When it comes to overall health, diet and nutrition are crucial components to determine whether you are healthy or not.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, you see a reflection of an overweight person. You understand why you’ve become overweight. You’ve been indulging yourself in uncontrollable eating habits.
But when you see those disgusting red “zits” on your face, you begin to ask a valid question: Does my diet have something to do with these acne breakouts?
The acne and diet connection has sparked various debates and arguments. One article may say that milk and chocolates do not trigger acne. Then you come across another article that shows some studies to prove that chocolates and milk cause acne breakouts.
As one of the most common skin diseases, acne is affecting millions of teenagers and adults. This article helps you better understand the acne and diet connection.
What is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin disorder that starts to occur when you hit puberty. It involves the overproduction of oil or sebum, dead skin cells, and acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes.
Acne breakouts typically appear on your face, chest, back, neck, shoulders, and arms.
Understanding How Acne Develops
Acne starts when the sebaceous glands create an over-secretion of an oily substance called sebum. Dead skin cells come in which results in clogged pores. On the other hand, the acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes, increasingly grow in these clogged pores.
There’s a sort of war going on within your skin. Your body sends it soldiers, the white blood cells or inflammatory cells, to kill the P. acnes bacteria. The swelling and redness occur due to the inflammatory response of acne.
How does diet affect acne?
A coin has two sides. The first one tells you that diet does not have something to do with your acne breakouts. The other side shows you different studies conducted that detail the effect of diet in the development of acne.
So does diet affect acne? Unfortunately, there are various ways that show how diet affects acne. This article explains the internal causes that lead to acne formation.
Milk and Acne
Everybody knows that when it comes to diet and acne connection, milk and dairy products are the first major culprits.
Several studies show that people, who regularly include milk in their diet, are the ones who are likely to experience acne breakouts. Those who do not regularly drink milk are not affected by acne.
The milk we drink is usually produced by cows that generated a high level of hormones that can drive our oil glands to overproduce oil. The same principle also applies to other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.
Chocolate and Acne
Chocolate, chocolate, and oh yes, this one is linked to acne too. Grr! Are you a die-hard chocolate lover?
A new study in 2003 discovered that chocolate can increase the level of insulin. Another study reports that eating chocolate may also trigger inflammation.
Some experts still consider these studies too small to provide accurate answers. But should we really doubt these studies conducted by different researchers?
Refined carbs and sugar
Refined or simple carbohydrates consist of sugars and refined grains whose fiber, bran, and nutrients have been removed. The following list of refined carbs and sugar can trigger significant spikes in your insulin and sugar levels:
- Pizza dough
- White rice
- White flour
- Breakfast cereals
- Sugar-sweetened candies and beverages
These foods are high on the glycemic index because they quickly increase your blood sugar level. High level of insulin or sugar stimulates overproduction of oil or sebum that leads to acne breakouts.
Sugar does not only cause inflammation but it can also cause skin cells deterioration. This means that if you maintain a lower consumption of sugar, you’ll surely have a healthy and glowing skin.
Other Causes of Acne
Is this a sort of conspiracy that connects genes to acne? Is there an “acne gene?”
Several studies show how genetic factors affect the formation of acne. One study reveals that 78% of teenagers who experience acne breakouts had a family member or relative who has the same acne skin problem.
Do you know that heredity has something to do with the size of your sebaceous glands? You’re likely to get acne if you have a large and very active gland.
Do you consider yourself a city dweller? If you live in a highly urbanized city, your exposure to pollution is high. This means that you often get yourself exposed to tiny dust particles, oil, and grease. These can clog your pores that lead to acne breakouts.
Those acne breakouts on your face can absolutely stress you out. But before your acne breakouts occur, stress may be the reason why those uninvited huge zits start to camp on your face.
Stress hormones increase whenever you get stressed. This leads to different changes which include weight gain, sleep deprivation, and worsened acne.
The stress-related hormones spike the production of sebum and cause inflammation.
Nobody can get away from hormonal changes which start during the puberty stage. Androgen hormones and acne are interrelated. These hormones increase during puberty.
When the level of the androgen hormones rises, the production of sebum also springs up.
Hormonal acne in women is due to variations in androgen and estrogen levels. Menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause also lead to hormonal fluctuation that triggers acne.
Yes, certain medications can cause acne formation. These acne-causing drugs include birth control pills, mental health drugs, steroids, or tuberculosis medication.
Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes is the acne-causing bacteria that thrive at the base of your hair follicles.
When certain factors -stress, foods, or hormonal changes- boosts sebum production, the population of P. acnes bacteria also increases. This can cause irritation that often leads to inflammation.
- acnes bacteria is one of the forces -inflammation, dead skin cells- that clog your pores.
The Best Acne-Fighting Foods
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids can be your friend when it comes to acne treatment. There’s enough reason why you should include fish oil as one of your food supplements. According to a study, omega 3 supplements can decrease acne by 42%
Omega-3 fish oil can hinder 2 inflammatory chemicals, PGE2 and LTB4, from causing acne breakouts.
Omega -3 fats can lessen inflammation and prevent cell dehydration.
Start incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your daily habit if you want to get rid of those huge zits.
Inflammation or oxidative stress plays a big role in the formation of acne. Major antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, and E may decrease damage caused by the sun and environment.
Antioxidants help protect your skin by inhibiting certain toxins from getting into your dermal layer. If you have sufficient antioxidants, your breakouts won’t last long and you’ll have healthy, and acne-free skin.
So you think that green tea is primarily important when it comes to weight loss? Well, this acne-green tea connection may encourage you to stock more boxes of green tea.
Consistent consumption of green tea can help maintain a balanced level of your sugar blood and insulin. Green tea also contains the anti-microbial catechins that can help get rid of P. acnes, the acne-causing bacteria.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, taking probiotics daily can help with acne breakouts. It’s a recommendation that acne sufferers should take heed for fast acne healing.
Some skin experts note that probiotics, the “good” and “helpful” bacteria, can replace harmful bacteria. This can help lessen skin inflammation and prevent future acne breakouts.
The glycemic index, which is now popularly associated with a certain group of foods, determines how foods affect our blood sugar levels. The scale ranges from 0 to 100.
When your blood sugar and insulin levels are high, you’re likely to have acne breakouts due to inflammation. This occurs when high glycemic foods are included in your daily diet.
Low glycemic index foods mean that these are the healthy foods that do not increase your blood sugar levels. The following low glycemic index foods help you achieve a healthy and smooth skin:
- Stone-ground whole wheat bread
- Rolled Oatmeal, muesli, or oat bran
- Pasta, barley, converted rice
- Sweet potato, corn, yam, butter beans, lentils, peas, legumes
- Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, carrots
Several studies show how a dairy-free and low-glycemic diet can relieve acne and improve your skin’s health.
What you eat has a lot to contribute to your overall health. Certain foods can trigger an overabundance of sebum, cause inflammation, and increase sugar and insulin levels.
The good news is that there are many acne-fighting foods that can help you with your journey to a healthy and smooth skin. Combine this healthy diet with regular exercise, daily meditation, and skin care regimen. You’ll always want to look at yourself in the mirror again.