Doctors have been telling us that food has nothing to do with acne; but I am afraid this is about to change. Although there are not many studies in establishing the correlation between food and acne, there is one interesting study done in Australia several years ago.
Acne and High Glycemic Diet
In 2007, the Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University and Royal Melbourne Hospital Department of Dermatology conducted a test on two groups of men. One group was given a low-glycemic diet which consisted of lean meat and whole grains. The other group consumed a wide range of high-glycemic index foods which resembled the typical modern diet. These included soda drinks, potato chips, white bread, and snacks.
After 12 weeks, the men with low-glycemic index diet had their acne reduced by 50%. Based on the result of this test, we can see that there is a strong relationship between food and acne.
Is it possible that changing your diet will improve your acne? And why avoiding simple carbohydrates can reduce the frequency of breakouts?
Why Simple Carbohydrates Can Trigger Acne
When you feed yourself with high carb foods, your blood sugar level increases dramatically. This triggers your pancreas to release more insulin to bring down your blood sugar level.
The increasing level of insulin will cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Sebum is your skin’s natural oil which keeps your skin hydrated and removes dead cells. It travels to the pores through hair follicles. When there is excess sebum in the pores, the P.acnes bacteria will flourish and clog the hair follicles. As a result, blackheads will develop.
There is another reason for the breakouts when consuming high glycemic foods. Insulin is one of the essential hormones in your body. When there is a spike in the insulin level, it will cause hormonal imbalance which also affects other hormones. In this case, even your androgen (male hormones) and growth hormones like insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) will also increase. These hormones will cause your sebaceous glands to release more sebum which lead to acne.
Nutritional Deficiency And Acne
How about deficiency in certain nutrients? Can this lead to acne?
According to Dr Susan C. Taylor, a dermatologist in New York, if you increase the intake of healthy foods, it will help your skin. In other words, healthy eating is required for blemish-free skin.
If you are not eating enough healthy foods, you may deprive your body of getting enough vitamin A, C, E, B6, B12, B1, zinc, and iron. These vitamins are important in keeping your skin healthy and acne-free.
You may be skeptical at this point. How would a daily nutritious diet improve your skin?
A study was done on the tribal people in Papua New Guinea and Paraguay in 2002. Based on the records in the Archives of Dermatology, these people ate only natural foods that they gathered in the jungle and rivers. Surprisingly, they did not have any acne, probably because their diet was rich in fibers and high in nutritional value. Unlike the typical American diet, you also notice that they didn’t consume lots of sugary foods.
You can blame your diet for the cause of acne. However, not every one will experience the same impact. Some victims may be sensitive to certain foods while others may not have any acne with the same foods. But you can be rest assured that a healthy diet can determine the condition of your skin.
Your Modern Day Diet May Be The Problem
If you look at your diet today, you will agree with me that most grains are processed. They are lacking in fiber and essential nutrients for the skin. Furthermore, you probably do not eat enough fruits and vegetables every day to provide your body with enough amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The rising portion of processed foods in your eating habit, especially those with high level of omega-6, will have a significant negative impact on your skin.
So how do you address the lack of nutrients in your diet so that you can have clear skin? Obviously you need to exclude certain foods that are not going to help your acne and include foods that are beneficial for your skin.
What Foods You Should Avoid
First, let us talk about processed foods since the largest portion of your daily meals is mostly processed foods.
Do you know that the molecular structure of raw and processed foods are not identical? When you eat processed foods, your body thinks they are foreign invaders. The molecular structure of the processed foods has brought about free radicals which are considered as toxins. As a response, your immune system will produce white blood cells for protection.
In short, you need to limit the intake of processed foods. By so doing, you will be reducing the amount of free radicals in your system.
High Glycemic Foods
Let me refer back to the Australian study above; When you reduce the consumption of high glycemic foods, your acne may improve. So, avoid any carbohydrate with a high glycemic index. Foods like donuts, french fries, white bread and breakfast cereals should be cut out of your diet list.
What about refined sugar? It is also a high glycemic load. So, abstain from any food that contains refined sugar. This includes candies, alcohol, pastries and carbonated drinks. Remember sugar can increase your blood sugar level, which will stimulate the production of insulin and hormones. This vicious cycle will cause more sebum to be produced, clogging your pores.
Forget about dairy products. They may have a low glycemic load but they also contain lots of hormones because the main source comes from nursing cows. Consuming dairy products may cause your androgen to rise and this will eventually lead to acne.
Avoid vegetable oils that are rich with omega-6 fatty acids especially safflower, sunflower, sesame and corn oils. Too much omega-6 can cause inflammation in the skin. If you didn’t already know, acne is an inflammatory response.
Acne Trigger Foods
As mentioned before, some sufferers have flare-ups after eating certain foods. The best way to identify these trigger foods is to keep a journal. Monitor your skin condition after you have eaten certain foods for 24 hours. If that particular food causes breakouts, then avoid it.
What Foods You Should Include
You need protein for skin repair, effective detoxification of your liver and keeping the hormone levels intact. Include salmon, lean meat, and whey protein in your diet.
Low Glycemic Foods
Since low glycemic may prevent acne by limiting an insulin spike, you should increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Not all carbohydrates are bad. You just need to choose the right ones. Whole grains that contain complex carbs and lots of fiber such as millet, quinoa, brown rice, barley, rolled oats and buckwheat should be part your daily diet. Furthermore, fibers are great in lowering the blood sugar level after meals.
Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods that contain lots of Vitamin A and E. Blueberries, green tea, whole grains, green leafy veggies, broccoli, chestnuts, acai berries, pomegranates, purple carrots and black grapes are among the best sources of these vital nutrients.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acid foods such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, flax seeds, walnuts and evening primrose. In the American Standard Diet, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 20 to 1. By eating more omega-3 rich foods, you can close the gap. The ideal ratio should be 1 to 1.
How does omega-3 benefit your skin? Omega-3 helps in skin renewal, protects the cells from toxins, promotes nutritional absorption at the cellular level and assists in elimination of cellular waste materials. It also contains a high amount of anti-inflammatory agents such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to minimize the occurrence of acne.
Zinc is another important nutrient for your skin. It helps to stabilize the hormonal levels which can be effective in controlling acne. Some of the best sources of zinc are oysters, lean meats, poultry and pumpkin.
Always drink plenty of water. Water keeps your immune system working properly and regulates the elimination of toxins. If you keep yourself hydrated your skin will look better.