What Food Causes Acne on the Skin?
Acne is an inflammatory skin disorder that affects most American teenagers and some adults. It is characterized by the appearance of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. At puberty, the body increases the production of androgens, or male hormones, that stimulate the production of keratin, a protein, and sebum, an oily lubricant. These substances attract bacteria and clog the pores, producing pimples on the face and upper body. While skin care can help reduce symptoms, nutritional factors may also play a role in acne flare ups.
In the 1930s, studies suggested that impaired glucose tolerance occurred in acne patients. The skin disorder was thought to be linked to problems of carbohydrate metabolism. Patients were told to reduce their intake of refined starches and sugars. These recommendations came to a halt in 1969, when a clinical study found that acne was not made worse in a group of subjects eating chocolate bars, compared to controls who ate placebo bars. Although widely referenced, this study has been criticized because the placebo bars used were very similar to chocolate bars.
The glycemic index is a system that rates foods by how fast and how high they raise blood sugars. People with impaired glucose tolerance, such as diabetics, make use of the glycemic index to improve the dietary regulation of blood sugar. Foods low on the glycemic index tend to be high in fiber, while refined, low fiber foods are more likely to have high numbers. Australian researchers studied acne in relation to dietary glycemic load using 43 male subjects between the ages of 15 and 25. The randomized, controlled trial advised patients to eat a diet of 25 percent protein and 45 percent low glycemic carbohydrates or a diet that emphasized carbohydrates without mentioning the glycemic index. After 12 weeks, the low-glycemic dieters had significantly fewer pimples than controls. The findings were published July 2007 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."
Because increased hormone production is linked to acne and the skin problem is more prevalent in Western nations, some experts are convinced that milk, as a source of hormones, causes acne. F. W. Danby, of Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, points out that the natural function of milk is to stimulate growth. As such, it contains anabolic steroids, growth hormones and precursors of dihydrotestosterone, making milk a potent stimulant of acne. The remarks were published in the November-December 2010 issue of "Clinics in Dermatology."
The New Zealand Dermatological Society states that hormones may be more concentrated in skim milk products. That doesn't mean that fat doesn't play a role; omega-6 fats found in milk, red meat, margarine and fried foods can increase sebum production. Other components of milk, such as whey protein and iodine, may also induce acne. Additionally, a diet low in zinc is associated with skin flare-ups.
Eat a high fiber diet of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables to help regulate glucose tolerance and reduce acne breakouts. The New Zealand Dermatological Society states that omega-3 fats found in coldwater fish, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and spirulina can unblock follicles and lower sebum production. Foods high in zinc include shellfish, soybeans and sunflower seeds.
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