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Acne is a very common skin condition caused by several factors, including what you eat and drink. There have been studies that show a correlation between certain diets and foods and acne development. Even though there's still research to be done on the subject, here are some elements to avoid and others to include in your diet to lower acne.
The first things to point out are some of the causes of acne that can be traced back to your diet. In this aspect, it's important to explain how inflammation, sebum and keratin production, hormones, and some bacteria are all possible causes of acne. These factors, in turn, help to explain the link between your diet and your skin.
Firstly, inflammation has been associated with higher risks of acne development, because this condition has been classified as an inflammatory disease. This means that some foods with pro-inflammatory molecules can boost acne development.
The foods that can promote inflammation are those foods that trigger a reaction from the immune system, which can be different for everyone, and foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids. The last ones include corn and soy oils and can be especially harmful to your skin if they aren't combined with the right balance of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties that can combat acne development.
Secondly, sebum production is increased by the insulin-like growth factor 1, which is produced by androgen hormones and also causes skin cells to grow more quickly. The root cause of this chain reaction is the trigger of insulin production due to higher sugar levels in the bloodstream.
There are several foods that increase blood sugar levels and indirectly lead to higher insulin release. Refined carbohydrates are one example of these sugar-raising foods, as they're quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. You'll find them in white flour, white rice, sugar-sweetened drinks, and natural sweeteners.
Another item that was associated with higher insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 levels is milk. Due to these links, it's thought to increase acne severity, but there's still research to be done on the effects of dairy on acne development. However, Paleolithic-style diets that restrict dairy, grains, and legumes consumption can decrease acne developments, mostly because they're linked to lower sugar and insulin levels in the blood.
Thirdly, hormone levels can trigger acne as well, which is why it's advised to stay away from fast foods and other diets rich in fat. These have been linked with a higher risk of acne development, as they're believed to affect gene expression and hormone levels.
Last but not least, chocolate consumption has also been associated with higher acne severity. While it's not clear whether it's the cause of it, there have been studies that have proven the role of cocoa in the stronger reaction from the immune system to acne-causing bacteria. This can increase acne lesions and lead to higher acne levels. Some foods like Turmeric can block these bacteria's growth, thus limiting acne developments.