They are extremely uninvited guests and yet they stop by more often than we would like: pimples. No matter when, they are always inconvenient, be it the morning before a first date, on vacation or when a job interview is coming up. We'll probably never get rid of them completely, but the right anti-pimple diet can help keep these annoying visitors at bay. We'll tell you which foods promote pimple growth, which diet you can use to reduce skin blemishes and the most important first aid tips for pimples.
Diet against pimples: How to reduce breakouts
How do pimples form?
Although we all know what is meant when we talk about pimples, the actual technical terms are papules (nodules) and pustules (pustules). They are triggered by tiny inflammatory reactions in hair follicles or sebaceous glands, which lead to keratinization of the skin so that dead skin cells can no longer shed. This causes the exits of the sebaceous glands to become blocked and the sebum can no longer be removed. A plug forms – the well-known blackhead. If bacteria then join in, visible inflammation occurs, the dreaded pus pimple.
Inflammation that goes under the skin
But let's go back to the very beginning: In the beginning there was inflammation . Many skin diseases and imperfections are caused by inflammatory processes. These are often not even visible, so they go virtually unnoticed, which is why they are also referred to as so-called silent inflammations. Diet plays a key role in keeping these areas of inflammation in our body on the back burner and thus improving our skin health.
🩺 Skin diseases such as rosacea, psoriasis, neurodermatitis or acne are, among other things, due to inflammatory processes in the body. Inflammation also accelerates skin aging.
Anti-inflammatory diet for pimples
Nutrition is therefore not a minor factor when it comes to skin health, but rather one of the pivotal points. It lays the foundation for a healthy, beautiful glow and once again the old adage “ You are what you eat ” applies.
If inflammatory processes are sometimes the trigger for skin problems, an anti-inflammatory diet is crucial in the fight against pimples. How does this work? By prioritizing antioxidant nutrients and reducing or avoiding foods with inflammatory nutrients.
Macro and micronutrients
At this point it's worth digging a little deeper and first acquiring a little basic knowledge about nutrition . This not only helps us in terms of beautiful skin, but also in terms of our health in general. So let's take a look at what we actually take in when we eat. The nutrients we consume through food can be divided into two main categories :
- Macronutrients : Use the body to generate energy
- Micronutrients : required for metabolism and other vital body processes
- Trace elements
Macronutrients: The “Good” and the “Bad”
Macronutrients provide the body with energy and are therefore essential. However, there are valuable and less valuable energy suppliers . So let's take a closer look at the three basic nutrients : carbohydrates, proteins and fats .
The effect of a food containing carbohydrates is measured using the glycemic index (GI) and the glycemic load (GL) . The former shows how quickly a food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Foods that cause blood sugar to rise quickly, i.e. that have a high glycemic index, tend to be unhealthier than those that cause the blood sugar curve to be flatter. We therefore differentiate:
1. Short-chain carbohydrates : wheat flour products, light rice, dried fruit, fruit juice, many mueslis, etc.
- Unhealthy because: Blood sugar rises quickly, feeling full for a short time
2. Long-chain carbohydrates : potatoes, legumes, real whole grain bread, oatmeal, etc.
- Healthy because: Flat blood sugar curve, keeps you full for longer.
BUT, in addition to the glycemic index, the glycemic load (GL) is also of great importance. Because it's not just the quality of the carbohydrates that matters, but also how much of them you eat. The GL is calculated from the GI and the amount of food consumed and therefore provides more meaningful information about its effect on blood sugar than the GI alone.
But how exactly is all this related to the development of pimples? Studies show that there is a connection between acne and carbohydrate intake. The higher the glycemic index and glycemic load , the higher the likelihood of suffering from acne problems. 1
Reducing short-chain carbohydrates and overall shifting the focus away from a plate of pasta without a side dish towards a few (whole grain) pasta with lots of vegetables and lots of protein is the first step towards a diet against pimples.
Proteins can also be divided into those that are more and those that are less beneficial in the fight against unpleasant pimples. Basically we differentiate between:
- Animal proteins : Dairy products such as cheese, quark, skyr, cottage cheese, whey protein shakes as well as meat, fish and eggs
- Vegetable proteins : soybeans and tofu, beans, lentils, oatmeal, chickpeas, chia, amaranth, quinoa, peanuts, hemp seeds
Animal proteins have a higher bioavailability , meaning they are absorbed and processed more quickly and to a greater extent by the body. At the same time, proteins from dairy products have been proven to promote pimple growth because they stimulate insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in the body, which in turn stimulates sebum production and thus leads to clogged pores and thus pimples. Since we are advocates of a vegan lifestyle and prefer to eat a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based diet, we have one less problem to deal with when it comes to eating against pimples.
The good thing about proteins is that they keep you full for a long time, which is why they are a welcome alternative to our tendency to over-consume carbohydrates. But that doesn't have to mean giving up: just swap the rice and wheat noodles for legumes and lentil pasta every now and then and bring your diet into balance. The general rule is: pay attention to a balanced protein intake and combine different plant-based protein sources per meal , this increases bioavailability.
