Acne – What Your Breakout Be Telling You

We all thought acne was a thing of our teenage past, right? Interestingly, clinical studies estimate that 40-50% of adults age 20-40 have some sort of low grade, persistent acne. Wowza! That is high!

It’s also a common complaint that I hear from my patients as well, and there tend to be three overarching root causes of acne, that most of the time, captures the cause.

1) Digestion

Certain foods are harder on our digestion than others (gluten & dairy stand out!).  When we consistently consume difficult foods, what can happen is the intestinal lining becomes ‘leaky’. Leaky gut can lead to inflammation, and one of the signs of inflammation in the skin is acne.

If you’re already at the point where your digestion is off (bloating/gas/constipation/diarrhea), you’re going to want to do a digestive healing protocol with a nutritionist or naturopath.  Otherwise, if it acts up occasionally, you likely know what are the culprits and can cut them out! A great post, by my friend Jess, on healthy substitutions is here.

2) Hormones

Another root cause of acne can be hormones.  Increased insulin and increased cortisol levels (from poor blood sugar maintenance…or put simply eating crap and being stressed out) have been linked to increased levels of androgens (male hormones like testosterone, that females have a bit of too). The issue with androgens is when they get out of balance with your other hormones. Increased androgens can:

  • increase sebum (oil) production in the skin
  • stimulate growth of skin cells
  • interfere with removal of dead skin cells
  • increase inflammation (explained above)

For me personally, it was a matter of dealing with my hormones.  I had been on the birth control pill for so long that it had masked hormone imbalances I had.

3) Stress

Stress wreaks havoc on the body. I always say that you can eat perfectly, and exercise amazingly, but if you are stressed out, you will have a tough time being truly healthy.  Studies  link prolonged stress with inflammation, and once again as we talked about before, inflammation can be shown in the skin through acne.

One last one that I didn’t mention is a LACK of good fats! One study conducted by Korean researchers showed a 42% reduction in acne in males age 20-25 by supplementing with Omega 3 fish oils.  My fave brand of Omega 3s (as I get asked all the time) is NutraSea,  and I like the one that has the Vitamin D in it, because then I don’t have to take my Vitamin D separately!

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