About Diet and Acne
What is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne most commonly appears on your face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. Acne can be distressing and annoyingly persistent. Acne lesions heal slowly, and when one begins to resolve, others seem to crop up.
Depending on its severity, acne can cause emotional distress and lead to scarring of the skin. The good news is that effective treatments are available — and the earlier treatment is started, the lower your risk of lasting physical and emotional damage.
More About Diet and Acne
It is possible that diet may influence the development of acne in some individuals. Western diets include frequent consumption of carbohydrates with high glycaemic index (sugar), which increase the amount of insulin circulating in the blood. The caffeine, theobromine, and serotonin in chocolate may also increase insulin production. Insulin induces more male hormones (androgens), glucocorticoids and growth factors, which provoke keratinisation (scale) of the hair follicle and sebum production (skin oil). Comedones are the result of occlusion of the follicle by scale and sebum. Hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance are characteristically found in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, who are prone to acne among other problems.
Although cow’s milk has a low glycaemic index, it also contains additional androgens, oestrogen, progesterone and glucocorticoids. Other components of milk that might induce comedones include whey proteins and iodine. Milk contains amino acids (eg, arginine, leucine, and phenylalanine) that produce insulin when combined with carbohydrates.
Fatty acids are needed to form sebum; it has been found that monounsaturated fatty-acids such as sapienic acid and some vegetable oils can increase sebum production, and the essential fatty acids linoleic, linolenic and gamma linolenic acid can unblock the follicles and reduce sebum production.
Diets low in zinc or high in iodine can worsen pustular acne.
Acne is reported to be uncommon in peoples that have a diet with lower glycaemic index as in the case in natives from Kitava and Papua New Guinea, Ache people of Paraguay, Inuits and rural residents of Kenya, Zambia and Bantu. These people tend to become sexually mature at a later age than in the cities where higher glycaemic index foods are consumed. Early puberty is associated with earlier onset and more severe acne, which tends to peak at the time of full maturity (age 16 to 18).
Suitable food if you have acne
Some people with acne have reported improvement by following a low-glycaemic index diet and increasing whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, and moderate wine consumption. It is reasonable to minimise milk and high glycaemic index foods such as sugar, biscuits, cakes, ice creams and bottled drinks. However, seek medical help if you are concerned about your skin as changing diet does not always help.