Acne is extremely common and can affect anyone of any age. While there are no serious risk factors associated with acne, the psychological and emotional toll it can take can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health and quality of life.
So what can you do if you are suffering from acne? Our Naturopath Natalie Koshka has identified the top seven factors which contribute to acne, and what you can do about it.
What is acne?
Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition which is caused by hair follicles becoming plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne affects individuals of all ages, from adolescents to adults. Our skin is our largest and fastest growing organ and when there is imbalance or dysfunction in the body, this can be reflected on our skin.
Conventional medical management such as antibiotics, the oral contraceptive pill, topical creams and Accutane only mask the symptoms and may even lead to some nasty side effects. Following a naturopathic model, we endeavour to find the underlying cause of the condition and restore the body and skin back to optimal health.
Natalie’s top 7 contributing factors to acne:
1. The gut-skin connection
Leaky gut, inflammation in the gut lining and dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad bacteria) can all lead to breakouts and acne. This can be a result of poor diet, chronic stress, alcohol and antibiotic use. Research shows people who experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, constipation, reflux and halitosis (bad breath) are more likely to experience a skin condition such as acne.
Heal the gut and restore the balance of the gut microbiome. This can be achieved through specific diet, lifestyle, herbal and nutritional supplement support with the guidance of your practitioner.
2. Diet and food intolerances
Certain foods can increase inflammation in the body and cause acne in some individuals. Food intolerances may cause gut inflammation which can result in acne.
Get tested for food intolerances — we offer the IgG Food Intolerance test in-clinic.
Avoid inflammatory foods such as dairy — specifically A1 casein, a protein found in cow’s milk which can trigger acne. Swap cow’s milk for coconut, almond or cashew-based products.
Avoid sugar — this is also a culprit because it spikes insulin, resulting in increased sebum production and inflammation.
3. Detoxification & Elimination pathways
Diet and lifestyle choices can lead to a sluggish bowel and liver. If detoxification and elimination are impaired, toxins can accumulate in our system and show up on our skin.
Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water every day.
Increase daily fibre intake such as psyllium husk, freshly ground flax seeds, fruit and vegetables.
Eat unprocessed, organic (if possible) foods to reduce the toxic load on your liver.
Include liver-loving foods such as beetroot, garlic and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts) — all of which help with detoxification.
Chronic stress is inflammatory — it spikes insulin and can wreak havoc on our hormones, resulting in hormonal breakouts.
Implement stress management techniques into your daily routine.
This may include going for a walk in nature, walking barefoot on grass, getting a massage, having a bath or listening to a guided meditation.
Read more about our natural stress management techniques.
Imbalances in our hormones can sometimes cause acne, especially if we are stressed or there is underlying inflammation in the body.
Diet, lifestyle, herbs and supplements can all help to naturally balance hormones.
A hormone panel test can also be done to identify any imbalances.
6. The Lymphatic System
Our lymphatic system plays a central role in the health of our skin and is often overlooked. The lymphatic system is a huge network of vessels that run through your whole body. The lymphatic system picks up waste and toxins from the cells and carries them to the blood so they filtered by the liver and kidneys. If your lymphatic system is sluggish, these toxins can cause acne.
Get your lymph moving through daily exercise. It can be as simple as a 30-minute walk.
Dry body brushing each morning before you shower stimulates lymphatic flow.
Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water every day.
7. Nutrient deficiencies
Deficiencies in key nutrients may affect your overall health and the healing capability of your skin. Specific nutrients that are beneficial for skin and tissue health include zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and Omega-3. These nutrients specifically assist with wound healing, repair and reduce redness and inflammation.
See your Naturopath to determine what nutrients you might be lacking.
Correct nutrient deficiencies through consuming skin-loving foods in your diet. These include walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, avocado and oily fish such as salmon.
Do you want to get to the bottom of why you’re experiencing acne? For a personalised plan to reduce breakouts and improve overall skin appearance, book a consultation today with Natalie Koshka. You can book a free 15-minute call with Natalie to see how she can help you
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