We are living in a world where your outer appearance speaks for you. The importance of physical appearance has grown more than ever in all times. In today’s era of overemphasis on beauty, physical appearance of a person plays a pivotal role in building their self-confidence and self-esteem. Most of the times we are ruled by the instincts and the fact is that we have an instinctual preference for physical beauty . Glowing flawless skin is on the wish list of most of us but the main hindrance we all face is the problem of pimples.
Pimples is the quite common problem among the teenagers. The hormonal changes, food habits and faulty diets proves fatal and further aggravate the problem. Our westernized life style and wrong food habits are somewhat responsible for this. Before going into the depth of effects of food habits on pimples, let us first understand the pathology behind them.
We are what we eat, so it is very important to eat healthy to maintain a lean body and glowing skin. Whatever we eat reflects on our skin. It is both scientifically and practically proven that our skin and face is the potential indicator of our health. Quality of food we intake ,its quantity and the type of food we eat all have great impact on our skin.
What are pimples?
Pimple is a pore whose walls are open. When oil, bacteria, dead skin cells get into these open pores it causes inflammation and infection which ultimately clogges the pores leading to swollen red lesions, spots or zits . Pimples are the symptom of the acne which is a disease in itself. Sebaceous glands which are located at the base of hair follicles when become overactive and secrete more of oil leads to the formation of more pimples. Pimples mostly affect the face, back, chest and shoulders as the presence of sebaceous glands is more in these regions.
Teenagers are worst affected by this because of hormonal changes occuring in their body during this period leads to overactive sebaceous glands.
Types of pimples:
Pimples range in severity from black heads to cysts or nodules etc all having different signs and symptoms.
White heads/white comedones:
These are the small pimples that remain under the skin. They appear as a small flesh-colored papule. These are non inflammatory and closed ones, these closed comedones are the precussor of papules, pustules and inflammatory nodules.
They are known as open comedo, they appear black due to the oxidation of melanin and skin pigment.
These are small, solid , rounded bumps that arise from the skin. They are often pink.
These are pimples full of pus ,there base is red and pus is in the top.
They are like papules but large in size and deep roots inside the skin
They are filled with pus and are painful and often leaves the scars. The purulent exudate may be sterile or may contain Propionibacterium acnes. These cysts after healing or draining leaves behind the sharply punched out pit.
Causes of Pimples
1 Excessive production of sebum:
Sebum is secreted by sebaceous glands. Human skin has pores that connect to oil glands under the skin which produce sebum. Sebum carries dead skin cells through these follicles to the surface of the skin. When these follicles get blocked either by excessive sebum production, dead cells or due to infection by bacteria, the pimples start to develop.
2 Excessive keratinization:
Excessive keratinization within follicular canal leads to lypolysis of triglycerides by Propionibacterium acnes which releases fatty acids .These fatty acids elicits the inflammatory process in the follicle wall which ultimately cause the wall to rupture and formation of pimples. These pimples may later get infected by bacteria, yeast cells/fungi or various parasites which leads to the pus formation.
3 Hormonal factors:
Rise in the testosterone and other androgen level is the one of the main reasons behind pimples. Androgens levels raised during puberty causes the sebaceous glands to grow more to produce more sebum and this excessive sebum leads to the cellular breakdown and clogged pores .
4 Emotional stress:
Stress is not a direct culprit but it makes them worse, because during stress body produces more oil stimulating hormones. Life style changes ,yoga, meditation and exercise all helps in the reduction of the stress.
5 Tight clothes:
Tight clothes cause excessive sweating and friction on the skin .The combination of friction and heat leads to the blockage and inflammation of the pores and break down of the cell walls.
According to various researches it is found that obesity and pimples go hand by hand because it is found that in obese people the androgen, insulin like growth hormones get raised and all these are the potent triggers for pimple formation.
7 Oil based cosmetics:
Greasy oil based cosmetics block the pores and leads to the vicious circle of pimple formation , so it is must to remove your make up before going to sleep or preferably use non cosmetic products.
If there is a strong family history of pimples or acne then you will be more prone to be get affected by the pimples
9 Dietary factors
Diet and acne are closely related and there are various studies in support of this and extensive debate and research work is going in this context. May be we cannot treat acne with nutrition but we can certainly reduce its effects by giving proper healthy and nutritious diet.
Recommended Food Habits to Prevent Pimples:
- Eat foods rich in Vitamin A and D : Both these vitamins play an essential role in skin’s health. The deficency of vitamin A causes dry skin,dry hair and broken fingernails and all these shows the role of vitamin in healthy skin. The retinol, carotenoids, retinoids which are precussor of vitamin A are better absorbed with intake of vegetable oils.Both the vitamins have impact on the keratinocyte biology and thus helps in the proliferation of keratinocytes and stopping the vicious cycle of inflammation and breakage of cell walls. Being potent antioxidants both play vital role in making our immune system strong and offer protection against various free radicals and in lipid oxidation.
