Several decades ago, diet and acne were associated, as acne was thought to be caused by an unhealthy diet. In particular, greasy foods, such as French fries and chocolate were thought to contribute to acne. This theory was popularised by the fact that teens tend to eat junk food a lot, and teens tend to have acne.
In 2007, a report completed by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) indicated that the link between diet and acne was very weak and dietary restrictions or limits were not crucial, but a few studies continued to explore the possible association and revived the idea that diet does affect acne. And in 2013, emerging evidence prompted dermatologists to reexamine the possibility that certain foods can worsen or trigger acne.
It is estimated that nearly 17 million people in the United States, teens, and adults, suffer from adult acne, and there is simply too much controversy surrounding whether certain foods cause acne. The main question was, whether there is indeed a link between one’s diet and acne and whether changing these food habits can result in a change of one’s skin.
Diet And Acne
It is no surprise that food could indeed play a role in acne. Today, however, there still isn’t much convincing evidence in this aspect, and most dermatologists have been unable to say for sure if certain foods do cause acne.
Foods that Cause Acne
It is believed that the following are top foods that cause acne:
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- White foods like bread, rice.
- Sweets, sodas and other sugary foods
- Soy and soy milk
- Drinks with a lot of caffeine
- coffee, energy drinks
- Onions, and wheat, and
- Other high FODMAP foods
Alternatively, Best Foods For Anti-Acne Diet Include:
- Salmon and fatty fish
- Green tea
- Leafy, green vegetables
- Starchy and root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots,
- Brown rice
- Eggs, especially omega-3 enriched eggs
- Organ meats
- Low-fat cuts of meats
Acne and the Dairy Link
One of the primary foods blamed for acne condition is dairy. Milk and milk products are known to contain many hormones and bioactive molecules secreted by the cow. It is believed that no matter how organic milk may be, and claims that cows are fed organic grass and no hormones or antibiotics, the milk still contains hormones and bioactive molecules.
It is quite unfortunate that human beings are the only species growing up on milk produced by another species. All these factors, along with clinical trials, has led people to believe that milk indeed can lead to acne flare-ups. Another study similarly revealed that patients asked to keep an acne journal saw their condition worsen after eating cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream etc.
In some parts of the world, milk was found to contain iodine as well, and people who drank such milk were tested to have acneiform eruptions.
High-Glycemic Index Foods
Carbohydrates are given a glycemic-index (GI) rating based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels, and the higher the ranking, the quicker blood sugar levels pitch. Blood sugar levels have the ability to affect hormone production.
Foods that have a high GI rating include white bread, white potatoes, chips, and sugary foods, while foods with a low GI rating include multi-grain bread, peanuts, vegetables, and beans.
Eating a diet that contains low-glycemic foods might help to decrease acne, as this type of diet lowers insulin-like-growth factor IGF-1, which has previously been shown to be a factor in acne, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Scientists have noted that acne is much more prevalent in Western countries as opposed to non-Westernized countries, and in 2008, a study found that in some cultures, where people naturally consumed a low-glycemic diet, there was a lower prevalence of acne. In addition to low-glycemic diets, the people in these cultures consumed more fish.
This introduced the possibility of omega 3, which has anti-inflammatory properties, inhibiting acne prevalence. This observation led scientists to further explore the connection between diet and acne.
The role of diet in triggering or worsening acne is still not established, but a 2016 report on acne in females indicated that more research is needed before drawing any conclusions. However, if you have acne, it might help to pay attention to the foods you regularly eat, because, if making some changes to your diet can reduce your acne, it is worth considering.
There are some factors you can’t control, such as genetics and hormonal changes, but as for your diet, talk with your dermatologist about working with a nutritionist or dietician to create an overall plan that incorporates your risk factors.
You can choose low-glycemic foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead of sugary foods and drinks, pieces of bread and cakes made with white flour, and white potatoes, and while some evidence points to a connection, between milk and acne, you should remember that milk is an important source of calcium that teens still need.