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Healthy Diet, Healthy Skin

Acne-Fighting Foods continued...

Zinc. There is some evidence that people with acne have lower than normal levels of the mineral zinc. Zinc appears to help prevent acne by creating an environment inhospitable to the growth of P. acnes. It also helps calm skin irritated by breakouts. Zinc is found in turkey, almonds, Brazil nuts, and wheat germ.   

Vitamins E and C. The antioxidants vitamin E and vitamin C have a calming effect on the skin. “And they are thought to work synergistically,” Marmur says. Sources of vitamin C include oranges, lemons, grapefruit, papaya, and tomatoes. You can get vitamin E from sweet potatoes, nuts, olive oil, sunflower seeds, avocados, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables.   

Selenium. The mineral selenium has antioxidant properties that help protect skin from free radical damage. And one study showed that, together with vitamin E, it may improve acne as well. “A small Swedish study on 42 men and 47 women found that those who consumed selenium together with vitamin E for 12 weeks saw improvements in their acne,” says New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD.  Food sources of selenium include wheat germ, tuna, salmon, garlic, Brazil nuts, eggs, and brown rice.

Omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit certain molecules that lead to inflammation and resulting skin problems,” Fusco says. They also support the normal healthy skin cell turnover that helps keep acne at bay. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fish, such as salmon and sardines; flaxseed oil; walnuts; sunflower seeds; and almonds.   

Water. “It’s a good mantra for people to remember to drink water,” Marmur says. “Many of us have our morning coffee and then drink only one drink during the day and one at night.” Water helps hydrate your body and leads to plump, healthy skin. Adequate hydration helps flush out toxins that can cause skin problems. It is also essential for skin metabolism and regeneration.   

That being said, Marmur cautions against attaching yourself to the water cooler. “By drinking gallons of water, you won’t clear up your skin; you’ll just dilute your blood and put yourself at risk for seizures.” Marmur suggests drinking five to eight glasses of water per day. “Athletes should drink more, however.”

Foods to Avoid When You Have Acne

Anecdotal evidence shows that certain food types increase the likelihood of an acne flare. These foods include the chocolate and junk foods to which Marmur refers.  

There are also a few studies that scientifically support the role of two food groups in acne promotion: dairy products and simple carbohydrates.

Dairy. According to a review done at The George Washington University Medical Center, cow’s milk can spark or worsen breakouts in some people. The culprit is hormones used to encourage growth in cows.

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