Is there a Connection Between
Acne and Diet?
By Kristina Pestana, MS, CNS, LDN
Are Diet and Acne Related?
It is no surprise that diet, lifestyle and nutrition affect overall health. But does nutrition affect acne? Acne is the most common skin condition, affecting more than 20M people in the US. The condition has been increasing in all ages over the last half century.
Acne is a complex condition influenced by many variables, including fluctuating hormones, oil production (sebum), bacteria and hyper proliferation of follicular cells (keratinization).
In recent years, scientists have discovered various aspects of diet that can have major effects on the elevation of hormones, proliferation of bacteria and production of oil that can ultimately drive acne.
Acne, Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Inflammation is connected to essentially every chronic condition. Western diets (high in hydrogenated fats and sugars), sedentarism, stress and poor sleep all contribute to inflammation.
On the other hand, fruits and vegetables, high in antioxidants and fiber, as well omega 3s, found in salmon, sardines, and anchovies have anti-inflammatory properties.
It is advised to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet, high in protein (45% protein, 35% carbs and 20% fat), high in antioxidants and rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and fatty fish to benefit your skin.
Best Supplements for Acne
Additional supplements that could reduce severity of acne include:
Vitamin A: have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and also decreases production of sebum. Vitamin A is found in bright-colored foods, including yams, carrots, orange and yellow fruits. If using above the Upper limit or if pregnant, please consult your healthcare provider for guidance.
Zinc: helps lowering inflammation and eliminating acne-causing bacteria. Acne patients are usually deficient in this mineral. Zinc is found in oysters, lean protein, nuts and seeds, whole grains and oatmeal.
Vitamin E and Selenium: Selenium is critical for our antioxidant system, allowing glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body to do its job. Patients with low glutathione enzyme activity seem to benefit from Selenium and Vitamin E.
Omega 3: Omega-3s called EPA and DHA are the greatest anti-inflammatory compounds found in nature. They reduce the production of two major acne relates chemicals and also lower inflammatory cytokines.
Turmeric, ginger and green tea also have great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Acne and Topicals
Topical treatments that help reducing bacteria and inflammation include: Tea tree Oil, Vitamin C, Azelaic acid and Nicotinamide.
Tea Tree Oil (Malaleuca alternifolia): has antiseptic properties, good skin penetration and works as a skin disinfectant. It might produce dermatitis. Look for 5% to 15% preparations
Nicotinamide: its topical use inhibits release of lysosomal enzymes and the activity of P. acnes lipase. Does not produc bacterial resistance and can be used for moderate inflammation.
This information is for educational purposes only. The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your physician if you have any question regarding a medical condition
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1. Pizzorno, J, Murrray, M and Joiner-Bey, H. (2016). The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine: Acne Vulgaria And Acne Conglobata. Third Edition. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier, Inc.