Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. It affects up to 50 million people every year. It usually starts when a person is going through puberty, and most people get it between the ages of 12 and 24.
Acne can lead to oily skin and different kinds of bumps, like pimples. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they can affect how well a person lives.
Even though there isn’t a cure for acne yet, there are many effective treatments, such as prescription drugs and gels and creams you can buy at the store. Changes in how you live can also help reduce symptoms and stop breakouts.
Some people think that what you eat is very important. A 2016 survey found that 71 percent of people thought that eating fried or greasy foods made them break out. Some people thought it was because of chocolate, milk, or soda.
There is a lot of disagreement among doctors about what effect the diet has. Many experts used to think that diet didn’t have anything to do with acne, but recent studies show that this isn’t the case.
In this article, we look at how the food you eat affects your skin and which foods might cause or help get rid of acne. We also talk about some general ways to treat acne.
What effect does the diet have on the skin?
Acne happens when dead skin cells, bacteria, or both get stuck in the skin’s pores. This clogging also happens when the body makes too much sebum, an oil that keeps the skin from drying out.
When pores get clogged, it can cause inflammation, which can lead to pimples and other types of lesions.
During puberty, the body makes more insulin-like growth factor 1, which is a hormone (IGF-1). Some studies show that IGF-1 may cause the body to make more sebum and make acne worse.
IGF-1 levels can also be raised by eating certain foods. If you stay away from these foods, your acne may get better and you may have fewer breakouts.
Avoid these foods
According to a 2016 study, the following foods are most likely to raise a person’s IGF-1 levels:
Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) and a high glycemic load (GL) include dairy products (GL),
When you measure GI, you can find out how quickly and how much a certain food can raise your blood sugar.
By measuring GL, a person can compare foods with different GIs and different amounts.
This formula can be used to figure out GL:
GL = GI multiplied by the amount of carbohydrates in a serving (in grams) divided by 100.
There are several lists online that show the GIs of different foods. As a very general rule, GIs and GLs tend to be higher for foods that have been processed more.
The American Diabetes Association lists the following foods as having high GIs:
- Breads, especially white bread and bagels; sweetened breakfast cereals like corn flakes, puffed rice, and bran flakes; and Cereals that can be made quickly, like oatmeal and grits.
Some fruits and vegetables, like melons, pineapples, pumpkins, and potatoes, have enriched pastas, like rice-based pasta and short-grain white rice. Snack foods like pretzels, rice cakes, and popcorn.
- Milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt are all types of dairy products. Some people with acne might do better if they don’t eat these things.
But the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that avoiding foods with high GIs may be more helpful than avoiding dairy products.
Acne symptoms could also get worse if you eat chocolate. This is probably because chocolate has a lot of sugar in it. But the results of a small study showed that 100 percent cocoa chocolate that is not sweetened may also make acne worse in young men who have had it before.
At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much proof that greasy foods cause acne. Oily skin is caused by sebaceous glands that work too hard, not by the fat and oil in food.
Which foods might help improve acne?
Even less is known about foods that may help fight acne or keep it from getting worse.
But more research needs to be done. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and improve acne symptoms.
Some foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines are eaten.
- pastured eggs
- Soybeans and products made from soy, like tofu, spinach, red eggs Soybeans and products made from soy, like tofu, spinach, kale, and
- navy beans
- Grass-fed beef Nuts, like almonds and walnuts Flamustard seeds
- brown rice
Even though more research is needed, there is some evidence that foods high in antioxidants and fiber may also help fight acne.
Putting together a diet to fight acne
Because so little is known about how diet affects acne, it can be hard to know which foods to try and which to steer away from.
Also, different strategies may work for different people.
Keeping a food diary can help a person figure out what foods cause or make their acne worse. Write down everything you eat and drink, and keep track of what acne symptoms show up and how bad they are.
Do this for a few weeks or longer, and then bring the diary to a doctor or dermatologist’s appointment.
The doctor can help you figure out if there is a connection between when you break out and what you eat. They can also tell you how to change your diet.
It is important to be patient when changing the way you eat. The AAD says that it can take up to 12 weeks for a change in diet to show up on the skin.
Advice on how to treat acne in general.
There are many over-the-counter and prescription medicines to choose from.
A doctor can tell you the best way to treat your symptoms, which will depend on how bad they are. If someone has severe acne, their doctor may send them to a dermatologist.
General tips for treating acne
- The skin and face should be washed twice a day and after sweating or playing sports.
- Oily hair should be washed with shampoo regularly. Skin care products and cosmetics should be gentle and not contain oil.
- Try not to pick, scratch, or touch pimples.
- Avoid spending long periods of time in the sun.
The AAD also says that a person should think about the link between stress and acne. The body makes more of a hormone called androgen when it is stressed. This hormone makes the sebaceous glands in the skin work harder. Then, they make more oil, which can lead to acne.
Acne can also hurt a person’s self-esteem and make them feel down, especially if they are a teenager or young adult. The AAD says that acne should be taken seriously and stresses how important it is to deal with stress and look out for signs of depression.
Some studies show that some foods can help get rid of acne and make your skin healthier, but there is no “cure” that you can get from food. Before making changes to your diet, you should talk to your doctor to make sure that the changes won’t hurt your health.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy sources of protein, and whole grains seems to be the best way to deal with acne through diet.