Acne and your diet

acne and diet

What is the relationship between acne and diet? This common skin condition can occur due to a wide range of factors including excessive oil production, clogged pores, hormonal changes, genetics, smoking, and stress. However, diet can also potentially impact the condition by promoting inflammation and affecting the hormone levels.

Foods high in sugar and dairy, like milk and whey protein, have specifically been linked to acne. So, how exactly does diet contribute to skin conditions such as acne? And can you eliminate the condition by controlling what you eat?

The link between acne and diet

A 2020 study published in JAMA Dermatology, analysed dietary surveys of over 24,000 adults with an average age of 57. The research identified a link between the likelihood of having active acne and consuming high-fat foods (such as milk and meat), sugary foods and beverages, and a diet combining high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Compared to those who never experienced acne, participants with ongoing acne were 54% more likely to follow this type of diet. Increased consumption of high-fat, high-sugar foods correlated with a higher prevalence of active acne.

For instance, compared to acne-free respondents, those with current acne were 76% more likely to have consumed at least five glasses of milk the day before, over twice as likely to have had at least five servings of high-sugar drinks, and eight times more likely to have eaten a full meal of fatty and sugary products the day before.

Can the right diet get rid of acne?

Many of us typically consume high-glycaemic foods and beverages that rapidly increase blood sugar levels. These include white bread, white rice, crisps, sugary drinks, and snacks. Some small studies suggest that a low-glycaemic diet may help reduce acne. Low-glycaemic foods consist of fresh vegetables, some fresh fruits, beans, and steel-cut oats.

Researchers theorise that a low-glycaemic diet may reduce acne by preventing blood sugar spikes. These are known to cause body-wide inflammation and increased sebum production in the skin. Both inflammation and excess sebum contribute to acne.

However, not all studies have found a link between high-glycaemic diets and acne, indicating that further research is necessary to explore this connection.

Could your skin troubles be down to SIBO?

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when there is an imbalance in the gut’s microorganisms responsible for healthy digestion. Excessive or abnormal bacteria in the small intestine can cause symptoms like gas and diarrhoea, hindering nutrient digestion and absorption from food. This imbalance may contribute to the development of skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, an inflammatory facial skin disorder.

While recent genetic and epidemiological research has hinted at connections between rosacea and gastrointestinal issues, the available data remains limited.

Treating acne

If you are struggling to get acne or rosacea under control, book a consultation with Dr Juliet Williams today. She can assess the type of acne that you are experiencing and will be able to advise on the most appropriate and effective treatments. This may include topical treatments, for example benzoyl peroxide or retinoids.

For more severe acne, she can prescribe oral antibiotics, and oral Isotretinoin (Roaccutane).