Does Diet Really Affect Acne?

Acne is the most common and troublesome skin problem. It is found in 80% of the teenagers, as well as in many adults. Acne consists of oily skin, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, large pores and in severe cases cysts, nodules and scars.

The primary cause of acne is overactive oil glands, which are influenced by genetics, hormones, weather, stress, cosmetics and diet. Though stress alone is the biggest factor in aggravating acne. Diet plays a major role in acne manifestation, rather than food it is the genetic predisposition responsible for the flare ups. Till a few years back diet was really not considered to play a major role in aetiopathogenesis. Studies conducted in the last decade have established a role in acne. Whereas diet rich in nutrients and anti oxidants has helped in stopping acne, at the same food with high glycemic index and dairy and dairy products have been observed to lead to flare ups.

The first basis of observations was population based and migration studies and later randomized controlled trials established the role of diet in acne presentation. It was observed that teenagers who had more than 3 servings of milk per day had more severe acne in comparison to individuals with lesser intake of dairy and dairy products. It has been hypothesized that the hormones and insulin like growth factors found in milk are the causative agents for acne. Reversal of acne was noticed when the intake of milk was decreased.

Chocolates have often been blamed for pimples, teenagers often report of an acne flare up after intake of chocolates. Though cocoa by itself is not known to increase pimples, rather it’s the milk in the chocolates which is responsible.

Food with high glycemic index was also observed to increase the appearance of pimples. When people were shifted to a low glycemic index diet, lead to reversal of acne and loss of weight. The weight loss in itself leads to a better hormonal status and better insulin sensitivity. For better acne control avoid food with high glycemic index. Avoid all kinds of bread and biscuits, all food cooked with starch and maida, sweetened beverages (even the energy drinks).

Iodises/Iodine found in food and medicines can aggravate acne. Excess iodine is secreted through oil glands and this in turn irritates the pores, leading to pimples. That’s the reason many people complain of an acne flare up after intake of pickles. It’s not the pickle to blame but the iodine in the salt. Certain fresh fruits and vegetables naturally have high iodine, even milk surprisingly is a hidden source of iodine. Certain places have high iodine content in the ground water and this explains the increase in pimples when people move to a new place.

There has been no co relation between diet high in fat and fatty acids, rather certain fatty acids like omega 3 fatty acids help treat acne.

If you feel that certain kinds of food aggravate your acne, you can stop the intake of the particular food and see if it benefits you, then it’s better to avoid the offending food. For better acne control have plenty of seasonal and fresh fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water. Follow a stress free, healthy and positive lifestyle.