Does food cause acne?

What is acne?

Acne vulgaris is an inflammatory skin condition that affects the follicular unit (or pore). It can affect everyone, regardless of sex or age. It not only affects the skin, but can have a detrimental effect on self-confidence and mental health.

What causes acne?

Acne vulgaris is caused by abnormal skin cell desquamation (shedding) that occurs within the walls of the follicular unit (follicle or pore). When skin cells are not desquamating properly, it can plug the follicle, trapping oil and bacteria. Closed comedones (whiteheads) are follicles that are plugged at the surface of the skin. Papules, pustules and cysts, on the other hand, are inflammatory forms of acne that is caused when the follicle is plugged and ruptures into the surrounding tissue deeper within the skin. The acne that we see are the late stages of the acne lifecycle—meaning that acne is more effectively controlled by prevention.  

Does food cause acne?

Contrary to popular belief, food does not cause acne, as we know acne is caused by abnormal desquamation, and trapped oil and bacteria within the follicular unit. However, food can exacerbate and worsen acne by promoting inflammation and increasing oil production.

What foods should you avoid eating if you have acne?

If you have acne, or are prone to acne, there are foods that you should eat less of that may help lessen the severity of your condition. These include: dairy (including whey), refined sugar (cane sugar to be exact), fast and processed foods, and vegetable oils (canola, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, soybean oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, and rice bran oil) which are in literally everything. Nutrition labels will be your best friend here! 

What foods should you eat if you have acne?

Focus on eating more omega-3 rich foods, like salmon, nuts, and seeds. Fill your plate with vegetables and protein, like spinach, kale, butter lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chicken, fish and turkey. Sweeten foods with locally sourced honey, pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar; and use unrefined extra virgin olive oil, unrefined virgin coconut oil, and cold pressed unrefined avocado oil for cooking and baking. And try dairy-free alternatives, like organic coconut milks and yogurts. 

Does acne clear up naturally?

There is always the potential for acne, no matter your age, sex, diet, lifestyle and skin care routine. Many people experience their worst acne as a teen due to hormonal influxes, but some people can experience this condition their entire lives. The important thing is that it can be managed with good skincare, lifestyle changes, and if severe enough, oral medication and topical prescriptions.


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