Your teenage boy and the connection between skin and diet
While it’s super important to have the right skincare products and routine for your son, diet is a major factor in managing breakouts and balancing hormones throughout the teen years.
We use lots of natural fruit enzymes and herbs in our skincare range to help fight surface bacteria on their face, but now it’s time to eat the colours of the rainbow and provide their bodies with antioxidants to fight from the inside!
Skin is part of the immune system. It not only is a barrier to bad bugs and bacteria, it also holds a lot of bacteria on its surface. Not all the bacteria is bad of course but if these bacteria become imbalanced, you can end up with breakouts. Added to that, teenage hormones cause more sebum (oil) to be produced and too much oil blocks the pores which in turn causes pimples.
So which foods can help balance teenage hormones, improve the rate of skin turnover and reduce the amount of oil produced and retained at the skin’s surface?
Let’s look at sugar and refined carbs and how they affect the body.
Your body’s preferred fuel source is glucose – a type of sugar – which it needs for energy just as a car needs petrol. Glucose is released from your food and then is carried in the blood. The main source of glucose in the modern western diet is from carbohydrate-based foods, in particular refined, processed foods such as cakes, white bread, biscuits and sweets.
Refined carbohydrate-based foods raise blood sugar levels significantly more than proteins or fats. A significant rise in blood sugar tends to pre-empt a significant drop as the body tries hard to normalise blood sugar levels. As the body tries to raise your blood sugar levels again it produces stress hormones that are linked to increased sebum (oil) production in the skin. More sugar = more oil = more spots!
So, try to plan your meals around protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, meat, pulses, nuts, seeds. You also need to avoid all refined grains and go for complex carbohydrates such as brown rice instead of white, wholegrain breads instead of the highly processed white breads, wholemeal pasta or even swap rice & pasta for quinoa (high protein) or cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles!
It’s very important to have good quality fats. What are these? Basically, any fat that comes in natural form i.e. not processed food or junk foods but nuts, nut butters, avocado, olive oil, real butter (not spread), seeds, the naturally occurring fat in meat and oily fish are all good sources.
The brighter coloured vegetables and fruit tend to contain the largest amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants fight the free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals in large numbers can cause localised outbreaks of spots and these can be targeted by eating antioxidant-rich foods. The more coloured vegetables you can get into your diet each day the less spots you are likely to have. Fruit is ok but in small doses as it’s high in sugar.
Good fats are important and include omega 3 rich oily fish i.e. salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies, but also nuts, seeds, avocados and their oils. Adding ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to your porridge or smoothie is a great start to the day. Equally eating half an avocado, a day, using olive oil on your salad, eating real butter on your sourdough toast and dipping your carrot sticks into nut butter or hummus are all healthy and anti-acne options to choose. If you are not a fan of oily fish on its own, then fishcakes are a great way to enjoy them.
It’s also a good idea to check for allergies or food intolerances to things like gluten and dairy. These can put extra stress on your immune system and create an inflammatory response which can in turn affect the skin and breakouts or acne.
You may have heard about something called the ‘Microbiome’. That’s the community of bacteria living in your gut that is also part of our immune system. What we all need to aim for is a good balance of bacteria on the inside as well as the outside.
Something that goes some way to helping is the introduction of some fermented foods or drinks. The tastiest place to start is probably milk or coconut kefir which you can buy in supermarkets and tastes like a drinking yogurt. Kombucha & miso soup are great options too.
Other fermented foods that help our gut bacteria include yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh. Another beneficial change can be a move from any other kind of bread to traditional sourdough. Although sourdough is not a probiotic food it is made using fermenting principles and that makes it a lot easier to digest and a lot less taxing on the gut which could ultimately help your skin too.
Fibre is really important in keeping your microbiome balanced and healthy. It’s fibre or what is known as prebiotics that provide the fuel for probiotic bacteria (the good guys). The best way to get more fibre in your diet is through vegetables and fruit however, pulses such as lentils and chickpeas as well as wholegrains such as oats and pseudo grains such as quinoa and buckwheat are all good sources.
Finally, both Vitamin C and Zinc are associated with skin healing. Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, think citrus, berries, kiwi fruit, spinach & leafy greens. Zinc is not only associated with wound healing but also in reducing excess sebum. Look at including nuts, seeds, yogurt and shellfish in your diet. Some suggestions include apple wedges with nut butter, adding seeds to porridge and smoothies.
Looking after our microbiome is essential to having healthy skin and also regulating hormones and keeping our immune system functioning at optimal levels.
Here is a super simple gut friendly shake and you need only a small food processor or blender.
250ml kefir (or coconut water & a heaped tablespoon of natural coconut yoghurt)
200g frozen fruit of your choice
squeeze of raw honey
1 tsp chia seeds
Add everything to a food processor or ‘bullet’ style smoothie maker.
Blend on high.
Pour into an insulated bottle and shake before drinking.