The Teenage Anti-Acne Diet
Almost every teenager --- close to nine out of 10 --- will suffer from acne, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Although there's scant medical evidence that diet can influence acne, rumors and myths persist that eliminating dairy and chocolate can clear blemishes. Eliminating chocolate and dairy probably won't help, but there is some evidence that reducing the processed carbohydrates in your diet might help improve your skin, according to Colorado State University.
Acne in teenagers begins when the oil-producing sebaceous glands mature and start to produce more oil, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This oil production, combined with skin irritation created by too-swift shedding of dead skin cells, can create small acne blemishes. These blemishes then can harbor bacteria and become infected, creating raised, sore, swollen pimples.
Research from Colorado State University professor Loren Cordain suggests that a high-carbohydrate diet may play a role in acne formation, but more studies are needed to determine the exact role diet may play. Cordain presided over a 2002 study published in the December 2002 "Archives of Internal Medicine" examining the role of diet in acne.
Cordain looked at native populations in Papua New Guinea and Paraguay and found perfect skin, without any cases of acne. The two groups ate practically no refined carbohydrates; their diets consisted mainly of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. As a result of the research, Cordain's study theorizes that high intakes of simple carbohydrates in Western societies contribute to acne formation.
To follow the teenage anti-acne diet suggested by Cordain's research, you need to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet. Focus on carbohydrates that fall low on the glycemic scale, which measures how quickly your body absorbs carbohydrates and turns them into sugar. That means eliminating many products made from white flour and sugar and substituting whole grains, vegetables and fruits for sweets and breads in your diet. You also should avoid soda, potatoes and rice, since they all are high on the glycemic index.
Cordain's research appears to back a low-carbohydrate diet for teenage acne, in which you should avoid most grains and sugars to fight your acne. Although there's no medical evidence to support it, some naturopathic practitioners recommend eliminating dairy products as well as part of a teenage anti-acne diet.
The American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend any specific anti-acne diet for teenagers, although the group does say to avoid any food you think might be aggravating your skin condition. Instead of making dietary changes, the academy urges teenagers with bad acne to consult with a dermatologist for appropriate prescription medications for acne.
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