MANY persons complain that certain foods will cause their acne to break out, chief among these being milk, cheese, nuts, pizza and ice cream. For many years doctors did not take these claims seriously, but new research is showing that the patients may be right. Milk, in particular, and especially skim milk, may be the biggest culprit.
A few years ago it was discovered that there was a tribe of aborigines living in Papua New Guinea who had had very little contact with the Western way of life. These people ate a diet that consisted of plant products, no wheat and no milk, no fast foods, and they were completely free of acne and of all heart disease. This finding was again confirmed when it was discovered that there was a tribe of Indians, living in an isolated area of Peru, who again had little or no contact with Western civilization, and again ate an aboriginal diet. They had no acne and no heart disease. An analysis of the diet of these two populations showed a lack of wheat products, refined foods and milk products.
Our diet consists of carbohydrates, fats and proteins plus several other elements.
Complex carbohydrates should be eaten. Try and avoid white flour, white rice and sugar, chips and cornflakes. All these foods have a high glycemic index and will push up your blood sugar. Instead, eat whole grain products or bammy, yam, sweet potatoes, green bananas or breadfruit All of these contain complex carbohydrates which will not push up your blood sugar, and will be better for your skin.
Our Jamaican patty, for example, is loaded with carbohydrates and saturated fats and when combined with a soft drink high in sugar, is a recipe for disaster.
Ice cream, again loaded with milk and sugar will do you no good, and that old treat of a patty with ice cream is to be avoided.
Fats are essential for life, but saturated fats and trans-fats may be especially bad for you, on the other hand, Omega – 3 fats found in fish oils may be beneficial. These fats reduce inflammation in the body and help your acne. Fish oil supplements may also be taken. These products may help both your skin and your brain.
Proteins are essential for life and are usually obtained from meat, fish, eggs and vegetable sources. The manner of preparation may be important. Try to bake, broil, or steam the protein and avoid frying in oil. Be especially careful of protein served in the fast-food stores.
Eating yogurt daily or taking a probiotic may again have a positive effect on the skin and the brain.
Vegetables and fruits
We should try and increase our intake of fruits and vegetables. These are anti-inflammatory and will help our skin.
Zinc is usually obtained from our food and has been shown to help acne through its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It may also reduce sebum formation. It appears that zinc supplementation may help acne sufferers.
Vitamin A helps acne and is found in green, leafy vegetables like kale. It’s also found in callaloo, eggs , cod liver oil, papaya, mangoes, tomatoes, pumpkin and carrots.
Foods to avoid
- White bread
- Ice cream
- White potato
Foods to add your diet
- Multi-grain bread
- Sweet potato
- Vegetables and beans
- Green bananas
Dr Neil Persadsingh is a dermatologist and author of The Hair in Black Women, Acne in Black Women and Eczema in Kids of Colour.