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Is Bacon Giving You Acne?

Recent studies have found a surprising link between the consumption of bacon and the development of acne. Certain ingredients in bacon are linked to an increase in acne in teens and adults. Read more about this connection and what you can do about it below.
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For decades, doctors everywhere told patients that bacon was bad for you. The high concentrations of saturated fat and sodium were blamed for causing a variety of diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

However, recent studies, including one published in Annals of Internal Medicine in May 2014, show that saturated fat may not be as unhealthy as was believed. According to the 2014 study, there was no difference in risk of developing heart disease in study participants who ate saturated fat versus patients who ate unsaturated fats. Other studies over the past decade have found similar results, leading researchers to believe that it isn’t so much the kind of fat consumed as it is the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in the diet that lead to heart disease.

Certain diet lifestyles have embraced the role of saturated fat in the diet (and bacon specifically), particularly the Paleo diet. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states that the average American consumes around 18 pounds of bacon each year (there are no statistics on how much bacon the average Paleo diet-eater consumes, which could be significantly higher). Bacon is no longer just a breakfast meat, but is often found added to burgers, salads, dressing, and even desserts.

However, despite the fact that saturated fat consumption does not necessarily end in heart disease, it still may not be the healthiest meat to consume for acne sufferers. According to recent studies, including a 2003 study published Methods in Molecular Biology, nitrates, sulfates, and sodium were shown to have an inflaming effect on the skin, which can lead to skin damage over time. According to medical researchers, the presence of chronic inflammation in the skin can contribute to a variety of skin problems, including wrinkles, rosacea, and acne.

The Acne-Bacon Connection

The 2003 study examined the effect of nitrates on tissues. The researchers found that nitrates can have a harmful effect on the body’s healing process in addition to increasing inflammation. The researchers found that nitrates stimulate the chronic inflammatory response in tissues. At the same time, nitrates also slow the rate at which white blood cells are able to control and eliminate the inflammation, which continues to make inflammation worse over time.

In 2014, researchers from Georgia Regents University and the Georgia Prevention Center, Institute of Public and Preventive Health examined the effect of a high-salt diet on over 700 adolescents. The researchers found that 97 percent of the teens consumed more than twice the daily recommended intake of sodium offered by the American Heart Association. Teens with the highest level of salt consumption were more likely to have inflammation than teens who ate the least amount of salt.

Diets high in fat could also be responsible for an increase in acne development. According to Nutrition MD, studies comparing teens who eat a Western diet high in fats, carbs, and sugars with teens who eat largely unprocessed foods with a smaller amount of carbs, sugar, and fat showed that teens who ate the Western diet were more likely to suffer from acne.

Although this is bad news for bacon-lovers, if you eat a lot of bacon and other foods full of nitrates and sulfates and suffer from skin problems, it may be helpful to eliminate these ingredients for a few months to determine if they are contributing to your skin problems.

Breakfast- Bad for Your Skin

According to the Nurses Health Study II (which ran from 1976 to present day), women who ate a higher percentage of dairy during their teen years were 40 percent more likely to have dealt with acne. This result remained true in over 47,000 women. A high-carb diet is also linked to an increase in acne.

According to a 2009 review of 21 studies and 6 clinical trials found that sugar, dairy, and simple carbohydrate intake were all linked to acne. The studies found that these three ingredients cause insulin spikes, which contributes to an increase in acne on the skin. All high-glycemic foods were linked to an increase in the presence of acne in all of these studies.

The traditional American breakfast is full of these ingredients- with high sugar cereals and pastries, a large amount of dairy, breads and cereals, fatty meats like bacon, and other high-glycemic foods like fruit juice. One simple way to reduce the presence of acne on your skin is by exchanging unhealthy breakfast foods for healthy breakfast foods. Avoiding these same ingredients throughout the rest of your diet (such as cutting back on the consumption of desserts and sodas) will also work slowly over a period of several months to reduce the amount of acne on your skin.

Is There a Way to Still Eat Bacon?

If you are a die-hard bacon fan, you may not want to give up your sacred breakfast item even in the pursuit of clear skin. Luckily, there may still be a way for you to enjoy your favorite food without it causing damage in the skin. Since most of the studies link high sodium, sulfates, and nitrates to an increase in skin inflammation, bacon that does not contain these ingredients may not have such a detrimental effect on the skin. Look for bacon that is sulfate-free, nitrate-free, and low in sodium. Choosing bacon without these trigger ingredients may lower the impact of bacon on your skin.

The Health Benefits of Bacon

Don’t worry bacon-lovers; the effects of this favorite breakfast item are not all bad. There are actually quite a few health benefits from sustainably raised, vegetarian fed, and additive free bacon.

A Good Source of Protein

Bacon contains about 3 grams of protein per slice. If you eat about 4 slices for a meal, you are eating 12 grams of protein, which is about one quarter of the recommended daily allotment for protein by the Centers for Disease Control. A breakfast sausage patty contains about 6 grams, which is half the amount of protein.

Satiates Appetite

The mix of protein and fat in bacon provides sustainable, filling nutrients that prevent sugar spikes and can prevent the need to eat every couple of hours. Protein and saturated fat is a filling combo that has been shown to help individuals consume less calories overall.

Contains a Wide Variety of Minerals and Vitamins

Bacon contains a surprising number of nutrients, including B vitamins, Zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and pantothenate. These nutrients are essential for a functioning body and some of them can even fight the signs of aging and acne.

