At one of my consultations, I saw an 18 year-old, who had a case of pretty dreadful acne on his face. He wanted help with knowing how to overcome it, and he wanted it now!
I was like, “Not so fast, young man. First, we need to work out why you’ve got acne in the first place. Then, you can focus on how to overcome it. As soon as we are able to suss the source, it’ll be easier to work on reversing it for good, rather than just slapping on creams and potions (with side effects) for things that are actually symptoms, without doing anything about the root cause.”
“OK,” he mumbled.
“So, some questions to help us figure out why your skin is a welcome home for acne.
What do you eat?”
“Macdonalds and KFC,” he replied.
“What do you drink?” I queried.
“Fizzy drinks and juice,” was his answer.
“How much water do you drink in a day?” I wanted to know.
“You know that two litre bottle? It probably lasts me a week,” responded.
“How much exercise do you do?” I asked.
“I don’t. I used to go to the gym before, but I stopped.”
“Is there anything making you feel stressed in your life right now?” I prodded.
“Loads. Work,” he said.
“How much sleep do you get each night?” I asked.
“Dunno,” he shrugged. “It varies. Sometimes not much, as I go out a lot and come back late.”
You know what? In 100% of the cases of acne I’ve asked these same questions to, the answers have come back sounding like echoes of each other. Coincidence? I think not!
Notice the difference between healthy skin and skin with acne?
Now, I’ve got your attention …
1) A diet high in refined carbohydrates causes release of insulin and insulin-like growth factors, leading to an increase in the male hormones. These hormones make your pores secrete more sebum than your skin can get rid of after use. The accumulated sebum then attracts bacteria.
2) Dehydration, which is what you get when your water intake is inadequate, slows down the removal of excess sebum. This causes the accumulated sebum to thicken and clog up the pores (comedones) – more fun for bacteria!
3) Bacteria love to feed on sugar. So if your diet is high in sugar, like my teenage patient’s clearly was, the increased sugar plus the increased sebum accumulation just provides food for the acne-causing bacteria to feast on.
4) This unhealthy environment deprives the hair follicle of nutrients, so that the hair breaks … and provides more stuff for bacteria to feast on.
5) Lack of exercise, or inadequate exercise, impedes your body’s natural elimination mechanisms, of which sweating is one. This also encourages sebum and bacteria to accumulate in your pores, resulting in those hideous zits you’ve got on your skin.
6) Stress promotes all of the above processes, especially when your nutrition is rubbish, because of the effects of hormones released due to stress.
The above pointers should tell you that it is pointless to keep piling creams and potions on top of zits, especially if you are not doing anything about the root cause. With acne, it is mainly a manifestation of ‘garbage in, garbage out’.
A commitment to a healthy lifestyle, can go a long way in not just overcoming acne, but also getting rid of your acne safely and permanently – without any of the side effects, that some creams and potions inflict on you!
This was first published in full on doctorkem.com
Dr. Nkem Ezeilo (aka Dr kem) is a GP and Healthy Lifestyle Advocate. She enables people to empower themselves by taking control of their health, thus improving the quality of their lives. Sign up here to receive her free eBook “10 Big Lies That Are Keeping You Sick, Fat and Tired All The Time” and you will be plugged in to receive the Healthy Lifestyle Newsletter.
DISCLAIMER: The afore-mentioned information is not intended to replace consultation with a physician or to diagnose or treat any condition. Please, see your doctor without delay if you have any symptoms that you are unsure of. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication or start any lifestyle changes without your own doctor’s supervision.