Depending on the healthcare provider you’re talking to, you may get a different answer to this question: Does diet influence acne? I say, unequivocally, yes*!
Yes with an asterisk? What do you mean, Dylan? Well, I mean there are two parts of our diets in particular that we have to be mindful of if we’re dealing with acne breakouts.
- Regulate Constipation – In Chinese medicine, we see the bowels as a way to guide heat out of the body. Whether it’s acne or another skin condition, blocked bowels means that all that heat (inflammation) gets stuck inside the body and affects the skin. This is not just a theory. I see this over and over again in the acupuncture clinic when people come in for treatment. The vast majority of people with skin conditions coming for acupuncture treatment in my clinic are constipated. At the very least, they’re not having daily bowel movements. This is NOT a reason to take laxatives. Do not take a laxative. This is about making sure you’re eating enough fruits, vegetables and grains to get the right amount of fiber, drinking enough water, breathing deeply and exercising.
Sugar Intake – High glycemic diets are pro-inflammatory. Sugar feeds the fire inside of us, so inflammation will be worse when you’re eating a high sugar diet (have a high glycemic load). Glycemic index is a reflection of a food’s ability to raise your blood sugar levels and your body’s response with insulin. Eating low glycemic load foods means your blood sugar won’t rise as much when you eat those foods. Keeping blood sugar levels even helps keep down excess inflammation. There is strong evidence from research studies that low glycemic load diets decrease acne lesion counts and even improved the way the skin looked on the microscopic level. Additionally, when you eat dairy products and a high glycemic load diet, there’s an increase of Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which eventually leads to increased sebum (oil) production. As an aside, there’s some evidence in the research literature that hormones in dairy products makes pores clog more easily.
For more about using acupuncture to treat acne, visit the Acne Page.