By Laura Hearn, Culinary Nutrition Expert in The Clear Skin Solution
The food we eat is truly the foundation of our health, which includes the health and vitality of our skin. For our clients in The Clear Skin Solution, we always start with a foundation of anti-inflammatory foods with a big focus on stabilizing blood sugar. We encourage clients to not skip meals (especially breakfast!) and focus on building their plates around quality protein, fibre and fat – the ‘PFF’ formula.
Why’s PFF so important for acne sufferers? Glad you asked. 😉
Here’s the deal…
Consuming high-glycemic foods (think sugary treats, refined carbs, and processed snacks) causes a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This triggers the release of insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar.
However, excessive insulin production can lead to inflammation and stimulate the production of sebum, the oily substance that clogs pores. This excess sebum, along with inflammation, creates a perfect breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.
To help keep blood sugar levels stable, eating meals and snacks rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats is crucial.
Bonus? PFF also supports balanced hormones, mood, and energy levels, and also helps us feel more satisfied (see ya later cravings!).
All foods are made up of one or a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat and are all essential to our health. It’s these foods in combination that provide us with sustainable daily energy.
Protein provides our body with amino acids, which are the building blocks that repair and build our muscles, organs, and bones. It’s a key macronutrient for hormone production and healthy hair, nails, and skin. When we are deficient in protein, we can experience unstable blood sugar, impaired immune function, and imbalanced hormones (hello mood swings, cravings and acne!).
In addition to blood sugar stabilization, protein can be a true superhero for acne sufferers. It aids in the production of collagen which is a protein responsible for maintaining skin structure and elasticity. By including adequate protein in your diet, you can support the healing of acne scars and promote a smoother complexion.
As with any food, quality is key. Research shows that grass-fed/pasture-raised meat is healthier, as it contains higher amounts of healthy fats. Aim for at least 100g of protein per day between chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, wild game, wild fish and plant-based sources such as lentils, legumes, nuts, and seeds. If you’re not currently close to these levels, start increasing slowly to avoid constipation.
Fibre is a form of carbohydrate that travels through the body undigested. Fibre helps to support regular bowel movements, getting acne-triggering waste such as excess estrogen, yeast and fungus out of the body.
A diet rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre also helps to regulate blood sugar, keeps you feeling full for longer and supports a healthy gut microbiome, feeding the good bugs and deterring the bad ones.
Aim for 45g of fibre every day by enjoying a wide variety of sources such as pears, strawberries, raspberries, avocado, apples, bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, artichoke, brussels sprouts, lentils, beans, legumes, quinoa, oats, nuts, seeds, sweet potato, coconut flour, quinoa, and squash (to name a few!).
Healthy fats support hormone balance, stabilize blood glucose, reduce stress hormones, and overall skin hydration, and play a role in reducing inflammation. They also enhance absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Although fats are key to the diet, too many fats, such as with a ketogenic diet may disrupt hormones if they cannot be properly emulsified, possibly altering testosterone or digestion.
Including good sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats in your diet is key as the body cannot produce them on its own. Omega-3’s are essential for skin health as they reduce inflammation, protect collagen and work to strengthen the skin barrier.
Healthy fat sources include fatty fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia seeds, flax, hemp hearts), avocados, coconut, and cold-pressed oils such as olive, coconut, avocado, sesame, and flax.
Now that we’ve covered the roles and importance of protein, fibre and fat, let’s talk about some meal and snack ideas that follow the PFF formula. Remember – it’s the combination of these macronutrients together that supports optimal digestion, stable blood sugar levels, balanced hormones, sustained energy and happy skin!
Outside of focusing on PFF, there are a few additional tactics you can take to love up your blood sugar: