In most cases when people suffer from acne (a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples, mainly on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms), they usually try out different cosmetics to clear their skins. However, dermatologists advise that it is better to watch the kind of food one eats as it might be the cause of spots and pimples.
According to Dieudonné Bukaba, a nutrition expert at Avega Clinic Remera in Gasabo District, in order to have a clear skin free of pimples, one should avoid foods like white bread, processed breakfast cereals, white rice, pretzels, potato chips, cookies and cakes but instead choose low glycemic-index foods such as vegetables, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and mostly fruits.
Bukaba adds that fish is a great source of essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, which help reduce inflammation in our bodies that can trigger cells to clog pores and potentially cause acne or pimples. He recommends eating more salmon, mackerel and sardines to fight blemishes.
“One should feed more on nuts because they contain selenium, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium and iron, which are all crucial for healthy and oily-free skin,” he explains.
For Private Kamanzi, a dietician at Amazon Wellness Centre in Remera, avocado is rich in vitamin E, and can also increase the skin’s vigor.
“It is also a good source of vitamin C, thus reduces skin inflammation. Avocado is not only eaten, but can also be applied on the skin to moisturise it,” he says.
Dr Nick Lowe, a leading dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon from the Cranley Clinic, London in his book, “The Perfect Guide to Clear Skin,” says processed refined carbohydrates like sugar, chocolate, sweets, white flour and white pasta are foods to avoid in order to maintain a healthy skin.
Good or complex carbohydrates, for example, whole wheat, foods that rank low on the glycaemic index and those release their energy more slowly, are better for overall health and the skin, he says.
Bukaba recommends eating brown rice as it contains vitamin B, proteins, magnesium and numerous antioxidants for example vitamin B which helps fight against stress, thus regulating hormone levels and preventing the chances of breakouts of skin disorders.
“Garlic contains allicin chemical, which fights against dangerous bacteria and viruses in the body, while broccoli has health building properties like vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K antioxidants that fight radical damage which assists in skin glow,” he says.
Kamanzi warns against feeding on refined saturated fats found in foods like chips and cakes as they can lead to pimples and skin rashes.
He also urges people to take brown sugar or honey in tea, but not processed sugar. Honey can be applied on the skin as well.
“Proper dieting is essential as the body needs nutrients that detoxify it. Fruits and vegetables like cucumber, and ginger can also help maintain a healthy skin,” he says.
Kamanzi further says cucumber juice can be applied on the skin to soothe it from the outside.
“Staying hydrated helps the body to flush out toxins and maintain a healthy complexion. Cucumbers are also high on pantothenic acid or vitamin B-5, which are used to treat acne.”
Bukaba states that red grape fruits and seeds contain powerful natural chemicals and antioxidants that treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Grapes can control the side effects of allergic reactions to the skin.
Kamanzi adds that vitamin C rich foods like guava and pineapple, among others, have a powerful antioxidant that is naturally found in the skin. These foods create halogens which also help to increase elasticity of the muscles of the skin.
When coconut water helps rehydrate the skin, keeping it clean and flexible, while lemon juice can also be used to detoxify the body since it kills the fungi in the body, he adds.
“Proteins like lean meat, fish, nuts, tofu, soya, eggs, cheese, beans and lentils provide us with amino acids, which are essential for building cells, including those in the skin, hair and nails. Proteins also play a vital part in the production of collagen and elastin necessary for youthful-looking skin with a good texture and tone,” Lowe states.
He also says dairy products can worsen acne because cattle are fed certain hormones in order to increase milk production. He says taking skimmed milk can cause acne.