If the cause is environmental, the symptoms should go away as soon as you, well, change the environment.
The most common acne symptoms are:
- Blackheads – these are common even with people with the lightest form of this skin condition, and they form in open clogged follicles.
- Whiteheads – also a common type. In this case, the follicles close with the bacteria inside to give our bodies time to fight the micro-infection.
- Papules – you can recognize this symptom if it’s tender when you touch it. Papules are often not that easily noticeable from the outside unless they progress.
- Pustules – also known as pimples, are papules that broke the surface of the skin, with pus on top.
- Nodules – similar to papules, but bigger, and painful instead of just tender. They are solid and occur under the skin surface.
- Cysts – also known as cystic lesions, are the worst type of acne. They are large, round, lumps filled with pus. Cysts are removed surgically because they go deeper into the skin.
2. Examples of environmental factors
To put things in perspective, here are a few examples:
- People who work in stressful environments have a higher chance of developing some sort of acne over time. This happens due to cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels that affect other hormones via a chain reaction. Dealing with this stress, either by changing jobs or changing the environments itself, can have a huge impact on many things, including acne development.
- On the other hand, we have the physical environmental factors. People who work with all sorts of chemicals (e.g. paint, alcohol, and solvents) also have a higher chance of developing acne. Using proper cleaning solutions and protective gear is the first level of defense in this case.
There are no strict rules I can tell you to deal with this condition. There is also no magic pill to treat acne overnight. But, a lifestyle change (with doctor’s approval, of course) can go a long way.
3. How acne may get worse
Thanks to the wide arrange of factors, we cannot pinpoint a single thing that may cause or worsen a preexisting acne condition. The reason why teenagers and young adults get prone to developing acne is hidden in the hormones.
Sex hormones (like testosterone and estrogen) wildly increase in secretion during teen and young adult years. Naturally, as they appear, they will also disappear for most people once puberty is completely done. But that doesn’t mean that you have to suck it up – the problem with acne is also mental and it can destroy self-esteem.
Stress, as I’ve mentioned before, plays a crucial role in acne progression. Learning how to unwind and decompress after a stressful day at work is important, not only for the sake of your skin.
Some medications can also affect acne and how they form. Corticosteroids, especially topical, can make the condition progress faster. On the other hand, the use of testosterone and some other anabolic steroids can make smaller acne evolve into lesions and cysts.
Lastly, we come to the part we can change and adapt the most – your diet. While a complete diet change will not yield a complete acne cure, it will bring you closer to the goal. Not to mention the good diet benefits on your whole body.
3.1. Not the food you were thinking about
On the other side, a bad diet can make your acne worse. No, I’m not talking about greasy food (which is everyone’s first guess). I’m referring to foods that are dense with simple carbs. Pastries, potato chips, all sorts of bread – you get the idea. Another popular food source to be careful around if you are trying to beat acne is dairy. Milk, especially skim milk, has been linked to acne progression by a number of studies. Although, finding a definitive answer is hard because everyone is unique when it comes to diet and lifestyle in general.
How is Acne Treated and Cured?
You have probably picked up by now that getting rid of acne requires more than one approach. In short, we could say that treating and curing acne requires:
- Diet change – start eating and drinking the stuff that helps, avoid the carb-rich food and dairy
- Lifestyle changes – working out can promote healthy hormone levels and healthier skin in general
- Hygiene routine change – people that get riddled with acne often think that aggressive face cleaning agents help. They do in specific cases; in others, they can make things worse
- Medication – if the cause of acne is an underlying problem with hormones or other vital parts of your body, going to a dermatologist is more than necessary. A dermatologist will talk to you about all of the above, as well as finding the right medical treatment if needed.
- Knowledge – the very reason I am writing this. Going through this skin condition can make a person grow desperate, believing all sorts of myths and lies.
Most Common Acne Myths and Lies
Out there, there will be people trying to sell you the magical salve for acne that will make everything go away in a week’s time. You have to resist the urge to go down that road. In the light of encouraging you to pursue healthy and durable methods of fighting acne, here’s what to expect (and avoid) along the way:
– “Make-up and cosmetics are bad” – this blanket statement will do you no good. For example, oil-free make-up can’t close your pores, so it is ok to use if you have acne. As long as you use oil-free make-up and remove it regularly, you’ll be fine.
