Numerous topical treatments exist to help fight acne, but one treatment that can easily be overlooked is diet. While there is still more research to be done on the topic, it has been found that consuming more foods with omega-3 fatty acids and fewer that have dairy, or a high glycemic index can make a big difference in clearing up skin.
More specifically, it is believed that insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) can increase the production of sebum, thus increasing or worsening the symptoms of acne on the skin. Avoiding foods that can raise IGF-1 levels can help in reducing and improving the symptoms of acne. See what foods your acne-prone clients might want to reconsider putting in their diet, and which foods they may want to start incorporating.
Foods to Avoid
Dairy. In the United States, dairy has been associated with acne in three separate populations, with some studies suggesting the mechanism relates to hormones. Milk naturally contains growth hormones as well as anabolic steroids, and in the United States, it has been shown to have higher levels of IGF-1 since milk contains amino acids that stimulate the liver to produce IGF-1 and most dairy cows are treated with bovine growth hormones.
Simple sugars. High-glycemic carbohydrates, like white bread, pasta and white rice are all made from simple sugars. These foods cause the blood sugar to rise quickly, which makes the body release insulin. When you have excess insulin in your blood, your oil glands can increase oil production, thus increasing the risk of acne.
Omega-6. This more has to do with the imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, specifically in western diets. Eating lots of foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids, like soy and corn oils, has been linked to increased levels of inflammation in the skin.
Whey protein powder. This is often used as a dietary supplement, but its ability to make the skin cells grow and divide more quickly can increase acne symptoms. This supplement has also been shown to increase insulin levels, which can also trigger acne in the skin.
Foods to Enjoy
Berries. This specific food group is often known as antioxidant powerhouses, which can be great for reducing oxidative stress on the skin. This fruit also has a low glycemic index, which can help keep acne symptoms at bay.
Omega-3. Often found in fatty fish, omega-3 goes back to having a balanced diet of healthy fats. Fatty fish, in particular, have been shown to heal the skin from within, which can help in reducing acne marks and scars. Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with acne symptoms. Other foods that are high in omega-3s include pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, spinach, flaxseeds and soybeans to name a few.
Turmeric. This magical ingredient has numerous benefits for the skin including anti-inflammatory benefits, improving insulin sensitivity and inhibiting growth of acne causing bacteria.
Complex carbohydrates. These foods, including whole grains, legumes and unprocessed fruits and vegetables, can all help in reducing symptoms of acne due to the low-glycemic index that they possess.