- Avoid foods rich in high Glycemic Index (GI):
GI = GI is how fast and how high a type of food can raise levels of blood sugar when consumed in our body.
Low GI diets are those which produce less insulin spike when we eat them.It is find that the consumption of high GI load foods like sugary drinks, sweets, diet rich in simple carbs such as cakes , pasta, refined flour produce spikes in insulin levels .The increase levels of insulin causes oil glands to produce more oil and release of other hormones such as insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and all that ends up with more acne formation.
On other hand low GI load food diet reduce weight, reduce the free androgen index, increased insulin like growth factor binding protein-1. So it is important to restrict high GI load diet such as simple carbs and sugars. Eat more of complex carbs such as dhalia,whole grains,legumes,oats, quinoa, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
- Consume Zinc rich foods
- Eating foods rich in zinc is beneficial in treating acne . Pumpkin seeds ,cashews, quinoa, lentils, beef , sea foods helps in the regulating metabolism and hormones levels. Zinc plays an important role in functioning of immune system and for normal epithelium development. Low zinc levels leads to increased androgen production so increase in inflammation and activity of sebaceous glands. Zinc inhibits the growth of P.acnes . Food rich in zinc have a prophylactic role in acne formation. Zinc dosage of 40 milligrams per day is sufficient .
- Omega 3 fatty acids rich foods are healthy fats
Omega 3 are the fats found in cod fish liver oil, flax seeds, eggs ,sea food, sardines, nuts, chia seeds,fish, spinach , kale, soya products helps in neutralizing the damaging toxins and reduce inflammation. They are also helpful in reducing mental stress .The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids is very important whereas the diet deprived of omega 3 and rich in trans fats , dairy and saturated fats and refined carbs worsen the acne excerbations on the other hand control diet in carbohydrates and rich in omega 3 gives you more clearer and brighter skin. So replace canola, soyabean oil with olive , sesame oil.
- Cutting out dairy and whey protein products:
It is clinically proven that milk and dairy products promote insulin secretion and production of hormones such as IGF-1 which are major contributor of inflammation. There are also hormones in milk that are precursor to testosterone. Use non dairy alternatives like coconut milk, almond milk, soya milk fortified with vitamin –D.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C being antioxidant possess anti -inflammatory properties . So intake of yellow fruits, oranges ,citrus fruits ,guava, gooseberries helps in prevention of pimples.
- Green tea: Green tea possess antioxidant and have anti -inflammatory effects.
- Hydration: Water is a natural detoxification agent and prevent our pores from getting clogged.
- Eat foods with Probiotics:
Probiotics are the bacteria which are friendly to our gut and body , when we add probiotics to the milk for fermentation i.e conversion of milk into curd,then they decrease the IGF-1 factor present in the dairy products . So saucerkraut, kefir, kimchi are all helpful in prevention of pimples.
Food and beverages that should be avoided:
- Milk and dairy products.
- All packed, processed, frozen foods and pre prepared and refined food products.
- All sugary, aerated drinks, energy drinks,canned juices, sweetened lassi and lemon juice.
- All ready to eat food products, fast foods, junk food.
Foods which you can enjoy
- All raw and cooked green vegetables, leafy vegetables and colored vegetables such as zucchini, kale, bell peppers, beet roots, purple colored cabbage.
- Fruits that are low in GI index and GI load such as berries, oranges, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, cherries
- Complex carbohydrates such as millets, quinoa, buckwheat, dhalia, oats, poha .
- Fats containing omega 3 fatty acids like nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, coconut oil,
- Milk and dairy alternatives such as plant based milks like almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, soya milk.
- Diet and spices rich in antioxidants and having anti inflammatory properties such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, parsley, black pepper.
- Keep your self well hydrated with green tea ,hibiscus tea ,chamomile tea, herbal tea, lemon water, lassi, kanji.
According to Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda the Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the three life forces and determine the parkriti of that person which donot change during one’s life span. Main cause of any disease is the imbalance between three doshas ie Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Pitta regulates all metabolic processes as well as hormonal balance. Pitta disorders leads to inflammation, ulcers, skin problems and liver diseases .
So to rectify this dosha the food should not be too spicy, salty ,sour and pungent. All fast, fried , spicy ,oily food products be avoided. To reduce pitta effect food rich in bitter, astringent and sweet and cool flavour are preferred. Leafy green vegetables, cucumber, oats ,melons, cherries, cinnamon, coriander spices are preferred.
Hope the article helps you to understand each and everything about the pimples and its connection with food. As monsoons are approaching and there will be more humidity in weather, which is favourable for growth of pimples and increased chances of infection by propionibacterium acni.
So by following the certain steps religiously like washing your face daily, refraining yourself from popping pimples, maintaining proper hydration, using sunscreen lotions every time you step out and taking diet rich in multivitamins and low in carbohydrates and simple sugar you be able to keep your skin healthy, flawless and glowing.
Hoping that the article would have given you some valuable insights to prevent pimples. Comment below to let us know on what you would like to know next.