– “Only people that don’t wash up have acne” – this could not be further from the truth. Acne is not a result of bad hygiene. People sometimes go out of their way to clean their faces and critical spots, so they just end up hurting the skin and risking more acne development. Do not scrub your skin to clear it of acne, you will achieve just the opposite.
– “Don’t eat greasy or fatty food if you have acne” – again, a myth that persists only thanks to the fact that acne comes from oil clogging up the follicle. If you want to make sure you don’t eat something acne-unfriendly, lower your dairy intake as much as you can and avoid high-carb foods.
Juicing as a Weapon!
Now we finally get to the juicy part (pun intended 100%) – juicing to help with acne. Keep in mind, you can also eat raw ingredients, but juicing is often far more practical for people in a hurry. Also, if you don’t like a certain food that can help with acne, you can mask it with other flavors you put in the juicer.
Firstly, I would like to encourage you to skip store-bought juices. They are packed with sugars, and the processing which gives them longevity usually removes a significant portion of the nutritional value.
Another guideline I encourage people to follow is – do not overdo it! One glass of fresh juice a day can make a HUGE impact if you stay on the path. Moderation and persistence are your allies! Also, three plants per juice are enough. Go for four (or more) once you master your juicer.
And, to top things off, do not forget to drink water. People often fall into a trap, thinking that juices bring along enough hydration for the day. That is incorrect unless you are drinking a lot of juice, which is unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous. Keep your water bottle full and at hands reach all the time.
Ingredients to Include
1. Seeds and nuts are your friends
No matter the diet, seeds, and nuts are always a good go-to for healthy fats and complex carbs. As long as you are not allergic to a certain seed, you will be able to reap the benefits. Just don’t go overboard with the amount you put in the juice – firstly, seeds and nuts are rich in calories, and secondly, juices with excessive amounts of seeds and nuts don’t taste all that good. Not to mention the risk of clogging the juicer.
So, the seeds and nuts you should consider spiking your juice with are:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds (ground)
- Pumpkin seeds in moderation
2. Celery and other greens
Celery got a lot of fame as a powerful ally against acne. Other greens are there too, but the main reason celery got famous is hidden inside. Without getting too technical on you now, let’s put it like this: celery has strong potential to fight off the bacteria attacking your skin, preventing them from inflaming it. Less inflammation results in less acne, as simple as that. Now, celery is not exactly a cure for acne, but it shows great promise as an ally, and people all around the world reported progress. No wonder there are juicers fit for celery out there.
So, celery should be a must, if you are allowed to, plus try to get some of these into your juices:
While fruit is the last on the list when it comes to helping with acne, it is first on the flavor list. You should use fruit to get vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes into your body, through the juice or raw. Avoiding sugar is a sure way to battle and prevent acne, but sugar from fruit is nothing to worry about. You get to enjoy all that flavor and strengthen your immune system – two birds with one stone (or juice rather).
Do not forget to take these in:
- All sorts of berries
- Tomatoes in moderation
Things to Avoid
Ok, by now you probably already realized what sort of stuff to avoid if you want your acne to go away (or never reappear again). I’d just like to add a bit to that. Besides dehydration and carb-dense food, you should also avoid eating some plants in large quantities. Tomatoes and pumpkins are considered car-rich, and eating these may lead to some unwanted results.
The saddest thing, if you ask me, is that milk chocolate is considered bad when it comes to acne. This is thanks to the dairy part – try to lower or completely eliminate dairy products for 12 weeks, and see what happens.
Also, if you are a fan whey protein, I have bad news. Again – dairy is just bad for acne. But, you can get your protein through other sources – there are options like soy and hemp protein powders.
Lastly, remember to hydrate. People who switched to drinking more water will tell you that one of the first things they felt improve was their skin. Do not be afraid to up the daily water intake.
A Few Things Before You Go!
We’ve talked about foods and juices, stress and rest, hydration, and hygiene, but I didn’t tell you about the most important ingredient. It is free, but it is also invaluable. I am talking about patience.
Acne takes time to go away. There will be ups and downs, and you will sometimes feel like you are losing the battle. This is the breaking point where you must stay on the path and be persistent. Each and every remedy I talked about has a lot of good side effects that benefit your overall health. Changing a diet takes about 12 weeks to show on the skin. Be strong!
Now, you have some homework to do. Go ahead and make a couple of juicing recipes to start the journey to healthier skin. You got this! Cheers!