If you've always believed chocolate and oily foods cause acne, it's finally time to put that myth to rest.
It's one of the biggest misconceptions about acne, but the only thing these foods can actually do is raise cholesterol levels, says Rachelle Wood, registered holistic nutritionist in Charlottetown P.E.I.
"Hormonal changes within the body have the greatest impact on acne formation. High stress lifestyles can promote acne production, so stay calm and relaxed to avoid breakouts," she tells The Huffington Post Canada.
So it's not a coincidence that those annoying little zits always manage to pop up when we feel overwhelmed — but that's not the whole story. Some experts suggest that acne is not caused by stress, but rather the change in our eating habits, sleeping routines or even not washing our faces, says dermatologist Dr. Anne Chapas, founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology.
She also adds that the two type of stress, psychological stress and physical stress, can cause changes in the skin with the release of cortisol — a stress hormone in our bodies.
Our diets also affect all of our skin, Wood adds. Foods that spike your blood sugar levels can also push your body into making extra insulin, which, she adds, increases the production of cortisol. In general, cortisol acts as our body's immediate source of energy, according to Today's Dietitian.
To be safe, Wood adds, always ensure you're eating whole and healthy foods year round — especially during cold winter months.
"Your skin is your largest organ. Stay hydrated and drink more room temperature water for winter-friendly skin," she says.
LOOK: Wood's top 10 foods that help prevent breakouts:
Fish is a great source of essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, says Rachelle Wood, registered holistic nutritionist in Charlottetown P.E.I. These acids help reduce inflammation in our bodies that can trigger cells to clog pores and potentially cause acne. Wood recommends eating more salmon, mackerel and sardines to fight blemishes.
"Deficiencies in minerals such as zinc and selenium have been linked to acne in some sufferers," says Wood. Most nuts contain selenium, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium and iron, which are all essential for healthy skin.
This tasty green fruit, rich in vitamin E, can also increase your skin's vitality, Wood says. Avocado is also a good source of vitamin C, which can reduce skin inflammation and naturally moisturize the skin.
And yes, you can eat the seeds. "The fruit and seed contain powerful natural chemicals and antioxidants that have been shown to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema," Wood says.On top of this, grapes can also help to control the side effects of allergic reactions on skin.
If you're looking for the perfect natural skin cleanser, eat fennel. This licorice-tasting root vegetable can improve digestion, reduce swelling and help to flush out excess fluids and toxins in your skin, Wood says.
Artichoke is a good source of antioxidants and full of Vitamin C. "This fibrous green vegetable helps to remove toxins from the body, making it a great addition for a healthy skin diet," she says.
Brown rice is a rich source of vitamin B, protein, magnesium, and several antioxidants, Wood says. For acne, vitamin B acts as our skin's stress fighter, which will help regulate hormones levels and prevent the likelihood of breakouts.
Garlic is another superfood that helps fight inflammation. "Garlic is full of a naturally occurring chemical called allicin, which kills off many harmful bacteria and viruses your body might be fighting," Wood says.
Broccoli is the perfect skin clearing food. It contains health building properties like vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K. "These antioxidants fight radical damage which will assist with the luminosity of your skin," Wood says.
Yes, they may look a little like grass, but these sprouts are packed with valuable, skin-clearing nutrients. Alfalfa sprouts contain live enzymes which help fight inflammation, Wood says.