There’s no way to talk about hormonal acne without menstruation. You know, Aunt Flow, moon time, that time of the month. If you’re reading this, you may groan at the thought of PMS. Uncomfortable cramps, bloating, back pain, acne—ugh. The truth is, these symptoms are just signals from your body that something internally is out of whack. Thankfully we have genius women like Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist and author of one of the Top 50 bestselling women’s health books, Women Code, who have made it their life goal to rid the world of PMS! What a badass.
How can you tell if what you’re experiencing is hormonal acne? You may notice blemishes pop up on your jawline and chin the week before your period or mid-cycle during ovulation due to high levels of estrogen and testosterone, explains Alisa. To help get to the bottom of some fundamental imbalances that lead to PMS, here’s a guide of (really yummy) seasonal foods that can help realign your hormones and ease hormonal acne. Eating seasonally ensures you consume fresh, local, and nutrient dense produce helpful for nourishing your body this winter. Keep in mind there are many factors that contribute to hormonal imbalance (from sleep habits to stress, to environmental toxins) so it may take a combination of remedies. Food is just one!
1. Legumes to balance blood sugar
Problem: Ready for the cold hard truth about carbs? In the body, they turn into sugar. And we know sugar is a big offender when it comes to clear skin. “Not one woman who works with me to resolve her PMS, cramps, low libido, PCOS, or infertility starts out with stabilized blood sugar,” writes Alisa. True, our bodies need a certain amount of glucose as fuel, but without being mindful, it’s likely we’re over-consuming.
Here’s how it works: After munching on a baked potato or bowl of pasta, your body produces insulin to push glucose into cells for fuel. Too much glucose creates too much insulin. But the body doesn’t know to get rid of the extra. It wants to store glucose for later, so it holds onto both compounds sending blood sugar levels up up up then down down down. Too much of this roller coaster can put a wrench in ovulation and all the healthy hormones it stimulates, like progesterone. And when there’s not enough progesterone to level out estrogen, it skyrockets causing what Alisa calls “Estrogen Dominance,” which can lead to hormonal acne. Woosh. Did you get all that?
Solution: Add legumes to your diet (think lentils and beans) to stabilize blood sugar. They are rich in fiber and low on the glycemic index, meaning they steadily increase blood sugar levels leaving you with lasting energy. But don’t worry, you don’t have to give up all carbs. A recent study done by the University of Guelph found subjects who substituted half a serving of starch, like potatoes or rice, with lentils showed at positive 35% drop in high blood sugar levels.
Cooking inspiration: We love lentils in slow cooker soups, Buddha bowls, or mashed up into hummus.
2. Root vegetables to unclog a congested liver