Following the Thanksgiving feast, we can now reflect back upon all the delicious foods we ate. One thing we may not consider is how diet can affect our skin. This is a topic that has been extensively researched but the answer does remain somewhat unclear.
Many of use grew up told that chocolate, milk, and other sweets caused acne, but is this true or just a tale to make us avoid these tempting foods? Well, studies have not been definitive, however the evidence available does seem to suggest that high glycemic meals as well as dairy products can trigger acne and worsen acne. What is a high glycemic food? These are foods that are easily broken down by the body into simple sugars that cause peaks in our insulin and glucose levels. These would include fruit juices with added sugars, breads, potatoes, and other candies and high sugar, processed foods. Low glycemic index foods include nuts, beans, as well as foods with a mixture of fiber, fats, and proteins.
Additionally, dairy products influencing acne has been studied and found to have a possible connection. Why this causes increased acne is unclear but it could be its effects on hormone levels as this has been shown to have a direct effect on acne.
So what does this mean? Should you avoid these foods? Based on the data available, it is unlikely that a single factor triggers acne. In terms of diet, high glycemic foods tends to have the strongest evidence and given its link to other diseases like diabetes it would not be a bad idea to lower ones intake of these foods.
But remember, diet alone will not treat acne. Acne is triggered by a number of factors involved in oil production, cell turnover, and bacteria. That is why it is important to maintain a healthy skin regimen including a gentle oil free cleanser as well as an oil free sunscreen, as sun can also cause inflammation and exacerbate acne. In patients with active acne, this may not be enough and it could require more therapies.
If you have questions or concerns about your skin and acne, we are happy to see you here at California Dermatology Specialists where your skin health is our priority.