Acne rates are rising — contradicting the belief that this condition is caused by genes.
Eight million people see the dermatologist every year for acne, and millions more rely on infomercial products hawked by celebrities or over-the-counter products that total $100 million in sales every year. Clearly, this problem, like so many chronic diseases in the 21st century, is increasing. Why?
Let me tell you about a book that I just finished reading. It’s called The Clear Skin Diet. It’s written by renowned dermatologist Val Trelor, M.D., and Alan Logan, N.D., a naturopath. This book gives us real answers to why pimples are popping up all over!
For the first time, this book links many of the imbalances in the underlying keys to health (The 7 Key of UltraWellness) to the real causes of acne — including your nutritional status, stress, toxicity, inflammation, and hormonal and gut imbalances.
The key to healthy skin isn’t just dealing with the symptoms — like lathering on potions and lotions, popping and pricking pimples, or taking antibiotics or strong liver-damaging medication.
There’s a better way.
Beauty and vibrant, clear, healthy skin come from the inside out, not from the outside in. Here are some things that I have learned over the years and that have been very well reviewed and summarized in The Clear Skin Diet:
A poor diet is bad for your skin
- Skin health, and acne in particular, are tied strongly to diet.
- Acne is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress (two keys of UltraWellness).
- Traditional indigenous cultures have little acne, but as soon as they adopt a Western diet or SAD (standard American diet), they see increasing levels of acne.
- Sugar raises insulin levels, which promotes the production of testosterone in women, and inflammation in general, causing acne.
- Saturated and processed fats increase arachidonic acid levels and compete with omega-3 fats in the body, leading to more inflammation and acne.
- Milk and dairy consumption is closely linked with acne (and many other skin and health problems) in part because of the hormones (including growth hormone) in dairy and because of the saturated fats.
- High-sugar milk chocolate can increase acne by increasing inflammation, but dark chocolate does the opposite.
Nutritional deficiencies promote acne
- Widespread nutritional deficiencies of zinc, omega-3 fats, and some anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats like evening-primrose oil promote acne, while supplementing with them can help boost immunity and reduce inflammation and acne.
- A topical form of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) can reduce inflammation and help acne.
- Antioxidant levels are low in acne patients — especially vitamins A and E, which are critical for skin health.
- People who eat more fruits and vegetables (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne.
- Certain foods have been linked to improvements in many of the underlying causes of acne and can help correct it, including fish oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods such as berries, green foods like dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs.
Your brain can cause acne
- Stress causes acne flare-ups.
- Stress does this by causing increased inflammation and oxidative stress, raising cortisol, and depleting zinc, magnesium and selenium, which help control acne.
- Stress causes poor dietary choices.
- You can manage stress through meditation, yoga, saunas, massage, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and more.
Read more about causes of skin problems here.
So getting healthy skin and clearing up acne truly depend on the optimal function of many of the core systems of the body — your nutritional status, your immune system, your gut, your hormones and your mind-body health.
I hope you’ve learned more today about how getting to the roots of illness via the 7 Key to UltraWellness can help you uncover the source of your health problem, wherever you may find it — even in a pimple on your nose!
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.