Whether you call them pimples, blemishes, or zits, ACNE is a common skin condition that can be a source of discomfort, frustration, and embarrassment for those who experience it.
There’s quite a lot of behind-the-scenes action happening in your body that contributes to the development of it.
What Is Acne?Acne can occur at any age, but is often experienced during distinct phases of hormonal shifting, like adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This is because fluctuating hormone levels can increase the amount of oil produced by the skin.
A bout of acne or even the appearance of a single pimple is the result of a buildup of oil, skin cells, and/or bacteria in the pores of the skin.
Causes of AcneStudies have linked acne to:
The foods you eat don’t usually directly cause breakouts, but can contribute to acne by promoting inflammation, impairing gut health, and spiking blood sugar and insulin levels.
Inflammatory foods include those high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Examples include:
Refined carbohydrates (many of which are high glycemic index foods), contain little fibre and protein, which helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Instead, these sugary foods are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar to climb and lots of insulin to be released.
Excess insulin can affect other hormones and cause too much oil to be made by the skin, resulting in those dreaded breakouts.
Typical Acne TreatmentsMost people deal with breakouts on the surface, relying on topical cleansers, creams and lotions to treat their blemished skin as fast as possible.
However, relying solely on these types of treatments can result in a cycle of continuous breakouts and can delay complete healing of the skin.
‘Spot treatments’ are just that – they treat the symptom (the acne), but never address the underlying root cause.
Instead of reaching for the harsh topicals and concealer, try healing your skin from the inside out.
Treating Acne HolisticallyIt’s important to consider any foods you may be sensitive to and to try avoid or minimize those. Your immune system can react to certain foods, causing even more of an inflammatory response.
If you suspect your breakouts may be caused by a food sensitivity, consider testing or trying an elimination diet to identify the food trigger. This is best done under the guidance of a nutrition professional or healthcare practitioner.
Common food triggers include sugar, wheat, soy, and dairy (cow’s milk).
To heal skin and prevent future breakouts, focus on foods that contain plenty of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats like:
· A variety of fruits and vegetables – the more colourful your diet, the better!
· Nuts and seeds, especially flax & chia for the extra dose of omega-3 fats
· Wild-caught salmon
· Lean, grass fed meats
· Whole grains & seeds, like quinoa, oats, and brown rice
COOL TIP: When a breakout occurs, you can use the same healing foods topically to help soothe, hydrate, and cleanse irritated skin.
The foods that are health-optimizing for your insides can also be soothing and calming for the outside!
Healthline - Foods that cause acne
Healthline - Anti-acne diet
Healthline - Symptoms of acne
Soothing DIY Acne Face Mask
¼ cup papaya, mashed
1 Tbsp oatmeal
1 tsp raw honey
2 - 4 drops tea tree oil (or combo tea tree and lavender)
How to prepare
Stir together ingredients in a small bowl. Apply to clean, dry skin (face, neck, shoulders, back - anywhere you have irritated, acneic skin).
Leave on 15-20 minutes, then rinse off completely, and pat dry. And voilà, happily refreshed skin.
* If you choose to “taste” your mask before slathering it on, do NOT ingest if you have added essential oils!
When we think of "vitamins," we know they're super-important for health.
But vitamin D is special.
It's difficult to get enough vitamin D; vitamin D is, therefore, a very common deficiency.
So, let's talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need, and how you can get enough. The three ways to vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming vitamin D containing food, and through supplements.
Why is vitamin D important, and how much do we need?
Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.
Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The "official" minimum amount of vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health.
To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.
How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?
Your skin makes vitamin D when it's exposed to the sun; that's why it's referred to as the "sunshine vitamin."How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week.Of course, we should always avoid sunburns and of course in some locations (and seasons of the year) it's not easy to get sun exposure. So, how can we get enough vitamin D in other ways?
How can I get enough vitamin D from food?
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. Some mushrooms make vitamin D when they're exposed to the sun.
Some foods are "fortified" (which means vitamin D has been added) with vitamin D. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.
Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course).Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day; this is why vitamin D supplements are quite popular.
How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?
It's easy enough to just "pop a pill" or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A). Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra.
But before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure you check that it won't interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice.
Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.
The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys.
The best thing, if you're concerned, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which; many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D. There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements.
I've given you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-600 IU or vitamin D daily.
If you're concerned, it's best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what's right for you. Always take supplements as directed.
Recipe (vitamin D): Super-Simple Grilled Salmon
4 wild salmon fillets
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 black pepper
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried dill
4 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place fish on top, skin-side down. Surround with a single layer of asparagus.
Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill. Drizzle with olive oil.
Broil for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Serve with a side of rice or quinoa.
We all have some level of stress, right?
It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).
Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.
Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.
It's the chronic stress that's a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health.
Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.
Let's dive into the "stress mess."
Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.
Stress increased the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood "thickness," as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.
Mess #2 - Immunity
Did you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?
Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.
Mess #3 - "Leaky Gut."
Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.
The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.
Picture this: Have you ever played "red rover?" It's where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!
Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption
Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.
And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.
More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favours.
Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.
●Put less pressure on yourself?
●Ask for help?
●Delegate to someone else?
●Finally, make that decision?
No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:
●Walk in nature
●Unplug (read a book, take a bath)
●Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
●Connect with loved ones
Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.
Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.
There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.
You can ditch that stress mess!
Recipe (relaxing chamomile): Chamomile Peach Iced Tea
1 cup steeped chamomile tea, cooled
1 peach, diced
Place both ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use fresh or frozen peaches.