Acne is Your Body Trying to Tell You Something

You know, I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t suffer from breakouts and cystic acne. It seems like I’ve had it my entire life.  My husband and I were clearing out our basement for a garage sale and I discovered some old photo albums.  I flipped through the pictures of me and my friends from high school and university and I had acne in every single one!  Embarrassing…

My darkest moments were about 4 years ago when I quit my birth control pills.  I was happy to be off them but my skin was not…I broke out in places I had never had a breakout before!  To anyone who has suffered through acne, I totally get you.  Have you ever felt so mortified by your appearance that you woke up every morning wishing it was the weekend so you didn’t even have to go to work (where people would see you)?  I sure have, too many times.  Blemishes and bright red angry bumps can leave you feeling depressed, embarrassed, frustrated and lonely.

Clearing up my skin has always been my #1 health goal and I have tried EVERYTHING to make this happen.  Lotions, acids, peels, Proactiv, antibiotics, no dairy, no chocolate, no fried foods, you name it.  It’s been a battle that I have fought for so much of my life – but I never gave up.

And I am so glad that I didn’t!

Why? Because I have spent the last 5-6 months enjoying pretty clear skin.  Sure, it’s not perfect but I can stop an impending breakout in its tracks, before it gets super obvious.  I now know my ‘triggers’, those foods or activities that ALWAYS seem to result in some type of breakout.  And I can manage those awful hormonal breakouts that used to pop up (no pun intended) every month!

If you are suffering (and I know this suffering) from skin issues, I’m here to give you a little bit of help.  Did you know that WHERE you breakout is tied to an imbalance or problem with specific organs or body systems?  Discovering this was like an ‘aha’ moment – knowing WHAT was going on inside of me made it so much easier to address my skin problems.

I’m sure you know that there are foods to avoid (aka dairy, fried crap, gluten) and foods to enjoy (aka greens, berries, water) in order to get clear, glowing skin.  Food is a HUGE factor in the condition of your skin…but you also need a healthy, functioning body that’s set up to use the nutrients.

Clearing up your skin can be a long, painful struggle but if you pay attention to WHERE you break out most often, you’ll be off to a better start.  Where you break out can be a very good indication of what body systems are under duress.

Forehead

Breakouts on your forehead are primarily related to toxins such as sugar or alcohol. What this really means, though, is that your liver is sluggish and any additional stress on it (i.e. eating too much cake, drinking too much wine) will push it past its threshold.  Since your skin is another elimination organ, if your liver isn’t up to par, your skin can end up taking the load.

Cheeks and Nose

Skin issues here indicate an allergic reaction.  Pro-inflammatory foods, such as dairy, red meat or sugar, can cause breakouts on the cheeks.  Food intolerances that you never even knew you had tend to manifest here too!  Many times, this relates to a leaky gut and an overburdened liver.  Food intolerances may not show up immediately after eating a food so you’re best option is to keep a food diary and track your acne symptoms.

Chin, Chest and Back

Oh, these are the WORST!  Here is where you very obviously have a hormonal imbalance and many women breakout here monthly.  Embarrassing, right?  Yeah, it sucks.  What this indicates to me is that your liver is sluggish in its ability to detoxify excess hormones, especially estrogen.

Do you see the pattern yet?  Sure, specific conditions show up on your face in different places but the underlying cause of most of the breakouts is a sluggish liver.

Your liver is responsible for over 500 different functions from detoxification of alcohol and caffeine to breakdown of excess hormones.  Essentially, your body transports everything to your liver for cleansing before circulating throughout the rest of the body; this is a protective mechanism so when the liver can’t fully do its job, the rest of your body is affected.

Luckily, through many, many months of experimentation, I have figured out a few hacks to help keep my skin pretty clear through some additional liver support.

Here are just a few natural tips I suggest to help you out:

  1. Drink LOTS of water, at least 3 liters each day. Water helps to flush toxins out of cells and into the lymph for elimination.  It keeps a lot of these toxins from recirculating in the blood, where they are carried back to the liver.  Plus, water keeps cells plump and is needed to transport those important water-soluble vitamins to your skin.
  2. Squeeze the juice of half a fresh lemon into a glass of room temperature water and drink as soon as you get up. This helps me combat those sugar-related forehead breakouts.  Do this daily for a gentle liver cleanse, or just try it for 2-3 days after a sugar, wine or sweets binge.
  3. Probiotics are an easy way to build up your healthy gut bacteria to prevent leaky gut, a problem highly associated with most food intolerances. You can take a probiotic supplement daily (away from food) or increase your fermented food consumption (think miso, sauerkraut, pickles, aged cheese, yogurt, kefir, or kombucha).
  4. Balance hormones and help detoxify excess estrogen by eating 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed each day. Or, refer to my seed cycling article to help combat other health issues associated with hormonal imbalances.
  5. Finally, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, each and every day. Eating a rainbow of fresh produce provides your liver with most of the nutrients it needs to keep up its detoxification processes; the fiber also helps absorb toxins from the intestinal tract and push them out through the stool.

If you’re really struggling with bad acne, one of the easiest things to try is a 3 to 5-day liquid diet.  Smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, and homemade whole foods-based soups are great to get a lot of necessary nutrients into your body; a liquid diet is easy to digest so, if this helps clear up your skin, you know that your digestion is in need of some work too.  Don’t forget to include whey and casein-free protein powders and raw, soaked nuts or natural nut butters into this program; your body requires both to make sure the nutrients are getting to where they need to be to promote healthy, glowing skin.

I keep my skin clear with 10 specific things – anyone struggling with acne-prone skin is invited to check out my 10 Secrets to Clear, Glowing and Beautiful Skin today.  These 10 secrets support your liver and keep your elimination organs clear from build-up, the two main issues associated with acne.

Daina Gardiner
Daina Gardiner

Health & Wellness Contributor (C.H.N.), Owner at Mind Body Healthy Calgary