I often receive many questions regarding acne and nutrition, so I thought I would address this subject as it is such a common problem among adult women and because I personally can relate and have much experience in this department. Here’s a question I received in an email from Cathy in Guelph, ON.
Cathy writes: I’m 33 years-old and suddenly have been experiencing a lot of acne, particularly around my chin and jaw line. I’ve never experienced acne before and I thought this was a problem mostly only teenagers dealt with.
I love love love this question because it is so super common and because I can totally relate as I have definitely experienced similar issues myself throughout my adult life. Cathy, I can promise you, you are not alone on this one. A lot of my clients come to me with this exact same problem. First of all it is very common for women your age in their thirties, even in their forties upwards to fifties to experience what we call adult acne.
Like you said, you have never had acne before in your life, so where is this coming from? Well there are a few really good reasons why you might be experiencing this.
The first thing I would look at is diet. A diet high in processed and pre-packaged foods including pizza, hamburgers, frozen dinners and take-out can attribute to acne. These are what we call fast foods high in saturated fats trans fats, food additives and lots of other unwanted harmful ingredients to our body. Any skin doctor or dermatologist who tells you what you eat doesn’t affect your skin, is flat-out lying.
Everything we put into our body becomes our body and affects our body from the inside out. Our skin is the largest organ of elimination and this is where we see problems and symptoms when our body isn’t function optimally.
If we are not experiencing regular healthy bowel movements, at least 2-3 times a day, the waste and toxins have nowhere to go and have to find an outlet somewhere. Unfortunately the skin often receives the burden of this toxic outlet. The result? Face breakouts and even neck, shoulder and back for some people.
A diet high in processed foods, sugars, poor quality fats, fast foods and caffeine can place a heavy burden on both the body and our organs. In particular the digestive system, specifically the liver and bowel can have great difficulty filtering out and detoxifying these types of foods from our body.
My best advice is to emphasize a whole foods diet rich with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and gluten-free grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and millet. If you are still experiencing acne after switching to a predominately whole foods diet, I would consider testing for food allergies. Particular foods for some individuals can actually contribute to acne and cause flares up.
Another reason why you may be experiencing this sudden onset of adult acne is stress. When we are stressed our body produces more cortisol. High cortisol levels can increase estrogen levels and lead to an array of symptoms, including acne.
Finding a way to manage and balance your stress will be key in addressing the root cause of the stress. First looking at why you might be feeling stressed or what is causing the stress in the first place and then choosing a solution that allows to help you manage it. Yoga, running, reading a book, going for a walk, deep breathing or find something that you enjoy and can engage on regularly to prevent stress from going out of control.
Lastly and just as importantly, is the very good possibility and most likely hood of hormone imbalance. In fact the majority of women who suffer from acne also have an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone ratio. Especially if you are showing acne around the chine, jaw line or neck area. These areas are very good indicators of estrogen dominance. What this means is that you might have too much estrogen in your body. Again, focusing on a whole foods diet will help to re-balance the hormones and the aid the body in proper healthy elimination to flush out excess estrogen.
Examining potential food allergies is also very important in understanding what is causing the acne. For some, foods like wheat and dairy can be the culprit. A simple food allergy test would be sufficient means to get to the bottom of the issue. Evaluating your hormone levels through a simple saliva test can also tell you where your hormone levels stand and if they are out of balance.
For some women, food alone is not enough and for these women, they require additional support in regards to the proper vitamins, minerals and herbals treatments. This is specific and would require looking further into the individual’s specific needs through a proper health, symptomatology, hormone and nutrient assessment. Please feel free to have a peek at my nutrition coaching services that offer this type of evaluation to get to the root cause of the problem.