As you step across the threshold into my home, make note of three very important details first:
#1. I am not a doctor. Read more about that here.
#2. That being said, I’ve spent the past 10 years studying acne, skin, holistic medicine, and the mind-body connection, ergo….
#3. …I’m obsessed with helping you find a natural, holistic plan to clear your acne. In a way that works for you and fits your unique lifestyle.
So what I will do is:
#2. Tell you about the results that other people have had- so that you can learn from their experiences and figure out the best plan for you.
#3. Give you as much information as possible (from the best sources) to help you finally clear your skin for good.
So right now, I have two things for you to do right now:
#1. Download one of these goodies to get you started on acne clearing.
#2. Read all of the studies below on what I like to call, The Science of Skin.
The Science of Skin
So, I’m kind of a super nerd. I love science, learning, all things books, etc. And as time has gone by, I inevitably encounter people who just, “don’t believe” that food can help you clear your acne.
I ran into a (rather obnoxious) doctor one time who refused to believe that it was food that had cleared my acne clearing, so I’ve become quite obsessed with finding as many studies, scientific “back ups” and publications on the link between acne and diet. (Aside from clients that I’ve worked with who’ve had amazing results as well.)
Now, again, I’m not a doctor. I can’t confirm that any particular therapy will have a specific type of effect on your skin.
BUT what I can do, is point you to some super awesome articles with their summaries to confirm what you may already suspect:
That as time goes on, doctors are finding more and more links between acne and diet.
So below, I start from the beginning. I give you a quick lesson on how acne forms “Why do I have this super annoying thing on my face” and then I link to 15 studies done that have found links between acne and diet (with links to their various sources included) to help you make your own conclusions.
If you want to understand why you have acne, keep reading.
If you want to just head to the studies, scroll down to “The Science.”
So without further ado….
Why do I have this super annoying thing on my FACE?!
Before we go over the science, we’re gonna go deep beneath the layers of your skin to get an idea of what we’re really dealing with when we have a huge, crazy annoying, disgusting zit. (I only describe it this way because that’s how I used to feel about it. It’s the teenager in me who is still pissed, haha!)
Let’s dive in.
When our skin is functioning “normally”, i.e. no zits, it goes through a fairly consistent life/death cycle known as “desquamation”.
Basically, it’s the process your skin goes through to make new skin cells and get rid of the old ones.
Here are the steps:
1. Skin cells are made in your body.
2. They slowly make their way to the superficial layers of your skin, until they finally reach the top layer.
3. They then die (naturally, this is a good thing!), and are shed by your body for new cells to take over (think “exfoliation” here, it’s good for you!).
4. The cycle begins again with new skin cells being made, etc.
This process, “desquamation”, is totally normal and when it’s in check, it’s super healthy and natural.
Unfortunately, when you have acne, your cells go through a little bit of a different experience:
1. Instead of a normal, balanced growth of skin cells, there is an abnormally accelerated growth of the skin cells around the hair follicle (you have hair follicles allllll over your face, even in places you can’t see it!).
2. Instead of staying steady and normal, oil production around this follicle speeds up, and there is more oil than usual.
3. Instead of dying and being shed, cells in the follicle stick together.
4. Now that this follicle has an excess of skin cells and oil hanging around, and because we all have bacteria on our faces all of the time (we do, it’s gross, try not to think about it.) bacteria gets into the cells and becomes infected, causing a break-out to form.
This is, in essence, what acne is. (There are other details but for our purposes, this is a good overview.)
The key to addressing acne is addressing steps 1, 2 and 3 in the process listed above. And most specifically asking the questions:
#1. Why are there so many skin cells growing? (step 1)
#2. Why is there so much oil being produced? (step 2)
#3. Why aren’t my cells being removed from my skin the way they should? (step 3)
After much research and experience (see below) I believe that acne is a systemic, inflammatory condition that can be controlled and even healed over time by addressing 7 key factors that contribute to your acne to help steps 1-3 above return to normal levels.
These 7 factors are:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Blood sugar maintenance issues
- Digestions problems
- Food allergies
- Misuse of topical products
- Overall inflammation
Everything in my home/this blog/website will attempt to address at least one of those elements for you to help you manage and/or heal in a more holistic way.
OK, so now we can get to the STUDIES. #nerdalert.
