Have you ever experienced waking up one day to find a nasty pimple right there on your face to draw all the unnecessary attention? Well, you are not alone. We all go through many such bad skin days, and then there are days when your skin outshines the mirror. How do these sudden shifts happen just over a couple of days, sometimes without you even noticing any significant change in your daily routine? Skin chemistry can be mysterious at times, yet it is surprisingly simple if you start noticing some characteristic signs your skin shows. At times, we just go overboard with things and fail to realize that our skin is screaming out for help and attention.
First Things First: Understanding the Skin
In order to understand the science behind skin health, it is crucial to understand the mechanism within the skin, which brings about these external changes. If you don’t happen to know already, the skin is the largest organ of the human body and has three layers to it. In its healthy and supple state, the skin reflects the beauty and wellbeing of a person. The first layer is called Epidermis, which is cornified/keratinized and is also responsible for the mass regeneration of new cells. This layer is responsible for shedding old/dead skin cells, which we exfoliate regularly. Next comes Dermis, which is a thicker layer and houses the sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and nerve endings. The hypodermis is the third and the deepest layer, which contains subcutaneous fat, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Our area of interest, when it comes to acne, is the Dermis. Dermis reacts to all the internal changes like a variation in diet, hormones and also reacts to external inputs like temperature by increasing or decreasing the vascularity of skin.
The Acne Problem
You must be wondering where does all the trouble with acne begins? We often hear people say that their skin is too oily or too dry. Many people claim that sebum is the culprit, yet skin produces it naturally. If so, why do I need all that gunk on my skin? Different types of diets and hormonal surges cause the production of sebum to shoot-up or diminish slightly. This oil can get trapped underneath pores in the skin. Other factors that instigate acne include exposure and build-up of bacteria, excessive production of dead cells in the Epidermis, immune responses of the body like inflammation, and genetic make-up of an individual.
It is alright if you are confused about all these technicalities with acne-prone skin. Researches continue to update new methodologies and efficient drugs to deal with different types of acne. Amidst all this conundrum related to acne, it has been noted that many different factors instigate the typical flare-up observed in this condition.
Links between junk food, nutritious and healthy diet, sleep, anxiety, and lifestyle suggest that many triggers pose a challenge for acne-prone skin. To simplify some facts, let’s take a look at how animal and plant-based diets affect acne.
It is true when we hear experts say that skin is a reflection of what we eat. Surprisingly, our skin is susceptible to changes caused by what we eat and what we apply to it externally. The source of nutrition is a widely discussed topic amongst researchers, nutritionists, and dermatologists viz. which food groups to keep and which ones to avoid when it comes to acne-prone skin. To help you choose the best diet plan while treating acne, we have discussed several foods below, which have proven to cause a possible flare-up.
Dairy Choices for Acne: Prone Skin
Milk, Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate with high amounts of sugar dairy products make a large part of our daily diets, and for some, these can be troublemakers. Research has proven that quitting dairy products results in an improvement in acne for some, while others showed no change. The main problem with dairy products is with the growth hormones present in addition to the hormone testosterone. Cutting back on dairy for a month is an option, but you have to wait for it and observe. Add vitamin D and calcium supplements or alternate sources if you are doing so. Foods like kale, mustard, broccoli, and sardines provide alternate sources of calcium. It is also advisable to try goat milk and unsweetened dairy products which are close to their original forms, i.e., unprocessed.
Sugary Foods and Alcohol: The Drama Unfolds
We all love to devour some cake and soda at parties often. We also scrunch some form of drool-worthy candies every now and then without realizing they make their way back to our skin somehow. The problem with consuming sugary foods and beverages is that they elevate blood sugar levels within minutes. This gives you the unnecessary and dangerous sugar rush, which the health experts always warn about. This is followed by spikes in blood insulin levels. Typically, the insulin allows uptake of sugar into body cells, but the problem lies with excessive blood insulin levels. When insulin spikes, sebum production in sebaceous glands intensifies, so does the severity of acne. The key is to avoid the outburst of acne by consuming foods with a low glycemic index. These include hemp, dark chocolate nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and quinoa.
Processed Food: Quality Bar Raised or Lowered?
Nutritionists have always advised us against the reckless consumption of processed food. If you take a look at your refrigerator, you will find stacks of frozen foods, deli meat, pizza, bread, breakfast, and cereals. And all this for no good? Yes! Always prefer opting for simple food groups like
eating lots of green vegetables. Vegetables keep acne at bay as they fight inflammation and oxidative damage responsible for breakouts and other skin concerns. Eat ten handfuls of vegetables in a day to keep skin health optimal. Vegetables provide a nutritional balance and lower down inflammatory responses by the skin. Processed food like cake, cookies, soft-drinks contains refined sugar as the main ingredient. This sugar is responsible for creating generalized inflammation in the body, which leads to the breakdown of connective tissue in the skin, namely; elastin and collagen. The advanced Glycation end product is also produced by sugars when they attach to protein in the skin. This does immense damage to the skin and multiplies the process of aging in a very short time. Do not forget to add zinc containing food and vegetables like cashews, avocados, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries to fight inflammation while cutting down on white-pasta, rice, sugar, and sugar products.
There are several lifestyle changes that you need to make while fighting acne.
Sleep: There is an utmost need to consider your sleeping patterns and sleep cycle time to rule out any additional stress factors which might be there. Be your own critique when evaluating the quality of sleep you get daily. Lack of sleep can exacerbate the level of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes generalized inflammation in the body and skin. It is responsible for worsening skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and even eczema.
Stress-Management: One thing which skin is very much susceptible to is break-outs due to stress. While stress might not cause any breakouts for many, there are those who already face this problem and might see a flare-up in such situations. There is a tendency to pick at blemishes in such stressful conditions, and this compulsive behavior can turn into its severe form called “Acne Excoriee.”
There is a need to cleanse and moisturize skin thoroughly before bed-time with acne-friendly products only. This will maximize the regenerative capabilities of the skin and help fight blemishes as skin breathes through an unclogged, pollution-free surface.