Fats are unhealthy and make you fat? Well, it's not quite that simple. Fats are not inherently bad . It's more about choosing the right fats. We now know that these can have a positive impact on health, especially in relation to an anti-inflammatory diet. And that's exactly what we need to put an end to those annoying pimples. We differentiate:
- Unhealthy fats that increase cholesterol levels and should be kept to a minimum
- Saturated fatty acids: coconut oil, palm oil, animal fats
- Trans fats : They are formed when fats harden and are contained in ready meals, fast food, baked goods and snacks. Trans fats can also form when frying in your own kitchen with unsuitable fats.
- Healthy fats that have a positive effect on our blood lipid levels and can reduce inflammation
- Monounsaturated fatty acids : Vegetable oils such as olive or rapeseed oil
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids : linseed oil, walnut oil and hemp oil
The polyunsaturated fatty acids are divided into omega-3 and omega-6. Make sure there is a balance between inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and inflammatory-reducing omega-3 fatty acids, of which we tend to consume too little. Our bodies need both, but the ratio has to be right. It is also important: Healthy vegetable oils should not be heated . For frying, it is better to use fats that are specifically labeled for this purpose in the supermarket.
We summarize: The foundation for a healthy, pimple-free diet is laid by carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, combined with vegetable proteins and healthy vegetable fats.
Micronutrients: The be-all and end-all
Let us now turn away from the macronutrients and towards the micronutrients, which make the utilization of the energy-containing macronutrients possible. In addition, they take on other vital functions in the body , but cannot be produced by the body itself. This happens exclusively through food, namely through the intake of vitamins (including vitamin A, B, C) , minerals (including calcium, magnesium) and trace elements (including iron, zinc).
All of these and many other micronutrients, which are mainly found in fresh, raw vegetables and fruits as well as herbs , not only reduce pimples. They also help the skin to regenerate and protect itself more quickly. This is due to their antioxidant effects . Antioxidants keep free radicals in check, which are responsible for oxidative stress , which accelerates skin aging and promotes skin problems. Did you know, for example, that the superfood tomato paste is a real antioxidant bomb thanks to the reddish plant pigment lycopene it contains ? One tablespoon of this and your daily requirements are covered!
🤓If you would like to learn more about oxidative stress and its effects, we recommend our blog post Antioxidants, free radicals and what they mean for your skin . In this article we explain what negative effects stress can have on your skin condition in general: How does stress affect my skin?
Always remember: one-sided eating habits cannot be compensated for by individual, healthy foods or even nutritional supplements. A balanced, varied diet is important because, as we have known since Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
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Skin care for pimples
With an anti-inflammatory diet and a healthy lifestyle with some exercise and little stress, we can make life more difficult for pimples, but we will probably never get rid of them completely. And if the child has already fallen into the well, complaining is of no use, then quick solutions are needed.
Care routine for oily skin
Oily skin is more prone to impurities, but aggressive cleansing is by no means the key to success. Rather, the oil and moisture balance must be brought back into balance. And it goes like this:
In the morning, clean your face with lukewarm water only and then apply the oil-free, moisturizing FIVE facial serum in combination with the FIVE facial oil balance . Tip: In summer it may be enough to use the facial serum on its own.
- In the evening it is important not to completely degrease your skin with aggressive products. Instead, you can gently cleanse and remove makeup and dirt using the Oil Cleansing Method. This method uses our natural makeup remover and helps your skin get clean - without stimulating oil production! Then apply the light FIVE facial serum for the night.
💡 As a reminder: With the Oil Cleansing Method you can gently remove dirt, sunscreen, make-up and excess sebum from your skin, which is why it is also suitable for oily skin.
Home remedies for pimples
If you have oily facial skin that is prone to breakouts, we would like to recommend the following two treatments, which will gently remove excess sebum from your skin without drying it out too much:
- Chamomile steam bath unclogs the pores : Fill a saucepan 2 fingers deep with water and bring to the boil. Then add a teaspoon of salt and a chamomile tea bag for a disinfectant effect. Then hold your face with a towel over it at a sufficient distance above the steam for about 10 minutes. Then rinse with cold water and apply the FIVE facial serum to balance moisture.
- Clay mask with clarifying effect : Apply a mask made of green clay from the health food store or pharmacy to the face 2 to 3 times a week and then rinse with plenty of water.
😴 Tip before going to bed: Prepare a liver and bile tea . It may sound a bit unsexy, but these two organs are responsible for detoxification and are thereby stimulated. This is how you practically fight pimples while you sleep.
And finally, our top five against pimples at a glance:
- There is no easy way. Beautiful, healthy skin takes work.
- Read, read, read. If you understand your skin and your body, you can react better to it.
- Anti-inflammatory diet for pimples. Lots of vegetables, fruits and low glycemic index foods, little to no animal products.
- Cleanse and care for the skin with the appropriate FIVE products.
- Self care. Relax, do yourself good and reduce stress.
- Podgórska A, Puścion-Jakubik A, Markiewicz-Żukowska R, Gromkowska-Kępka KJ, Socha K. Acne Vulgaris and Intake of Selected Dietary Nutrients—A Summary of Information. Healthcare . 2021; 9(6):668. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9060668