More than 17 million Americans suffer from acne, mostly during their adolescent and young adult years. Acne influences quality of life, including social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression, making treatment essential. Since the late 1800s, research has linked diet to this common disease, identifying chocolate, sugar, and fat as particular culprits, but beginning in the 1960s, studies sponsored by the food industry disassociated diet from the development of acne.
This change occurred largely because of the results of two research studies that are repeatedly cited in the literature and popular culture as evidence to refute the association between diet and acne, says Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. “More recently, dermatologists and registered dietitians have revisited the diet-acne relationship and become increasingly interested in the role of medical nutritional therapy in acne treatment.”
In a previous issue of the Archives of Dermatology, the study authors reported that they found no evidence of acne among 1,200 Kitavan Islanders aged 10 or older, including 300 of them between 15 and 25. They ate primarily fruit, fish, tubers and coconut but almost no cereals or refined sugars.
The researchers also saw no acne among 115 Ache hunter-gatherers, including 15 aged 15 to 25. Their diet consisted mostly of the root vegetable sweet manioc, peanuts, maize and rice, as well as some wild game. About 8% of their diet was made up of Western foods such as pasta, sugar and bread. Previous studies also have found that acne is rare or nonexistent in people living in non-industrialized cultures but tends to appear when they transition to a Western way of life, the report indicates.
In Western cultures, studies have indicated that acne affects 79% to 95% of adolescents and persists into middle age in 12% of women and 3% of men.
High-glycemic carbohydrates--those that substantially boost blood sugar levels, such as refined white flours, white rice, cereals as well as dairy sets off a series of hormonal changes known to underlie the development of acne.
Burris and colleagues, William Rietkerk, Department of Dermatology, New York Medical College, and Kathleen Woolf, of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, conducted a literature review to evaluate evidence for the diet-acne connection during three distinctive time periods: early history, the rise of the diet-acne myth, and recent research.
Culling information from studies between 1960 and 2012 that investigated diet and acne, investigators compiled data for a number of study characteristics, including reference, design, participants, intervention method, primary outcome, results and conclusions, covariate considerations, and limitations.
They concluded that a high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption are the leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. They also note that although research results from studies conducted over the last 10 years do not demonstrate that diet alone causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it.
The study team recommends that dermatologists and registered dietitians work collaboratively to design and conduct quality research. “This research is necessary to fully elucidate preliminary results, determine the proposed underlying mechanisms linking diet and acne, and develop potential dietary interventions for acne treatment,” says Burris. “The medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne. At this time, the best approach is to address each acne patient individually, carefully considering the possibility of dietary counseling.”
Natural Therapy For Acne
1. Take a few pieces of jaiphal (nutmeg), mix it with some unboiled milk and apply the paste on your acne. Wash it off after about two hours.
2. Make a mixture of cinnamon powder and honey and apply on your pimples before you go to bed in the night. Wash it with warm water when you wake up in the morning. Do this for a fortnight and watch your pimples disappear.
3. Not only are oranges good for overall health, you can use orange peels as a remedy for pimples too. Grind the peels, mix them with a few drops of water and apply it on your face.
4. Mix a tablespoon each of fresh lime juice and groundnut oil and apply it on your face to avoid blackheads.
5. Leave fresh mint juice on your face overnight to tame pimples.
6. Take methi (fenugreek) leaves and make a paste. Apply it every night for 15 minutes and wash it off.
7. Take turmeric powder and neem leaves. Apply the mixture on your pimples. Leave it on your face for about half an hour.
8. Take equal quantities of rose water and lime juice and apply the mixture on the affected area. Leave it on for 20 minutes.
9. Make a face-wash by adding fresh lime juice to a cup of unboiled milk and using it on your face.
10. Take some tomato pulp and apply it on your face. Leave it for 45 minutes and wash it off.
11. Take a few drops of gulab jal (rose-water) and mix it with sandalwood. Apply the paste on your face and wash it off after 20 minutes.
12. A natural product found in both coconut oil and human breast milk -- lauric acid was previously found by researchers to be an effective for acne.
13. Research shows that the herb thyme may also be better at zapping acne than expensive prescription creams, gels and lotions.
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.