Ah, summer is here which means warm weather and clear skies, but not necessarily clear skin. Heat, sweat, sugary foods and lathered up sunscreen can be a recipe for an acne disaster. Whether you are people-watching in Dolores Park, picnicking in Crissy Field or surfing at Ocean Beach—here are five tips for preventing acne flare-ups.
1. GO FOR FOODS WITH A LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX
We have all heard that eating junk food can wreak havoc on your skin. Researchers are discovering that the glycemic index of carbohydrates may be the underlying cause of this. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast carbohydrates get broken down in your body. Foods that are high on the list spike the blood sugar levels quickly. This triggers a hormonal cascade that causes an increase in sebum production and therefore more acne. Some of America’s favorite summertime foods such as pretzels, sodas, potato salad, ice cream and watermelon are high on the glycemic index list, so it is best to avoid or at least eat them in moderation.
2. BALANCE THY HORMONES
Androgens, the male hormones present in both men and women, can overstimulate the oil glands and cause acne, especially along the hair follicles. In some cases, hormonal testing is recommended for females who have acne accompanied by excess facial or body hair, deepening voice, or irregular or infrequent menstrual periods. Nutrition and herbal botanicals are very effective in balancing hormones. Some of these include: red clover, saw palmetto, vitex, chaste berry, barberry, burdock and flax seed.
3. SUPPORT LIVER DETOXIFICATION
An overworked and stagnant liver can’t properly eliminate toxins and deactivate hormones floating around in the body. By reducing the toxic load and supporting the liver with herbs and foods, you can help the body to eliminate toxins through the digestive system instead of the through the skin. Increase your intake of liver supporting foods and herbs such as beets, carrots, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts), eggs, artichokes, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, milk thistle, turmeric and dandelion greens.
4. DECREASE INFLAMMATION
First and foremost, to prevent inflammation you should avoid foods that are known to increase it. These include dairy, gluten, sugar, vegetable oils, trans fats, feedlot-raised meat, processed meats with nitrites, alcohol and refined grains and flour. However, including foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and thereby reduces acne flare-ups.
An abundance of oxidative stress molecules in the body correlates with increased acne flare-up. Studies indicate that people with low levels of glutathione in their body are more predisposed to having acne. Therefore, supplementation of this powerful antioxidant can be an effective method to quench these inflammatory molecules. At San Francisco Natural Medicine we offer intravenous glutathione therapy, which delivers this antioxidant directly to your bloodstream.
5. OPTIMIZE DIGESTION AND GUT HEALTH
Constipation can be another cause of toxic matter being reintroduced back into the body. Remembering the “4Fs” of fats, fiber, fluids and fitness can help with chronic constipation. Probiotics, whether as live cultures in fermented foods or in a daily supplement, are very beneficial to skin and gut health. These “friendly bacteria” create a barrier in the gut that prevents inflammation and acne.
To find out more about how a naturopathic approach to skin health can be beneficial for you personally, call 415-643-6600 for a free 15-minute consultation with Dr. Katie Strobe. She is an expert in treating skin conditions including acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, hives, cold sores and warts. She also works with patients surrounding surgeries for tissue and would healing and scar prevention.