Acne affects millions of people in the world. It can make you feel stressed, embarrassed, and self-conscious. If you suffer from acne, you have probably heard that consuming certain foods can improve or worsen it.
The relationship between diet and acne has been contentious over the years. Nonetheless, recent studies have indicated that diet plays a role in acne development.
What Is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs when sebum (oil), bacteria, and dead skin clogs up the skin’s pores, causing pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. It commonly affects areas where the body produces much oil, such as the face, neck, upper back, chest, and shoulders.
Treatment options include topical creams, gels, lotions, and antibiotics. Acne commonly affects teenagers and young adults and can continue into adulthood, commonly in women.
There may be a link between food and diet. Here is what research shows about consuming the following diets:
Low Glycemic Diets
Studies indicate that consuming a low glycemic diet can improve and prevent acne. Low glycemic foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, pasta, and low dairy products. Incorporating low glycemic foods into your daily meals and snacks helps with acne by reducing inflammation and blemishes. Low glycemic diets have additional health benefits like weight loss, low lipid levels, and improved blood sugar levels.
If you tend to consume lots of high glycemic foods, they increase your blood sugars rapidly. Spiking your blood sugar leads to increased inflammation levels. This causes the body to produce more sebum leading to acne development.
High glycemic foods include sugary drinks like sodas, chips, pastries, crackers, donuts, fries, sweetened dairy products, and corn. Minimizing your intake of high sugary foods and carbohydrates may help prevent acne.
Dairy is often associated with acne and breakouts in teenagers. Studies have shown that teenagers who consume dairy products regularly are four times more likely to suffer from acne.
Incidentally, milk products like cheese and yogurt are not linked to acne.
There is no solid evidence about how milk contributes to acne. However, there are proposed theories. Milk elevates insulin levels which may worsen acne. Additionally, cow milk contains amino acids that stimulate the production of more growth hormones that may lead to acne.
Regular consumption of fast foods has been associated with a higher risk of acne development. Examples of greasy foods include burgers, French fries, and pizzas.
More research needs to be conducted to show how fast food increases the risk of developing acne. However, some studies show that fast foods may affect hormonal levels in the body, promoting acne development. Additionally, most greasy foods have a high glycemic index which spikes sugar levels, increasing the risk of developing acne.
What To Eat To Keep Acne At Bay
Intake of foods with low glycemic index and other foods can help prevent or improve acne. They include:
Vitamins A, D, E, And Zinc
Low levels of these nutrients could lead to acne development. The vitamins are vital for skin and immune health. Sources include liver, butter, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, chickpeas, tuna, eggs, cream, and feta cheese, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, etc. A doctor should prescribe vitamin A and D supplements.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids And Antioxidants
Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory nutrient. Regular consumption of fatty acids may reduce the risk of developing acne. Foods rich in omega-3 include salmon, walnuts, pistachio nuts, chia seeds, mackerel, herring, and oily fish.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring minerals and vitamins such as vitamins B3 and C that reduce inflammation and eliminate toxins or impurities from the skin leading to a brighter skin complexion. Combined with omega 3, the nutrients help manage and prevent acne.
Turmeric contains curcumin which is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also regulates blood sugar levels and prevents the growth of acne-causing. You can add it to food while cooking, apply it topically, or get it as an oral supplement.
The beverage contains polyphenols associated with anti-inflammatory properties and minimal sebum production. Green tea extracts can be applied to the skin to minimize the severity of acne.
Since complex (whole) carbohydrates take time to digest, blood sugar levels are released at a controlled, slow pace, unlike refined carbohydrates. Whole wheat bread, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and brown rice are some whole carbohydrates.
Probiotic supplements help metabolize carbohydrates and reduce acne. Probiotics contain good bacteria for your gut, improving insulin and blood sugar levels. Naturally fermented foods like yogurt, sourdough bread, tempeh, and pickles are rich sources of probiotics.
Overall, a healthy diet helps prevent and treat acne for most people. Certain foods trigger and cause an acne outbreak. If you notice that consuming certain foods gives you acne flare-ups, avoid consuming them.
Generally, adjust your lifestyle by avoiding stress, exercising regularly, and consuming a healthy diet.
If you are concerned about your acne, consult the Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston provider for effective treatment options.