Most people do not consider acne to be anything more than a cosmetic issue. However, acne can have a significant impact on people’s self-confidence and quality of life. It is also a sign of deeper systemic imbalances. Unfortunately, most common treatments prescribed- oral and topical drugs might help short term, but might exacerbate those imbalances and risk serious side effects in the long run. The good news is that when you address the root causes of acne, clear, healthy skin becomes an everyday reaity.
So what causes acne in the first place? There can be several factors involved, but some of the biggest drivers of acne include:
- Leaky gut
- Imbalanced gut flora
- An overloaded liver
- Hormone imbalances
- Sugary or refined foods
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Nutritional deficiencies
The standard American diet (SAD) and lifestyle produce the perfect conditions for chronic acne. Packaged foods high in sugars, refined flours, and unhealthy fats create systemic inflammation. They also cause blood sugar imbalances which, in turn, lead to hormonal imbalances like high cortisol levels, estrogen dominance, and high testosterone in women. These imbalances increase the production of sebum and keratin, which can cause acne.
Standard acne treatments include oral antibiotics, Accutane, and oral contraceptives. Sadly, these drugs can cause damage to the gut and liver, lead to nutrient depletion, and side effects like joint pain, vision problems, depression, and even birth defects. Thankfully, there are real, simple solutions available that you can implement without risking any of these harmful side effects!
- Eat blood sugar and hormone-balancing foods. This means ditching sugar and refined flours. Instead, opt for lots of colorful veggies, low glycemic load fruits, intact grains, clean proteins, and healthy fats rich in anti-inflammatory Omega 3s.
- Try eliminating the most common irritants. Many people discover that their acne clears up if they remove dairy, gluten, citrus, or other common irritants from their diet. It can take up to three or four weeks for acne caused by these types of food intolerances to clear, so patience is vital! It is helpful to do an elimination diet and reintroduce foods one at a time to determine your personal trigger foods.
- Repair your gut and liver. Make a point of eating plenty of fiber, fermented foods and phytonutrient-rich foods. This will help rebalance your microbiome and support your liver. It will also promote proper detoxification and waste removal. Supplements such as zinc, probiotics, digestive enzymes, milk thistle, may also be helpful. Speak to your doctor to see whether adding any of these supplements is appropriate for you.
- Release stress. All forms of stress signal the body to release cortisol. High cortisol levels deplete essential nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and selenium. These nutrients are crucial for preventing and controlling acne. Try breathwork, EFT, meditation, or gentle movement to shut off your stress response and bring your cortisol levels down. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of sleep to help reduce stress levels and rebalance your hormones.
- Include Omega 3s and antioxidants. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, helping heal the gut, balance hormones, and tame acne. Vitamins E and A also have antioxidant properties that support skin health and reduce inflammation
- Avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals and xenoestrogens. Hormone-disrupting chemicals hide in plastics, pesticides, municipal tap water, personal care products, and birth control pills. Reduce your exposure to hormone disruptors by:
- Switching to glass water bottles and food containers.
- Thoroughly washing your produce or buying organic.
- Investing in a quality water filter.
- Switching to clean personal care products. (The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide is helpful for this.)
If you are struggling with chronic acne and looking for answers, Dr. Sisu is here to help. She can work with you to identify the root causes of your acne and restore balance so you can enjoy beautiful, healthy skin. Get started on your health goals today!