Feed your skin

Published by Manila Bulletin, September 23, 2014

Have you ever wondered why you still get acne in your 30s, 40s, even 50s? Contrary to what we believed in, acne breakouts don’t only happen during puberty. Adult men and women may suffer from this horrible skin problem too.

Many factors cause acne: sleep deprivation, hygiene, oily skin, and reaction to some cosmetics. What about food, you ask? What specific foods cause acne?

23Feed-Your-SkinPerhaps you are one of those who kept blaming chocolates and peanuts for your zits. These foods have long been falsely accused if I may say so. There is no scientific evidence that shows a particular food is related to the development of acne. Therefore, let us not single out chocolates or peanuts for that matter. Instead, let us look at the role of diet in general in relation to the development of acne.

The skin has sebaceous glands that produce oil or sebum to lubricate the skin. When there is an excess in the production of sebum, the sebaceous gland ducts get blocked which may cause bacteria to proliferate and cause acne. Studies have shown that sebum production is influenced by a hormone called Insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1) which is very important for growth and tissue build up in the body.

A diet high in simple sugars (high glycemic index carbohydrates) causes an elevation of the blood sugar level. This in turn increases the body’s production of the Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).

Carbohydrates like rice, bread, fruits, and vegetables are converted into glucose or sugar in the body. Glucose is very important because it is the primary source of energy for the brain and body. However, excessive consumption of carbohydrates especially from simple sugars like sugary beverages, candies, and processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup like cookies and baked products increases IGF-1 which can greatly influence the development of acne. It is important to practice portion control and to choose carbohydrates sources like whole grains, breads made from whole wheat and whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Recent studies have also linked the consumption of cow’s milk to the increase in production of IGF-1. This could be due to the IGF-1 hormones present in cow’s milk. However, as a dietitian consultant, I do not recommend anyone to stop drinking milk for this reason alone. Milk is a rich source of calcium and vitamin D, which promotes bone health. A cup or two of milk per day is beneficial. Incorporating adequate amount of milk to a well-balanced diet will definitely not cause acne or aggravate acne breakout.

It is important to nourish the skin from within not only to prevent acne but to have good skin integrity, prevent cuts and infection as well as delay aging. Consume more foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, and omega 3. Below is a list of skin-friendly foods that will keep your skin healthy.

• Yellow and orange colored fruits and vegetables like sweet potato, carrots, squash, banana, citrus fruits, papaya.

• Green leafy vegetables like malunggay, spinach, pechay

• Tomatoes and tomato products

• Blueberries and other berries, grapes

• Tuna, salmon, sardines, and other fatty fishes

• Walnuts and other nuts

• Legumes like beans, peas, lentils, soybeans

• Soy milk