While Disney stars seem immune, millions of frustrated teenagers — and some adults — try to battle acne with special cleansers, toners and creams. Some products make a dent in the facial pimples while others just leave a dent in the wallet. Meanwhile, acne can leave scarring and clobbers self-esteem. Could nutrition make a difference?
At one point, people pointed at French fries, pizza and chocolate as the acne instigators. Then the pendulum swung and dermatologists dismissed food’s role in acne. But in the last 10 years, doctors began looking a little more closely at the link between diet, nutrition and acne. And they’ve discovered compelling evidence that there is an association.
From the Inside Out
According to Georgiana Donadio, PhD, DC, MSc, program director at the National Institute of Whole Health, “Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to aging, are the manifestations of your body’s internal needs, including its nutritional needs.”
Good nutrition may not cure acne, but science shows it certainly could lessen or worsen its severity. For example, high-glycemic (high-carbohydrate) diets may worsen acne, according to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology from July 2010. At the same time, low-glycemic diets can impact hormonal levels and improve acne.
Illustrating the effect of too many carbohydrates, scientists found people living in non-Western societies (those living off the coast of Papua New Guinea and the Aché hunter-gathers of Paraguay) are essentially acne-free. Not coincidently, they have low-glycemic diets consisting mainly of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Another study found a tie between high-glycemic index foods and acne that lasted longer, compared to trials that linked low-glycemic index diets with reduced acne risk.
So limiting processed, high-carb foods — unfortunately the staple of many teenage diets — is an important step in controlling acne. But science shows other nutrients may help improve acne too.
Vitamin A and E
Patients with acne often have low levels of vitamin A and E. In a study conducted by Jordan University of Science and Technology, patients with acne taking vitamin A and E improved their acne condition. Vitamin A reduces oil production while it helps maintain and repair skin tissue. Meanwhile, vitamin E helps with the absorption of vitamin A and speeds up the skin healing process.
This antioxidant has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps the skin heal. As a bioflavonoid, vitamin C also has an antibacterial effect.
Vitamin B Complex
Acne can be a symptom of deficiency in many of the B vitamins. The B vitamins, including B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin), are part of many important body functions including skin health. In addition, B vitamins are stress relievers — and stress can be a major player in triggering acne.
Chromium helps reduce skin infections and can fight acne. Diets high in sugars (see above about high-glycemic diets) cause a loss of chromium so your body may be deficient.
Sometimes acne is a symptom of a zinc deficiency. Studies show an association between a low zinc diet and the worsening or onset of acne. Zinc regulates acne-causing oil production and may help reduce the number of pimples erupting — and help heal pimples faster. Zinc is a tissue healer and fortifies skin to prevent scarring from acne.
Another root of skin problems may be the imbalance between the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. Our Western diets are usually high in omega-6 thanks to our overconsumption of baked goods, cooking oils and other foods, while omega-3s found in fish are often lacking. This imbalance causes inflammation and the skin produces a more irritating form of oil, which can trigger acne. Whiteheads and blackheads are a common symptom of an omega-3 deficiency.
Find a Balance for Better Skin Health
A vitamin and mineral balance helps preserve the skin and body’s overall health and hormonal balance, while supporting an optimal immune system. However, taking individual vitamins may not be a good idea. Many vitamins need other nutrients for absorption and balance. Reliv offers nutritionally balanced supplements such as Reliv Now® and Reliv Classic®, which contain many skin-enhancing vitamins. In addition, Reliv Now® for Kids includes essential fatty acids to support the health of teenage skin in the fight against acne.
For nutrition on the outside, turn to Relivables™r line of premium skincare products. With the exclusive RA7 complex and other skin-enhancing nutrients, the r line delivers the benefits of Reliv nutrition in a breakthrough topical form.