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The Diet-Acne Connection
By: Elise May
Posted: September 3, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Both studies also pointed to the hypothesis that the association with milk may be because of the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules, as well as its effect through the insulinlike growth factor (IGF-1) pathway. Through these pathways, dairy intake may aggravate acne on a number of levels, including an increase in oil production, inflammation and abnormal hormonal activity.
2. A low-glycemic diet has a positive correlation in the reduction of acne. A 12-week study conducted in 2007 recorded the number of acne lesions in correlation to a controlled, low-glycemic diet.5 The study found that the total number of lesions had decreased in the low-glycemic load group in comparison to the control group. It concluded that “ ... the improvement in acne and insulin sensitivity after a low-glycemic load diet suggests that nutrition-related lifestyle factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of acne.”
Regular consumption of high-glycemic foods elevates insulin levels and may, in turn, stimulate sebum production and sebaceous cell proliferation.6 Although more studies are necessary to further understand the complete underlying pathways of acne, incorporating low-glycemic foods may help to reduce the amount of visible lesions. This includes whole foods, such as fruits, greens, vegetables, brown rice and nuts.
3. Fruits and vegetables may help minimize signs of acne. Rural cultures with diets high in fruits, nuts and root vegetables have been observed to have a very minimal incidence of acne.7 Communities of Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and Achè hunter-gatherers of Paraguay were observed to not even have a single comedo while eating their native diets rich in fruits, coconut, wild foods and fish, with minimal amounts of Western foods. Similar rural cultures, which have zero incidence of acne, suddenly experience breakouts when introduced to a Western culture and diet.8 This suggests that the disorder cannot be solely attributed to genetics, but is likely sourced from differing environmental factors.
These studies point to whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, as having a positive correlation with clear skin. This makes sense: Plants are, by and large, some of the strongest anti-inflammatory food sources available. By increasing daily intake of fruits, greens and vegetables, clients biologically increase their immunity and could potentially decrease signs of acne.