Spots. Everyone will have them at some point in their life, but for many they seem to accumulate and take up permanent residence, where they are most certainly NOT welcome! Although there are many things that can trigger acne: hormones, bacteria, allergies, medication, it may be something you’re eating that results in blemishes.
“For years, the relationship between diet and acne has been controversial” says New York dermatologist Dr. Francesca but there is no doubt in my mind that there is a connection between what we eat and the condition of our skin”.
So what could it be?
Sugar & refined carbohydrates
Sugar and high GI (glycemic index) foods cause a rise in glucose levels and subsequently a rise in insulin levels. This can trigger a hormonal and endocrine system response, which results in inflammation and increased production of pore clogging sebum. A 2002 study published in ‘Archives of Dermatology’ suggests that acne is a ‘western’ disease likely caused by our diets. 1200 people in Papua New Guinea and 115 people in Eastern Paraguay had 0 spots compared to our pimpled complexions.
Human diets used to be fat balanced; we ate equal amounts of omega 6 and omega 3 and limited our intake of saturated and trans fat. However now, many people have an imbalance; eating too much saturated fat and omega 6 and not enough omega 3 and healthy unsaturated fats. Up your consumption of oily fish and perhaps consider taking a fish oil supplement.
The majority of the milk we consume is produced by pregnant cows, which means it contains a lot of hormones. Hormones that closely resemble testosterone, which stimulates the production of sebum leading to blocked pores and pimples. A 2005 study monitored the diets of 47, 355 women and found a strong connection between the amount of milk/dairy products consumed and the development of spots. Another study involving 4,273 males showed similar results, with dairy resulting in acne flare ups.
*if you do cut dairy out of your diet be sure to still get calcium and vitamin D elsewhere in your diet.
Unfortunately chocolate scores a hat-trick of bad skin ingredients: sugar: check, dairy: check, fat: check. 10 men aged 18-35 with mild acne snacked in 12 ounces of chocolate a day for a week. Acne lesions increased from 2.7 to 18.2. If you need a chocolate fix try adding organic cocoa powder to hot water for a hot chocolate or add to cold water and freeze for a refreshing ice lolly treat.
Those who have Celiac disease have to avoid the protein gluten because it damages their small intestine. But, it is possible to be sensitive to gluten without having Celiac’s. If you are sensitive you may experience a red raised rash that is extremely itchy and often stings, referred to as dermatitis herpetiformis. If you experience this seek help from your GP.
If you believe something you’re consuming is the culprit of your spots, try cutting it out of your diet for a month and see if you notice any improvements.
If your spots are getting you down speak to your GP, they can prescribe topical/oral treatments.