Have the excesses of summer left you with less than great skin? Eating and drinking more, in combination with the clogging effects of sun cream and melting make-up can contribute to congested skin, clogged pores and breakouts. In fact, half of women name acne as their primary skin concern. This week’s post is therefore all about how to clean up your complexion by following my tips for a clear skin diet.
3 Objectives of a Clear Skin Diet
Acne is an inflammatory condition, so calming inflammation in the body will ease symptoms. Omega-3 fats have amazing anti-inflammatory effects, diverting chemical pathways in the body away from those that cause inflammation and towards those that calm it. Foods which promote inflammation include saturated fats from animal products such as meat and dairy, along with alcohol, caffeine and vegetable oils high in omega-6 fats, such as sunflower, corn and palm oil. Turmeric and ginger are also potent natural anti-inflammatory foods.
Summer holidays can be a time of excess, so giving your system a cleanse is a good place to start. Removing toxins (alcohol, caffeine, chemicals etc.) from your diet, in combination with adding foods that support detoxification will help achieve this (see below). The liver is the body’s main detoxification organ; its job is to break down harmful toxins into harmless substances, which can then be expelled safely from the body, so supporting liver function is key. The liver also removes other unwanted substances from the body, including ‘used’ hormones, so when it’s not working optimally, hormone imbalances may occur, which can of course cause breakouts.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels caused by sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol, lead to increased insulin production. Insulin is an inflammatory hormone and can also disrupt the balance of other hormones in the body. Removing these foods, eating more wholegrains, fibre, fruit and vegetables and lean protein sources will help to balance blood sugar levels and hormones. The added bonus is that it will also improve your energy levels as well as balancing mood and appetite.
Clear Skin Diet – Your 30 Day Guide
I have incorporated all three of these objectives into my clear skin diet tips below. Your skin takes around 28 days to recycle itself, so follow this plan for a month to achieve visible changes.
GIVE YOUR LIVER A BREAK
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, processed foods and eat organic if possible, as food additives, pesticides and herbicides have to be processed by the liver.
SUPPORT LIVER FUNCTION
Include plenty of brassica vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and watercress.
INCREASE HIGH FIBRE FOODS
Fibre aids elimination of toxins and used hormones from the body. Fruits, vegetables, oats, other whole grains, beans and lentils are good sources.
Tip:oat porridge with grated apple makes a perfect high fibre breakfast, using non-dairy milk such as almond is best. You can also add chia seeds for extra soluble fibre.
FLUSH OUT TOXINS
Drink lots of water! 2 litres per day, helps the body to flush out toxins and keeps skin hydrated.
Tip: Start the day with hot water with lemon and make a large jug of lemon water to sip throughout the day. Lemons support liver function.
WHAT TO AVOID
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white flour) to prevent blood sugar fluctuations.
Decrease intake of pro-inflammatory saturated fats from red meat, dairy, processed and fried foods.
Dairy, especially milk can make acne worse in some people due to lactose and hormones in milk. Try switching to soya, rice, oat, coconut or almond milk for 4 weeks.
BALANCE HORMONES + REDUCE INFLAMMATION
Increase intake of omega 3 essential fatty acids for hormone balancing and anti-inflammatory effects. Good sources are oily fish, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.
Include a daily Skin Detox drink, which contains skin and body cleansing ingredients such as zinc, spirulina, artichoke and dandelion.
Milk thistle is a herb traditionally used to support liver function – it protects the cells of the liver by blocking the entrance of toxins and helping remove toxins
Turmeric is an excellent stimulator of liver enzymes, protects the liver from toxins and has potent anti-inflammatory effects
Clear Skin Tips
Use a natural clay-based face masks twice weekly to draw out impurities and exfoliate gently every 2-3 days to remove dead cells, which can clog pores
Don’t overload your skin with products and use gentle, natural, chemical free products where possible
Applying tea tree oil to spots twice a day, has been shown to reduce the number and severity of spots
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce or cure acne in 90-98% of people according to studies
Stress causes hormone fluctuations, which can result in overproduction of sebum. Finding ways to manage stress levels is the obvious but ‘not-so-easy’ solution