“Diet has a direct and strong link to acne despite what some physicians may tell you otherwise” is the shibboleth that I have been preaching since I got back to work after my summer break. Thanks to naughty food indulgences during the summer vacation, presently I am seeing gobs of acne patients in and out of my clinic. And along with writing acne-clearing prescriptions I have been urging teen and adult acne sufferers to watch what they eat. Taking my one-on-one diet counsels one step further plus to publically implicate food as a culprit in crimes against our complexion, I’d like to share with you some research that debunks the pseudo myth “Diet has no role in acne flares”.
The scientific community had been sitting on the fence in the past when it came to accepting the negative effects of junk food on acne-prone skin because of a few studies published back in the 60s, that cleared chocolate, peanuts, milk and cola for the acne prone population. Unfortunately those studies were poorly conducted with no proper controls and according to the newer standardizations of research they are no longer acceptable as valid references. From our personal experiences we all know that chocolate bars, soda and ice cream are not only unhealthy—but they act as weapons of mass destruction targeting our complexions. Now credible data is available that supports the fact that our diet has profound effect on our skin.
Game Changing Inquest
Food theories of the 60s were first challenged in 2002 when a paper published in the Archives of Dermatology, showed that among indigenous cultures in Paraguay and Papua New Guinea; who ate their ancestral diets and consumed almost no processed foods or dairy products, acne was virtually unheard of. Further research also highlighted that when people from similar cultures adopted a Western diet, they developed acne. These studies sparked a new interest into investigating the diet and acne link and paved up the path for newer research digging deep into the effects of food on our skin.
High Glycemic Food Consumption = Acne Flare
In July of 2007, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a measurable link between high-glycemic diets and acne. The study followed two groups of acne-plagued males ages 15 to 25, who were told they were participating in a study on carbohydrates and protein. The first group continued to eat their usual diet, which included plenty of sugar and processed grains (foods that have a high glycemic index). The other group was given whole grains, lean meat and fish, fruits and vegetables (foods with a low glycemic index). After 12 weeks, a team of dermatologists determined that the subjects in the latter group had 51 percent fewer pimples than when they started.
Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood sugar to rise, forcing the body to bring it down with a surge of insulin. And insulin can lead to acne, both by accelerating cell growth in the pores and stimulating oil-producing hormones called androgens.
Skin + Dairy = Acne
Dairy products have also been put under new scrutiny to investigate their role in acne flares. In 2005 researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health published a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that showed an association between consumption of dairy products and acne. Using data from more than 47,000 women followed in the Harvard-administered Nurses’ Health Study II, researchers found that those who consumed more than three servings of milk per day were 22 percent more likely to have suffered from acne as teens. With skimmed milk, the numbers were even more pronounced. Those who drank two or more glasses per day were 44 percent more likely to have experienced acne bad enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.
Most dairy products aggravate acne because they contain an “insulin-like” growth factor; which exerts a pore clogging action by aggravating the cells lining the skin pores. Dairy consumption also produces a surge in insulin production by the pancreas, which in turn results in upsurge of cellular activity in skin leading to acne flare.
Diet has profound effects on acne, but there has been surprisingly little research done to establish the aggravating connection between diet and acne mainly because nutritional studies are notoriously difficult to run and very difficult to fund, as most pharmaceutical funding giants won’t stand behind them.
Bad Food Choices = Acne Pandemic
Researchers now hypothesize that our increasing consumption of sugar, processed grains and dairy products may be behind a worldwide rise in acne incidence in both teens and adults.
Seize The Moment: Low-Glycemic Diet = Clearer Younger Looking Skin
Fall depicts new beginnings, renewed spunk and a fresh start, come September life has resumed its daily rhythm—back to school and back to work routines have kicked in full swing. But before you jump back into your daily humdrum and habitual diets, take a moment and make a conscious decision to purge your life and daily eating habits of the complexion endangering elements. Avoid high-glycemic foods—indulge in whole grains, lean meat, fish, fruits and vegetables—this way you’d be signing up for a longer healthier life with younger & clearer looking skin.