Striving for an unblemished complexion? Bypass the skin care aisle and head to the produce section.
Eating more raw veggies might reduce breakouts by as much as 30 percent, according to mounting research.
Clinical nutritionist Kathy Ferbas, a professor and research scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Pepperdine University, told LifeZette the best way to maintain a healthy complexion and avoid breakouts is to make changes in your diet that can be maintained over years.
“The literature in the past two years has really pointed to increases in acne (particularly in adolescents) when the diet is high in dairy, processed carbohydrates and trans and saturated fats,” said Ferbas.
She counsels patients at Cure Concierge Medical in Malibu, California, where top names in entertainment come to get facials and skin treatments at the adjacent Cure Spa.
“I always know when my boys are eating candy or not eating healthy, because they start to break out really badly.”
When asked why diet makes a difference, Ferbas said fatty, processed foods aggravate inflammation and set up a receptive environment for acne overgrowth.
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“The corollary would be a diet enriched in fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy unsaturated fats (that) create a less favorable environment (for acne).”
Ferbas speaks from experience, not just as a clinical nutritionist but as a mother.
“While I have not specifically conducted studies in this area, I do live with a 13-year-old who has far less acne than her peers — and we eat a typical Mediterranean diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low-to-no sucrose or dairy.”
Together with colleagues, Lars Lien, conducted a University of Oslo study that compared dietary habits with incidence and severity of acne among 3,775 college students. Women who ate more than five servings of raw vegetables daily enjoyed significantly fewer skin eruptions.
“One reason might be on a cellular level (due to) reduced production of inflammatory substances,” Lien said.
He cautioned that other factors may also be at play.
For example, those who ate more fruit and vegetables tended to have a lower body mass index (BMI), which in and of itself is correlated with acne breakouts.
“We found in a later study an association between higher BMI and acne severity. Another factor might be activity and exposure to fresh air.” he said.
But even jocks who can afford — calorie-wise — to eat junk are not immune to junk food’s acne impact.
“I always know when my boys are eating candy or not eating healthy, because they start to break out really badly,” said Kristen Thames, a registered nurse and mother of two teenage boys, 17 and 15.
“It’s stuff I generally don’t put at home.”
Post-Halloween, Thames said her sons are snacking on their friends’ stashes of Sour Patch Kids, their favorites. In addition to candy, chips and other salty snacks are a problem.
The research by Lien and his colleague found a less significant, but also noteworthy link between such foods and acne. Frequent potato chip munchers suffered 5 percent more breakouts, while a frequent sweet tooth translated into 4 percent more “bad skin days.”
But Thames doesn’t go to extremes with policing her kids’ diet.
“We’re from the Midwest — a meat and potatoes family,” she said.
In addition to working full time at Cure Concierge Medical, Thames cooks a lot for the family, “frozen vegetables and fresh.”
Her sons don’t always confess to binging on sweets and salty snacks. They don’t need to. Acne, Thames said, doesn’t fib.