Why Diet is the First Step to Clear Skin

For years I never knew that my acne could have anything to do with my diet. I had acne on my face but I did not feel sick or unhealthy. So I pretty much assumed it was just a skin problem, one that would heal when ointments or medicated creams were applied to it. However, none of these medicated creams and ointments could heal my acne and give me clear skin. Even if someone had told me at that time that diet and acne are connected, I would have had no idea where to start.

However do think about it, if you eat in excess you will gain weight. If you drink in excess you will have a hangover the next day. You will get a tummy upset if you eat food that has gone bad. People with allergies have reactions – ranging from mild to severe – when they eat or drink something they are allergic to. Yeah, I know that there will be people who will do any or all of these things are have nothing bad happen to them, but they are the exception. My point here is what we eat affects us directly or indirectly.

In the case of acne the reaction is not immediate and not direct. It may take years of bad eating habits to get acne. Since the effect is never immediate or direct, it may seem like diet has nothing to do with acne. In the case of a tummy upset you can be pretty sure and pinpoint exactly what it is you have eaten. This is never the case with acne.

Take for instance the islanders of Kitava island, which is off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Not one case of acne was found in the 1200 islanders above the age of 10 who were examined. Their diet is completely unprocessed and natural and consists largely of tubers, fish, fruit and coconut.

Acne is an inflammation. It is a sign that the inflammation levels in the body are high. In order to help you understand it better, look at inflammation as you would an empty glass. When we are born this glass is empty. As we grow older this glass fills little by little. As we eat processed foods this glass starts filling. Stress and our environment can add to this glass. Once the glass is full it is going to spill out and start causing problems. One of these problems is acne. Note that some people may not have acne but some other problem like eczema or maybe chronic colds or some other health issue. Excess inflammation, even if it does not cause acne, is never good for anyone and can manifest itself in a lot of ways.

Now we do not have any control over the environment we live in but we do have control over diet and stress. Eating a good, healthy and anti-inflammatory diet will help bring the inflammation down. But just as it took years to build up, it will take time to come down as well.

Sugar, dairy, processed and packaged foods, antibiotics are some of the things that increase inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs are foods that will help bring your inflammation levels down. Once your inflammation levels start going down your acne will start to clear. Dietary changes will be the biggest change you can make to start clearing up your skin. Done properly and consistently you will see a change within a short amount of time. In addition regular exercise also helps relax your body and bring down inflammation levels.

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4 Things I Wish My Dermatologist Had Told Me

The one thing I noticed when visiting dermatologists over the years for my acne was that they all had clear skin. Not just clear skin, but beautiful skin. Initially, this gave me hope as I thought that they would help me get that same clear and beautiful skin. However, as time went by it became pretty obvious that I was heading in exactly the opposite direction. The dry, red, cracked, itchy and bumpy skin was not exactly what I was looking for. They had some tricks up their sleeve which they were clearly not sharing with their patients.

I was pretty sure they were using products that they would never recommend to their patients. However, here are some things which if they had told me, my skin would have healed a long time back.

1. Diet has a major effect on your skin

Believe it or not figuring this one out on my own, after 2o years of fighting acne made me feel really stupid. After all the money I had spent on various (some really expensive ) products and clinics, it was something I was eating that was giving me acne.

Thinking about it, it makes sense. What we eat sustains us and gives us energy. It always has an effect on our body. So it makes sense that certain foods may be giving us acne.

2. I never use the products I prescribe you

When trying to get me to take Accutane one dermatologist told me “I would take it if I had to.” I knew she was lying through her teeth. If Accutane helps someone and cures them permanently I have absolutely no problem with it. What I have a problem with is trying to convince a patient by lying, that too to someone with acne who may already have self-esteem issues. Worse is doing it with a drug such as Accutane.

Once while buying Clinique products, the salesperson got a call. I heard her refer to the person on the other end as Doctor. Curious, I hung around and spoke to her for a while longer. She told me that it was a dermatologist at the very clinic I had visited for my acne. I paid exactly the same amount at the clinic as I did at the Clinique counter. What I got from the products the dermatologist prescribed was dry, inflamed skin. Clinique products actually made my skin heal a bit.

3. Antibiotics and BP are hit or miss solutions

Not everyone with acne will be cured by these standard solutions. From what I have learnt over the years every case of acne has something different causing it and something unique will be able to cure it. For some, it was Zinc supplements, for another Vitamin E supplements. Some people have good results by avoiding sugar, dairy and gluten, either one or maybe even all 3. Some even cured their acne by just changing their pillow cases every day.

I wish dermatologists would change a patient’s treatment when it did not work instead of ramping up the dosage. If it does not work in a month it is not going to work.

Sometimes using antibiotics and BP is like treating the body and skin like a war zone. Nothing good can come out of it. The skin reacts by getting red and inflamed.

4. Left to itself your skin can heal on its own

If you have a minor cut on your hand do you need medical intervention? No. Even deeper cuts are stitched so that the healing takes place properly. The body does the healing. Provide a good environment for your skin and it can and will heal the acne on its own. Today if I see the signs that I am going to get acne, and I have no time to use my regular honey masks, I just leave it alone. I drink a lot of water and if pressed for time just take a Vitamin C supplement. I would normally drink water with lemon juice or eat vitamin C rich fruits. The acne does not even form.

However all said and done, some people do get a lot of help for their acne from dermatologists. If you do visit one make sure you use your instincts and realise when a treatment is not working and if it is actually making things worse.

