There are a lot of myths about what causes acne and how you can prevent it, but a lot of the common advice on acne rings true. Your diet, both in terms of what you do and don’t eat, might be contributing to your acne.
It’s fair to say that everyone has had a run-in with acne. Whether it was very short-lived during your teen years or something you struggle with into adulthood, you know it can be rough. Even minor cases of acne can negatively impact your self-esteem and cause skin infections and life-long scarring. While many people grow out of acne, a lot of people aren’t as fortunate. Acne is caused by a combination of factors, but the leading cause is hormones. Acne is associated with middle and high school because that’s when most people undergo puberty. During puberty, hormones surge within the body, causing the sebaceous glands within skin to over-produce sebum. Sebum is the scientific term for the oil our skin produces and excretes, which helps retain moisture and protect it. When too much oil is produced, it can accumulate within the glands and block the pore. When a pore is blocked, it forms a blackhead or whitehead—what we refer to as pimples.
One common myth about food and acne is that eating oily food causes acne. That all depends on how you define oily. There are many foods that are high in healthy oils that don’t cause acne to worsen or break out. The main action of foods that cause acne is that they cause your blood sugar to elevate quickly. While fast food and fried foods do of course raise blood sugar, it’s not the oil in them that contributes to acne specifically. Many of these high-glycemic foods don’t contain any oils at all. High sugar foods and drinks like pastries, desserts, and sodas are all foods that can greatly contribute to acne. While eating foods like this every once in a while won’t impact your skin much, frequently eating unhealthy fast food and high-sugar desserts and drinks can wreak havoc on your complexion. This probably won’t be very surprising to most people. Unhealthy foods and acne are often linked, but the reasons behind why junk food causes acne are not often explored. More research is needed, and the results of studies on blood sugar’s role in acne is debated. The leading theory is that this spike in blood sugar contributes to inflammation throughout the body and can even cause sebum production to increase.
But it’s not just junk food that can cause acne. There are a few surprising foods that can cause acne, and they might help to explain your own breakouts. Some foods, like bread and white rice are high-glycemic, which might be surprising. Corn flakes, as well as puffed rice, can also contribute to acne. Milk, a low-glycemic food has been linked to acne. Any kind of milk, but skim milk especially, seems to cause hormonal surges that can lead to the production of too much sebum. Interestingly, other milk products like cheese or yogurt are not linked to acne. This helps to further the hormone theory, as cow’s milk does contain hormones that the cow produces. Processing it into cheese or yogurt removes much of that hormone content from the dairy.
Your diet can actually positively impact your acne and help to reduce inflammation. Some positive foods for an anti-acne diet include high-fiber foods and foods that are rich in fatty acids or antioxidants. Here are some foods to incorporate into your diet. Oatmeal, non-white breads or other grain-based dishes all provide a great deal of fiber. While it isn’t fully understood, fiber seems to help reduce acne. Apples, carrots, and beans are all high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Salmon actually helps in two different ways, reducing inflammation and the levels of a protein associated with acne. Nuts, in small quantities, can provide you with nutritious antioxidants that can keep acne breakouts to a minimum. There are other foods, including those with a naturally high salt content, because iodine helps your thyroid work more efficiently, which can help lessen the effects of acne. Take note of the contents of your iodine rich foods, as too much can have the opposite effect.
Food and acne are certainly linked to one another. If you’re wondering if your acne is being caused by more than hormones, discuss your diet with the knowledgeable staff at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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