Acne is a common skin condition which is the disorder of the pilosebaceous unit. It can affect all ages although high prevalence among adolescents. Severe acne is associated with low self-esteem, poor body image, social withdrawal, and depression.
Sebum production plays a role in acne formation. Acne develops as a result of clogged, infected, pilosebaceous follicles. Adults may experience fewer comedones (small bumps) and more inflammatory lesions.
The latest findings of potential dietary impact on pathogenesis of acne can no longer be dismissed.
The most-frequently studied/ mentioned foods associated with increase in acne include:
Milk & dairy products
High glycaemic index (white bread, sweetened breakfast cereals, doughnuts, instant mashed potato)
Western diet (processed foods, high fat food (pizza) , chocolate)
Milk and dairy products
Some authors have reported that the hormones in milk, such as IGF-1, 5α-reduced steroids, and α-lactalbumin may affect the hormone balance in our body which triggers acne.
Those hormone injections are believed to improve milk supply. Milk consumption also increases IGF-1 production, which has been associated with ovarian androgen production in premenarchal girls and acne in adult women. Milk is rich in iodine which can also develop acne breakouts. Skim milk and whole milk have three-to six-fold higher amounts of carbohydrate and insulinotropic response than predicted, based on carbohydrate content of the milk. This hypothesised that total milk consumption or total milk protein may have a greater influence on acne, compared with other carbohydrate foods. Therefore, you may try to cut down on milk and dairy products if you suspect that acne is breaking out.
High glycemic index
Food with high glycaemic index such as white bread, sweetened breakfast cereals, doughnuts, instant mashed potato. High glycaemic index spikes up insulin level, which may stimulate sebocyte proliferation and sebum production, suppress sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations and raise androgen concentrations and contribute to acne.
Conversely, low-glycaemic-index foods such as whole-grain, oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase SHBG and reduce androgen levels. It is important to note that higher SHBG levels have been associated with lower acne severity.
In addition, the main components of the western diet are hyperglycaemic carbohydrates, (cow’s) milk and saturated fats. That’s why one needs to limit on western-style of diet to control acne flare-ups. On the other hand, study findings did not provide conclusive evidence to establish whether cocoa solids influence acne formation. Dark chocolate might be a preferred choice as it contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate result in a much smaller comedogenic effect.
In conclusion, the acnegenic properties of both hyperinsulinemic foods (sweetened food and beverages, processed foods) and consumption of dairy proteins, which increase concentrations of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) are the pathogenic factors of acne formation. Therefore, a diet with a low glycemic index which emphasizes whole-grain, fresh fruits and vegetables can improve on acne.
Life Care Diagnostic Medical Centre Sdn. Bhd. (673106-V)
1st Floor, Wisma Lifecare, No. 5, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur
19A-2 & 19B-2, Block E, Kompleks Komersil Akasa, Jalan Akasa, Akasa Cheras Selatan, 43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor