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Raise a hand if U don't GET Diet-Acne connection

Do you understand the diet-acne connection?  

294 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you understand the diet-acne connection?

    • YES
    • SORTA
    • NO
    • So, Still NOT Given Up My Sugar!
    • I Don't Care (even though I'm reading this thread)!

Hi All,

OK, I've heard ya...well most of ya. Some, or would it be most of you, just don't seem to (fully) understand how diet can play a role in acne development, is this correct?

OK, I know that some of you get confused or bored when some of us start talking in scientify terms (I like that "word") and while we could make it simpler, it doesn't empoweryou for us to always do so. Why? When we use a term like Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), this makes what we say seem almost credible or valid. Now if you take that term and put it into pubmed or some other (full-text) journal database and combine it with "acne" and "diet", "food", "wheat", or "trans fat" or some other combinations of other dietary components, you will discover for yourself (how awesome is that) whatwe are talking about.

Yes, I also know that you get bored, tired, overwhelmed, or lost when members, such as myself, make loooooong posts. I do apologize for this as I never know how long it will take me to respond to someone's question. Some people a paragraph is sufficient, but for others, yes it can take as much as 5 pages....to explain the samething wink.gif

Now below is a list of events that contribute to the development of acne and if I forgot one please mention it. Everyone is welcome to chime in on what they feel is the biggest contributor and why, but I will try to explain the process of each of them from a diet perspective in parts (seperate posts) in hopes of making things a bit simpler.

How Can Diet Influence(not in any specific order):

1) Hormonal balance, increase hormones, or increase androgens?

2) Sebum production?

3) Hypercornification or microcomedone formation?

4) Bacteria, candida, & other overgrowth of normal flora?

5) Hyperproliferation or skin cell overgrowth?

6) Hyperkeritinization or thickening of skin cells?

7) Hypodesquamation or poor skin cell shedding?

8) Development of Inflammation?

9) Different anti-acne regimens or why aren't there universal pro-acne foods?

10) Our genetic makeup?

Furthermore, below is a list of various forms of acne. Reason? Acne is not just Acne. There are specific types (acneforms), specific locations, specific irritators/stimuli, and sometimes specific treatments for each. In fact, some of us, I know I do, probably have more than one type. So, if we take these different types into consideration, perhaps it will be a bit easier to understand why one person's solution, wasn't yours or vice versa.

















Rosacea(has subtypes)




[can you tell the cause by the name?]

http://www.dermis.net/doia/abrowser.asp?zu...cne&type=search (pictures)

http://atlases.muni.cz/atl_en/main+nenadory+vlas.html (pictures)

http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/acne.html (descriptions)

http://www.acnegroup.org/aboutacne.php4 (description)

Of course, what I hope we all learn from this is that while the above events seem seperate, they tend to utilize the some of the same "ingredients" (proper names later) and as such, you may find that there's some repetition in the process for each. For those interested, this should further aid you in understanding those scientify terms as well as further expanding your comprehension of the diet-acne connection. Otherwise, I'll start with either #1 or #3 tomorrow as I really need to get some sleep.

G'night eusa_angel.gif

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Guest delta force operators

i didnt nderstand ill sudden grow explained it precisely


i also have a hard time understanding diets roll in acne also

i understand diet roll in certain diseases such as diebetes , ect..but how does it effect acne.

can u please explain sweetjade

i know diet is extremely important but i dont see how

someone said u get rid of toxins through your skin..is excess oil from the oil glands toxins?? i dont understand...or do u just produce to much oil when ur system is overtaxed??

Edited by SweetJade1980

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Okay smart guy, that was a ton of info! smile.gif I found that very interesting; I guess that might be why beer breaks me out. My poor liver eusa_doh.gif Anyway, I am curious if you believe that food allergies can cause acne? I read that the reason some people break out and others do not, can be due to an allergic reaction to food. Kind of like some people are allergic to poison ivy and others aren't. I do believe acne is a sign of serious internal problems. You did leave off the improper shedding of skin cells. At least I believe this is another cause of acne because that is what I think caused my acne. What helped me tremendously was SA and bp. I would like to hear thoughts on this.

