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Diet & Acne

A women showing old picture with acne | Walnut Creek Aesthetics in Walnut Creek, CA

Breaking out!

Acne and acne scarring are huge concerns for dermatologists, but they are still unclear exactly what foods may or may not affect how skin develops acne. However, evidence suggests that it’s best to stay away from sugary and high-fat foods and drinks, which may contribute to increased blemishes.

While family history plays a major role when it comes to acne, certain diets seem to definitely make things worse. Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can be terrible for your skin according to Ava Shamban, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. “When you increase sugar levels in the blood stream, the sugar that’s not picked up by the liver can get into your collagen, which your body may then identify as damaged goods and chew up. It can also cause inflammation that could make you break out.” High GI foods are also believed to change the composition of our oil secretions, making them less fluid and more “sticky.” This makes oil in our skin adhere to skin cells under the skin and potentially create pimples, rather than flow normally out our skin pores.

Foods with a high glycemic index include:

  • White Sugar
  • Pasta
  • White Bread
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Pastry and Cake
  • White Rice
  • White and Sweet Potatoes
  • Ice Cream

You can find out a food’s glycemic index at glycemicindex.com. A GI index under 55 is considered low.

Note: If you are looking for a substitute for sugar that can be good for your skin, consider honey since it’s loaded with antioxidants.

What about Dairy?

Many people think dairy products contribute to acne. The experts are divided on this. While some evidence seems to show dairy consumption increases acne, there isn’t enough data to be completely convinced. Studies have shown a correlation between dairy and acne but not causation. For example, giving up eating yogurt or drinking skim milk results in fewer breakouts. It is unclear if the improvement was due to less dairy or less sugar. If you want to keep dairy products in your diet but want to reduce the chance of irritating your acne situation, you should look for dairy that’s made a) without added sugars and b) from cows that are not treated with hormones. Hormones fed to cows are fed can be steroid analogues, which can make you break out.

An interesting side note. The BPA in water bottles is also a steroid analogue. This means it could act like hormones in your body. You wouldn’t think that your bottled water might cause you to break out. There is no definitive study done yet, on this subject, but this is another reason to reduce using bottled water.

On the plus side

Zinc, which can be found in foods like oysters, fortified cereals, chickpeas, and cashews, has also been known to help reduce inflammation and may be beneficial for people who suffer from acne. Also, as mentioned in our “DIET AND YOUR SKIN” blog post [Shahdi, this will link to the other post], eating foods that are high in phytonutrients can help balance out skin health. So it would be a good idea to keep green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes in your diet.

Even better, pairing a better diet with consultation with one of our experienced and caring aestheticians. We’ll design a personalized care plan for your skin that will give you a strong path forward to managing any acne problem you need to deal with. Make an appointment online for a consultation today!

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