As we all know, acne, pimples and spots can be confidence shattering. Today we’re asking – do our food choices affect our skin? If we eat better quality food, can we help our skin from the inside out? We’ve all heard arguments for eating fresh, non-packeted wholefoods as a way of combating acne and spots, but what does this mean in practice, and is there any evidence to support it? We wanted to investigate this further.
What Makes Acne Worse?
Insulin - Healthline (www.healthline.com) draws our attention to the impact of insulin on acne. Who’d have thought it? They say that when your blood sugar rises quickly, it causes the body to release a hormone called insulin, and having excess insulin in your blood can cause your oil glands to produce more oil. It goes without saying, that excess oil production might increase your risk of acne.
Foods that trigger spikes in insulin include pasta, white rice, white bread and sugar. Because of their insulin-producing effects, these foods are considered “high-glycaemic” carbohydrates – made from simple sugars. The Journal of Advances in Dermatology and Allergology revealed interesting results from a study in 2016 suggesting that foods with a high glycaemic index caused the biggest increase and worsening of acne conditions – so these definitely are ones to look out for.
Chocolate - Chocolate is also believed to worsen acne, but it doesn’t seem to affect all people, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Huffpost, in their interview with a dermatologist, points out that chocolate itself isn’t necessarily the culprit – but the refined sugars that come in a chocolate bar do the same thing – increase your insulin levels and increase oil production.
Dairy - Other researchers have studied the connections between a so-called ‘Western diet’ or ‘standard American diet’ and acne. This kind of diet includes a lot of dairy! According to research reported in the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, dairy stimulates the production of hormones that can cause excess oil to be created and secreted by oil glands.
How though? The answer might have been found by Healthline who have helpfully pointed out that cows are often injected with hormones to increase production of milk, which once ingested by us through milk, can play havoc with our own hormones and may cause hormonal acne.
So What is the General Advice?
Many doctors and studies advise eating a wholesome, balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein sources, and whole grains, as a way of combatting acne. Specifically, studies refer to eating more foods rich in complex carbohydrates, zinc, vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants.
A Personalised Approach: Why Not Keep a Food Diary?
Over the course of time, a food diary might be your best bet. Cut out chocolate for one month, for example, and monitor the impact. This might seem a painstaking process for some, but what rewards it would reap if we could isolate our main personal triggers for our outbreaks. Doing this in conjunction with support from a doctor or dermatologist might yield the best results. Doctors can help to find links between the timing of breakouts and entries in the food diary and advise you about dietary changes.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it can take up to 12 weeks for a dietary change to have a noticeable effect on the skin. So with this method you’ll have to be patient, folks!
The Bottom Line
From our search of the information out there, we are most convinced by the studies that show a strong connection between foods with a high glycaemic index and acne conditions worsening. As a result, we’re going to try really cutting down on processed carbohydrates and will be opting for brown pasta, bread and rice over white, and reducing the amount of processed foods we eat, to see if this makes any difference.
*Please note that this article does not constitute medical advice. If you require medical advice speak to your doctor, and check with a medical professional before making changes to your diet.