Baby Blue

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Delta force,

In order to gain some perspective, let's define toxic & toxin:

Webster's Dictionary http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary

Main Entry: 1tox·ic

Pronunciation: 'täk-sik

Function: adjective

Etymology: Late Latin toxicus, from Latin toxicum poison, from Greek toxikon arrow poison, from neuter of toxikos of a bow, from toxon bow, arrow

1 : of, relating to, or caused by a poison or toxin

2 : affected by a poison or toxin <toxic pregnant women>


- tox·ic·i·ty  /täk-'si-s&-tE/ noun

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i hate it when my boyf eats crap all the time and his skin glows and is spot free

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Diets Role in Hormonal Balance

First of all, when it comes to the role that androgen hormones play, there appears to be 2 Types of Acne Sufferers:

A) Those that have skin that is sensitive to normal amounts of androgens (90% of sufferers)

B) Those that overproduce androgens or have hyperandrogenism (10% of suffers)

While hyperandrogenism seems like the likely place to start, I can't help but think that the 90% of acne sufferers would love to know diets role in their life first. Well, what immediately jumps out at me is the word "sensitive'. Majority of acne suffers are just sensitive to normal amounts of androgens! In other words, the skin of most acne sufferers for some reason is sensitive, hyper-responsive, overreacting, to something that is....Normal???

HOW can that be? surprised.gif

LOL, well I don't know that answer, but the predominant theory is that there is an androgen receptor defector some other malfunctioning receptor or defect in the skin that is causing this increasedsensitivity. Well OK, that makes sense after all, not everyone gets acne, and even those that have hyperandrogenism don't always have acne. So, yea there isa genetic component to this, BUT our diet has the ability to turn on or off certain genes!

So, does that mean that changing my diet will fix the defect?

Well, I can't say for certain because the defect(s) haven't been fully discovered yet. Therefore, on a cellular level we can't ethically compare the skin of an acne sufferer before dietary changes and then after to see how much repair was done. However, what we can do is look at testimonials, anecdotal evidence, and journal articles which gives myself, fellow members, and others including doctors, nutritionists, biologists and other scientists a better idea of what's going on. Aside from just looking at before and after pictures or lesions counts, there is also a wide variety of chemical & hormonal changes that occur that can also be compared by analyzing various blood and urine samples (see your Endocrinologist). For example, an acne sufferer that is actually hyperandrogenic, will discover that their excess hormones will be reduced upon following a diet (& exercise) regimen tailored specifically for them.

Now getting back to the whole “sensitive� issue, what do you know about people that are sensitive to things, especially things that are considered normal? Doesn’t that remind you of a(n):

Auto-immune disease - body attacks something of self, something it produces. This would include diseases such as Thyroidititis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc (btw, those listed have acne as a symptom or involve an androgen disorder).

Allergy - attacks something of non-self, but is usually considered harmless to other people. This is more of an instant or immediate reaction occurring within minutes to 24 hours of exposure.

Food Intolerance - attacks something of non-self, but is usually considered harmless to other people. This is a delayed response where it can take days, months, or even years to develop signs, symptoms, or a disease from usually constant exposure.

Chemical Sensitivity - attacks something of non-self, but is thought to be harmless to most people. This would include things like Sulfites, Food Coloring, MSG, Splenda, etc and can have an immediate or delayed response.

Well, at least that's what comes to mind when I think of sensitivity. Furthermore, after one has been exposed to their stimuli, the body is capable of doing something that would normally take weeks or months to do, in a much shorterperiod of time. Along with being sensitive, one of the symptoms can be irritation. If something gets irritated enough it can thicken and scale up (hyperkeritinization?) and/or become inflammed. Hmm…isn’t acne an inflammatory skin disease? In fact, some believe that ALL forms of acne are inflammatory…keep this in mind for later. However, regarding hormones, lets start at the beginning.

