The Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect our lives in a variety of ways. With most restaurants and food establishments closed down until God knows when, more and more people are forced to re-evaluate their usual dietary habits.
While the quarantine is a time to reactivate your old cooking skills, a lot of people don’t have the luxury of doing so. After all, most panicked individuals shopped for canned goods and preserved foodstuffs in preparation for the lockdown.
Faced with the prospect of processed foods, stress, and a lack of exercise, most people are expected to gain weight during the quarantine. To make matters worse, these unhealthy lifestyle choices can lead to a variety of skin problems - with the foremost being acne.
Poor Diet = Pimples
Acne, known as pimples by many, can be caused by a variety of things. There’s genetics, environment, even unstable gut health. However, in most cases, the culprit remains to be an unhealthy diet - specifically one that is composed of white bread, sugary snacks, and soda.
According to Dr. George Varigos, an Australian dermatologist, a diet of refined, processed foods can lead to breakouts. This challenges the belief that only teens get pimples, as adults in their 30s (who favor unhealthy foods) continue to develop pimples as well.
The connection between poor diet and acne was established in a 2002 study. In this research, the authors compared the lifestyles of Papuan and Paraguayan teens to that of Westerners.
Results showed that pimples were more prevalent in the industrialized world. As much as 79 to 95% of the adolescents developed breakouts. The rates remained high in adults, with 40 to 54% of the population still battling acne.
The researchers attribute this phenomenon to the fatty Western diet. The fatty diet in most modern countries is in stark contrast to the nutritious foods eaten in Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.
After all, the typical western diet is composed of refined, processed foods that can elevate blood sugar levels. What follows, of course, is a spike in insulin levels. These hormones increase the levels of androgens, which then boost the production of sebum. Although these oils are necessary for skin moisture, they can block the pores and lead to acne.
As if that's not enough, insulin can also make the skin thicker and drier. So yes, that's why unhealthy eats are your skin's worst enemy during this lockdown.
5 Ways to Keep ‘Lockdown’ Acne in Check
Because a poor diet can bring about acne, it is but imperative that you change your eating habits for the better Here are some tips that can help you eat healthy despite the government’s stay at home order.
While there are a lot of takeaway and delivery options at the moment, it's better if you cook at home for the time being. Remember, lack of time is no longer an excuse because you're technically confined to your home 24/7.
Apart from helping you save money, cooking at home allows you to use healthier ingredients as well. Remember, prepared foods are usually high in sugar, salt, and fat. But if you cook your own food, you can minimize the use of these acne-causing ingredients.
Yes, it’s hard to get rid of carbohydrate-rich food sources from your diet, especially if you’re used to them. With that being said, you need not forego of carbs once and for all. You can always opt for better, healthier alternatives. With that being said, Dr. Varigos advises the stay-at-home people to make use of the following ingredients instead:
Yes, it is depressing to eat food that is not as 'tasty.' If you rely on salt and other sodium-rich flavorings in most of your recipes, now is the time to cut back on these spices. After all, the World Health Organization only recommends an intake of 5 grams of salt (or lesser) per day.
With that being said, the best salt alternatives for food are rosemary, basil, thyme, and oregano. As for spices, you better go for chili powder, paprika, turmeric, and pepper.
If you have no choice but to use canned beans and veggies for your meals, you can always reduce its salt content by rinsing these products first.
While it’s still best to eat fresh vegetables and fruits, a good alternative during the quarantine is fermented foods. Not only do they have long shelf lives they’re very nutritious as well.
Apart from being storage-friendly, fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, pickles, kombucha, and sauerkraut may help control your pimples as well. That's because these sources are rich in probiotics - microorganisms that bring about a variety of health benefits. Not only can they help control the growth of acne-causing bacteria, these probiotics can make the skin ‘younger’ and more hydrated as well.
The boredom that comes with the lockdown might prod you to snack more than usual. While it’s explainable to do so, feasting on unhealthy snacks can affect your weight - and your skin as well. As has been mentioned, most snacks - which are made of refined and processed ingredients - can trigger a breakout. As such, it’s better to set your sights on healthier snack options, such as:
The lockdown, although restrictive for most, is one of the best ways to stem the transmission of Covid-19. While it gives you an absurd amount of time on your hands, such can lead you to bad habits as well. Unfortunately, most people end up ‘stress eating’ foods that can cause acne. Although that is the case, you can get rid of these pesky zits by following the healthy eating tips stated above.