Veganism is trending right now, and for good reason. People are becoming more conscious of where (and ) their food comes from, the of a destructive, land, food and water-intensive diet, and the associated with eating a Standard American Diet.
Unfortunately, some of us develop some vegan acne in the process. This can be a worsening of existing acne, or an entirely new flare up. Whatever the cause is, it often leaves us feeling confused and at odds with our ethics.
A is a fantastic lifestyle decision to make for , and you shouldn’t let a little acne stand in your way. In many cases, the skin can be cleared up simply by tweaking your diet, supplementing, and/or a good daily skincare routine.
Here are some of the leading reasons that a shift to a vegan diet may be contributing to or worsening your acne, and what you can do about it.
This is mostly common sense by now, and knowing this, many new vegans begin supplementing. Unfortunately, supplementing with too high of a dosage for your needs (we need very little) could result in an .
Some people prefer to use B12 fortified foods regularly, such as soy milk, some cereals, and nutritional yeast. Although fortified foods appear to be in cases of deficiency, they have a . Using fortified foods enables you to limit your B12 intake to your while still keeping vegan acne away.
frequently occur in people with acne, whether they’re vegan or not. In fact, in both deficient and non-deficient acne patients, zinc supplementation , although the high doses (400-600mg/day) came with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because , it’s important to stick to the . Even at fairly low doses from increasing zinc in their diet (whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy), many people report great improvement in their acne.
Whaaaat is dairy doing on this list? I thought dairy was ?! Well, , that much hasn’t changed. But dairy is a major source of in the diet which can measurably affect our health and eliminating it could potentially throw your hormones for quite a loop. If this is the case, and I suspect for many of us it is, all you can really do is ride it out, and skip to the Skincare section.
HIGH GLYCEMIC FOODS
Any major diet shift can have us relying on foods we’ve always eaten, but maybe more heavily than before. Sometimes we may not even realize it.
I rely a lot more on bread now than I had before, mostly because I can sometimes be a little bit lazy, and also because I just really love bread.
But high glycemic foods – white bread, white flour, cereals (corn flakes, instant oatmeal), white rice or pasta, russet potatoes, pretzels, rice cakes, crackers, melons – can lead to insulin spikes, which can . Reducing consumption of these high glycemic foods may help some people, especially bread lovers like myself.
Another reason we may be dealing with a sudden bout of vegan acne is our gut’s (in)ability to adapt to dietary changes.
Everyone has a different microbiome, which is influenced by many factors, and scientists have known for a long time that the food choices we make can affect the balance of microbes in our digestive tracts. Choosing between a salad and a hamburger for lunch can increase the populations of some bacteria, while . As the numbers of these bacteria change, they can secrete different substances, trigger different genes, and absorb different nutrients.
While our gut bacteria digest and absorb nutrients in our food, they also make vitamins that are vital for life (hello B12, we meet again), send signals to our immune systems, and make molecules that help our brains work. Clearly these microscopic organisms have some serious pull – I guess we are than we are “us”.
When we eat a diet lacking variety and fiber, this promotes the growth of only a few types of bacteria, which become the majority in the gut. This enables the majority bacteria to exert on us, by manufacturing behavior and mood-altering . It’s possible that these effects can result in things like or genetic triggers, which could result in acne outbreaks.
Fluctuations in hormones can also alter the of your microbiota, and so we may be adding secondary insult by eliminating hormone-laden dairy products. There has even been some question as to whether or not gut bacteria actually . This provides another pathway for gut microbes to affect our skin.
Clearly a drastic change in diet – any change, really – can affect your gut microbiome, and it could take some time for microbial numbers and diversity to grow. Try consuming dairy-free probiotic yogurts, or a probiotic supplement to !
Food allergies are one of the first things I look at when people develop vegan acne. A sudden change in diet may have us seeking out alternative protein sources – nuts and soy – or an excess of carbs – like wheat – all of which are common allergens. Maybe you’re discovering your love obsession with strawberries? It doesn’t hurt to look at any big changes you’ve made in your diet to see if allergies may be to blame.
Contrary to the misconception that consuming too much soy is throwing off your hormones, there’s no evidence that this is true. However, if you’re allergic, it can manifest on the skin. If you think this is the culprit, try an and get an allergy test done.
And if these dietary tweaks don’t work, you can always move along to your skincare routine.
If acne is a particular concern for you when switching to a vegan diet, you could add salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to combat any pesky pimples. If you do suddenly find yourself with vegan acne, don’t panic and push aside your ethics – it may clear up on its own in a few weeks once your body adjusts to your new diet. And if it doesn’t, you still have a lot of options that could help you find the cause.