Now, of course it doesn’t matter WHAT you eat before you hit puberty, chances are you won’t develop acne as a result because you do not have (enough of) the hormones to do so yet! Granted, there are cases where about 20% of infants and toddlers develop a form of acne (acne infantum/infantilis) that usually goes away in a few weeks, or if it is due to a hormonal disorder, it must be corrected for, otherwise acne doesn't occur without good reason. See, acne CAN be a sign of something temporarily or seemingly permanently imbalanced in our system and it’s best if we can all learn to accept that so we can move on to fixing it, right? biggrin.gif

So once you hit precocious puberty (< 8 years of age), another sign that you are more at risk for health and hormonal problems, or just puberty, your body enters into “a temporary state of insulin resistance�, except did you know that insulin resistance is also considered a chronic inflammatory disease? Nonetheless, as a result of this increase in insulin, what signs appear during the pubertal teen years? Acne, Weight problems, Diabetes (type I), Depression…OK just as long as you know that these same health problems, among many others, occur in adults later on in life presumably due to the same thing…Insulin Resistance.

Fine. So WHAT is the big deal with Insulin?

Well it is this amazing pro-hormone that can initiate a wide range of metabolic events necessary for proper growth and development. It’s not just about ensuring that our cells get filled with glucose and fats, but it’s presencefor some reason also affects our steroid hormone levels. Steriod hormones include aldosterone, cortisol, pregnenolone, progesterones, androgens, and estrogens. Depending on what type of hormonal disorder one may have, most of these play a role in acne development. Due to there being quite a few hormonal disorders that can have acne as a symptom, I’m going to stick to the most popular hormone and focus on androgens role in all of this.

Now, the way insulin affects our androgen levels is by reducing our levels of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG has a much higher affinity for binding to androgens than it does estrogens. In fact, it is something that increases with our estrogen levels and with lower levels of insulin. So if SHBG is lowered by higher amounts of insulin, then our Free Testosterone (Androgen) will also be higher. I believe we are supposed to have no more than 2% of our androgens in Free Testosterone form. This amount is what will bind to the androgen receptors in various parts of the body to initiate growth. Growth of muscles, of the prostate, and of sebaceous glands, are examples of what this anabolic (building) hormone can do.

So, what happens when we have more than 2% Free Testosterone?

Well, it differs for everyone, but some will have a fantastic libido, or big muscles, others experience androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness), hirstuism, acne, seborrhea, etc. Doesn’t always sound like a good thing, does it? Well that’s where our diet comes into play.

The foods we eat, our diet, contain macronutrients (water, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins & minerals) and serve as the building blocks for the human body. Did you get that? These macronutrients are the Building Blocks, our FUEL, our brick & mortar and everything in between! They usually work for us, but unfortunately during misguidedtimes (clashes with your genetic makeup) or abuse(over-consumption) they can work against us. This is especially true with all the pesticides, natural & chemical hormone-mimickers, and trans fats in our foods. All of these things and more have the ability to affect certain people more than others, which is why not all have us have the exact same “anti-acne� diet.

Now, these macronutrients have the ability to mess with our hormone levels by for starters increasing our glucose levels, which will increase our insulin levels. As a result of the increase in insulin, there will usually be an increase in IGF-1. Now, IGF-1 is apparently 10x more potentthan just insulin and that’s thought to be due to it binding to insulin, in order to reduce it’s presence in the blood stream, but this doesn’t always happen. Indeed, an increase in insulindoesn’t only decrease SHBG, but it also decreases IGFBP-3(& IGFBP-1), which is known as Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein-3. It’s job…wanna guess? Alright fine, it’s job is to bind to IGF-1. surprised.gif That’s right, but that can’t happen if our body has too much insulin present in the blood stream. So as a result, other growth factors (happen to be inflammatory) will come along and bind to IGF-1 in order to reduce its presence and activity in the body.

Hmm…OK, did anyone catch what just happened?

Insulin lowered our SHBG & our IGFBP-3 the two things we need to safely keep Free Testosterone and IGF-1 in check! Now that these aren’t in check, they are free to do their worst. So not only has our Free Testosterone reached the androgen receptor on the skin cells, but IGF-1 has joined and is quite happily working on enlarging the sebaceous gland, increasing oil production (that’s another theory), initiating other growth-related events, and because it can’t be bound sufficiently, inflammatory products have come along to do so. Funny, kinda sounds like the pathway to possibly developing cystic acne. You know, that sore, swollen, enlarged type…although it could also be a microcomedone, but more about that later.

