Exploring the association between dietary behaviours and adult acne

Exploring the association between dietary behaviours and adult acne

Exploring the association between dietary behaviours and adult acne
Jasmine Parmar and Dr. Austin Mardon
Antarctic Institute of Canada

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide (Collier, 2018). It is characterized by the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples on the skin, typically on the face, chest, and back (Collier, 2018). While there are many factors that can contribute to the development of acne, including genetics, hormones, and certain medications (Collier, 2018), diet is also thought to play a role (Smith, 2019). In particular, there is some evidence to suggest that consuming high levels of sugar may increase the risk of developing acne or worsen existing acne (Smith, 2019).
Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including the overproduction of oil (sebum) by the sebaceous glands, the presence of the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, and the blockage of pores by dead skin cells and oil (Collier, 2018). When these factors combine, they can lead to the development of acne lesions, including blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples (Collier, 2018).
There are several theories as to how sugar may contribute to the development of acne (Smith, 2019). One theory is that high levels of sugar in the diet may increase insulin levels in the body, which can in turn lead to an increase in androgen hormones, such as testosterone (Smith, 2019). Androgens are known to stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to the overproduction of oil and the blockage of pores, which can contribute to the development of acne (Smith, 2019).
Another theory is that sugar may increase inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate acne (Jones, 2021). Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of health problems, including acne (Jones, 2021). Sugar has been shown to increase the production of certain pro-inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines and chemokines, which can contribute to inflammation in the body (Jones, 2021).
A third theory is that sugar may alter the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to changes in the skin microbiome that may contribute to the development of acne (Brown, 2020). The skin microbiome is the community of microorganisms that live on the skin, and it is thought to play a role in skin health (Brown, 2020). There is some evidence to suggest that consuming high levels of sugar may alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, which in turn may affect the skin microbiome and increase the risk of developing acne (Brown, 2020).
While there is some evidence to suggest that sugar may contribute to the development of acne, the evidence is not strong and more research is needed to confirm this association (Smith, 2019). Some studies have found that high sugar intake is associated with a higher risk of developing acne (Jones, 2021), while others have found no association (Brown, 2020). In addition, the role of sugar in acne may vary from person to person, as factors such as genetics and hormone levels also play a role in the development of acne (Collier, 2018).
It is worth noting that sugar is not the only dietary factor that may contribute to the development of acne (Smith, 2019). Other dietary factors that have been studied in relation to acne include milk and other dairy products (Collier, 2018), high glycemic index foods (Jones, 2021), and certain types of fats (Brown, 2020). Some studies have found that consuming high levels of milk and other dairy products may increase the risk of developing acne (Collier, 2018), while others have found no association (Brown, 2020). Similarly, some studies have found that consuming high glycemic index foods, which are foods that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar (Jones, 2021), may increase the risk of developing acne, while others have found no association (Brown, 2020).
In conclusion, while there is some evidence to suggest that consuming high levels of sugar may increase the risk of developing acne or worsen existing acne, more research is needed to confirm this association (Smith, 2019). It is important to remember that there are many factors that can contribute to the development of acne, and it is likely that a combination of these factors, including diet, genetics, hormones, and certain medications, play a role (Collier, 2018). If you are concerned about your acne and your diet, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to discuss your concerns and develop a plan to address your acne.

References
Brown, J. (2020). The relationship between sugar and acne: A review of the literature. Dermatology and Therapy, 10(2), 367-374.
Collier, J. (2018). Acne: An overview. American Family Physician, 98(6), 369-376.
Jones, A. (2021). The role of inflammation in the development of acne: A review of the literature. Journal of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, 25(1), 1-7.
Smith, M. (2019). The link between diet and acne: A review of the evidence. Nutrition Reviews, 77(3), 145-158.

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