Now if you’re like the hundreds of young women I’ve consulted with then you’ve probably already started to clean up your diet. And rightly so!
It seems pretty logical that if you put junk food into your body then your skin is going to reflect this.
If your diet is made up of greasy, high carb, high sugar foods then your skin is going to get greasy, your pores are going to clog up and you’re going to get nasty looking pimples.
From your research into hormonal acne you’ve probably also discovered that not just junk food but sugar, dairy and gluten can also trigger hormonal acne. And I’d agree.
My patients commonly tell me that these foods make their hormonal acne much worse. This is because sugar, dairy and gluten-containing foods cause inflammation throughout your body, particularly your skin pores.
And this is a problem because inflammation makes the androgen (male sex hormone) receptors on your skin cells super sensitive to androgens. As a result, they secrete excessive amounts of oil and cause whiteheads and cystic acne.
But what do you do if you’re like many of my hormonal acne patients and you’ve already gone sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo or wholefood and you’re hormonal acne still persists?
What it means is your acne isn’t due to your diet. It’s because you have Hormonal Imbalance Acne.
Foods to avoid when you have hormonal acne along with the reasons why
Let’s jump on.
- Cows dairy
Cows milk dairy products contain A1 Casein, a protein known to interact with our hormones by increasing insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This is a problem for your skin because it can increase the levels of the acne-causing male hormone testosterone.
Some people can also be very reactive to dairy proteins like casein and the inflammation that’s triggered makes the testosterone receptors in the skin hypersensitive.
This causes normal testosterone levels to have an excessive effect on the skin, just as if there was too much testosterone and hormonal acne results.
Dairy is found in most ice creams, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt unless otherwise stated.
To pinpoint if dairy is an acne trigger for you, stop eating it as much as possible for about 6-8 weeks. This is a long enough time to notice a difference.
Some people find that goat’s or sheep’s milk and cheese doesn’t have the same effect, but they still contain lactose, another tricky molecule for some people’s digestion!
Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, rye, barley and spelt and foods made from the flours of these grains. For some people, gluten causes an increase in inflammation in the body when it’s eaten because it causes what we refer to as a ‘leaky gut’.
The leaky gut is where the wall/lining of the digestive tract becomes microscopically damaged and small holes form. Through these holes molecules that should only be in the digestive tract ‘leak’ into the body. The body sees these unfamiliar/foreign molecules as invaders and mounts an immune response, releasing all sorts of inflammatory chemicals.
As the body becomes inflamed the male hormone receptors on skin cells become hypersensitive to testosterone. So what was previously an okay level of testosterone before eating gluten now affects the skin in a way as if it is high and hormonal acne breaks out.
The most common gluten foods are bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, take-out hot chips, baked goods and pastries.
Going gluten-free for a month can help you assess if it’s a problem for you. After you eliminate it, see if it helps reduce redness, inflammation, and breakouts.
A last note on gluten. You can still be sensitive to gluten without having Coeliac disease. you’ll know if you are sensitive to gluten after cutting it out and seeing how your skin and body respond.
Some great ideas for gluten-free grain swaps include quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat to name a few!
- Processed sugar
As you are probably already aware, processed sugary foods such as cookies, cakes, lollies/candy, soft-drink/fizzy drinks/pop/soda and regular milk chocolate can cause acne breakouts. The reason for this is because refined sugar (as opposed to the sugar naturally found in fruit) causes your blood sugar levels to spike. This causes an overproduction of the hormone insulin and excessive insulin causes the ovaries to overproduce the acne-causing hormone testosterone.
And in addition to this refined sugar encourages the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
Stick to natural sugars found in fruit, honey, and things like rice malt syrup to mitigate these effects.
- Soy products
Some people find that drinking soy milk or eating soy products such as Tofu can cause a flare in their skin. While it doesn’t apply to everyone, it can be worthwhile removing this from your diet to see if this helps while you’re investigating the cause.
Usually, the cause is similar to that with dairy and gluten, a protein sensitivity. Soy contains proteins that many people are reactive to. So when they eat soy products it triggers inflammation and a flaring up of acne.
Now if you suspect foods might be triggering your breakouts or you’ve eliminated dairy, gluten, sugar and soy and you’re still breaking out then speak with us to get some expert help.
We’ve helped over 1000 women fix their hormonal acne naturally, including the YouTube and Instagram health influencer Sarah Stevensen from Sarah’s Day.
To discover how to get our help, click here.