We know good nutrition is beneficial for our bodies, but we may wonder how much particular foods influence our skin and acne. You might be surprised to find out that eating certain foods high in natural fats and oils is important for healthy skin.
Does Eating Fatty Foods Give Me Acne?
Many people assume consuming fat contributes to acne, but not all fats are created equal. There are fats bad for your skin (and body), like trans fats and certain saturated fats. Fortunately, there are good fats too. In this post we’ll talk briefly about bad fats and explore good fats.
Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to the oil, you’ll see it labeled in the ingredients of products as “partially (or just plain) hydrogenated oil.” The main reason manufacturers do this is to make the oil in their products stay fresh longer. According to the American Heart Association there is no part of trans fat that is good for you or any part of your health (skin included), ever. Saturated fat, is not quite as bad, especially if eaten in moderation. However, saturated fats from animal products can cause the type of inflammation in the skin layers which contributes to the formation of pimples. (Chris Kresser, Nutrition for Healthy Skin)
The healthy fats that are good for your skin and body, are called mono and poly unsaturated fats. Within the group of polyunsaturated fats are oils called Omega Fatty Acids.
Omega fatty acids are crucial to our bodies for many functions. You may have heard of Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils. These two in particular are important to include in our diet because our bodies cannot manufacture them on their own and they are required for our body’s to function. Therefore, they are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). They are also very good for your skin!
How Do Essential Fatty Acids Help My Skin?
EFA’s are the building blocks of the surface layers of our skin, contributing to a smoother, more even, healthier complexion. According to researchers at Purdue University, EFAs also increase production of collagen in the deep layers making for firmer skin. They also increase hydration, eliminate dry, flaky skin, deliver antioxidants for anti-aging, and lower inflammation associated with acne. EFA’s create an antimicrobial barrier against the elements. They help keep the cells in your skin moist and strong by reducing the amount of water lost through the top layer of skin. For example, in one study researchers found that those who took supplemental borage seed oil daily for two months experienced an improvement in their skin’s barrier function and dry skin was reduced. (BETTER NUTRICION Kim Erickson, EFA’s Give Your Skin an Oil Change)
If you struggle with eczema, supplementing with Omega-3 oils can be very therapeutic. An analysis of 26 clinical trials involving more than 1,200 eczema sufferers concluded that evening primrose oil improves the symptoms of itching, crusting, inflammation, and redness of eczema, making it a safe alternative to topical steroids. (BETTER NUTRICION Kim Erickson, EFAs- Give Your Skin an Oil Change)
What Foods Contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3’s are found most abundant in fish, flax, walnuts, and chia seeds. Omega-6’s are abundant in vegetable oils, the most common being- corn, safflower, sunflower, and soy. Your skin needs both Omega 3 and 6. Yet in the typical American diet, the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3, is out of balance- around 10:1. We generally consume enough Omega-6 fats, but we need to consume more Omega-3 Fatty Acids. A 4:1 ratio is more ideal. (Chris Kresser, Nutrition for Healthy skin, Omega-3 Fatty Acids).
Try moderating your Omega-6 consumption and find ways to increase Omega-3’s by consuming more fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Flax and chia seeds are not just the health food industry’s latest fad; they are readily available and affordable even in stores such as Walmart. There are many tasty recipes online utilizing these seeds. Simply sprinkling them on salads or putting a scoop in your smoothies are relatively easy way to get them in your diet and they don’t ruin the flavor. It is best to get healthy fats/oils from your diet, but you can use supplements too. There are many brands of fish and flax oils or supplements sold in stores and online.
Can I Apply Omega Oils Topically?
After reading about how good consuming these EFA’s are for your skin you may wonder if applying them directly on the skin would be beneficial. The good news is studies are finding there are benefits to using them topically. One study found that using the omega oils topically gave as much benefit as consuming them. (Paula’s Skin Care, How Omega Fatty Acid’s Help Skin). Doing both could prove very beneficial. However, some oils healthy for your skin from the inside out could be pore clogging when used directly on your skin. Feel free to contact me about any of my products that will not only clear up your skin but also add beneficial moisturizing oils and and nutrients to your skin.
In conclusion, eating the right fats directly affects our skin in the short run AND in the long run. If you struggle with chronic acne or even occasional breakouts, the food/fats in your diet could be directly affecting your skin. The good news is eating healthy fats can help clear up your skin as well as bring other benefits. When you schedule an appointment with me, we will go over your diet and potential triggers. I also evaluate your skin and find the right combination of products to eliminate acne and promote fresh, healthy skin. Call and make an appointment with me today!