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Page 31 of 92 29 expertadvice FEED YOUR FACE Zap the Zits Using nutrition to fight cystic acne by Alex Caspero Acne—many of your clients struggle with it. Whether it's teenagers plagued by cystic acne or adults who struggle with occasional breakouts, you have clients asking for help. Cystic acne is the most severe form, with larger cysts that are often red, inflamed, and prone to scarring. Acne can be caused by a number of triggers. Bacteria, increased sebaceous gland production, clogged pores, hormones, and infl ammation can all lead to acne. Cystic acne in particular is more infl ammatory, which means the immune system is causing the reaction below the surface of the skin. While topical treatments can be very eff ective, they also pose risks and side eff ects, especially when we consider the oral retinoids that are often prescribed for the toughest acne cases. For another approach, have your clients consider their diet. To improve acne, improve digestion. To decrease acne, especially cystic acne, it's important to identify foods that may be causing an infl ammatory response. While this will diff er from person to person, the most common foods that cause issues are dairy, sugar, and sometimes gluten. To start, remove one of the items for two weeks and see if there are any changes. Then, remove another and repeat the process again. Additionally, assess the intake of fruits and vegetables. Not only is it important to reduce infl ammatory foods, it's essential to increase anti-infl ammatory foods— namely fruits and vegetables. These items contain antioxidants, which reduce free-radical damage that harms the skin, reducing infl ammation and breakouts. Most Americans fall short of the recommended fi ve servings a day, so consider adding in at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack. Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids also have an anti- infl ammatory eff ect. One study followed 45 participants with mild to moderate acne who took an omega-3 supplement for 10 weeks. The results showed that both infl ammatory and non- infl ammatory acne lesions decreased. Fish, walnuts, chia seeds, fl ax seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain omega-3s. Lastly, lifestyle changes are important too. Drinking more water, aiming for eight hours of sleep every night, and managing stress all help reduce infl ammation.

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