(NaturalNews) Millions of Americans, both young and old, suffer from frequent skin outbreaks and acne -- and unfortunately many acne sufferers feel as though they have no other choice but to take harsh drugs like Accutane in order to keep the condition at bay. But there are a number of natural ways to combat acne without the need for prescription drugs. Here are a few of the most effective options:
1) Avoid junk foods. Though some people with acne have a genetic propensity for the condition, many others simply are not eating the right foods to maintain clear skin. Soft drinks, fried foods, snack crackers and chips, for instance, are typically not the types of foods you want to eat for clear skin. Artificial flavors and colors, processed salt, hydrogenated oils, chemical sweeteners, and other common food additives are all acne aggravators you will want to avoid.
"Most 17 to 18-year-olds have pimples and it can extend into the 20s and 30s," explains Dr. George Varigos from ABC Health & Wellbeing in Australia about acne. "Most severe cases have a genetic basis but generally, apart from genetic factors, it's environmental and is triggered by food" (http://www.abc.net.au).
Steering clear of foods that are high-glycemic and sticking with whole, natural, chemical-free foods can go a long way in clearing up acne-tattered skin. And over time, the metabolic changes that occur as a result of these dietary changes will help normalize insulin levels and open up skin pores to avoid blockages.
2) Supplement with zinc, omega-3 fatty acids. Zinc is an important mineral that helps reduce inflammation throughout the body and boost immunity. Because many cases of acne involve an overproduction of sebum and a subsequent buildup of inflammation-causing dead skin cells, zinc can be a powerful remedy in naturally eliminating acne.
"The best available evidence and real-life experience suggests that foods high in vitamin A and zinc offer the greatest help with acne," explains American Medical Publishing's Proven Health Tips Encyclopedia. "Good sources of zinc are: lamb, lean pork, brown rice, lean beef, salmon, (and) baked potato."
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, flaxseed, hemp seed, chia seed, grass-fed beef, nuts, and raw grass-fed butter, are also beneficial due to their anti-inflammatory nature. Omega-3s have also been shown to regulate the production of leukotriene B4, a molecule that is linked to high sebum production and inflammatory acne.
3) De-stress through exercise, yoga and relaxation. Because of the strong association between hormonal imbalance and acne, many experts are now in agreement that toxic overload, both physically and mentally, is a trigger for the condition. This is why it is important to continually de-stress your body with intense physical exercise, as well as slower-paced relaxation exercises such as yoga.
Sleep is another important facet in reducing stress and thwarting acne. A study published in the journal Sleep found that for every hour of sleep you lose a night, your risk of psychological stress increases by 14 percent. So be sure to regulate your sleeping patterns to ensure you are getting enough sleep -- a healthy adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, by the way.
4) Cleanse your physical body by drinking plenty of clean water, supplementing with probiotics. For many people with acne, physical detoxification is also necessary to address the issue. Drinking at least three or four liters of water every day -- some natural health practitioners recommend drinking distilled water for maximum detoxification -- will help to flush out internal toxins and hydrate your skin from the inside out. Drinking plenty of water also helps improve blood flow, which can prevent oily buildup in your pores.
Along with this, you will also want to make sure your bowel health is in tip-top shape by supplementing with probiotics. Studies have shown that nearly half of all people who suffer from frequent acne also have low stomach acid, which may be directly linked to profuse acne. And if your digestive tract is inflamed or loaded with impacted toxins due to a lack of beneficial bacteria to balance things out, your body will have a much harder time stopping acne from forming.
5) Cut out wheat gluten, processed grains. Another major aggravator of acne is wheat gluten. Those with sensitivity or intolerance to gluten -- millions of people fall into this category and do not even realize it -- only make their acne symptoms worse, as their intestinal tracts do not know what to do with these difficult-to-digest proteins. Then end result for some is that toxins are pushed through the skin in the form of acne.
Many processed grains, in fact, exacerbate acne symptoms, as the excess carbohydrates can drastically raise insulin levels and boost production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). By cutting out grains, many acne sufferers have found that their symptoms quickly clear up without the need for high-risk drugs or antibiotics.