Dietary influences on the skin have been around for thousands of years. One of the lasting practices was the Chinese’s, which is based on the yin and yang theory. Yin and yang are opposing forces; yin represents the dark, cold, and males and yang represents the light, hot, and females. Every thing or event can be divided into yin or yang. This is most often seen with food. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) divides every food into five categories: hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold.
According to TCM, every illness is also either yin or yang, and the distinction decides what foods you can eat to get better. If you have a yang disease, which is hot, you should eat cold/cool foods. Conversely, if you have a yin disease, which is cold, you should eat hot/warm foods. By eating certain foods, you restore balance to you qi, or lifeforce. Healthy people have a balanced qi.
Acne and other skin diseases also have been reported to be due to an unbalanced qi. This is often due to excess yang or heat in their body. This condition is known as yin deficiency, meaning that the body is lacking coldness. Yin deficiency manifests itself with lower back pain, agitation, hot flashes, night sweats, and most importantly: acne and skin rashes. This imbalance can be fixed by altering the diet by eating foods in the cool and cold categories.
Some foods in the cool or cold categories include pears, apples, yogurt, broccoli, avocado, shellfish, and fish. In general, most raw fruits and vegetables are cool or cold, while meats and dairy products are neutral and warm. However, increasing dietary in cold foods is just as important as decreasing in warm or hot foods, like spices, onions, dairy, and meats.
The TCM belief of eating cool and cold foods to treat acne is supported by current dermatological findings linking acne to diet. Foods that are high in antioxidants, like raw fruits and vegetables, which are also low in fat and sugar, can help acne prone skin. High intake of pastas, candy, chocolate, and dairy can increase acne breakouts. Dr. Talakoub recommends a diet evaluation if your acne is not improving on standard medical treatments. Call our office at 703-356-5111 if you need an acne examination of if you have questions about dietary influences in acne.