There are many conditions in Western industrialised societies today that were unheard of, or at least very rare, just a century ago. The same conditions are still unheard of in primitive peoples who do not have the 'benefits' of our knowledge. There is a very good reason for this: They eat what Nature intended; we don't. The diseases caused by our incorrect and unnatural diets are those featured on these pages.
Dietary causes of acne vulgaris:
Refined sugar- and starch-rich foods; cereal grains, processed carbohydrate-rich products.
There is no classic acne case. Those who suffer from acne are all of different ages, different backgrounds and different lifestyles. You can have adult acne as well as in childhood, and adult acne is even more frustrating. What they share is their frustration with the condition of their skin. They all want to know why this is happening to them.
'I first developed acne aged about 12 - a year or so after the doctors put me on a low fat diet. It was not unexpected that I would have acne, my father had it badly; my sister, who is 5 years older, also suffered. I was determined not to let it scar me as it had my sister and father, so my doctor was supportive and helpful. Although my GP told me it would probably resolve when I finished puberty, I started with tetracycline and calamine, and went via ultra-violet light treatments, ending up using retin-A lotion, prescribed by the hospital dermatologists. Nothing helped. When I was 19 the university GP refused to prescribe, putting me on the pill instead. No Change. I was told that, by the time I was 25 my skin would be clear. It wasn't. I was also "recommended" to have a baby, as this would "most likely" clear my skin. I decided not to try that one! At 30 I was told that, when I went through menopause, my skin would improve wonderfully - what a thing to look forwards to!
'To tell you about the acne itself - I had constant blackheads and disgusting pus-filled angry red spots on my face, back and shoulders. I was impeccably clean ? washing my face several times daily and using alcohol impregnated wipes in between and I bathed twice daily as well. I was unable to wear a blouse without a jumper or jacket covering it, as it would be covered in blood and pus if I leaned back against a chair. Bras were always stained. I never wore sleeveless tops, as the spots extended down to a few inches above my elbows. I was a keen swimmer, but the spots made me too self-conscious to swim. Later, when I took up scuba diving, I could wear a t-shirt over the swimming costume in the pool, and a wet suit when in open water. I loathed having my photograph taken.
'When I started a low-carb diet, 4 years (- 10 days!) ago, I had no expectations of any improvement in my skin, but a few months later, a very good friend looked at me and said my skin was looking much better. I hadn't noticed! I tended not to look in a mirror - too many spots again! However, I braced myself, and saw something I had not seen in my adult life. Smooth, unblemished skin! My face was not spotty at all, and there were no blackheads to be seen. My back still had a few bumps, blemishes, and old scars, as did my shoulders, but my face had escaped scarring. My 46-year-old skin is smooth and possibly my best feature!
'I now find that my acne is absent, as long as I stay below around 50g carbs daily. I "cheated" for 48 hours at Christmas (about 150g total!), and within a week my skin had erupted, and it took until the end of January for it to calm down again. This happens every time I indulge - a visible reminder to stay low carb!'
In westernised societies, acne vulgaris is a universal skin disease. Acne afflicts 79% to 95% of the adolescent population. Indeed, acne during teenage years is now so widespread it is considered 'normal' in developed nations. But acne also continues into adulthood: adult acne vulgaris affects 45% to 54% of adults older than 25 years and in up to 12% of men and 3% of women adult acne vulgaris persists until well into middle age. In adolescence, acne vulgaris may be considered a nuisance; adult acne vulgaris is considerably less well tolerated.
However, it is noticeable that nations who do not consume a 'western diet' do not suffer from acne vulgaris. A study by Dr Loren Cordain and his team looked at the prevalence of acne vulgaris in two non-westernised populations: the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Ach? hunter-gatherers of Paraguay.
Of 1200 Kitavan subjects examined, including 300 aged between 15 and 25 years, Cordain and colleagues didn't find one case of acne vulgaris. It was the same with the Ach? subjects they examined for nearly two-and-a-half years: Not one case of acne vulgaris was found.
Cordain and his team attribute the absence of acne vulgaris in these peoples to their diets. They say 'The astonishing difference in acne incidence rates between non-westernized and fully modernized societies cannot be solely attributed to genetic differences among populations but likely results from differing environmental factors. Identification of these factors may be useful in the treatment of acne vulgaris in Western populations.'
The significant dietary difference they highlighted was that where western children ate refined sugar- and starch-rich foods, both the study groups ate hardly any cereals or refined sugars. The Kitavans ate primarily fish, fruit, tubers and coconut, and the Ach? diet consisted mostly of wild game, the root vegetable sweet manioc, peanuts, maize and rice.
This was confirmed in 2008 with a study which looked at the effect of a low-GI diet on acne. The researchers weere looking at the composition of skin oil, and how it is affected by diet: The effect of a low glycemic load diet on acne vulgaris and the fatty acid composition of skin surface triglycerides.
What the researchers wanted to know was how the oil composition would be changed by a low-glycemic diet. They also measured 'sebum outflow', or how much oil the skin was producing on the different diets. A low glycemic diet, although not as low as is recommended on this website, was given to 31 subjects, for 12 weeks, and compared to those eating a normal high-glycemic diet.
Here's what they found: the subjects on the low-glycemic diet had a lower amount of mono-unsaturated fatty acids compared to saturated fatty acids in the oil on their skin, than did the subjects eating the high-glycemic diet.
More importantly, their skin produced less oil, and they had fewer zits!
So please give it a go
Edited by Could Be Worse, 22 December 2009 - 06:26 AM.