Prom season is right around the corner and teenagers will be faced with the added stress of achieving physical perfection. However for many, feeling beautiful or handsome in their formal attire will face one major obstacle… Acne.
Skin blemishes affect the majority of adolescents, and can be a major source of embarrassment. But it isn’t just teens who are troubled by this matter, one in five American adults suffer from acne as well.(1)
People spend a lot of time and money to try and solve their acne problem – over the counter creams, lotions, washes, trips to the dermatologist and prescriptions. However, during this process, the cause of the inflammatory bacterial condition of the skin (known as Acne Vulgaris) is often overlooked. “Guidelines of Care for Acne Vulgaris Management”, put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, outlines systematic protocols and a provisional roadmap for treatment, steering doctors towards many harmful prescription medications.(2) It’s a rare instance for a dermatologist to stray from these guidelines, referring to the diet to address the cause.
One of the common acne medications, known as Accutane, has dangerous side effects which your doctor should be warning you about. Civil action against Roche Holding AG (the manufacturer of Accutane) has resulted in the company being ordered to pay up to $25.16 million dollars in damages due to side effects including IBS, depression, suicide, birth defects, and changes in behavior.(3)
Acne is primarily a disease of the western world and can respond well to natural treatment.(4) Unhealthy cultural dietary habits mixed with exposure to toxic environmental elements contribute to not only diseases and obesity, but bacterial skin conditions as well. The average American’s diet contains high amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates. These products can lead to insulin spikes which activate growth hormones. Growth hormones (most commonly testosterone) can trigger sebum (skin oil) production that the glands cannot secrete fast enough. This leads to blockages in the hair follicle and thus acne.(5)
Dietary Recommendations For Acne:
- Avoid sugar and refined foods:
- In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, young men with acne problems placed on low-glycemic diets for 12 weeks, showed significant improvements in acne and insulin sensitivity.(6)
- Avoid dairy products:
- William Danby, MD, a skin expert who promotes the possible dairy-acne connection, explains that the two may be related. “Milk contains components related to the hormone testosterone that may stimulate oil glands in the skin, setting the stage for acne”.(7)
- If you are worried about losing your source of vitamin D and calcium don’t worry. You get more usable calcium from eating leafy greens like spinach, kale or broccoli, and almonds!
- Drink plenty of water:
- Drink one quart of clean filtered water per 50 lbs of body weight not to exceed three quarts. Reverse osmosis filtered water is best.
- To remind yourself to drink enough water throughout the day always try and carry a water bottle with you.
- Know your vitamin D level:
- Without adequate vitamin D, your body cannot control infection, in your skin or elsewhere. On sunny days, get outside to expose your arms and legs to some sunshine and be sure to read our newsletter from August 2010 “Melanoma Sun Controversy”. Supplementation with 5,000 IU of Vitamin D per day can easily increase your Vitamin D levels.
- Of course, it’s always best to test your Vitamin D levels to know exactly how much you need to supplement.
- Take a probiotic:
- Levels of naturally occurring, healthy bacteria can be reduced in your body by stress, poor diets, and some medications.
- Recent research discovered that probiotics may reduce the number of acne lesions. A 2001 study found that administering 250 mg daily of L. acidophilus and B. bifidum improved acne and also reduced the side effects of antibiotics.(8) The theory behind this treatment is that probiotics reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, two important causes of acne.
There may be many other imbalances within your body’s chemistry or an underlying problem with your liver contributing to your acne symptoms. To find out exactly where your problem areas are and what nutrients you’re lacking, get a comprehensive blood test today.
Be sure to check your toxic and essential elements with a tissue mineral analysis. With these tests you will know exactly what supplements you are deficient in and by how much. An experienced nutritionist can help you get on the right path to clearer, radiant skin from this day forward.
- Litwin MS, Saigal CS, editors. Urologic Diseases in America. US Department 1. The Acne Resource Center Online. Seacra Enterprises, Inc. 2010-2020. http://www.acne-resource.org/understanding-acne/acne-statistics.html Accessed on March 26, 2013.
- Strauss JS, Krowchuk DP, Leyden JJ, Lucky AW, Shalita AR, Siegfried EC, Thiboutot DM, Van Voorhees AS, Beutner KA, Sieck CK, Bhushan R, American Academy of Dermatology. Guidelines of care for acne vulgaris management. J Am Acad Dermatol 2007 Apr;56(4):651-63. [180 references]
- David Voreacos and John Martin. Roche Ordered to Pay $25 Million to Accutane User. Bloomberg L.P. February 16,2010 http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aRyzfbTsj3h8 Accessed on March 26, 2013
- Cordain L, Lindeberg S, et.al. Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization. Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University. 2002 Dec;138(12):1584-90.
- Baumann, Leslie, Saghari, Sogol, Weisberg, Edmund. Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice. 2nd. New York: McGraw Hill Professional, 2009. ISBN 0071490620, 9780071490627.
- Smith, Robyn N., Mann, Neil J., et.al. A low-glycemic load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. February 9, 2007.
- Eric Metcalf, MPH. Can foods ake you break out? The links between your diet and your skin may surprise you. WebMD, LLC. June 13, 2012 http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/worst-foods-for-your-skin?page=3 Accessed on March 26, 2013.
- “International Journal of Cosmetic Science”; Effect of Konjac Glucomannan Hydrolysates and Probiotics On the Growth of the Skin Bacterium Propionibacterium Acnes in Vitro; F.H.Al- Ghazzewi, et al.; April 2010