Diet & Acne


Get rid of acne by eating healthy

Acne is caused by a combination of factors including inflammation, excess sebum production, thickening of the cells lining pilosebaceous follicles and multiplication of the bacteria c.acnes. Environmental especially diet is thought to play a role in worsening acne. Implicated diets include diet with a high glycemic load/index, high in dairy, meats and fatty foods (omega 6-rich foods).

  • Acne is one of the commonest skin disorder we treat as dermatologists.
  • Women are affected more than men, and over 85% of teenagers are affected
  • Usually starts in the teenage years, for some it progresses into adulthood (persistent acne), while for others it starts for the first time in their adult years (adult-onset acne).

So what causes acne?

  • Genetics play the biggest role in acne formation
  • But 4 other factors are implicated-increased sebum production, rapid increase in number of the bacteria c.acnes, thickening and blockage of the hair follicle opening and inflammation
  • Environmental factors including diet, stress, smoking etc have been also implicated in worsening acne.

Let’s look at how diet plays a role in making acne worse:

  • High glyceamic load/high glyceamic index foods ( (include white rice, white bread, pretzels, white bagels, white baked potatoes, crackers, sugar-sweetened beverages and surprisingly watermelon) and diets high in dairy lead to over production of insulin and IGF-1, which ultimately lead to overproduction of sebum and hyperproliferation of follicular cell that promote blockage
  • Increased IGF-1 also lead to over production of androgens, which lead to increased sebum production
  • High consumption of dairy and meat increases leucine also leading to both increased sebum production and hyperproliferation of follicular cells
  • Fatty foods especially fast foods are high mainly in omega-fatty acids 6(rather than omega 3) which promotes inflammation

The picture above helps explain how diet can lead to worsening of acne.

Foods to consider

Can you neat your way to improving acne or at least helping your acne treatment work?

  • Diets high in Omega-3 reduces inflammation and decrease production of IGF-1 
  • Supplementing with Probiotics lead to a decrease in hyperproliferation of the bacteria c.acnes and reduces hyperproliferation of the follicular cells with a positive impact on acne reduction
  • A diet low in dairy, sugary foods and meat will improve acne by reducing IGF-1, insulin and Leucin and therefore inhibiting mTORC1
  • A diet high in vegetable and fruits also improves acne by lowering production of insulin and IGF-1 
  • High vegetable diets are also thought to directly inhibit mTORC1, which plays the biggest role in acne pathogenesis.




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