Does Diet Influence Acne?

Have you developed acne? In that case, we're going to tell you to what extent diet influences the pathology, in terms of the formation of spots and their inflammation.
Does Diet Influence Acne?
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 26 August, 2021

Acne is a dermatological problem that is typical in adolescence, although it can also appear in other stages of life and due to other conditions. It’s normally linked to a hormonal imbalance that occurs with the secretion of excess fat in the skin, and this can also produce a bacterial infection. What’s the link between diet and acne?

Most of the time, acne resolves on its own over time, although sometimes antibiotics may be needed to kill the bacteria that cause infection. However, the key question is whether diet can influence the severity and incidence of the problem.

The influence of diet on acne

Acne and diet are related to some extent
Many of the great beliefs about acne and diet are not true, at least not in their entirety.

The topic of diet and its relationship to acne has many myths. One of them has to do with the belief that regular chocolate intake can increase the appearance of acne. People thought the same with chorizo. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support such suspicions.

In general, the restriction of fat consumption has been recommended to reduce spots and their inflammation. However, there’s no direct relationship between lipids consumed in the diet and sebaceous secretions in the skin, and so it doesn’t make sense to apply this advice.

In spite of everything, some foods can increase the expression of factors related to the production of sebum at a skin level, and so we would recommend that you limit the presence of dairy products in your diet in order to reduce the chances of suffering from acne.

Even so, this recommendation isn’t as effective all over the world, as there are important genetic determinations in this regard.

However, a properly planned healthy diet could reduce the inflammation of the skin that’s associated with this problem, even if it doesn’t remove acne completely. In order to do this, we must emphasize the intake of fresh foods with high nutritional density, and avoiding industrial ultra-processed foods with a high content of simple sugars and trans fats.

Can diet reduce acne?

There’s evidence that some foods may slightly increase the appearance of acne-related spots. However, it’s also possible to introduce products capable of modulating inflammatory mechanisms into your diet, thus reducing the severity of this pathology.

One of the key points has to do with maintaining the balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

According to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, an excessive consumption of omega 6 could promote the development of dermatological problems in people who are predisposed to this. However, the opposite occurs when the presence of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet is increased.

However, we wouldn’t recommend supplementation as a general rule. A change in the dietary pattern aimed at recovering a situation of homeostasis between both nutrients is a far better option, and this will help you to keep the inflammatory mechanisms under control. This will, in turn, reduce acne and associated problems.

Some phytonutrients present in vegetables have also been shown to have some properties that can improve the condition, thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

An example here is the curcumin present in turmeric, and this is useful for the treatment of many dermatological diseases. It can be consumed or applied through cosmetic remedies, yielding good results.

The influence of the microbiota on acne

During the last few years, there has been a lot of research into demonstrating the role of the external and internal microbiota in the development of skin-related diseases. Achieving a healthier bacteria profile could promote anti-inflammatory processes, in addition to avoiding excess sebum production.

With this objective in mind, probiotic supplementation has been put forward as an effective mechanism to prevent acne. Although there haven’t been many trials in this regard, there is enough evidence to support its efficacy.

Improving the health of the microbiota can prevent the formation of superficial spots, as well as the inflammation associated with them.

However, not all strains of probiotic bacteria have this property. It’s advisable to choose the product correctly. Some are more aimed at treating pathologies related to the intestinal function or the immune system.

Likewise, you must respect the recommended dosage. It’s important to ensure that the microorganisms reach the area where they have to perform their function alive.

On the other hand, it’s possible to apply skin treatments with probiotics to reinforce the action of those consumed orally. In this way, you achieve more solid results. You ensure the modification of the profile of the bacteria that inhabit the superficial layers of the skin, which exert an influence on the physiology of the sebum creation processes.

We should also point out that probiotic supplements are especially helpful when antibiotic treatment for acne is proposed.

In this case, there is a destruction of beneficial bacteria internally. This is why a continuous supply of them is necessary in order to avoid situations of dysbiosis that condition digestive function.

Should food consumption be limited to avoid its influence on acne?

Acne can be controlled with diet
Regulating dairy consumption could be related to some extent to an improvement in acne breakouts, although medical treatment is the most important aspect.

Consumption of certain products, such as dairy products, is associated with a greater risk of developing acne, as well as with an increase in the severity of the pathology. This is confirmed by a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.

However, it isn’t necessary to completely remove dairy products from your diet. Limiting yourself to two servings a day would be enough to limit the production of sebum in the skin. At the same time, an optimal supply of essential nutrients is ensured.

You must take into account that dairy products contain proteins of high biological value and other essential micronutrients such as calcium. Also, the fermented ones have probiotics inside, which, as we’ve already mentioned, are positive for the treatment and prevention of acne.

Of course, you have to be careful with dairy foods, or supplements made with these products.

In people who have developed acne, the inclusion of a whey supplement isn’t recommended, as it could lead to a worsening of the problem. Dairy desserts with high sugar content should also be avoided.

When opting for a higher quality protein intake, it’s better to choose a product that contains nutrients from eggs inside. These aren’t associated with excessive spot or sebum production in the skin, and so it shouldn’t produce adverse reactions in this regard.

Foods that influence significantly

When it comes to the influence of diet on acne, there are still many myths that need to be debunked. The first of these is that chocolate increases the production of fat and therefore the development of grains.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology , there are still doubts about the exact role of food in the pathology, but everything indicates that chocolate with high dairy content is the most harmful. For this reason, you could consume cocoa or dark chocolate without experiencing any adverse effects.

However, green tea also has the ability to reduce the formation of spots. According to research published in the journal Antioxidants, the polyphenols in this drink are effective in reducing sebum production, which modulates the severity of the disease.

With fatty products like chorizo, there should be no major problems. It’s beneficial to reduce your intake of these types of products, but this is due to the presence of additives such as nitrites that can cause damage in the medium term. However, there’s no solid evidence that it’s capable of increasing spot production.

A varied diet to positively influence acne

What’s clear is that when trying to prevent acne, it’s important to have a diet that prioritizes the consumption of fresh food over that of industrial ultra-processed foods. The latter could contain additives capable of changing the body’s microbiota, which has a negative impact on the levels of inflammation in the body.

Likewise, strict restrictions must be avoided. Some foods should be consumed less frequently, but it’s not advisable to completely remove them from your diet. After all, many of them provide essential nutrients for the proper functioning of the body.

Diet can influence the development of spots on the skin

There are several myths about the relationship between diet and acne. However, some scientific studies have been able to elucidate some interactions between food and sebum production that could be useful for treating the problem.

The key here, at a nutritional level, is clearly to aim for a diet with an anti-inflammatory emphasis that reduces the severity of the dermal pathology. However, there are complementary treatments such as the inclusion of a probiotic supplement that can further improve results.

As far as restrictions are concerned, one should only be careful with whey protein supplements, with the intake of large amounts of dairy products, and with an imbalance in the omega 3: omega 6 ratios. You can consume chocolate, but do this in moderation due to the amount of added sugar it contains.

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