Contrary to belief or persistence by much of the medical community and including some of the best dermatologists out there, acne is often heavily influenced by our diets.
There is substantial evidence that milk and dairy enhance and aggravate acne. This evidence relates to a signaling pathway in humans referred to as mTOR or mammalian target of rapamycin.
mTOR is a pathway in the human body that plays a large role in cell development and aging. A process that happens in the body as a result of specific products or nutrients available. This mTOR pathway is activated (or, started) in response to nutrients, growth factors, and stress. The overactivation of this pathway, often as a result of high dairy and milk consumption, is not a good thing. It is linked not only to acne, but cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even Alzheimer’s.
Here 5 lifestyle modifications to achieve naturally glowing & clearer skin:
- Reduce your consumption of dairy and animal-based products.
Research suggests diet should be a primary aspect of preventing mTOR-driven diseases, such as acne. Reducing or eliminating animal-based foods, especially dairy foods, can help reduce troublesome acne because it can lower the overactivation of the mTOR pathway (which we talked about above).
- Increase your consumption of whole fruits and vegetables.
Secondary to reducing animal-based products in the diet, it is important to increase your consumption of whole fruits and vegetables. We all know fruits and vegetables are healthy for us. But fruits and vegetables are not just full of fiber and low in calories, they also contain natural mTOR inhibitors. The natural inhibitors help to prevent the overactivation of this pathway which has not only been shown to increase acne, but also obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and several other chronic diseases.
- Along with other whole, plant-based foods, add unsweetened tea, such as green tea to your daily diet.
Tea, especially green tea, contains a phytochemical called quercetin. Quercetin is also a natural mTOR inhibitor that can decrease acne. Green tea itself has numerous researched benefits to health, including but not limited to, playing a role in breast cancer prevention lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar, and body fat. If including tea in your diet, aim for it to be unsweetened, free of creamer, and aim for 12 ounces per day.
- Reduce/eliminate processed and/or “junk” foods.
We live in a society driven by convenience. With that comes aisles and shelves full of highly processed foods. Even if a “nutrition bar” is considered plant-based, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy. When you can, limit your consumption of these highly processed convenience foods. When left to only the option of quick foods, aim to choose foods minimally processed with a short list of whole, natural ingredients.
- Limit your consumption of added oils.
Some individuals, even some physicians and nutrition professionals, believe in and recommend high consumption of fats. Although it is true fats are essential to the diet and needed for several functions within the body, we don’t require fat in the amounts many of us are consuming. Excessive oil consumption, even if it is extra virgin olive oil, can increase the presence of acne, increase body weight, and increase the risk for several chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Aim to meet your fat needs through whole nuts, seeds, and avocados–but still keep your consumption to a minimum. It is important to note even the consumption of some high-fat plant foods (i.e. avocado, nuts, seeds, some non-dairy milks, etc.) can be troublesome for acne. Start with these five steps and if you are still struggling, be mindful of these high-fat plant foods in your diet as well.
Although there are several factors that contribute to acne and other chronic diseases, focusing on these five recommendations can help you achieve the glowing skin you are looking for while also reducing your risk for several types of chronic diseases.
Wishing you youthful, glowing skin and good health for years to come!