The Acne DietSeptember 18, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
I’m entirely open to seeing a doctor and having appropriate medical tests conducted. I’m even willing to judiciously use medication if it’s truly warranted. But there are many conditions that effect quality of life without threatening mortality. These are the types of health concerns that are often best addressed by natural means. A good example is a common problem that afflicts a large segment of the adolescent population. Acne vulgaris is a skin condition that’s a major cause of both physical and psychological harm. It just so happens that there is an all natural, inexpensive and safe treatment plan that may help abate the suffering.
A newly published study examined the dietary patterns of 3,775 “late adolescents” (18 -19 years old) who reside in Oslo, Norway. This same evaluation also looked at the connection between acne prevalence and “mental health problems”. Food frequency questionnaires and a psychological test referred to as the Hopkins Symptom Checklist were used to compile the data on the teenagers.
- 14% of the young men and 13% of the young ladies reported suffering from acne.
- The degree of psychological distress was higher in those with more severe skin symptoms.
- In the young men, the consumption of potato chips and sweets appeared to be associated with acne.
- The young women who ate the largest amount of raw vegetables were least likely to exhibit skin inflammation and lesions.
Based on these findings, the authors of this population study determined that, “self-reported acne is significantly associated with mental distress and, among girls, with infrequent consumption of raw vegetables”. (1)
My three-part system for improving acne involves the following steps: 1) eat a low-glycemic diet that’s rich in healthy fats and high in fiber; 2) test to see if dairy-based foods are contributing to your symptoms; 3) include select nutritional supplements in your daily routine.
Step #1 – The Role of Diet
Diet is by far the most important aspect of my proposed plan of action. If you do nothing else, change this one factor and I think you’ll likely find some degree of positive change in your skin’s condition. The concept behind this type of diet is very simple:
- Emphasize natural, whole foods and avoid processed grocery items. In most cases, this will naturally reduce your blood sugar, insulin production and systemic inflammation.
- Avoid fake fats (hydrogenated/trans-fats). Instead, use organic coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and organic butter for cooking and flavoring foods.
- Skip the starches and sweets. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables that are appropriate for low carb diets and limit desserts to special occasions.
- Stay well hydrated. The drink of choice is pure water. But herbal teas are also highly recommended. These medicinal brews often calm the inflammation that plays a role in the severity of acne symptoms.
- Don’t be afraid of healthy fats. The only way to succeed on such a diet is to enjoy liberal amounts of fatty sources of protein, such as grass fed beef, nuts, omega-3 eggs, salmon and seeds.
It’s important to note that I didn’t pull these concepts out of thin air. I’m basing these recommendations on the preponderance of recent scientific evidence relating to the connection between food choices and acne. (2,3,4,5,6)
Step #2 – Eliminating Dairy
Three recent studies have looked at the association between milk intake and acne occurrence. A 2008 trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the eating patterns of over 4,200 teenaged boys. A “positive association” was found with respect milk, in general, and skim milk in particular. Adolescent females also appear to be sensitive to dairy. A 2006 study from Harvard investigated the milk consumption of over 6,000 girls (aged 9 – 15). It likewise found a similar connection between milk use and acne. The acne/dairy connection may extend to the adult population as well. In 2005, Harvard researchers theorized that this may occur due to, “the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk”. This point of view is supported by more contemporary research as well. (7,8,9,10)
Step #3 – Nutritional Supplements
Consider adding a high quality multivitamin/mineral, fish oil and green tea to your wellness program. A small trial from October 2008 found that the daily use of a multi-nutrient product significantly reduced inflammation and lesion counts in a group of 5 patients with “mild to moderate acne vulgaris”. 3 males and 2 females (aged 18 – 23) were asked to take a supplement containing a daily total of 1,000 mg of EPA (a fatty acid in fish oil), 200 mg of EGCG (a component of green tea), 200 mcg of chromium, 200 mcg of selenium and 15 mg of zinc. 4 out of the 5 patients showed a reduction in problematic skin symptoms. On average, the total number of lesions dropped from 63 to 40 over the two month trial. There was also a reduction in inflammation and redness in the acne prone areas. The “average inflammatory lesion count” registered as 21 at the start of the study. After two months, it declined to 7. An improvement in “mental outlook” was also reported by the patients. More research is certainly called for, but these preliminary findings offer reason for hope. (11,12,13)
There is little question that genetics play a significant role in skin condition. Many of us know this both from personal experience and what we’re frequently told by dermatologists. But, I believe that the program outlined above can help improve skin quality and, more importantly, overall quality of life for many adolescents and adults who feel destined to suffer with acne or other inflammatory skin issues. If you decide to try out my 3 step program, please let me know how it works out for you.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Fish Oil, Skin Care, Sugar
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements