Going dairy-free. The blackheads diet #2

blackheads diet

Recently I asked on Reddit if people had ever tried to adapt to a blackheads diet to see what the effect would be on their skin as I wrote in my previous blogpost on the blackhead diet. I was curious to see if other people had seen the same effects as I had.
Currently as part of my blackheads diet I have been leaving refined sugars where they belong, still on the shelf in my local grocery store. I have completely dropped all sweets and refined sugars. I still allow myself some honey and fruits, however I barely use honey anyway and I’m more a savory person than suffering from a sweet tooth anyway so I generally eat more veggies than fruit anyway.

Anyway it seemed people did see a correlation between their diet and the condition of their skin. However not just any change in their diet. Overwhelmingly people were commenting on the effects of dairy on their skin:

People’s comments on dairy and skin quality:

“[–]rgrwilcocanuhearme

If I have even just a little bit of dairy my skin breaks out. I’m Caucasian and developed lactose intolerance in my early 20s. I had very bad acne in my teens, acutane took care of it for maybe 7 years or so before it came back. My skin is “mostly clear” as long as I avoid dairy completely.”

“[–]Crapapalouza 

Cut out dairy. Within one day my skin cleared up.”

[–]SailorPlanetX

Not /u/hapinat, but I’m this close to having completely cut dairy out of my diet. The only thing holding me back is that my SO has a sweet tooth and frequently brings home non-dairy-free sweets, but thankfully I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anymore.

I realized a few months ago that dairy is a big acne-trigger for me. If I went overboard one day, I was almost guaranteed to wake up the next morning with a zit. I’m a HUUUGE cheese-lover, so cutting it out has definitely posed a challenge. Recently I’ve been trying out the non-dairy alternatives in grocery stores to get my fix. Thank the skincare gods for vegan cream cheese!”

So why is it that milk seems to have such a deep impact on acne levels in some people?

milk-is-not-part-of-blackheads-diet

 

Milk causes acne because…

  • There is abundance of a hormone called IGF-1 in milk, which is really good for baby cows, but not for you. IGF-1 is a growth hormone. It makes baby cows grow up big and strong, but in humans, it tends to make your acne grow big instead. IGF-1 is one of several factors that cause inflammation in humans, and which eventually lead to acne (and the ugly redness and swelling that makes acne so annoying).
  • Milk and dairy products cause an insulin spike in humans that cause the liver to produce even more IGF-1, leading to even more acne.
  • Dairy causes your skin to produce excess sebum (oil), leading to – you guessed it! – more clogged pores, more acne, blackheads and a breeding ground for P. acnesbacteria, which feed on your sebum and spew out inflammatory by-products.
  • Dairy glues together dead skin cells inside your pores, so they can’t exit naturally, leading to clogged pores (and thus more acne).

The milk and acne effect is well documented in the literature. In the last decade or so, a number of studies have found a strong link between the consumption of milk and increased occurrence of acne. For example, one such study found that teenage boys who drank milk broke out more often, and more severely, than those who didn’t drink milk.  At least five other studies have confirmed that, in general, the more milk you drink, the worse acne you’ll get. So in our blackheads diet, unfortunately dairy has no place!

Alternatives to Milk in the blackheads diet:

There are a few great alternatives to milk if you’re still hooked on liquid white stuff. Here we go:

  • Unsweetened, organic almond milk
  • Unsweetened, organic coconut milk (“So Delicious” or similar brand)
  • AROY-D 100% Coconut Cream
  • Organic full-fat coconut milk

You have to be a little careful with milk substitutes as they tend to have a bunch of added sugar and sometimes vegetable oil (both of which negatively affect your hormones and can worsen acne).

That’s why I recommend unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

(Note: by “vegetable oil” I mean canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil. These oils are highly processed and/or contain high amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fats.)

You can also make your own nut milks, of course! Almond milk, Brazil nut milk, hazelnut milk – you name it. Google around a bit if you’re curious about this – you’ll find tons of great recipes and how-to’s out there. That way, you know you’re getting just pure, healthy nuts and no funny stuff added.

My personal favorite these days is AROY-D 100% Coconut Cream. It’s prized by Thai master chefs (so I’ve read) as the best-tasting coconut milk / coconut cream around. It’s incredibly rich and loaded with healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and stable saturated fats. It mixes great into green smoothies and curries and is unmissable in your new anti-blackheads diet!

