By: Dr. Isaac Eliaz
You probably already know that you can suffer from acne as an adult, even into middle age. But what you may not know is that acne isn’t isolated to the skin. If we look deeper, we can see numerous systemic issues going on.
Yes, you should care for your skin with external measures to keep pores clear. But diet, digestive problems, hormone imbalances, toxins and heavy metals and other, deeper issues are often the real culprits behind acne.
Skin care from the outside in
In addition to natural, soap-free acne cleansers, or even the seemingly counter-intuitive “oil cleansing” method (many people with acne swear by it), there are other approaches that can reduce bacteria and balance oil production.
A few drops of antiseptic essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, sandalwood and oregano mixed in pure water and sprayed or blotted onto the skin can be helpful. Raw Manuka honey can be used as an antibacterial, exfoliating and nourishing mask or cleanser. Lemon juice and/or baking soda can also help exfoliate skin, and apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties and the right level of acidity to help protect skin. Whenever undertaking a new topical regimen it’s important to start with a small “test” area to make sure your skin responds well.
Skin care from the inside out
Acne is a lot more prevalent in industrialized societies, and could be a reaction to the “Western” diet, environmental toxins or other modern influences. A few lifestyle changes however can make a big difference.
It’s important to avoid inflammatory, processed foods like sugar and sweets, trans-fats, dairy, deep fried foods, and chemical additives. Also, try cutting out gluten. These ingredients can wreak havoc on our digestive system, which is directly related to skin health. They can also contribute to hormone imbalance, feed bad bacteria and weaken the skin’s protective and repair mechanisms.
Instead, emphasize green leafy vegetables such as chard, kale and spinach; brightly colored vegetables like peppers, squash and sweet potatoes; sulfur rich foods like broccoli, cabbage and eggs; healthy fats like omega 3s and olive oil; and lean, organic protein. Probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, low fat yogurt, keifer and miso contain beneficial bacteria that can support skin, digestive and overall health. There are also many herbs that can help by reducing inflammation and free radical damage, including ginger, turmeric, oregano, thyme and rosemary.
Antioxidant rich fruits like berries, melons and mangos are good for the skin, but use fruits in moderation as they can spike glucose levels, resulting in inflammation.
Detox and nourishment
Unprocessed, “clean foods” like those mentioned above help reduce inflammation, nourish the skin and body and promote detoxification. In addition, a number of supplements can help further these benefits.
Food-based sources of A, B complex, C and E (mixed tocotrienols) provide antioxidant support and promote detoxification. Zinc helps fight bacteria associated with acne and supports skin repair. Antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) support skin health and fight inflammation. Nutritional enzyme supplements reduce inflammation and congestion, and support digestion, circulation and tissue repair. Be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water as well, up to three quarts a day.
For more complete detoxification and overall health support, I recommend a combination of alginates from seaweed and clinically researched modified citrus pectin (MCP).
MCP safely removes heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium and mercury from the body, while actively supporting cellular health, cardiovascular health, immunity and more. Alginates are also known for their ability to detoxify heavy metals and radioactive isotopes.
It’s important to remember that our skin often reflects overall health. As our largest organ, it can signal that something deeper needs looking after. Sometimes a pimple is just a pimple, but most times, it’s a sign our bodies need some extra care.