Acne is the skin condition most commonly seen by doctors. According the Canadian Dermatology Association , acne affects 5.6 million Canadians or nearly 20% of the population.
The accumulation of sebum (an oily substance produced by the oil glands), the resulting inflammation and the overgrowth of a bacteria within the pores called Cutibacterium acnes can cause the redness and the pus that accumulates. The result is a pimple or cyst.
Acne is a multifactorial condition, meaning there are many different underlying causes and treatments. One of the main factors in the development of Acne is inflammation. This is usually present in the early process of acne. There are many different triggers of inflammation including changes in sebum that initiate inflammation, PH imbalance of the skin, change in microbial diversity, hormones and diet. The increase in sebum production may be stimulated by androgens (Testosterone and DHT), insulinand sugar from diet. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas. It regulates blood sugar levels, allowing our cells to use glucose.
In this article I will focus on the dietary recommendations in managing acne.
There is increasing research to show the link between a high sugar diet, insulin and acne. The authors of this 2016 Study found a diet consisting of high Glycemic Index Foods was positively associated with acne vulgaris. Insulin resistance and low adiponectin levels were also associated with the development of acne. Therefore, choosing foods with a low glycemic index may be better for your skin health.
Avoid high glycemic index foods. These foods increase inflammation in the body and on the skin. They promote the overgrowth of bacteria in the digestive tract as well as on the skin. Foods to avoid include white sugar, white flour, excess sweets, baked goods that contain processed sugars and artificial foods. Choose whole grains, lean proteins, legumes, vegetables (eat colors of the rainbow). I encourage the Meditteranean Diet
Research has also found dairy may promote acne in some people.
This 2011 Study found a significant relationship between foods with a high Glycemic index, dairy products, refined sugar and Acne. A similar 2010 study and 2009 study found a significant relationship between the hormone Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), milk consumption and androgens in the development of Acne. These authors propose Acne to be an IGF-1 mediated condition. Milk consumption results in a significant increase in insulin and IGF-1 levels in the bloodstream.
Eliminate Dairy including cow’s milk, cheese, sweetened yogurts and ice cream. Choose nut based milks, oat milk or coconut milk.
Steer clear of unhealthy oils and fats. Avoid corn oil, margarine, hydrogenated oils, fried foods and processed foods. These fats promote inflammation on the skin. Choose healthier fats including fish oil (wild salmon is a great option), flax seeds, olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and pastured butter.
Lastly add foods high in fiber including whole grains, vegetables and fruits (choose colors of the rainbow), legumes, nuts and seeds. When eating fruits, choose low glycemic index fruits such as berries, kiwis, avocado and grapefruit.
A Food Sensitivity Test may be used to further identify specific foods you may be intolerant to that may also be contributing to inflammation in the skin.
Lastly, don’t forget about hydration. I recommended drinking ½ your body weight (LBS)in ounces of clean filtered water. For example, if your weight is 150lbs, the recommendation is 75floz of water or 9 glasses.
If you suffer from acne, consider these dietary suggestions for at least 3 months. Include some liver detoxification. Consider food or stool testing to investigate other possible underlying contributors to your Acne.
Wishing you a safe and healthy Fall Season.
Yours in Health,
Dr Tasreen Alibhai, ND