Those factors that contribute to the development of acne are considered "secondary" causes because they trigger one or more of the direct causes of acne to develop. In the case of diet, this is due to the biochemical changes that occur in our bodies with the consumption of certain foods, including:
In recent years, several studies have examined the link
between milk and acne. In particular, skim milk has been shown to worsen acne
symptoms. It is suspected that the hormones present in milk interfere with the
hormones in our own bodies, causing an increase in inflammation and the
production of sebum. (For an in-depth read about this topic, consider
William Danby’s commentary
in the Journal of the American Academy of
While the idea that consumption of greasy foods directly
leads to acne has long been debunked, there is a linkage between the
development of acne and the consumption of foods like potato chips, soft drinks, baked goods
and candy. These foods are categorized as “high glycemic” because of their
ability to cause blood glucose levels to spike and cause an increase in production of insulin. This increased insulin level in the body leads to inflammation, which
increases the activity of oil glands in the skin. Ultimately, this increases
the potential for acne.
Improving Your Diet
to Improve Acne
Consider for a moment that acne has been found to be primarily
a condition of the Western world, with diet being the main differing environmental factor between us and groups unaffected by the disease. In
by Dr. Loren Cordain in the Archives of Dermatology outlines the low
incidence rates of acne in two non-Westernized populations, while a 1971
by Dr. Otto Schaefer, a family practitioner who spent nearly 30 years
treating the Inuit people, demonstrated that Canadian Eskimos didn’t experience
acne until they transitioned to a Western diet. These facts give support to the
importance dietary changes as a worthwhile effort to improve acne conditions. Keep in mind, however,
that best results are achieved when dietary improvements are coupled with use
of advanced topical skin care products formulated to address the four main causes of acne, like those
in the Lexli
Consider these guidelines when making dietary changes intended to improve acne symptoms, but remember - if diet isn't contributing to the development of your acne, these changes may not make a noticeable improvement in your breakouts. Regardless, eating a cleaner, healthier diet is good for your skin overall. (Suggested reading: "Why Antioxidants are Vital to Your Skin.")
- Fresh fish, especially fatty varieties like
salmon, sardines and Albacore tuna, which are rich in omega-3s.
- Fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens, which
are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts and berries, which are great sources of antioxidants.
- Probiotics, including full-fat yogurt, kimchi,
sauerkraut and more, all of which help to reduce inflammation in the body.
For best results, keep a food diary to help pinpoint any
foods that contribute to acne development.
Foods to AVOID:
- Low-fat dairy products
- Sugary beverages
- Fast food
- Baked goods
- Refined “white” foods, including bread, rice,
pasta and cereals
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