26 Mar A Decade of Studies Strengthen the Acne-Diet Connection
Treating acne can be confusing. That’s why you deserve to work with an expert, such as Dr. Lindsey Yeh at RefinedMD. There are a lot of myths out there about what acne is and isn’t. For starters, know that acne is a medical condition. It’s often thought of as “just” a cosmetic concern or a rite of passage for teenagers. It is neither. Acne is a chronic skin condition that can happen to anyone at any age. Still, there are treatments available to lessen the likelihood of outbreaks and esthetic treatments to reduce the lingering signs of acne (such as hyperpigmentation).
However, as a chronic medical condition, acne is not necessarily simple. There are various acne types, from mild whiteheads to severe cystic acne that is painful and can cause scarring. Taking a holistic approach to acne management is important, and that includes lifestyle factors.
How Your Choices Impact Acne
It’s not true that pizza or chocolate necessarily “cause” acne (that’s another myth), but diet is indeed a part of how acne occurs—just not in the way you might think. A recently published review of acne studies in the past ten years has concluded that your diet plays a role in acne. You can find the full report in the International Journal of Dermatology’s February 2021 issue, in which researchers aimed to make a clear statement on whether what you eat is driving your acne (or keeping it at bay).
It’s great to have evidence-based reporting on what kind of diets might help prevent acne breakouts because this can be a key part of a more comprehensive approach to acne treatment. According to researchers, 11 interventional clinical trials and 42 observational studies in the past ten years were analyzed, and results showed that diet should be a consideration.
Some of the foods that were linked to acne include a high glycemic diet, many types of dairy (especially milk), fast food, chocolate (typically milk chocolate with a lot of added sugar), and a low diet of raw veggies. Additionally, a salt-heavy diet, soft drinks, and eggs more than three times per week were also linked to acne. This does not mean that the occasional chocolate bar or drive-through indulgence is going to curse you with acne. Rather, it’s a reminder that everyone will benefit from an overall healthy and diverse diet.
Some diets were found to help keep acne in check. Researchers found that a diet with a good amount of fish, fruits, and vegetables is the key to preventing acne in diet. “Frequent” in this regard is 4+ times per week. For vegetarians and vegans, swapping fish for flaxseed and other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids is a good idea.
How Exactly is Diet Informing Acne?
Even after compiling a decade of research, the authors aren’t completely certain about the role of food and how it informs acne. There are also conflicting reports. For example, a 2019 study in Clinical Nutrition showed that yogurt and cheese consumption did not affect acne. Overall, the main contributors to acne seemed to be a lot of refined sugars and a high glycemic diet.
Researchers recommend that you limit refined sugars, seek out low glycemic foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, berries, and veggies, stick to dark chocolate if you must have this kind of treat, and add fish or flaxseed to your weekly diet.
Diet alone isn’t going to dictate whether you have an acne breakout or not, but it can be an important piece of the puzzle. Acne is the most common skin condition around the world, and most people will experience at least one breakout (and typically much more) in their lifetime. A genetic predisposition, hormones, skin type, and age are also factors to consider.
Treating acne is often a long-term collaboration between you and your dermatologist. The good news is that many treatments can complement a healthy diet, such as chemical peels, lasers, and prescription medications. If you struggle with acne, get help today. Schedule an appointment with RefinedMD by starting a chat or completing the online form.