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Functional Foods That May Help Your Acne

Diet is tricky, and when it comes to our skin there's a lot of confusion surrounding what we should and shouldn't be eating for healthy, acne-free skin. It's generally accepted that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains, which is rich in fiber and antioxidants, and diverse in selection, is best for our health. Your parents told you to eat your veggies for a reason.

But what are some foods that we should especially be eating lots of? What are some functional foods that can vamp up our diet, and improve our health and skin?

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences defines a “functional food” as one that encompasses potentially healthful products, including any modified food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond that of the traditional nutrients it contains.

Despite generally similar definitions of what a functional food is, controversies about what is and what is not a functional food remain at the forefront of the discussion. Where do we draw the line? Aren't all vegetables technically functional foods? All fruits? Not to mention, many people confuse functional foods for "super foods", which has become kind of a buzzword term in the health industry. Super foods are generally touted as things that "cure cancer" or other miraculous feats, while functional foods only claim to be healthy, and promote wellness in other ways aside from proper nutrition.

Regardless, there are some foods that, based on what they do, we can speculate to be considered functional foods. Some are as common as broccoli, others are a bit more exotic.

I personally love to include functional foods in my day-to-day diet because they offer a wide array of health benefits, some that may even be beneficial for the skin. It's always rewarding to know that what I am putting into my body is promoting health and wellness.

A partial list of foods that have been proposed to provide benefits by altering one or more physiologic processes that may affect acne formation is presented below.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Ginseng, licorice, oats, parsley, papaya, spirulina, green tea, chlorella, leafy greens (like kale, spinach, swiss chard), chia seeds, flax seeds, turmeric, barberry, acai, goji.

Anti-microbial foods

Cranberry, garlic, onion, green tea, coconut, ginger, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, cinnamon, grapefruit, fruits and vegetables with high levels of vitamin C, turmeric.

Remember, while it's great to include these functional foods in your regular diet, a diet based on a variety of plants (fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains and seeds - even those not on this list, like bananas and Brussels sprouts) remains the absolute best way to ensure a balanced nutrient intake for optimal health. Filling your diet with lots of fiber and antioxidant-rich foods from the plant kingdom will do wonders to make your skin glow, and will give it the tools that it requires to build healthy skin that is acne-free.

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