Furthermore, noticed when I mentioned fats earlier? Well, the most amazing thing about the whole diet-acne connection is that without fat, theorectically we couldn't have acne. See, sex steriod hormones such as Testosterone are derived from cholesterol and cholesterol is made from lipids. Not to mention, a certain amount of inflammatory products also rely on lipids or fatty acids for their production such as arachidonic acid, which increases PGE2 (hormone regulating & inflammatory prostaglandin). I suppose that's why in 1977 a medical doctor published Acne Can Be Cured (I've got a copy) and I believe one of our members, Doberwoman (a scientist), says when she follows his diet perfectly, she's clear. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

So, that is the short end of how our diet affects the amount of not just insulin, but hormones, chemicals, growth factors, and inflammatory products that are also associated with acne development. So for those that are just “sensitive,� when you change your diet you’re doing so not so much to balance your androgen levels, but in hopes of lowering your IGF-1 (skin cell proliferator), your PGE2 (inflammatory prostaglandin), TNFa (immune mediator, pro-inflammatory) etc (semi-long list).

(to be continued)

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Ok, so want examples now?

While I’m a fan of recent studies, below I’ve also posted some older ones because I want you to see the progression of technology and discovery and of course because I want you to know how long they’ve been aware of these various connections:

Acne – Hormone Connection

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...206&query_hl=41 (1965 – males) – NO abstract available

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...164&query_hl=41 (1975 – females)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...451&query_hl=51 (1992 – female)

Endocr Rev. 2000 Aug;21(4):363-92. Related Articles, Links 


Role of hormones in pilosebaceous unit development.

Deplewski D, Rosenfield RL.

Department of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Illinois 60637-1470, USA. [email protected]

Androgens are required for sexual hair and sebaceous gland development. However, pilosebaceous unit (PSU) growth and differentiation require the interaction of androgen with numerous other biological factors. The pattern of PSU responsiveness to androgen is determined in the embryo. Hair follicle growth involves close reciprocal epithelial-stromal interactions that recapitulate ontogeny; these interactions are necessary for optimal hair growth in culture. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) and retinoids have recently been found to specifically affect sebaceous cell growth and differentiation. Many other hormones such as GH, insulin-like growth factors, insulin, glucocorticoids, estrogen, and thyroid hormone play important roles in PSU growth and development. The biological and endocrinological basis of PSU development and the hormonal treatment of the PSU disorders hirsutism, acne vulgaris, and pattern alopecia are reviewed. Improved understanding of the multiplicity of factors involved in normal PSU growth and differentiation will be necessary to provide optimal treatment approaches for these disorders.


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my dermatlogist actually told me that she feels there is a very stroong link between high gi foods and acne,as people in certain parts of the world who dont have acne,dont have the high gi diet that people in the western world tend to have.

i have followed a diet ,as a vegan for two years i remember my skin was good, but now its shit again,as i began eating milk ext,however i had finished a course of tane the year prior,so not sure if that was the reason i was clear or not

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Guest Nblx

Diet is realted to health in general. In Europe we seem to have embraced this. GPs recently have been advised to prescribe diet and exercise rather than anti-depressants for instance.

Why do some people refuse to accept diet is related to skin conditions? Scurvy is due to lack of fruit, Rosacea and Eczema sufferers will tell you time and again that they have triggers that they avoid and that eating healthily is important, Docs & Derms accept this, yet tout quick fix crap like BP for Acne. I wonder what Dan will be saying 15-20 years from now about his regimen?

I think the ignorant try dairy/gluten/refined carbs free diets half heartedly (I read somebody saying she followed the healthy diet but ate white bread, so she didnt follow it, its like saying I gave up smoking but had the odd menthol ciggie which is OK) .They also expect an overnight fix and can't face giving up or even cutting back on their addiction to the nutritionless crap they eat and drink.

