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High Protein Diets and Acne

author image Colleen Meheen
Colleen Meheen is a certified personal trainer through the ISSA, and has years of experience in the fields of holistic nutrition. Her passion for preventative wellness creates her active lifestyle up in the Rockies of Colorado. She has been the fashion editor for Lifestyle Media Group and an inspirational writer for Reign Media Group L.L.C.
High Protein Diets and Acne
Radiant Complexion Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Raul

Years of hype have created a mysterious draw to high protein, low carbohydrate diets. Fitness enthusiasts have been fed this gospel of massive protein intake. Although many positives can be gleaned from high protein intake through highly bio-available sources, too much of this macro-nutrient can cause serious side effects.


High Protein Diets and Acne
Protein and amino acids. Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ethan Hein

Protein is the building block of muscle and is essential to the structure and function of all living cells. Without adequate protein intake, muscle mass will be depleted, fatigue will be prevalent and insulin resistance, hair loss and hormonal imbalance can result. Protein has little effect on blood sugar and is a dense food that keeps people feeling full for a long time. Many sources of protein exist in the average American diet ranging from animal protein, vegetable protein and proteins that exist in seeds, nuts, grains and legumes. Eight amino acids are required to build muscle, facilitate absorbency and bring optimal health within the body. Animal proteins contain the full spectrum of amino acids and are considered a complete protein source. Vegetable proteins contain high amounts of singular amino acids and must be combined with other protein sources to create proper function and utilization. Many of these foods should be incorporated daily, as each protein source is absorbed differently with each individual.


High Protein Diets and Acne
Rainbow of colors and flavors. Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Alan Cleaver

When deciding on a lifestyle or a diet that is vegetarian or vegan, it is imperative to eat a very colorful and varied selection of foods every day. Deep green vegetables, whole grains such as barley and quinoa, and legumes, nuts and seeds will provide the necessary eight amino acids that will create optimal function of muscles, energy and hormone stability. These foods offer easily digestible proteins that are quickly absorbed into the blood and utilized efficiently. Animal proteins offer a complete protein source, but are much more difficult to digest and absorb. This will cause fermentation of the food in the gut, and toxic residue may cause damage to immune function.

When considering food sources to fill the body's protein needs, always begin with organic products that are free of harmful pesticides, preservatives, chemical treatments or genetic modification. If you do not obtain protein from organic food sources, these toxins will adversely affect every system within the body, and will quickly manifest themselves on the skin's surface through acne.


High Protein Diets and Acne
In search of radiant health Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Subramanian Kabilan

As mentioned above, protein is essential to life and health, yet balance is a key component of optimal health. If huge quantities of protein are ingested, the body's digestive system, from the liver to the kidneys and into the intestines and colon, will become extremely burdened trying to break down these proteins into usable material. This extreme stress on valuable cleansing organs will create adverse reactions within other parts of the body. Whenever an organ or system within the body is burdened or stressed, the body will naturally respond through elimination of toxins through the skin. As this is the largest organ, it will become a necessary avenue of toxic elimination as the liver and colon can recover and restore balance internally.

Acne is often a byproduct of diets that are highly focused on protein intake, and less on fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts due to their sugar and fat content. This is a very dangerous proposition, as the body needs the other macro-nutrients of fat and carbohydrates just as much as it needs protein to develop a highly functioning body and immune system. If these key food groups are not brought into the diet in proper combination with the protein sources, acne will likely begin to appear in large, cystic groupings across the face and neck. These large and painful acne blemishes will likely contain clear, murky fluid and can often leave scarring and redness if not treated quickly. These acne lesions are very damaging to the overall self image of many individuals who are making every effort to look their best through a diet that is highly acidic and unbalanced. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet full of color, texture and nutrients through fruits, vegetables and legumes will offer relief and help many acne sufferers. Dairy and animal products should be used sparingly as a protein source due to the difficulty in digesting the protein.


Optimally, a diet rich in a variety of protein sources combined equally with low glycemic-impact complex carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains, as well as healthy omega fatty acids found in fish, seeds, and avocados, will create a harmony within the body that will create a flourishing system and radiant skin.

Acne that has resulted from high amounts of protein that were not properly digested can diminish quickly with a diet that is predominantly anti-inflammatory and full of healing nutrients that will cleanse the liver and colon, as well as purify the blood and provide quick healing to the skin's surface. Key foods to incorporate in the healing process are organic milk, organic whole grains, brown rice and yogurt, as these foods are high in probiotics, good bacteria that balance the gut and promote internal health, and zinc, a healing mineral that aids in immune strength and enzyme production. Avoiding highly acidic and inflammatory foods or beverages should be a priority. Items such as coffee, sugar, processed foods full of salt and bleached ingredients are damaging and prevent proper healing.

Additional supplements can be incorporated to ease the redness and prevent infection and scarring with the acne lesions that are currently present. Alpha lipoic acid supplements protect cells from damage and aid in energy metabolism. This antioxidant is very significant and promotes anti-aging within the body as a whole.

Time Frame

The healing process is different with each and every person, but to offer your body the best opportunity to heal quickly, focus on large portions of antioxidant-rich foods at every meal, plentiful amounts of filtered water daily, adequate supplemental support with a bio-available multi vitamin/mineral, as well as exercise to induce lymph cleansing. All of these aspects applied in a daily regimen will allow the body's natural healing properties to function optimally.

The exterior skin surface should be treated in a similar manner, and never should synthetic, chemical and preservative-laden creams and cosmetics be applied. Your skin absorbs whatever is placed on it, so clean, pure and natural topical solutions will maintain pH balance and promote healing as well as prevent scarring. Vitamin E, C Ester, DMAE, alpha lipoic acid, Hyaluronic Acid and MSM (sulfur compound) are all good options for treating acne blemishes and promoting a flawless complexion. Avoid harsh chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide, or harsh exfoliants while the skin has open blemishes, as this will create over drying and disrupt proper healing.

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