The Truth About Diet and Acne

If you have acne, you may have an opinion about diet and acne. So let's hear it. Do you think diet has any effect on acne?

Whichever side of the debate you're on, I hope you'll read this with an open mind. I'll lay out the research evidence here and you can make up your own mind at the end. OK?

Onward. Let's look at some research evidence about the possible link between acne and diet.

1. Acne is less common in rural non-industrialized societies than in westernized societies.

For example, a researcher who studied the Inuit (Eskimo) societies found that acne didn't affect them when they still followed a traditional diet. But when their diet became more westernized, acne became more common.

And there are other examples of the diet-acne connection. There is no acne among the Kitavan people of Papua New Guinea and the Ache people of Paraguay.

In some rural African villages in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, there is much less acne than there is among the descendants of these societies who live in the West.

Researchers have also found that acne was not common in some rural communities in Brazil, Peru and Ireland.

2. A research study has found that drinking milk is closely linked to acne. Another study found that men who followed a low glycemic load, high protein diet noticed an improvement in their acne after 12 weeks.

The Glycemic Index

The GI concept compares various foods based on their potential to raise the blood glucose. Multiply the GI by the carbohydrate content in the food and you get the glycemic load. In general, refined carbohydrates produce higher glycemic loads than unprocessed carbs.

3. Milk has a low glycemic index and load, but it triggers a high insulin response. A high milk diet can also cause insulin resistance. This in turn can trigger hormonal changes which may lead to acne. Since diets in western countries are high in milk, this finding seems to show a relationship between diet and acne.

Some studies have found that reducing the total amount of calories eaten also reduced the amount of sebum (the fatty matter secreted by the sebaceous glands) produced by up to 40%.

So what do you think? Does diet affect acne?

Even before I'd read about these studies, I believed that my diet affected the appearance of my skin. Acne was more of a problem when I used to eat a lot of junk food. Since I cleaned up my dietary act, I've had fewer breakouts and flares!

I'm therefore convinced that a strong link exists between diet and acne. But I can't tell you what to believe. I suggest you experiment with changing your diet to see whether or not that affects your acne. In the end, though, you'll have to make up your own mind.

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