Heal Acne by Identifying Problem Foods

The easiest way to determine if a particular food causes acne symptoms in you is with a simple food diary and elimination diet. First, start by recording your diet for 2-3 months and the condition of your skin each day. Note any possible connections between food and acne flare-ups. Next, try eliminating these foods all at once, along with sugary foods, high-carb foods, and dairy for about 2 months.

Slowly add the foods back one at a time in 2-month increments to identify which foods are a problem. If a food doesn’t seem to bother your skin, then you can eat it worry-free!

Counteract the Effects of Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne is a problem that strikes a large portion of the population. Up to 40 percent of teens and adults suffer from acne. Although high glycemic foods contribute to an increase in acne, if you consume a larger amount of non-inflammatory foods versus inflammatory foods, then your skin will be healthier.

Aside from fighting acne, these foods also improve the base quality of your skin, leading to fewer wrinkles and skin that glows from the inside out. According to Spry Living, the following 8 foods can help.

Foods that Heal Acne

 

  • Walnuts
  • Blueberries
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Fatty Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Green Tea

 


Walnuts

Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. These acids block toxins, nourish cell membranes, and reduce inflammation. This gives the skin a moisturized, healthy appearance. Walnuts also contain copper, which is necessary for producing collagen.

Blueberries

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, which protects skin from free radical damage and the effects of tissue damage and inflammation. Blueberries also contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is necessary to manufacture collagen. Plums, strawberries, and blackberries also contain these same ingredients.

Avocado

Avocados protect the skin and help prevent acne in a variety of ways. Avocados contain antioxidant carotenoids, including beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, alpha carotene, and lutein. These antioxidants protect against free radical damage and the signs of aging. Avocados also contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and oleic acid. Oleic acid helps repair damaged skin cells and heal irritated skin.

Spinach

Spinach contains a variety of nutrients that gives the skin a healthy makeover. Spinach contains vitamin E, and folate, which are both essential nutrients for healthy skin.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are the darling of the health food industry. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamin A. All these ingredients work together to prevent acne.

Fatty Fish

Most fatty fish contain a wide range of minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats which are necessary to maintain healthy skin. One of the most prominent minerals is selenium, which is used to prevent cellular damage in the skin.

Green Tea

Green tea was shown in a study conducted by the University of Maryland to contain a large concentration of polyphenols, which reduces redness in the skin among other benefits. Shellfish Shellfish contain high amounts of zinc which is a beneficial mineral for skin. According to some studies, diets rich in zinc help repair skin cells and prevent acne flare-ups.

Healthy Breakfast Alternatives for Acne Sufferers

Since breakfast is one of the main meals that may be contributing to your acne, replacing the unhealthy foods with healthy skin-boosting foods will go a long way towards clearing the skin.

Eggs and Veggies

Eggs and veggies are a great way to start off the day because eggs and vegetables are packed full of essential nutrients. Mix vegetables and eggs in an omelet, or fry them together in a skillet. Choose vegetables high in vitamin C, such as red bell peppers, to further improve the skin. Choline in eggs has also been show to have a calming effect on inflammation in the body.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t cause insulin spikes like many other breakfast cereals (when eaten plain. Avoid the addition of sugar to this breakfast), which is why it is a great meal for acne sufferers. Add sustainable ingredients to the meal, like eggs or fruit, to keep you feeling full longer.

Fish and Shellfish

Although most people don’t think about eating fish for breakfast, fish can be delicious pan-fried with butter, veggies, and eggs. Many high-end brunch menus feature fish, and the numerous acne-fighting ingredients in fish, including zinc and omega 3 fats, are excellent for clearing the skin from the inside out.

Steak, Eggs, and Sweet Potatoes

Nothing is more delicious in the morning than steak and eggs. Switch out traditional fried potatoes for sweet potatoes and you have the perfect combo of acne-fighting ingredients. The best part about this breakfast idea is that it won’t feel like you're sacrificing at all, and may even make you feel like you are cheating on your healthy eating plan- even though all of these ingredients are packed full of beneficial nutrients.

Other Steps to Improve Acne

While cutting out dairy, sugar, and simple carbs can significantly cut down on the amount of acne you see on your skin, you may need to make a few other changes that will help you see faster results.

Try Probiotics

Some studies have linked a healthy gut with a reduction in facial acne. Probiotics can help regulate the digestive system and may prevent acne bacteria from reaching the skin, a 2011 study published in Gut Pathology found.

Consider Supplements

The same vitamins and minerals that improve the skin in food may also help in supplement form with faster results. Try supplementing with vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, MSM, and gum guggul for a few months. Many companies sell specific acne supplement blends containing high concentrations of these nutrients. Do not take any supplements without first consulting with a healthcare professional, particularly if you are pregnant or nursing.

Reduce Bacteria

Bacteria on the skin is often the trigger behind acne breakouts. One certain form of bacteria, called P. acne bacteria is the biggest contributor. You can help prevent the spread of this bacteria by avoiding touching your face and applying coconut oil, which contains lauric acid which is highly effective in eliminating acne bacteria, according to Organic Facts.

Bacon and Acne- There is Still Hope

Traditional bacon may be full of ingredients that are unhealthy for acne, but by choosing nitrate and sulfate free bacon with reduced sodium, you can prevent most of the acne problems associated with bacon. Additionally, filling the rest of your diet with acne-fighting foods will help heal the skin from the inside out, and can counteract some of the negative effects on the skin from bacon and other foods. If you are a bacon lover and suffer from acne, there is no need to panic- you can have your bacon and eat it, too.

Sources


http://spryliving.com/slideshows/9-best-foods-for-skin/

http://spryliving.com/articles/is-your-bacon-obsession-causing-wrinkles-and-acne/#

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/study-questions-fat-and-heart-disease-link/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

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