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September 25, 2011

Acne & Your Diet

Talk has circulated for a long time about the link between acne and diet - does chocolate cause acne? Do saturated fats? A lack of fibre? Too much processed food?
But until now, no large-scale research has been conducted to investigate the relationship. Finally, a comprehensive study has been conducted that's tested the acne-diet link using a large sample size. You can read more about the study here; but to cut a long story short, the results indicated that there are two dietary factors that contribute significantly to acne:
- Dairy products, and
- Sugar.
Put simply, acne is nearly always caused by hormones. (Bad hygiene can play a part in some cases, but generally, if you suffer from acne, you suffer from a hormonal imbalance). The biggest dietary factor affecting your levels of hormones is the 'glycaemic load' of your diet, which is determined by how quickly the food you consume 'spikes' the insulin levels in your blood. Both dairy products and sugar (including refined, or 'complex' carbohydrates - white bread, biscuits & most high GI foods) cause 'spikes' in insulin in the blood, leading to an increase in circulating male hormones ('androgens'), such as testosterone. And androgens are bad news for acne bacteria. What's more, dairy products (even skim or 'no-fat' varieties) contain anabolic hormones, further contributing to an increase in male hormones in the bloodstream.

We've read a few articles on this topic since word about the latest study got out - and as it turns out, one of the staff here at Eve Organics is testing the theory for herself - she's going without refined carbohydrates or sugars and dairy products. So far she's lasted two weeks, and she claims that going without her beloved maltesers every evening is actually 'a lot easier than I thought'. To satisfy her sweet tooth without using cane sugar, she bakes using honey as a substitute, and is eating more fruit after meals - another advantage of foregoing chocolate!
She claims that although she hasn't eliminated sugar completely (she's still eating fruit, after all, which contains its own kind of sugar - fructose), she's managing to go without refined sugars, which basically constitutes the sugar you buy in packets from the supermarket. She's also replacing white flour with wholemeal, and using wholemeal pasta and bread to lower the GI content of her meals.
So how's her skin looking? 'GREAT'. She hasn't had one blemish pop up since she stopped eating dairy products and sugars, and although she gets a little tired in the afternoons (when she would usually consume some sort of sugar 'high'), she says she's feeling pretty good.

Aside from cutting out dairy and sugar, there are a few other dietary changes you can make to help heal your complexion.
- Take vitamins A, C & E regularly. All three are incredibly important for healthy skin.
- Try adding fish oils to your vitamin routine - these omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory properties and can help with acne.
- If you're cutting out dairy completely, make sure you're still getting enough calcium. Some milk alternatives, like soy and rice milk, are calcium enriched - check this before you buy.

Have you tried cutting anything out of your diet for the sake of your skin? How did you manage? Did it make a difference?
We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time... xx



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