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A Green Smoothie Recipe for Great Skin

About 10-12 years back I was a great fan of the Oprah Winfrey show. It was from her show that I was then introduced to Dr Oz. I loved the way he spoke and the way he broke things down so that people like us could understand them. I then started watching his show. Now Dr Oz is a big advocate of healthy living and eating. On one of his shows, he had a nutritionist, called Dr Rovenia Brock. He asked the audience to guess how old she was. The audience guess ranged from 29-35. In reality, Dr Rovenia was 56 years old!!!!

This was a green smoothie recipe that she made on the show. Now, anything a woman who looks so young eats is very interesting. To top it all she had fantastic skin. She called this the Fountain of Youth shake. I got all the things I needed and made this the very next day.

Within a week my skin was brighter, my scars less visible and less red. At that time I had still not figured out that my acne was being caused by sugar, but this drink did make my acne heal faster.

Here is the recipe.

Green Smoothie Recipe (by Dr Rovenia Brock)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • One teaspoon wheatgrass powder
  • 2 handfuls spinach or one handful any green leafy vegetable like mint, parsley
  • 2-3 inch pieces of pineapple
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Half a green apple
  • One inch piece of ginger

Blend all the above and drink.

The above was the original recipe. However, due to the fact that I could not get pineapple too often, I often skipped it and the apple too. However feel free to use kiwi, strawberries (or any berry) instead of pineapple and apple. Sometimes I just used coconut water, wheatgrass, lemon and ginger and still had good results.

Try it and let me know how it works out for you.

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2 Habits that Make Acne Worse

Acne is never your fault. Come on, no one would ever do anything that they knew gave them acne. There is nothing you are doing in particular that is giving you acne. Acne is the result of various things happening inside your body. Various factors come together to make your skin break out. The breakout which is the most visible is the last of a chain of events taking place in your body. However, once you have it there are habits that make acne worse.

  1. Touching Your Face

habits that make acne worse

A sure fire way to make your acne worse is to touch your face constantly. Keep feeling around to see how many bumps are forming and you can bet that you will get more active acne forming. This happens as the constant touching and picking spread the bacteria which is in the pores around and more acne form. The touching and picking will also ensure that you are left with a scar, one that will be difficult to remove.

One of the best things you can do for your acne is to leave your face alone. Unless your fingers have magical powers that heal, no touching and no popping. Leave your skin alone to do its thing and heal itself.

2. Sugary Drinks

habits that make acne worse

Many people have the habit of drinking loads of soda, tea and coffee throughout the day especially when they are working. Tea and coffee on their own, in limited quantities, may not be a problem. The problem is the sugar that is added.

I have heard people tell me “Come on, it’s just one glass” while trying to get me to drink something sweet. The problem with this is that the drink has to go into my system and having acne prone skin I know what this will do few days down the line. Unfortunately, we do not live in a Sci-Fi book where we have bodies that will bypass certain foods that are not good for us.

So make sure you are the person adding sugar to the tea, coffee or any drink and restrict it to 2-3 cups a day. Rest of the time keep a bottle of water that you can constantly sip from. Your skin and body will thank you for it.

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Why and How to use Vitamin C for Acne

I stumbled upon using vitamin C for acne quite by accident. A while back I was taking vitamin C supplements for a cold which was due to an allergy. While the cold stayed put, I noticed that my acne was healing faster and my skin was looking better. The skin tone was even and my skin looked clearer. I had not been doing anything else different, so I was pretty certain it was the vitamin C. Pretty intrigued, I took to the internet to do some research.

The first thing I found out was that vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are great for the skin and the body as they neutralise the free radicals which cause damage to the body. The reason vitamin C is recommended to keep colds at bay is that it makes the immune system stronger which in turn fights off colds. However, the same principle can be applied to acne. If the immune system is strong it will fight off acne as well and help it heal faster and better. It also helps with acne scarring. It helps the skin to make essential proteins needed to generate new skin. Without vitamin C, these proteins weaken which will cause scarring and also prevent the older scars from healing properly.

Vitamin C will help your acne in 3 ways.

  1. Reduction in breakouts
  2. The inflammation and redness in your face is less
  3. It helps reduce scarring

Fortunately for us, Vitamin C is available in abundance in fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be taken internally and applied topically. The RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg per day for women. However, if you have acne try and aim for more than that.

Vegetables high in Vitamin C
  1. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, methi (fenugreek leaves) (1 cup – 80mg)
  2. Broccoli (1/2 cup – 50 mg)
  3. Tomatoes (1 cup – 54 mg)
  4. Peas (1 cup – 37 mg)
  5. Brussels sprouts (1 cup – 96 mg)
  6. Cabbage (1 cup – 51 mg)
  7. Cauliflower (1 cup – 54 mg)
  8. Red peppers (1/2 cup – 95 mg)
  9. Green peppers (1/2 cup – 60 mg)
  10. Sweet potato (1 cup – 40 mg)
Fruits high in Vitamin C
  1. Strawberries (1/2 cup – 42 mg)
  2. Guava (1 whole – 125 mg)
  3. Kiwi (1 whole – 64 mg)
  4. Oranges (1 whole – 82 mg)
  5. Papaya (1/2 cup – 60 mg)
  6. Pineapple (1 cup – 78 mg)
  7. Amla (Indian gooseberry) – (1/2 cup – 600 mg)

2 servings of any of these every day will be more than enough to keep your skin healthy and acne free. If for some reason you cannot manage this squeeze the juice of one lemon into water or green tea for a quick way to get your vitamin C. However I highly recommend that you include the above fruits or vegetables into your diet.

Mashed strawberries, papaya and kiwi can be mixed with honey and applied to the face for a boost of vitamin C directly to the skin. However please be aware that some skins may be a little sensitive to vitamin C applied topically.