Final tips:

  • Watch for food triggers that may seem to aggravate acne.
  • Keep a food diary and share it with your dermatologist.
  • Be patient. It may take up to 12 weeks of a diet change to determine if certain foods are contributing to acne.
  • Continue following your regular acne treatment routine. Diet changes are only a small part of an acne treatment plan and are meant to be used in conjunction with proven medical therapies for acne.

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY EXPERT ADVICE:
“Based on the studies we now have available, the evidence suggests that diet does play a role in acne,” said Dr. Bowe. “More studies are definitely needed in this area, but they are not easy studies to execute. Patients can be their own best detectives in determining possible food triggers for acne, and I encourage them to make an appointment with a dermatologist if they have any acne concerns.”

Hopefully this has given you some more insight on what to do to keep your blackheads diet going and keep blackheads at bay!

Homemade Face Scrub Recipes for Blackheads

The top three homemade face scrub recipes for fighting blackheads, first seen on bellatory.com.
Homemade face scrub recipes are really easy to make using products you probably have laying around already at home. No need to use blackhead tools or harsh pore strips. If you use either of them incorrectly chances are you might open up your pores even more than was intended, leaving you vulnerable to more blackheads!

Simply combine a few kitchen ingredients to create a powerful, all-natural treatment.

1. Cleansing: Lemon and Salt Homemade Face Scrub

Use lemon and sea salt to exfoliate and dissolve blackheads on the nose, cheeks, and other areas. Homemade face scrub
Use lemon and sea salt to exfoliate and dissolve blackheads on the nose, cheeks, and other areas.

This lemon-and-salt micture is also known as the antibacterial face scrub. It uses two super blackhead-fighting ingredients: lemon and salt.
Both lemon and salt cleanse the skin deeply and leave your skin feeling fresh and cleaner as ever.
Lemon due to its mild acidity cleanses the face thoroughly, taken with it all the grime and dirt on the surface of the skin as well as dead skin cells. As a result the chances of your pores getting clogged decrease dramatically, resulting in acne and blackhead-free skin!
Even the scent of lemon screams clean and fresh. Salt has antibacterial properties and can kill of the germs and bacteria that clog open pores.
Salting meat and fish has long been a practice just proving how well salt can stop the decay of any tissue.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of these two ingredients:

Ingredients
Importance in Homemade Face Scrub
Lemon
Is a natural astringent that is rich in citric acid. It’s a natural disinfectant that provides a deep-pore cleanse. It can also help your own body better regulate natural oil production and as a result decrease the possibility of blackheads.
Salt
Due to its coarseness it exfoliates and removes dead skin cells, dirt and excess oil, 2 substances critical in the creation of blackheads and acne.
As it also peels away the dead skin layers it leaves the skin feeling smooth and fresh!

Method for homemade face scrub:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure water

Directions :

  1. Mix everything into a small bowl.
  2. Using clean fingers, apply the homemade face scrub onto your face and massage in a circular motion. Don’t scrub too hard, as you don’t want a red inflamed face.
  3. After scrubbing for two to five minutes, rinse with lukewarm water.
  4. Splash cold water to close up your pores. Pat dry with a soft clean towel. Your face will look amazingly refreshed, cleansed of all the dirt, excess oil, peeling skin, and dead cells.

Tips:

  1. Don’t use too much lemon juice. Lemon juice in raw form can be too harsh on the skin, so it is important that you use it in moderation and diluted. The citric acid in the lemon juice is a natural astringent and if used in excess it can leave a burning sensation on your skin and can cause red rashes.
  2. Change your pillowcases. If blackheads attack you often, you should try changing pillowcases every other day. Wash your pillowcases regularly because the fabric can collect oil and dirt from your face.
  3. Excess homemade face scrub mixture. You can store your face scrubs in the refrigerator for up to one week. However, as soon as it starts smelling unpleasant, it is time to toss it out. Also make sue not to scrub too often. Most dermatologists suggest using a scrub no more than twice a week as a maximum.

2. Exfoliating: Brown Sugar and Honey Homemade Face Scrub

Brown sugar is a great medium for exfoliation and keeps blackheads at bay!
Brown sugar is a great medium for exfoliation and keeps blackheads at bay! It is as coarse as sea salt and as such provides the same exfoliating and peeling properties as the above mentioned lemon-and-salt scrub.

