Have you got Acne and do you eat lots of Nuts?
Recently I’ve had a bit of an acne flare up and I couldn’t understand why. Alcohol went from my life on the 2nd of January, I eat healthily, exercise, drink lots of water…everything we are supposed to do. Could it be a detox effect from giving up alcohol? (I didn’t think I really drank that much and always had alcohol free days!). My gut instinct told me it had to be more than that, so I started to do a bit if digging on the internet. Here’s what I found;
In a Nutshell
Firstly, I’ll be clear in saying nuts do not ’cause’ acne, but if you are someone who already has acne they could be aggravating it. Nuts contain both Omega-6 essential fatty acids as well as Omega-3 EFA’s. For optimal health we need both these EFA’s in the correct ratio. Most nuts are higher in Omega-6’s than Omega-3’s. We tend to get plenty of Omega-6’s but are usually lacking in Omega-3’s. When you eat lots of nuts you are only increasing this imbalance.
The chart below details the ratio of omega 3:6 in a selection of nuts and seeds
Why does an imbalance in the Omega-3:6 ratio aggravate acne?
By now we all know that acne is an inflammatory condition. To quote Chris Kresser;
“-In plain English, what this means is that the more omega-3 fat you eat, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. A diet with a lot of omega-6 and not much omega-3 will increase inflammation. A diet of a lot of omega-3 and not much omega-6 will reduce inflammation.-”
The best ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 for optimum health is 2:1 or 1:1 – studies in America have shown that the average diet is closer to a 1:15 to 1:32 ratio! I’m sure this is probably true of the average British person too!
It’s also really important to check your consumption of oils. When eating a lot of packaged foods such as cakes, biscuits and ready meals you can be sure you’re Omega’s will be heavily weighing towards too much 6. Another reason to cut the packet food when you have acne – and actually just for your health’s sake even if you have clear skin!
The chart below for the ratio of Omega 3:6 in some commonly consumed oils
The Hormone Connection
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids – meaning we cannot make them on our own and they must be obtained from our diet. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) are two critical omega-3’s. They are the building blocks for hormones that control immune function, blood clotting and cell growth as well as components of cell membranes.
The body also constructs hormones from Omega-6’s EFA’s, but these tend to increase inflammation – such as in an immune response for blood clotting and cell proliferation etc. Since Omega-3 EFA’s do the opposite it’s important they are in balance.
I have kept this post fairly simple because there’s plenty more information on the internet on this subject (see links below).
My stand point is as someone who’s constantly trying to manage her acne prone skin. My experiment with giving up nuts is only on it’s 3rd day as I write this post. So far, even after just a few days of going ‘nut free’ I can say there is an improvement in my skin – it definitely feels calmer and is less spotty. This is not to say I will, or you have to give up nuts forever! Perhaps once my skin is in better condition a few nuts can sneak back in. This situation has made me aware of how important it is to consume more Omega-3 whilst keeping Omega’6’s in check.
Stay tuned for my next post when I will share something else in the fight against acne! This is something I had not heard of in all my years of ‘Acne’ – but it seems to be doing wonders for many people!
References and further reading on the connection between Acne and the Omega-3:6 ratio