The Science of Skin
Because I know that one of your biggest questions is: is my diet causing my acne? I wanted to give you examples of scientific studies that have proven that there is a link between acne and what you eat.
Studies from New York to Austrailia, Paraguay to New Guinua, London to Colorado; Doctors and health professionals are starting to finally see the link between the diet and skin.
Please click the links below to read the most important medical studies from around the world that I’ve found that directly link acne with diet.
1.”Glycemic load diet and frequencies of milk and ice cream intake were positively associated with acne vulgaris.” Translation: High sugar foods, including milk and ice cream, may really cause acne. Find the study here.
2. “The improvement in acne and insulin sensitivity after a low-glycemic-load diet suggests that nutrition-related lifestyle factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of acne”. Translation: Eating less sugar meant less acne breakouts. Find the study here.
3. “Two large controlled trials found that cow’s milk increased both the number of people who got acne and its severity.” Translation: Milk = acne. Read more here.
4.“This study suggests that diet, particularly dietary GI, saturated fat, trans fat, milk, and fish may influence or aggravate acne development.” Translation: Digestion and diet impacts your acne. Read more here.
5. American Academy of Dermatology expert Whitney Bowe concludes that diet does play a huge role in your acne after doing a study on Austrailian men (ooh lala) and essentially removing sugar from their diets. (Australia)
6. One example of the link between acne and diet was the study conducted on the Kitavin Islanders, a population largely cut off from Western Society and who live largely as farmers. Their diet was composed of fruits, fish, vegetables and grains. They didn’t eat sugar, dairy, processed meats, butter, coffee, alcohol. And guess what? Not a single zit was found in the entire population studied- over 1200 people. Out of the 300 people from age 15-25 not one single seen was apparent. Check out the medical journal here. (New Guinea)
7. Another population, the Ache from Paraguay had a diet composed of fruits, fish and veggies, studied here, and not one instance of acne was found in their tribe. (Paraguay)
8.There is some evidence that chocolate most likely does NOT cause acne. Check out the study here. (Upon first glance with this article, all I can think is- wait- what type of chocolate is it? Dark? What is the sugar content? Who is the manufacturer? Are there are a lot of preservatives and/or additives? Knowing whats in your food is highly, highly important, but this is to dispel the myth that just chocolate directly causes acne.)
9. “We found a positive association between intake of skim milk and acne. This finding suggests that skim milk contains hormonal constituents, or factors that influence endogenous hormones, in sufficient quantities to have biological effects in consumers” Translation: Milk may cause acne. Check out the study here.
10.“The results of our study suggest that zinc levels may be related to the severity and type of acne lesions in patients with acne vulgaris. Relative decrease of serum zinc level in acne patients suggests a role for zinc in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris.” Translation: Zinc can help your acne. Check out the study here.
11. “This article will provide a review of the currently available literature on the association between diet and acne vulgaris as well as a discussion of the physiologic principles that may underlie this association.” Translation: We think acne may be influenced by diet. Check out the study here.
12. “This study also showed that a high glycemic load diet, dairy food intake, high fat diet, and iodine in Korean foods appear to play a role in acne exacerbation. In addition, irregular dietary patterns were found to aggravate acne.” Translation: in a study done in Korea, diet was found to play a role in the development of acne. Find the study here.
13. “In addition, foods with significant sugar content and other carbohydrates yielding high glycemic loads affect serum insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 levels, both of which promote increased production of available androgens and the subsequent development of acne.”Translation: dairy may affect acne breakouts. Check out the study here.
14. “Acne is a manifestation of hormonal overstimulation of the pilosebaceous units of genetically susceptible individuals. Endogenous reproductive and growth hormones, exogenous reproductive hormones, insulin and endogenous insulin-like growth hormone-1, sourced from and stimulated by dairy and high glycemic load foods, all appear to contribute to this overstimulation. A postulated molecular mechanism linking food and acne is reported and integrated into the clinical picture.” Translation: overstimulated hormonal glands have been found to contribute to the formation of acne. Check out the study here.
15. “We can no longer look our patients in the eye and say that diet doesn’t cause acne.” One of my all time favorite #drcrushes, Dr. Whitney Bowe, discussing acne and diet. Check out her an article here and watch one of my favorite youtube videos here.
There you have it. Over 15 studies that are just the beginning in confirming what we already know to be true. Have I missed any? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will investigate!