Anti-Acne Diet Guidelines
Acne is a disorder of the skin's oil glands (sebaceous glands) that results in plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called pimples or zits. Acne lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Nearly 17 million people in the United States have acne, making it the most common skin disease. Although acne is not a serious health threat, severe acne can lead to disfiguring, permanent scarring, which can be upsetting for people who suffer from the disorder.
Acne vulgaris is a form of acne that results from the bacterial infection of cysts deep within the skin. It generally requires treatment with antibiotics and other agents (isotretinoin). Without treatment, cystic acne may result in scarring.
Acne rosacea is a facial skin disorder that results from chronic inflammation of the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, and/or eyelids. This is often demonstrated by increased redness or acne-like eruptions in these locations on the face.
The exact cause of acne is unknown, but doctors believe it results from several related factors. One important factor is rising hormone levels. These hormones, called androgens (male sex hormones), increase in both boys and girls during puberty and can cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Another factor is heredity or genetics. Researchers believe that the tendency to develop acne can be inherited from parents. For example, studies have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family history of the disorder.
There is no scientific evidence that chocolate, French fries, or other greasy foods cause acne. Acne is a skin disorder that can affect people of all ages, from infancy to old age. The years from adolescence to middle age tend to be the most troublesome as far as acne is concerned. Acne treatment seeks to clear up existing acne and prevent more from developing. Astringents, benzoyl peroxides, retinoic acids, and glycolic acids all work to prevent pores from clogging. Antibiotics, either taken orally or applied topically, can be used to control some types of acne. In order to decrease the inflammation associated with some cases of acne, topical corticosteroids are used to suppress immune cells in the acne-ridden areas.
Topical vitamin A acid preparations such as tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene normalize the shedding of skin at the follicular openings and serve to unplug pore openings. (Tretinoin is more commonly known by the brand name Retin-A.) The medication reduces the formation of new comedones, opens closed comedones, and prompts open comedones to expel their contents. While this process of "opening up" takes place, acne may temporarily appear to worsen. Existing lesions may need time to heal before improvement is noticed. Because of their preventative effect, patients should continue to use vitamin A acids even in the absence of active blemishes. The side effects of vitamin A acids include a mild irritation of the skin that can make a sunburn seem more severe.
Since the exact source of acne is not known, It is important to remember that there is no single medicine for acne treatment. Clinical treatment options, particularly topical applications, have limited efficacy, while orally administered systemic drugs carry various side effects and recurrence rates. Adjusting one's diet to ameliorate acne represents a safe and effective approach. Here are some guidelines to follow:
• Foods with a high glycemic load, as well as dairy products, may exacerbate acne. An acne-improving strategy involves a low-carbohydrate diet devoid of dairy products, including whey protein.
• Ensuring an adequate intake of protein is vital. Protein serves as a crucial component in metabolic processes, aiding in maintaining normal skin function and the unobstructed flow of follicles and sebaceous gland ducts. Protein-rich foods such as lean meat, eggs, legumes, dairy products, and fish are recommended.
• The consumption of foods rich in dietary fiber is encouraged. Such foods stimulate gastrointestinal motility, adsorbing harmful metabolic substances in the intestines to facilitate their expulsion and prevent constipation. High dietary fiber foods include cauliflower, spinach, legumes, carrots, citrus fruits, and oats.
• Increasing the intake of zinc-rich foods is advised. Clinical research has indicated lower zinc levels in the bloodstream of acne sufferers compared to the general population. Zinc plays a pivotal role in protein synthesis, influencing cell division, growth, and regeneration. Additionally, a deficiency in zinc can impact the metabolism and utilization of Vitamin A, exacerbating the keratinization abnormalities in follicles and sebaceous gland ducts, ultimately worsening acne. Zinc-rich sources include seafood and animal organs. Puberty increases the body's need for zinc, so a deficiency among adolescents is often the cause of acne.
• Augmenting the intake of vitamins is beneficial. Vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin E, and zinc work together to help overcome most skin disorders. Vitamin A regulates the growth, proliferation, and differentiation of epithelial tissues, maintaining the integrity and functionality of the skin and mucous membranes, thereby improving keratinization abnormalities in follicles and sebaceous gland ducts. B-complex vitamins participate in amino acid and fat metabolism, thereby reducing sebaceous gland secretion. Active Vitamin D, with its regulatory effect on the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes, boasts antimicrobial properties and may be employed in acne treatment. Vitamin E modulates sebaceous gland secretions and serves as an antioxidant, safeguarding Vitamin A from oxidation and enhancing its functionality. Vitamin-rich foods encompass animal livers, eggs, milk, peanuts, tomatoes, spinach, and carrots.
• Incorporating vegetables, fruits, and omega-3-rich fish into the diet proves advantageous for acne improvement.
• Vitamin B12 and B-complex vitamins containing B12 can exacerbate acne and should be avoided by patients.
• Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, can ameliorate acne.
• Acne patients should have their Vitamin D levels assessed. The ideal Vitamin D level should be around 50 ng/ml, and supplementation is advisable if deficiencies, insufficiencies, or suboptimal Vitamin D levels are detected.
• Improving sleep and reducing stress are beneficial for acne management.
• It is suggested that people lower their iodine intake because it can cause androgens to be released, which can make sebaceous glands produce more oil and make the keratinization of follicles and sebaceous gland ducts worse. This can cause sebum to get stuck and cause acne. Iodine worsens acne, so eliminate all processed foods high in iodized salt from your diet.
• Controlling the intake of fats and sugars is vital. Excessive consumption of fats and sugars can stimulate sebaceous gland secretion, exacerbating acne.
For severe nodulocystic acne that does not respond to the above therapies, a doctor may prescribe a vitamin-A derivative taken orally, such as isotretinoin, which is known by the brand name Accutane. Isotretinoin has a very high success rate for improving severe acne. Such medication must be monitored very closely by a doctor because of its potentially severe side effects, the biggest of which is the likelihood of severe birth defects in an unborn child.
If after following these guidelines, you are not satisfied with the results from your acne treatment, be sure to see a dermatologist.