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You know earlier I had been watching Beyond Borders and I must admit, there were parts where I was crying.  I just couldn’t understand why people don’t love each other enough, to do what’s right! I thought about how food can a make a world of difference to someone that’s starving and yet here I am talking about how food can contribute to acne.  How laughable is that?  Then I remembered, food can’t do everything, but for what it CAN do, why aren’t we using it for such?  WHY aren’t we doing everything in our power to help ourselves?  In countries where food is abundant, we don’t just use it to save our lives, but as unintentional as it may be, to also do us harm.  In first world countries where we have the technology to surpass some third world diseases, HOW can we let something that is deemed “preventableâ€? continue to hurt us? Whether it is 2 years, 10 years or 30 years before we feel the waning health effects, there was a point in all of our lives, probably several, where we could have made a different decision that would have prevented what is or what may become...but most people choose not to do anything at all. So when others, including myself, talk about this, it is not to induce fear, guilt or paranoia, but to further educate and empower you so that you are more equipped to help yourselves and, if no one else, those that you love and care for.

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Alright there are many theories regarding increased sebum production such as, overwashing, excess heat (external or internal), but along with that there still seems to be one that can’t be entirely written off…the role of androgens. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...7868&query_hl=5

The thing is, we have long thought that DHT or Dihydrotestosterone (super testosterone) was the culprit for sebum production and as such we have all waited for that magic pill, in this case a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, that would inhibit the enzyme necessary (thought to be Type I 5alpha reductase isozyme) for the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Problem is, 5apha inhibitors for either isozyme 1 or 2 or both….have been:

* Breaking people out that NEVER had acne

* Increasing acne in certain acne sufferers (i.e. males)

* Have yielded no results (i.e. females)

To further support this, here’s the study that seems to currently squash our hopes:

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Mar;50(3):443-7. Related Articles, Links


A systemic type I 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor is ineffective in the treatment of acne vulgaris.

Leyden J, Bergfeld W, Drake L, Dunlap F, Goldman MP, Gottlieb AB, Heffernan MP, Hickman JG, Hordinsky M, Jarrett M, Kang S, Lucky A, Peck G, Phillips T, Rapaport M, Roberts J, Savin R, Sawaya ME, Shalita A, Shavin J, Shaw JC, Stein L, Stewart D, Strauss J, Swinehart J, Swinyer L, Thiboutot D, Washenik K, Weinstein G, Whiting D, Pappas F, Sanchez M, Terranella L, Waldstreicher J.

University of Pennsylvania Hospital, 36th and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Excessive sebum production is a central aspect of the pathophysiology of acne vulgaris. Sebaceous gland function is under androgen control and it is hypothesized that dihydrotestosterone is formed by the action of 5 alpha-reductase. Type I is the controlling isoenzyme. This study describes a 3-month, multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with a potent, selective inhibitor of type I 5 alpha-reductase used alone and in combination with systemic minocycline. Inhibition of type I 5 alpha-reductase was not associated with clinical improvement of acne when used alone and did not enhance the clinical benefit of systemic minocycline. These results indicate the need for further work at the molecular level to better understand the action of androgens on sebaceous gland function.


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this is alot of info to read,it seems to just confuse me.

im soon to start my nutrition course so im sure i will no more then,i was a vegan and that helpt my skin? any thoughts on that anyone?

i feel its the dairy connection mainly?

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i wana just make sure im doing all the things i can do diet wise i guess,i just wondered what your opinion was on veganism and my thoughts on how my acne was alot better i believe on a veagn diet,why is this so,in your opinion?

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this is alot of info to read,it seems to just confuse me.

im soon to start my nutrition course so im sure i will no more then,i was a vegan and that helpt my skin? any thoughts on that anyone?

i feel its the dairy connection mainly?

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i wana just make sure im doing all the things i can do diet wise i guess,i just wondered what your opinion was on veganism and my thoughts on how my acne was alot better i believe on a veagn diet,why is this so,in your opinion?

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Guest Nblx
...if you are intolerant to something that means you may be lacking an enzyme.  Signs include bloating, gas, but also inflammation (acne is an inflammatory disease)

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I appreciate very much your postings. I plan to read them over more carefully later. I realize you have spent a lot of time working to figure all this out. You are undaunted by the task and we are very grateful to you!


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