Acne: Three Nutrition Links

We have a special request today, to discuss acne and some of the ways to impact it naturally.  LOVE this topic!  Let’s go!

So first a quick trip to pubmed.com for a literature search.  There is TONS of literature about acne but almost all of it is about drug therapy.  (Or which chemical peels are the most effective, but that’s another topic, LOL!)  But I did find several interesting and recent articles about nutritional therapy for acne.

1.  Don’t eat like an American.

Seriously.  Burris, Reitkirk and Woolf reported just this month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that acne was worse in patients reporting diets that had a higher glycemic index, more added sugar, more total sugar, more dairy servings consumed, more saturated fat, more trans fat, and fewer fish servings.  In other words, the Standard American Diet is bad for your skin.  Eat more plants and fish, and less sugar, processed foods and other animal-based foods and you will have nicer skin with less acne!

2.  Maintain a healthy weight.

Particularly for women, obesity is associated with more acne.  Women who are obese have a higher risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  PCOS increases male hormone activity in the body which makes hair grow in places women don’t want it to grow, and makes skin oils thicker and stickier.  Male hormones cause problems! (Duh, I know, not a news flash.)

PCOS also is associated with a truly malignant form of acne called hidradenitis suppurativa.  Cystic acne in the underarms and the groin is NOT something you want to mess with.  Some women have to have skin-removal surgery to control it.  If you are obese and tend to get boils under the arms and in the groin, get serious about getting to a healthy weight!  Don’t wait for it to get worse.

3.  Supplements.

There are a number of supplements that are helpful in managing acne.  A nice article published in July in Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology reviewed serum levels of vitamin A, vitamin E and zinc in acne patients.  Higher levels of these vitamins and mineral were associated with less acne problems.  While this was not a study designed to determine a CAUSATIVE relationship, it is suggestive that deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin E and zinc can make acne worse.  Making sure you get plenty of these vitamins (by eating red/yellow/orange and green leafy veggies, nuts/seeds/cold-pressed oils, and whole grains especially oatmeal) can improve acne.  Supplementing zinc is helpful especially if you eat mostly plants (like me) because the richest dietary sources of zinc are animal-based.

Probiotics are also getting more and more respect in the management of acne.  We are beginning to understand more about the role of the helpful bacteria in the intestine and their importance with keeping the rest of the body working right.  Eating yogurt and other fermented foods (like kimchi and sauerkraut) or taking a probiotic supplement may very well help clear up your skin.

QUESTION:  Do you notice your diet affects your skin?

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