Research: Food and Acne

Like many teenagers, I experienced a long standing fight with acne. I can remember how much it affected my confidence. My dermatologist prescribed topical and oral treatments, masks, lasers, etc,  you name it she prescribed it and although some of the treatments would help, they would only help temporarily. Frustrated with my progress, I remember asking my dermatologist if there was anything I could do to help my skin, were there any foods or chemicals I should be avoiding? Surprised by my question, she looked up and said “Acne is a hormonal issues, there is no evidence that food has anything to do with acne”. Now years later as a Naturopathic Physician, I can personally and clinically say she was wrong, very wrong. Our diet does contribute to our health, especially in inflammatory conditions like Acne (Acne Vulgaris). Not only can I speak from my own personal experience, but research shows the link as well.

Loren Cordain, PhD, a researcher in nutrition at the University of Colorado, was also very interested in the dietary implications on acne. So much so that he accompanined a group of top dermatologists to examine the skin of 1,200 adolscents in the remote region of  New Guinea in the Kitavan Islands as well as 130 Ache Indians living in the isolated region of Paraguay. The reason he choose these areas was because he wanted to find a population whose way of life, especially nutritionally, was the polar opposite of that experienced in the Western world.  In the two groups evaulated, the dermatologists found no traces whatsoever of acne. After further investigation, the researchers attributed their lack of acne, a condition affecting 80 to 90 percent of Western adolescents, to their nutrition. Their nutrition resembled that of their distant ancestors, including no refined sugar or white flour. The researchers reasoning for why refined sugars contributes to inflammatory conditions like acne is explained through refined sugars effects on our body,  so called “sugar highs” in the blood lead to increase spikes of insulin or Insulin like growth factors (IGF) that are commonly  increased in inflammation therefore conditions like acne.

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