Brown sugar and honey are both yummy kitchen ingredients. Together, they work hand-in-hand to gently exfoliate skin. Brown sugar is safe for all skin types, so it is perfect for sensitive skin. Honey has been hailed since ancient times as a great natural remedy for many ailments including dry skin.

Here’s a table showing these two ingredients and their benefits for skin:

Ingredients
Importance in homemade face scrub
Brown sugar
Exfoliates gently. Deep-cleanses skin. Sloughs off dead cells and excess oil from skin surface. Contains alpha hydroxyl acids, which drive out toxins and germs from open pores.
Honey
Is antiseptic and antibacterial. Kills off germs and bacteria that clog open pores. Gently moisturizes and lubricates skin. Sticks to the blackheads in open pores and pulls them out when the face scrub is removed.

Method for homemade face scrub:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients well.
  2. Apply the mixture onto your face with circular motions, avoiding the area around the eyes and mouth.
  3. Keep scrubbing for two to five minutes.
  4. When you’re done, rinse off with warm water.
  5. Pat dry with a soft towel. If your face feels a bit dry, moisturize with a drop or two of olive oil.

Tips:

  1. Stay away from harsh cleansers and soaps. Many face cleansers out there contain high amounts of chemicals and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which strip your skin of natural oils. This causes your skin to compensate by producing excess oil, which clogs pores and creates blackheads.
  2. Steam your face beforehand. A facial steam will help open up pores and soften your face, enabling the blackheads to come out easily. Do this before using the homemade face scrub to push out blackheads faster.
  3. Don’t over-wash your face. Yes, washing your face continuously throughout the day is not the right way to prevent/get rid of blackheads. In fact, over-washing your face will give your more blackheads, not to mention acne and white heads. What’s the deal? Well, over-washing your face strips away most of the natural oils, inducing your oil glands to produce more oils, and excess oil is one of the causes of blackheads.

3. Softening: Oatmeal, Yogurt, and Orange Peel Face Scrub

Soften dead cells and blackheads with this mask, which also exfoliates your pores deeply and scrubs out the blackheads from the root.
Soften dead cells and blackheads with this mask, which also exfoliates your pores deeply and scrubs out the blackheads from the root.

This oatmeal homemade face scrub contains oatmeal, orange peel powder, and yogurt. These three ingredients deep-cleanse, exfoliate, nourish, moisturize, and soften your pores, removing excess oil that would otherwise oxidize to form blackheads.

This table shows the importance of these blackhead-removing ingredients:

Ingredients
Importance in homemade face scrub
Oatmeal
Absorbs excess oils, preventing the formation of blackheads. Gently exfoliates dead cells and peeling skin.
Orange peel powder
Gently exfoliates, nourishes, and hydrates skin. Contains citric acid, which disinfects and kills germs that clog pores.
Yogurt
Softens and nourishes skin. Contains probiotic enzymes that destroy germs on the skin’s surface. Tightens large pores. Deep-cleanse open pores. Softens skin, making it easier for the blackheads to come out.

Method for homemade face scrub:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon orange peel powder
  • 2 teaspoons yogurt

Directions :

  1. Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl.
  2. Apply a thick coat of the mixture onto your face in gentle circular motions, focusing on the blackhead-infected areas.
  3. After two to three minutes, completely rinse the mask off with either a washcloth or your hands and warm water.
  4. If your face feels a bit dry and stiff, moisturize with a few drops of olive/coconut oil.

Tips:

  1. Hands down. Touching your face can contribute to blackheads and acne. Keep your hands away from your face.
  2. Gather your hair away from your face. One way to easily prevent blackheads and clogged pores is just simply keep hair away from your face.
  3. Clean your face in the morning and at night. As much as over-washing your face is bad, you must wash your face twice daily: in the morning and at night. Use mild cleansers and these natural scrubs to safely get rid of existing blackheads and prevent further ones from occurring.

The blackhead diet: What to eat and what not to eat!

Overview

In order to get rid of blackheads and acne and in your pursuit for a glowing skin, you have to take a good hard look at what you eat as part of your blackhead diet. The best diet against blackheads is a well-balanced and varied diet. Eating fruits and veggies, packed with antioxidants, eating lean protein meats and fish all help in your battle against pimples. a recent study in the 2009 issue of “Dermato-endocrinology” confirms this belief. Overhauling your lifestyle by incorporating more of these foods into your diet will not only lead to a healthier skin but also lead to an overall increase in your health!

So why wait?!

Vitamin C-rich Foods

The Best Foods to Eat to Get Rid of Acne & Blackheads
Fresh strawberries. Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

The best foods against blackheads and acne are packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital in the repairing and growing of all tissues in your body. So you can see how it can play a vital role in maintaining collagen levels in your skin, making your skin look and feel 10 years younger.

The antioxidant helps to protect your skin while healing it. All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C, states the NIH.

Especially berries seem to be a prime source of vitamin C. It’s a welcome change o oranges and other citrus fruits.
Suitable berries include red and black raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries. Other vitamin C-rich fruits include cherries, apples, mango, papaya, pineapple, pears, melons and of course citrus fruits.
Citrus fruits include grapefruit, lemons, limes, tangerines and oranges. Juices made from these fruits can also contain large amounts of the skin-healthy nutrient. Vegetable sources of the nutrient include tomatoes, varieties of potatoes such as sweet and white, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens. Dark, leafy greens include spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens and collards, according to the American Heart Association.

Protein-rich Foods

The Best Foods to Eat to Get Rid of Acne & Blackheads
Red kidney beans. Photo Credit spaxiax/iStock/Getty Images

Swapping out unhealthy, high-glycemic foods for lean protein may have a positive effect on your skin, according to a study in the July 2007 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” The study reports that protein also increases your feeling of fullness, which prevents you from overeating and helps prevent weight gain and obesity, so other than the blackhead diet working against acne and blackheads, it seems you could lose some weight as you go as well!

Replacing fatty meats with lower fat protein may also help to get rid of acne and blackheads. Lean protein includes plant-based sources including legumes such as lentils, kidney beans, split peas and other beans. Fish that can help your skin health are those classified as heart-healthy by the American Heart Association. These include fatty, cold water fish such as salmon, herring, trout, sardines, mackerel and albacore tuna. You can eat fresh fish or canned versions to get your lean protein.
Start eating skinless poultry such as turkey and chicken to help your skin’s health.

Foods to avoid in the blackhead diet

Basically in he blackhead diet there are several main groups of food you would like to avoid due to their comedogenic effects. Simple carbs, dairy products and unhealthy fats (yes there is such a thing!).

High glycemic index carbohydrates (aka “simple” carbs)

High glycemic index and refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, flour, refined cereal products and white potatoes, are the main culprits for causing acne and blackheads, among other diseases related to a more western lifestyle, such as diabetes. These so-called “simple”-carbs are very easily digested by your body, causing a reaction which causes your insulin levels to spike.
High insulin levels are a risk for acne and blackheads as it:

  • Promotes inflammation.
  • Stimulates the production of new skin cells. Insulin is a type of growth hormone (not the one that will give you giant muscles!), so one of its most important jobs is to stimulate cell growth and reproduction.
  • Raise androgen levels. Androgens are the so-called “male hormones”, such as DHEA (dehydroepiandosterone) and testosterone. They are naturally present in males and females (but normally at much lower levels in women than in men). They stimulate sebum production, so if you eat too many fast carbs, your androgen levels may run too high, which can put your oil glands into overdrive.

Dairy products

Milk and most other dairy products contain two main types of proteins: casein and whey. The proteins in dairy products, are designed to grow a baby cow. Unfotunately we are all not baby cows so we have to suffer through the adverse effects of dairy on our skin. Dairy should be avoided a per the blackhead diet for the following reasons:

  • Whey proteins trigger insulin spikes just as powerfully as pure sugar does, and as a result have the effects on your skin as described in the above paragraph.
  • Whey proteins contain a growth factor called betacellulin. This growth factor binds to a special receptor on human skin cells called the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) like a key in a lock. When betacellulin binds to EGFR, it can trigger the skin follicle to make too much sebum, basically pushing your oil glands to go into overdrive.
  • Casein proteins raise IGF-1 levels by about 30%. IGF-1 stands for “Insulin-like Growth Factor.” IGF-1 is a growth hormone similar to insulin that stimulates excess sebum, skin cell, and androgen production. Nothing we would like to happen really.

You might think low-fat and non-fat dairy products, such as fat-free yogurt and skim milk would be healthier options for the dairy addicted blackhead-and-acne sufferer and thus would fit the blackhead diet, but actually they contain a higher concentration of dairy proteins than high-fat dairy products, and therefore are even better at triggering acne breakouts.

