by Faye Baxter
What are they?
Acne is a common disorder that occurs in two forms, superficial (acne vulgaris) and cystic (acne conglobata). The former often associated with teenagers, affects the hair follicles and oil excreting glands of the skin and manifesting in blackheads, white heads and inflammation; the latter is a more severe form with deep cyst inflammation scarring. In both cases acne occurs mainly on the face and sometimes on the back, chest and shoulders. These areas have more glands, which produce sebu, (oils and waxes that lubricate the skin) and prevent loss of water.
It is most common at puberty due to increased levels of the hormone testosterone. Although men have naturally a higher level of testosterone than women, during puberty there is an increase in both sexes. Testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum; in addition the cells that line the skin produce more keratin (a protein), leading to a blockage of the pores and formation of blackheads. Blockages can cause bacteria, which can lead to cysts or boils.
Rosacea is a skin condition which causes redness, flushing and spots (amongst other symptoms) on certain areas of the face including the forehead, chin and nose. Causes
This condition is thought to be caused by a variety of factors including blood vessel abnormalities, genetics, a mite on the skin and bacteria found in the digestive system, is often mistaken for acne and is sometimes referred to as acne rosacea despite the two having no links in terms of cause, effect or treatment.
There are basically 4 types. The first subtype begins with flushing and redness of the skin, subtype 2 adds pimples, subtype 3 occurs when there is enlargement of the nose and subtype 4 occurs with eye irritation.
There are a number of “triggers” for rosecea. These can be food allergies and intolerances, heat, sun, alcohol, inflammatory foods, stress, chemicals, pollutants.
Diet and Nutrition
For both conditions, there is a need to look at diet and lifestyle, with a view to eliminating inflammatory foods and increasing alkaline foods such as vegetables, oily fish and reducing inflammatory foods such as sugar, alcohol. A good example for this type therapeutic nutritional diet is the BANT Wellness Guidelines. In addition eliminate refined carbohydrates, fried foods. Milk may also be a negative factor, as with regards to acne, milk has a high hormone content and with rosacea it maybe causing allergic triggers.
Nutrition for Acne
Research shows that zinc is vitally important in the treatment of acne. It plays a role in the actions of many hormones, wound healing, immune response and tissue regeneration. Lack of zinc seems to increase the effect of testosterone on sebum and keratin secretion and makes it difficult for the skin to heal quickly. Different studies have produced mixed results on the effectiveness of zinc and this may be due to lack of absorption. Effervescent zinc sulphate seems to be most effect and most need to take it for 12 weeks before signs of improvement. In tandem, it is necessary to include foods rich in zinc in your diet such as nuts, whole grains and pulses.
Selenium and vitamin E are beneficial as this will help to increase antioxidant enzymes. As well as regular dietary consumption of ¼ to ½ raw nuts and seeds, take 100-200mg selenium and vitamin E 200-400IU per day.
Brewers yeast can also be beneficial
It is important to remember that to be of benefit we need to be able to absorb our food and nutrients, therefore include pre biotic foods in the diet such as kefir, sauerkraut and miso, which will aid and strengthen the digestive process. In addition, a good probiotic will help the micro flora balance in your gut.
Nutrition for Rosecea
An alkaline diet can be therapeutic and beneficial; the Wellness Guidelines can help put this in place. The skin needs oxygen and hydrogen, an alkaline diet helps to maintain the ph level in the body at 7.5-7’42, and this can help reduce redness/ flushing and acidity. Take a look at the “Eat a Rainbow a day” leaflet, which show you what foods to eat for vascular health and an alkaline/anti-inflammatory diet. Keep a food diary to see whether any foods cause “triggers” which may worsen the condition, foods such as milk, dairy, gluten maybe be contributing to the condition. Stress also will contribute negatively so it is important to maintain a calm outlook. Eliminate inflammatory foods such as sugar, alcohol, and refined products.
Nutrition for the Skin
On a general outlook, anti oxidants help protect and regenerate healthy skin cells, so make sure you have plenty of foods which contain vitamins A, C and E. Research also shows that two groups of plant chemicals, carotenoids and flavonoids help protect the skin and quench free radicals. Carotenoids are found in orange and green leafy vegetables, apricots, and tomatoes. Flavonoids are found in dark red, blue and purple berries, sour cherries, cranberries, grapes, and cocoa. Green tea can also be beneficial.