Most of us have suffered with acne or spots at some point in our lives…
The majority of outbreaks tend to occur approximately 15 minutes before you’re about to go on a date, pose for a photo, or go to a job interview.
I’ve been hit with that last one and I can tell you that there is nothing quite like turning up to a job interview all clean cut and smartly dressed with a screaming red pimple on the tip of your nose.
No matter how much you try to put it out of your mind you start convincing yourself that every single question is being addressed directly to your spot…
“So Mr Wake, what where did you ‘spot’ this job and what made you apply for the ‘pus-ition’?”
The good news is that several studies have been done into what causes acne and the outbreak of spots (and more importantly how to avoid them).
We’re all ever-so-slightly different and something that causes an outbreak of spots in your next door neighbour might merely give you a healthy glow. With that said certain foods and drinks have been shown to cause/prevent spots more than others.
This is your Insider’s Edge guide to the most common myths, ‘danger foods’ and best prevention techniques.
Busting the myths!
Let’s start with the myths. You’ll like the first one:
Myth #1: Eating chocolate will give you spots
Chocolate always gets wheeled out as the primary cause of anything spot related. The good news is that actually there is very little evidence to support this theory. In an interview with the Huffington Post, dermatologist Dr Ava Shamban noted:
“Chocolate per se will not make you break out… In fact, there is little evidence that chocolate or any specific fatty foods will cause acne, but we do know that a high-sugar/high-fat diet can increase sebum production and promote inflammatory responses in the body – which can lead to acne.”
In summary eating chocolate in moderation is NOT going to turn your face into Mt Vesuvius… but too much sugar and fat in your diet in all likelihood will – so reach for a fun size chocolate bar rather than a 3-tiered chocolate cake.
Myth #2: Chilli and spices can cause breakouts of acne
Some folk swear blind that spicy food will cause spots. Again there is very little evidence to suggest that chillies and spices have any impact on your skin – in fact some people swear that they can actually help acne sufferers.
But before we put this one to bed there is something you should know. Sufferers of rosacea (a condition which can cause redness in the face and occasionally pimples) should try to avoid spicy food as it can cause the condition to flare up.
What to AVOID to help prevent skin outbreaks
Cut Down on Dairy – We consume a vast amount of milk, cheese, cream and yoghurt in the Western world. While there are a number of health benefits associated with certain diary products, clear skin isn’t one of them. A number of studies have shown a correlation between acne sufferers and milk intake.
With that said calcium is great for teeth and bones especially in growing kids and not all us will suffer these ill effects so if you do cut down on your dairy intake make sure that you’re supplementing your calcium intake elsewhere.
Avoid Processed Foods – I know, it sounds screamingly obvious doesn’t it? The fact is processed food is the number one culprit for bad skin because our bodies can’t… ironically… process them as effectively.
Here comes the science bit: refined carbohydrates can cause an increase in our levels of insulin which increases sebum production which in turn leads to blocked pores and spots. It’s not just turkey twizzlers, crisps and chips we’re talking about here – it also applies to ‘refined grains’ like bread, flour and rice.
Lower Your Caffeine Intake – Many acne sufferers have reported that cutting caffeine out of their diet has markedly improved their skin condition.
Coca Cola which is also packed full of sugars gets the biggest slap on the wrist here, as do hot drinks with a high caffeine content such as a coffee.
It is worth pointing out that some experts argue caffeine has no impact whatsoever, so the only sure-fire way to know is to cut down and see if it makes a difference to you – what works for some may not work for others.
5 things to ADD to your diet to help promote clear skin
Eat Water Rich Fruit and Veg – The higher the water content the better: salad, cucumber, melon, spinach and parsley are all spot preventing superfoods because they help to flush out the toxins that can clog your skin.
Think Orange – Orange foods, yellow foods and red foods which are high in beta carotene such as carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin convert into vitamin A and are great for the skin.
Get More Omega 3 in Your Diet – Oily fish such as mackerel and salmon are the order of the day. If you’re vegetarian or not a fan of fish you can also get these inflammation reducing oils in flaxseed and walnuts.
Drink Green Tea – If you can bear to swap coffee for green tea you should see some real benefits. The polyphenols in green tea are antioxidants which help regulate the hormones and keep skin inflammation under control.
Drink Lots of Water – Water will help flush out the toxins and hydrate your skin.
We tend to be far more susceptible to skin conditions in the West due to complex diets which are often made up of processed foods which are high in sugar and complex grains.
As skin expert Danielle Gill points out: “societies that follow a more caveman type diet consisting of meat, vegetables, whole grains and next to no refined or packaged foods don’t tend to have a problem with spots.”