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Alimentation anti-acné : en quoi ça consiste ?

Diet Against Acne: Everything You Need To Know.

Acne is a very common skin condition – about 85% of people will suffer from it in their lifetime. With the abundance of over-the-counter acne treatments available today, it can be easy to forget that acne is not just a cosmetic problem. It is a real medical issue that often needs to be addressed by a health professional. Given that, how do you know if you should see a dermatologist about your acne? Here are 5 signs you should look out for to answer that question.

Brief Recap About Acne

Acne is a chronic inflammatory condition that is manifested by the appearance of pimples on the face and/or body. There are many causes: genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, stress, taking certain medications....

Acne is caused by hypersecretion of sebum (it is called hyperseborrhea) in the area of the hair follicles and hyperkeratinization. The sebum clogs the pores, the openings of the sebaceous glands on the surface of the skin. In this greasy environment, the bacterium Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes), which is responsible for the development of acne and feeds mainly on sebum, can multiply well. This bacterium secretes pro-inflammatory substances that are responsible for the inflammation and pimple formation.

The Anti-Acne Diet in a Nutshell

The anti-acne diet, which has been intensively researched in recent years, consists in checking one's diet for five essential points:

  • Reduce sugar consumption;

  • Prefer foods with a low glycemic index;

  • Limit consumption of dairy products and lactose in general;

  • Adhere to a nutrient-rich diet;

  • Consume omega-3 fatty acids.

How do these different food categories affect the skin and acne in particular? Which foods should you eliminate from your daily diet and which should you prefer? You will find answers to these questions in the next part of our article.

Diet Against Acne: Foods You’d Better Not Eat

To prevent acne, or at least not aggravate it, you should ban three categories of ingredients from your daily diet.

  • Foods rich in sugars

Frequent consumption of foods with a high glycemic index creates a surge of insulin in the blood. This increase in insulin levels in the blood also leads to an increase in hormone levels responsible for hyperseborrhea (excessive secretion of sebum) and thus acne. Indirectly, sugar in large amounts also leads to hormonal imbalances and promotes susceptibility to acne-causing factors. It leads to acne outbreaks, excessive sebum production and slower wound healing of the skin.

Highly sugary foods that you should eliminate from your diet to prevent acne, or at least not make it worse, include candy bars, spreads, white and milk chocolate, candies, etc.

  • Dairy products rich in animal milk

Dairy products contain pro-inflammatory saturated fatty acids. They change the quality of sebum, making it tough and thick. Therefore, the skin is not immune to acne pimples and other blemishes. Dairy products are also rich in animal hormones that have a similar effect to human insulin. They stimulate the production of androgens, which affect the sebaceous glands and cause hyperseborrhea. These animal hormones are also found in large amounts in meat, so you should limit your meat consumption to alleviate your acne.

  • Processed foods (fast foods, sweets, fried foods, sausages, pastries)

These foods are rich in saturated fats called "trans fatty acids". Many scientists agree that the consumption of dietary fats has a negative effect on acne. This harmful effect is mediated by an increase in levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1), a protein produced in the liver, muscles and other tissues. IGF-1, also called somatomedin C, increases androgen levels in the blood, which stimulates the sebum secretion that causes acne. In addition to stimulating androgen secretion, IGF-1 also decreases the amount of the transcription factor FOXO1 in the nucleus, leading to the activation of mTORC1, which is involved in the hypersecretion of sebum as well as hyperkeratinization.

Food Against Acne: Which Foods Should You Prefer?

With a healthy diet, you can curb the development of acne pimples by relieving the inflammation of the skin. You should prefer the following foods in your daily prevention against acne.

  • Foods with a low glycemic index

As mentioned earlier, foods with a high glycemic index stimulate insulin secretion, which in turn leads to reactions that promote the development of acne. Therefore, replace them with foods with a moderate or low glycemic index, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, or legumes.

  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 rich foods inhibit the release of IGF-1, reducing excessive sebum secretion and hyperkeratinization. They also inhibit the synthesis of leukotriene B4 (LTB4), an inflammatory mediator. Therefore, consumption of omega-3 rich foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, etc.), oilseeds (walnuts, etc.), avocados, flax and walnut oil reduces inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions. According to the recommendations, the intake of omega-3 fatty acids should be between 0.8 and 1.1 g/day.

  • Foods rich in zinc

Zinc is a trace element with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and wound-healing properties that are very useful against acne prone skin. In fact, it inhibits the growth of the acne-causing bacterium P. acnes and reduces the activity of the sebaceous glands through its anti-androgenic action. About 30 mg of zinc per day is required to benefit from its anti-acne action. So consume foods rich in zinc such as oysters, eggs, whole grains, legumes and oilseeds. Oysters are the foods with the highest zinc content. You should eat four to six oysters a week to really do something about acne, but it costs a lot of money.

  • Plant-based alternatives to dairy products

Dairy products are rich in leucine and significantly stimulate insulin secretion, which promotes the development of acne. Therefore, replace dairy products with plant-based dairy products (almond milk, oat milk, etc.).

Sources

  • VARIGOS G. A . & al. A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007).

  • TAN J. & al. Effects of diet on acne and its response to treatment. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2021).

  • MICALI M. D. & al. Diet and acne: review of the evidence from 2009 to 2020. International Journal of Dermatology (2021).

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