The teenage years are riddled with insecurities – add on bad skin and confidence can plummet. We ask naturopath, Lucinda Miller for her advice on diet and nutrition to help teenagers ‘face’ the world with a clear and glowing skin.
When children start to go into puberty, one of the first signs is often little pimples appearing on the forehead, chin or t-zone of the face. This usually calms down naturally over time, but it can develop into much more pronounced red raw spots and even full-blown acne during the teenage years. Bad skin can do a lot of harm to self-esteem, especially during this era of social media and selfie-culture, when what teens look like is even more important than ever before.
So what can teenagers do to have more radiant skin, other than selfie filters?
A Great Skincare Routine
Firstly, a good skin-care routine is essential, cleaning the skin with a clean cloth every morning and evening, and choosing a natural and gentle tween and teen-friendly skin care brand.
The Gut Microbiome
There is increasing evidence that a healthy gut leads to healthier skin. This gut brain skin connection links acne severity to a gut microbiome which has been disrupted by antibiotics, stress or a poor diet. This is why probiotic foods like live yoghurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha are becoming more popular and easier to source locally. Probiotic food supplements are also helpful to take, if your children are not easily drawn to these fermented foods.
Healthy Diet Choices
Teen skin is also affected by what they eat, and reducing white flour-based carbohydrates, sugar and convenience ultra-processed foods and adding in a variety of fresh vegetables, salads, fruits, oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado can make quite a difference within a few months.
It’s important to drink plenty of water and herbal teas containing things like nettle and dandelion which are skin friendly. Sugary cordials, sports drinks and fizzy drinks and their diet versions can drive systemic inflammation which can exacerbate skin conditions, so cut back on these as much as possible.
Important Vitamins and Minerals include:
Zinc is a very important mineral during puberty, especially when skin problems are an issue. It is needed to create a healthy hormone balance, as well as dealing with digestive juices and growth. Skin tends to be worse when teenagers are lacking in zinc and zinc helps with dryness, peeling and scarring. Luckily zinc is in a wide range of healthy foods, including meats, egg yolks, full fat milk, spinach, mushrooms, peas and avocado as well as dried fruits, seeds and nuts and grains like brown rice and oats. A supplement may be needed if your child is not eating these kinds of foods regularly or has more pronounced skin issues.
Vitamin A is a skin healing vitamin which is used in several food supplements specifically to support teenage acne. It can be found naturally in yellow, orange and green foods including mango, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, apricots, melon, peaches and papaya as well as butter, kale, spinach and peas.
This vitamin is important to cool down any systemic inflammation that is driving the acne. The best way to get a good dose of vitamin D is sitting in the sunshine, and this is one of the reasons why teenagers tend to have better skin in the summer; and it’s often worse in the winter. A little can be found in oily fish, eggs and grass-fed meat, but many people follow the government guidelines and top up with a daily supplement from October to March every year in the UK.
Try this delicious, nutritious and potentially spot zapping recipe: Roots ‘n Greens Tortilla
Lucinda Miller is the founder of NatureDoc which offers UK-wide clinics specialising in women’s and children’s nutrition. She also runs an online health shop www.naturedoc.shop which stocks a large range of natural teen and tween natural skin-care and food supplements.
The role of zinc in the treatment of acne: A review of the literature. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29193602
Low-dose Vitamin “A” Tablets–treatment of Acne Vulgaris https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384860/
Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A Case-Control Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4999291/
Potential Role of the Microbiome in Acne: A Comprehensive Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678709/