Acne can affect our skin at any stage during our teenage and adult life.
Josephine was referred to me by her facialist. She had suffered from bad facial acne for several years. As a teenager she had been put on antibiotics to help clear it, but the effects hadn’t lasted. Much worse when she was stressed, she had been trying blue light treatments and facials but really wanted to get control of the problem now she was in her late 20s.
Acne and the Gut
We started talking about her digestion. She suffered from occasional bloating and told me she avoided dairy because it gave her eczema as a child. She also avoided bread, wine with sulphites in and fizzy drinks because they really affected her. So she knew there was a link between her skin and what she ate.
Her diet was quite good, but she tended to drink a lot of orange squash as she preferred the taste to plain water. We discussed the best ways Jo could improve her diet for skin health:
- Increase the variety of food you eat
- Add in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi
- Take out any added sugars
- Add in soluble fibre from foods like chia seeds, flax seeds, fruits and vegetables. These are important to avoid constipation, which is a known factor behind acne. When the bowel is blocked or sluggish, the toxins can get back into the blood stream and eventually come out through the skin, causing spots.
- Include foods containing a mineral called zinc such as chickpeas and cashew nuts. Zinc is one of the minerals that can help support healthy skin.
- Add in my favourite morning pick-me-up – a drink I call the ‘GLT’. GLT – Hot water with lemon, grated ginger and turmeric. 3 ingredients that are alkaline and anti-inflammatory. All great for the skin.
We also decided to use a stool test to examine how healthy her gut was.
Four weeks Later
We had the results of the GI test, which found that Jo didn’t absorb fats well and had a very imbalanced microbiome (that’s the population of bacteria and other microscopic organisms that live in our intestines).
This gave me quite a lot to work with!
Not being able to absorb fats well may sound like a good thing if you are trying to lose weight. But we actually need to absorb some essential fats for health. Some of the vitamins and minerals that our body needs daily can only enter the body using fats as well, so having some fats in our diet every day is crucial. Not absorbing fats well may mean someone is likely to be deficient in vitamins A and D, both very important for skin health.
At this point I gave Jo some digestive enzymes to help her absorb fats more easily and also some probiotics to help rebalance her gut bacteria.
Acne and Inflammation
Josephine increased her fish intake and variety of vegetables. She was definitely missing the sugar, but was generally feeling a lot more energetic. She was also making a lot of green juices to drink and had given up the fruit squash. There was a difference in her skin already. The inflammation had come right down and it was now at the scar phase, rather than being constantly inflamed.
8 Week Progress
8 weeks into the programme and we arranged a telephone conversation. Jo contacted me to say she wanted to make the journey to come in to the clinic instead as she really wanted to show me how much her skin had improved! The acne breakouts had almost completely stopped. The facialist was thrilled and was moving her on to acne scarring treatment sessions. Jo had also made the connection between stress and how her skin responded, so she was actively working on stress reduction techniques by doing yoga and taking up meditation when she remembered. Food wise, we added in some bone broth and miso soup as both of these are very healing to the gut.
Acne Scarring Treatments
I am lucky enough to work closely with an acne scarring expert, Professor Firas al-Niaimi. See what he has to say about using lasers for acne scars here
2 months later and Jo looks like a different person. Her confidence levels are high and she has decided to make the move and find another job, a move she would never have considered before when her skin was bad. The sweet cravings can be bad just before her periods, but uses our techniques to control them. She continues to take some supplements that target clear skin but feels totally in control of how her skin reacts now.
If you’re interested in learning more about skin health, you can access our 2021 Summer Skin Health guide here