Omega-6 fatty acids

When there is too much omega-6 in the diet, and not enough omega-3, the scales tip too far in the direction of inflammation. Seed oils, such as canola, soybean, and corn oil, are high in omega-6’s, whereas certain fish oils are higher in omega-3’s, which promote healing. For more information, click here.

Be careful with current salmon species nowadays as the salmon of today isn’t any longer the salmon it used to be. Farmed salmon may have higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids running through its veins than wild, Atlantic salmon. To keep with the blackhead diet make sure that the salmon you buy for the recipe below is wild, Atlantic salmon, to make sure you get all those Omega-3 fatty acids your skin (and your brain!) so desperately desires.

Gluten

Gluten is quite often a favorite bad-guy in many diets, and unfortunately we are going to include it into the blackhead diet as well!
Let me explain why:
Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains (oat, barley, rye, spelt) that makes bread dough sticky. Now because of he fact it makes so many things feel and taste gummy, it’s in a wide variety of other items you would never expect it to be in (some ketchups and ice creams for example)!
Some people react really badly to gluten and are known to have what’s called celiac’s disease. Some symptoms include diarrhea, intense abdominal pain, fatigue and bloating.

This however is not the same as gluten sensitivity, in which symptoms are similar to celiac disease but not as immediate and arise over time. People with gluten sensitivity also complain of headaches, muscle and joint weakness, skin problems, and neurological issues like brain fog and depression. There is no way to definitively diagnose it, but a recent study led by University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research confirmed that gluten sensitivity is distinct from celiac disease in the type of immune response it elicits from the body, providing direct evidence of its mechanism and existence. Even though you wouldn’t be following a blackhead diet specifically, all this doesn’t sound too good in general to have around in your day-to-day diet anyway :)!

This is all very nice info, but how does this tie in to acne?

Researchers behind the Maryland study claim that the inflammatory response that begins in the gut’s reaction to gluten then spreads to other parts of the body. More investigation is needed on gluten sensitivity’s direct impact on the skin, but the connection between the gut and skin has been studied extensively.

In sensitive individuals, gluten acts in two ways. First, it alters the integrity of the gut, creating cracks in the gut lining that allow toxins to recirculate back into the system. Second, because gluten-sensitive people cannot properly digest gluten, these large molecules enter the bloodstream, and the immune system recognizes them as invaders, activating an immune response that increases inflammation, which in turn can result in acne. This kind of immune response also triggers the release of insulin, which results in raised hormone levels, another cause of acne.

Check out this infographic I found from pinterest:

blackhead diet

 

Some good recipes to fit the blackhead diet:

Blackhead diet recipe #1: Smoked salmon with prawns, horseradish cream & lime vinaigrette

blackhead-diet-recipe

This recipe is excellent against blackheads and acne as it has no sources of excess unhealthy oils, it features lean protein in the shrimps and salmon and is just overall yummy!

 

Ingredients
1 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tsp horseradish sauce
4 slices smoked salmon
10 large cooked prawn, peeled but tails left one
For the salad
juice 1 lime, finely grated zest of ½
1 tsp clear honey
½ tsp finely grated fresh root ginger
2 tbsp light olive oil
2 handfuls small leaf salad

Method:

Mix the crème fraîche with the horseradish and a little salt and pepper. For the dressing, whisk the lime juice and zest with the honey, ginger and seasoning, then whisk in the oil. Lay the smoked salmon and prawns on 2 plates, then top with a dollop of the horseradish cream. Toss the salad in most of the dressing and pile on top. Drizzle the remaining dressing around the plate and serve.

Blackhead diet recipe #2: Cheesy Autumn mushrooms

blackhead-diet-recipes

 

This hearty autumn dish contains plenty of earthy products such as nuts, mushrooms and a fair amount of cheese. The earthy ingedients give nutrients to your skin making sure the balance within your sebacous glands remain as they should, causing blackheads and acne to disappear and thus fitting the blackhead diet prefectly.

 

Ingredients
4 large field mushrooms
100 g gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
25g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs
knob butter, in small pieces
rocket leaves, to serve

Method

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking tray. Scatter over the cheese, walnuts, thyme sprigs and butter. You can do up to this stage a day in advance.

Pop in the oven and cook for 10 mins until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms are softened. Arrange some rocket leaves on plates and place the mushrooms on top.

Let us know in the comments below if you’d like to see a weekly meal plan to fit your blackhead diet!