Healthy Fats are Changing the Face of Skin Care
You’ve tried everything to clear your acne. You have done the restrictive diet, cut out the common acne triggers like gluten, dairy, and sugar, and piled on the products until all you’re left with is frustration and limited results. What went wrong?
Chances are that chronic acne isn’t caused or triggered by just one thing. It’s more likely to be a combination of various aspects in one’s life including diet, sleep, stress, toxin exposure, pore-clogging skincare, internal imbalances, and so on, which is likely why specific food eliminations might not be working. Chronic acne is typically multi-faceted, making a holistic approach that includes healthy lifestyle choices and the best way to promote healing.
It's easy to get caught up in the trend of restricting and limiting our food choices in order to find a cure for our acne woes. The problem with this is that in our dedication to removing certain foods, we often overlook all the skin-boosting foods we can include in our diets. Flipping the focus on its head from restriction to addition can mean all the difference!
The skinny on fats
One superfood that we can add into our diets for glowing skin is fat. This is something that is not talked about enough, especially in terms of a healthy diet. In Western culture, fat has long been considered the enemy, but more and more research is showing that this simply just isn’t the case. All fats are not created equally, and while you should certainly steer clear of refined oils and limit saturated fats, high-quality healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, wild-caught fish, nuts, and seeds are essential to a well-balanced diet, especially for those struggling with acne.
Consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids decreases inflammation and may improve inflammatory skin conditions, and may even help to eliminate stubborn acne. These fats are especially abundant in cold water fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and black cod. In turn, avoiding processed seed oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids can also help to reduce inflammatory skin conditions.1
Blood Sugar in Balance
Including healthy fats into your meals doesn’t just make them more satisfying: healthy fats keep blood sugar and insulin levels balanced, which can be foundational to decreasing inflammation and healing the skin naturally. Blood sugar truly runs the show when it comes to hormone and skin health, and when blood sugar levels are balanced, mood is stabilized, sugar cravings are kept at bay, hormones can be balanced, and inflammation will decrease.
Fat and cholesterol are also important for skin health as they are the building blocks for the hormones estrogen and progesterone,2 both of which play a large role in calm and happy skin. Progesterone is often only considered in relation to pregnancy but it does a lot more for us than just helping in achieving and maintaining pregnancy. Think of progesterone as your calm friend that helps keeps everything balanced. It reduces inflammation, promotes sleep, calms the nervous system, and makes it easier to scope with stress, all of which can be directly linked to our skin. When you include healthy fats in your diet, like omega-3s, you are providing more raw materials to build, repair, and balance hormones within the body.
The health of our gut can also be behind the state of our skin. If you are struggling with any type of digestive issues, making sure to include healthy fats can go a long way in helping to repair damage to the gut. Intestinal permeability, or tiny, microscopic tears or gaps in the lining of your gut that allows bacteria, toxins, and food proteins to enter the body causing over stimulation of the immune system resulting in inflammatory cytokines,3 can be significantly prevented by included vitamin and nutrient-dense healthy fats that can help reduce inflammation. With a decrease in inflammation the gut can repair itself, is then better able to handle stress, and your skin reaps the benefits!
If you have tried an elimination diet to solve your skin issues without success, it might be worth considering upping your healthy fat intake. Healing chronic acne is not about one fix or one solution: with a holistic approach you can bring your skin and hormones back into balance and achieve the happiest skin of your life.
Get excited about healthy fat:
- Add melted butter and ghee to smoothies
- Add MCT oil and collagen to coffee
- Eat fish 2-3 times per week (especially cold-water fatty fish)
- Add avocado, nuts, and seeds to salads
- Make nut butters your go-to dippers
- Roast veggies in avocado oil or ghee
How does fat make you feel?
It can be hard to get our minds around embracing fat when many of us grew up believing fat was the enemy. If you’re having trouble making the transition to a whole foods diet that includes healthy fats, ask yourself the following questions to get to the root of your worries:
- How do I feel about my current eating habits?
- Have I added healthy fat to my meals and snacks today?
- Am I fearful that food will trigger my breakouts? If so, in the past has cutting out this food made me feel better or has it decreased your breakouts?
- Which days do I feel my best? Pay attention what and how you are eating those days.
- Where can I focus on nourishing foods to support my body and skin?
- How are my energy levels?
Introducing healthy fat to your diet is not an overnight fix, rather it is one part of a whole body healing protocol, and is especially helpful for those struggling with chronic acne and hormonal imbalances. Remember, healing is not linear, and it can sometimes take a while to see real progress. Be gentle on yourself, add in a few dollops of healthy fat each day, and watch the changes take place. Taking the time to check in with your healthcare provider to rule out other underlying issues is also a great starting point. Clear, calm, happy skin is achievable!