NEW research is pointing to a definite link between acne and diet. In particular, high glycaemic foods may be responsible for some outbreaks of acne.
Refined carbohydrates are to be avoided, especially white flour, bullas, dumplings, cakes, hamburger buns, hot dog rolls, pita bread and patties. White rice is another staple to be avoided, as are pastries like grater cakes, gizzadas, donuts, plantain tarts, sweet potato pudding, bread pudding and pizza. Sugary fruit juices are to be eliminated, as are chips and breakfast cereals and all sweets and candy.
These high glycaemic foods that cause a spike in the blood sugar when we eat them and a corresponding rise in the insulin secreted by the body. The high blood insulin level in turn triggers a hormone that causes an increase in the insulin growth factor IGF-1. This hormone in turn causes increased cell growth. This may lead to clogging of the pores and increased skin oil production and to outbreaks of acne.
Another hormone which is also increased is IGFBP3. This lowers the amount of the insulin-like growth factor binding protein in the blood .
IFGBP3 regulates IGF-1 and keeps it under control. IFGBP3 may also lower the effectiveness of certain chemicals called natural retinoids which are found in the skin and reducing these retinoids may lead to more acne outbreaks.
Insulin may act as a master switch, raising the levels of androgens in the blood. Increased androgen levels may stimulate sebum production and lead to more acne formation.
Foods like patties, hamburgers, hot dogs and fast food are to be avoided. Try and cut down on the grease, butter and oils that you use when cooking.
Fats are to be avoided as much as possible. There is emerging evidence showing that the fat we eat may be converted into sebum by the body. Sebum is the white, cheesy material which is expressed when we squeeze an acne bump.
Fatty diets lead to a higher fat content in sebum. Whether fatty sebum leads towards an increase in acne is now being investigated. Scientists are looking at sebum to see if the saturated or unsaturated fat makes any difference in sebum production.
You should try and eliminate milk from your diet, especially skim milk which is even more likely to cause acne, and that old favourite, chocolate milk, is to be avoided like the plague. The same is true for ice cream and patties. Avoid milkshakes as well
Milk contains IGF-1 which helps the body build the necessary tissues. Raised levels of IFG-1 may increase skin oil production and this may contribute to acne. IGF-1 may also stimulate the body to produce more cells. Acne is suspected to begin with an over-production of skin cells within the pores which may lead to clogging of the pores.
Milk also contains androgen precursors. Androgen is a male sex hormone. These precursors need an enzyme to convert them into actual male sex hormones and these enzymes are found in the skin. Male hormones can therefore cause an increase in skin oil production and skin cell production.
The process of manufacturing skim milk may result in a different hormonal content.
Iodine may also cause acne and the process of sterilising the cows' teats with an iodine solution before milking may lead to more iodine in the milk, and hence more acne.
Many patients complain of acne outbreaks when they eat chocolate, so please try to avoid it as much as possible. The culprit -- whether it's the sugar content or the dairy content — is being investigated.
Chocolate raises the insulin levels, which may lead to increased levels of IGF-1 which can lead to more acne.
Scientists have also discovered that chocolate may have a protein that increases protein production directly.
Nuts should be avoided; peanuts in particular can cause outbreaks of acne in many patients. There is a lot of evidence and science behind the theory that diet may play a part in the disease of acne and research continues at the present time.
Dr. Persadsingh is a skin specialist and author of Acne in Black Women, The Hair in Black Women and Eczema in Kids of Colour.