While a healthy diet can often be the simple answer to most people’s acne, I’m seeing more and more women struggle to clear their skin with diet alone. Stress levels, pollution and the pressure to be on your A-game all the time are at an all time high and I’m more sure than ever that these are just some of the reasons why a healthy diet alone isn’t always enough to cure acne.
What to do when a healthy diet doesn’t cure acne
Isn’t it just the worst when you dedicate your life to eating healthy yet your skin doesn’t dramatically clear up? Cutting our sugar, refined grains and trans-fats will go along way to balancing your blood sugars, reducing inflammation and helping to calm acne down, but more and more of my clients are needing to explore different avenues alongside an optimal diet to achieve fully clear skin.
Let’s get things straight first, if you’re just 2 weeks into a healthier diet and you’re getting impatient with the lack of miracle results, then this post isn’t really for you. Throwing absolutely every single treatment and supplement you come across right at the beginning of your healing journey isn’t going to make results happen faster, it’ll probably just burn a massive hole in your wallet. With any treatment you try, you need to give it at least 3 months before deciding you need to try something extra.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you the additional steps you may need to take when a healthy diet hasn’t cured your acne.
Your healthy diet isn’t actually optimal
You may think a green smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch and some stir fried vegetables for dinner is a great way to clear acne but it’s definitely not. To start with, our bodies NEED calories to function, as a moderately active woman, you should be aiming for 2,000 kcal a day but most women aren’t even hitting 1,600! To put it simply, if you’re not eating enough then your body won’t be able to produce the right hormones it needs to heal and maintain clear skin. Not only that, but diets such as vegan, low fat and low carb can all cause problems with our skin in the long term. Our bodies must have the right amount of protein, fats and healthy carbohydrates to produce the correct hormones, at the correct times of the day/month and diets that restrict food groups like protein, fat or carbohydrates will all cause our skin to go crazy eventually.
The general rule for optimum health is for 50-60% healthy fat, 20-35% carbohydrates and 15-20% protein – the specific ratio will be down to you to work out. Those with hormonal imbalances such as PCOS will probably benefit from edging towards 60% fat, 20% protein and 20% carbs whereas those with an underactive thyroid or those who do intensive exercise on a regular basis will benefits from slightly less fat and slightly more carbohydrates.
You’re still constipated
If you’re constipated, then no matter how much you throw at all your other symptoms, you will never be able to clear you acne. When faecal matter sits in your digestive system for too long and causes constipation, putrid and toxic matter (including excess hormones) get reabsorbed into the blood stream where it causes inflammation. Ideally, you want to be having 1-3 solid, smooth, medium brown bowel movements every single day.
If you’re cramping, straining or in pain then you need to put some serious efforts getting that gut back on top form. Whether it’s taking Magnesium Citrate every day, increasing your fibre intake, taking herbal bowel stimulants or performing a colon cleanse, getting rid of all the crap in your bowels on a daily basis is essential for clearing your acne.
Your liver need extra support
If you’re constipated, then chances are your liver is struggling too! A sluggish liver can result in problems passing waste but can also appear as many other symptoms including:
- Mood swings
- Bitter taste in mouth
- Excessive thirst
- Poor digestion, nausea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
There are plenty of ways to help support your liver including castor oil packs, avoiding toxins and xenoestrogens and eating plenty of bitter herbs and greens to stimulate bile production and support your liver in eliminating toxins and excess hormones.
You need a parasite cleanse
This is such a complex topic that can seem quite scary but if you feel you’ve tried a healthy diet and a gazillion other things to clear your acne and nothings worked, then a parasite cleanse may be just the thing you need.
Parasites are much more common that you think with an estimated 50% of people suffering with some sort of parasite infection.
While you immediately associate parasites with gigantic tapeworms and poop full of wriggling maggots, the majority of parasites are actually microscopic and invisible to the naked eye.
The 5 best herbs for killing off parasites are:
- Black Walnut
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
There’s a tonne of additional resources out there for you to do your own research but you can check out these brands here and here as a starting point. Also, it’s worth noting that my pal Isabel from @frivolousgirl told me how parasites have a lifespan of 45 days and most cleanses are only designed to be 10-30 days long, so one treatment is unlikely to work instantly… you will probably need 2-3 rounds of treatment with a break in-between to start seeing results.
You need to increase your stomach acid
We’ve already spoken about how bile is really important in helping the the liver get rid of toxins and excess hormones, but it also has another really important role within the body – it’s key to digesting food and helping the body absorb the right nutrients for healthier skin and happy. How does bile link to stomach acid? Well, without the right amount of stomach acid, then your body is unable to produce enough bile to break down and digest food properly which leaves use at risk of developing leaky gut, parasites, acne and hormone imbalances. With around 90% of Americas suffering with hypochlorhydria related health concerns, chances are your stubborn, persistent acne could be caused by this too!
What’s the best way to increase stomach acid? A diet predominant in healthy fats signals your gallbladder to secrete the right amount of bile for optimum digestion but if that’s not enough, you may find drinking some warm apple cider vinegar or taking a Betaine HCL supplement like this one here before meals is just what you need to get your digestion working properly.
You’re lacking in vitamins and minerals
Sometimes we’re so obsessed with sourcing that miracle wild, hand picked, rare herb that actually has little-to-zero scientific research as an acne cure yet we fail to give our bodies the basic nutrients it needs to function properly! Cutting out foods like cows dairy in an attempt to clear your acne actually leaves you at high risk of developing a deficiency in hormone balancing nutrients such as iodine, vitamin D, K2 and acne clearing superstar – vitamin A.
It can be pretty tricky to find a high quality multivitamin that offers all the right nutrients and types of nutrients in the correct dose. Many offer substandard vitamins that aren’t very well absorbed and quite often not in the optimal dose. For example you need 30-50mg of Zinc Picolinate or L-Methionine for it to have a positive impact on your acne but many multi-vitamins will use cheap zinc in as little as 3mg per capsule which will pretty much do nothing for you, except rinse your bank account. That’s why I only recommend this multi vitamin as it provides a broad spectrum of basic nutrients including (zinc, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, iodine and zinc) that will help clear the skin and balance hormones.
Your gut still needs to heal
Unfortunately an unhappy gut is never going to be a quick fix and can take a long time to fully heal. Addressing issues such as low stomach acid, parasites, feacal impaction and a sluggish liver alongside a diet low in sugar and grains and high in healthy fat can go a long way to calming your digestive system.
However, if you’re still struggling, then the next step for you to take would be to look into leaky gut syndrome where toxins and food particles to leak out through the gut wall and cause inflammation which affects not only your digestion and the gut itself, but also other organs and tissues – such as your skin. You may also want to test potential food allergies and intolerances which could be causing your acne, although food intolerance are usually a symptom of a leaky gut. Once the gut has healed, most people find their food intolerance disappear too!
Environmental toxins are causing hormone imbalances
While this is unlikely to be the one and only factor behind your acne, it’s still a very important part of the overall healing process. Whether is harmful chemicals in your beauty products or excess fluoride exposure from your toothpaste and drinking water, reducing these toxins as much as possible is only going to benefit your health and speed up the healing process.
The average person is exposed to 126 toxic chemicals everyday just from their beauty products! These chemicals can include pore clogging mineral oil, skin irritating foaming agents and hormone disrupting preservatives.
How much fluoride is too much? Unfortunately it doesn’t take much exposure to fluoride for it to have a negative impact on your health and your skin. Fluoride can aggravate your skin from minor skin complaints such as mild perioral dermatitis around the mouth, to full on cystic fluoroderma. Cutting back on fluoride containing oral care products can help if you suffer from minor perioral dermaitis but if you suspect that fluoride is causing more than just rash like bumps around your mouth, you may want to investigate whether the drinking water in your area practices public water fluoridation.
If you’re concerned your acne may be linked to fluoroderma then I highly recommend this eBook by a woman called Melissa which goes into much more detail on the subject than I ever could!
So…what can you do to heal your acne?
You can always work your way through these points but remember, that could take a real long time! I went down the experimentation route and it took me 2 1/2 years before I finally worked it all out! The turning point for me was when I eventually took a hair mineral analysis (UK link) and was finally able to work out the root cause of my acne, therefore helping me treat the underlying cause quickly and effectively! As well as a hair mineral analysis test, you could also consider a hormone saliva test (NOT blood test) to get to the bottom of exactly WHAT is causing your acne so you can treat it properly. I know both hair mineral analysis and hormone saliva tests seem expensive but I promise you, they will be much cheaper than years of experimenting with the wrong supplements that just won’t work for you – trust me, I’m telling you this from experience! Hair mineral tests are cheaper than hormone saliva tests but can still tell you so much about your current state of health so if budget is a real issue, I usually recommend clients opting for a hair mineral test first, then a hormone saliva test at a later day.
As you can see, quite a lot of the points I’ve made in this post have some correlation to the gut. While a healthy diet provides the foundation for healing, there are often small tweaks that can be carried out to make sure your digestion is working at its very best so your body is able to produce and process all the hormones, vitamins and minerals it needs to bring your skin back into balance.
Did you find a healthy diet had little-to-no impact on your acne? Or were you one of the lucky few that quit the junk food and saw incredible results in their skin? Let me know your stories in the comments below!
Peace, Love & Clear Skin,