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A part of puberty many of us hated was the way our skin had the ability to produce a seemingly endless stream of pimples. Granted, some of us had a better time of acne than others, but the vast majority remember at least having a few spots here and there. We can’t help what happens during puberty, pimples are part and parcel, but when the condition persists well into adulthood, it’s time to make a change. Could a food sensitivity test help fight off adult acne?

What is Acne?

It’s helpful to understand what acne is before we go into how food sensitivity testing could help with it. Acne is a common skin disease with a variety of potential triggers and causes.

Our skin is covered in hair follicles, some which are visible to the naked eye, and some which aren’t. These hair follicles are attached to tiny glands, that help to stop your hair from drying out. They produce sebum to do this. Sometimes, too much sebum is produced, which can then mix with dead skin cells and, what would usually be, harmless bacteria. The hair follicle gets clogged up as a result. This causes pimples, and by extension, acne.

Why does acne develop?

While there is still some heavy debate on the definitive cause of acne, it’s generally accepted that genetics is the primary cause in around 80% of cases. A general rule of thumb is, if either of your parents had acne, you would probably develop it as well. The difference is in how your skin and sebaceous glands are structured, on a genetic level. If they don’t function quite the way they should do, it can cause a predisposition to acne.

Hormones can also play a significant role, which is why it’s is so common throughout adolescence. It’s suspected that hormones like testosterone can cause the amount of sebum the glands produce to increase significantly, triggering acne. Stress is also a potential cause, as our body produces more hormones when we’re stressed or aggravated.

Diet has also been shown to have an impact in individual cases. It’s fairly common to develop acne seemingly out of the blue, if you have a food sensitivity, without any previous symptoms. The foods we eat also play a significant role in general skin health. If your diet isn’t well-balanced, or you’re eating foods which don’t ‘agree’ with you, then this could trigger an outbreak of acne.

How can food sensitivity testing help acne?
If you suddenly have a horrible flare-up, despite no historical skin problems, it could be that you’ve recently developed a food sensitivity. While food intolerances are mainly seen as a digestive issue, skin conditions such as acne are a common symptom of food intolerance.

All kinds of foods have the potential to trigger acne, but there are a few known problem foods. The usual suspects include;
• Alcohol
• Corn
• Dairy
• Gluten
• Nuts
• Sugar
• Wheat
• Yeast

How can your diet improve acne?

Some vitamins and minerals are known to contribute to good skin health, such as vitamin A, zinc and Omega 3’s.

Vitamin A is known for helping your skin self-exfoliate (as well as looking after other organs). You can find Vitamin A in the foods such as; carrots, cod liver oil, eggs, broccoli and even spinach.

Zinc is quite helpful for those with naturally dry skin. It can help keep your skin moist and prevent the body from overcompensating with extra sebum (to combat dryness). Dry skin is a very common cause of acne, so keep yourself hydrated and enjoy a well-balanced diet to help prevent it from getting worse (and even combat it).

Omega 3’s are also effective in battling acne. Not only do they possess anti-inflammatory properties, but they help with hormone production too.

Take a two-pronged approach

A combination of avoiding foods you’re sensitive (or intolerant) to and eating more skin-nourishing foods can help combat tough bouts of acne. If you’re experiencing an unexpected flare-up of spots, try beginning an elimination diet to remove problem foods which may be the cause. It’s recommended that you stay on an elimination diet for at least 4 weeks to allow time for your body to flush out the offending foods and see the benefit. Afterwards, you can slowly try reintroducing some foods, one at a time, to see how your body handles them in small doses.

This article was written by Donna, our Nutritionist / Care Manager

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