When it comes to treating acne, there is no subject that is more controversial or full of contradictory advice than that of diet. Chances are you have heard the full gamut of opinions, including the opinion that diet plays no role at all. So what is the truth about how your diet influences your breakouts? The answer is complicated and varies greatly from person to person, but there are some basics that seem widely applicable.
Why all the Confusion?
One of the most frustrating and disheartening aspects of dealing with acne is that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. In fact, there is a huge variance in effectiveness with natural methods of skincare. One person’s miracle cure is often another person’s total waste of time. That is perhaps more true with diet than any other factor.
The skin is a very unique organ. Not only is it the biggest organ in the body, it interacts with and is influenced by every system in the body, often in ways we still don’t quite understand. This complexity of interaction likely plays a large role in the confusion concerning the link between a person’s diet and their acne breakouts. With such variance in results, even many dermatologists end up telling their patients not to worry about their diet. This is unfortunate, because many people who suffer from acne find that certain foods are definite triggers. The difficult part is identifying what those triggers are.
Anecdotal evidence has long suggested there may be a link between dairy and acne, and newer studies seem to validate this idea. Statistically the link seems to be relatively weak, however, and one that is not fully understood. But remember, there is a difference between saying that the link is statistically weak and saying that eliminating or curtailing dairy intake will not have a big effect for a particular individual. Some people find that cutting back on dairy has a very significant effect on their skin quality.
There is some thought that milk’s pro-inflammatory effect may be the culprit. It is also thought that the hormones present in milk that comes from pregnant cows or cows treated with growth hormone to increase milk production may cause or worsen certain types of acne. One aspect that is still not fully understood is why milk appears to cause acne in some people, but yogurt and cheese generally seem to be safer.
The Role of Refined Carbohydrates
Sugar and sugar-containing foods have long been held by some to have a significant effect on acne. Doctors and medical researchers used to consider this a myth due to a lack of reliable evidence that sugar was in fact contributing to breakouts. But with the increased focus on the glycemic index of foods, some researchers think they have found the mechanism by which sugar and other carbohydrates may influence the development of acne, and studies are backing up this link. High-glycemic foods – most of which are highly refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and sugar – are those that are digested quickly and cause a sudden spike in blood sugar and a correlated spike in insulin. Because elevated insulin has been identified as a possible causal factor in acne, this may explain the apparent relation between intake of high-glycemic foods and the worsening of acne.
The truth is that while dietary factors do exist, the optimal dietary regimen is going to be different for each person. The above recommendations are a good place to start, but it will likely take quite a bit of experimentation to determine which foods must be limited or even eliminated from your diet. When you do figure this out, however, your diet can be a great first defense against future breakouts.
However, unless your acne is very mild, it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to get rid of it just by fixing your diet. You will almost certainly need to attack the problem directly by using some kind of acne medication or other specially designed treatment. But with all of the options out there, it can be very difficult to sort through the noise and choose the right one. You need someone you can trust to give you impartial reviews of the available treatments and programs. Visit our website for a rundown of the best acne treatments available today so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.