New research has determined that there is increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, particularly from high glycemic load diets and dairy products, and that nutrition therapy can play an important role in acne treatment.
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 disassociated diet from the development of acne.
Prior to the 1960's, dietary advice was a standard part of acne therapy. At the time, elevated blood sugar and impaired carbohydrate metabolism was implicated in acne. Patients were told to avoid eating too much carbohydrate and too many sugary foods.
Dermatology textbooks discouraged foods such as chocolate, sweets, fatty foods and carbonated beverages.
Later, two studies published in 1969 and 1971 - studies that wouldn't be published today - caused doctors to abandon thinking that diet and acne were related. Both studies, fraught with major design flaws, failed to find a link between acne and a handful of foods.
Now, researchers are re-examining the diet-acne connection and coming up with evidence that, for certain foods, there is a link.
For the current study, U.S. researchers 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, the investigators concluded that a high glycemic index 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 causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it.
High GI foods such as white bread, white rice, refined breakfast cereals, cookies, cakes and sugary drinks cause spikes in insulin. This, in turn, is thought to limit the production of proteins that attach to testosterone, leaving the hormone free to roam the body and possibly cause acne.
Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, February 2013
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