You may have heard that the foods you eat have no connection to acne whatsoever. Theoretically, you should be able to eat all the greasy, sugary, processed foods you want without worrying about triggering a flare-up. But is there any basis for this? Let’s examine the facts.
Since many dermatologists insist that diet has no significant influence over acne, you might reasonably assume that this is based on extensive testing and hard evidence. In fact, this prevailing wisdom is largely based on two studies performed in 1969 and 1971. The first study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tried to establish a link between cocoa and pimples by giving candy bars to two groups of teenagers. One group received candy bars high in chocolate, while the other group received candy bars that contained no cocoa. The study found that the candy bars did not have a significant impact on acne.
It’s worth noting that the teenagers were already suffering from acne. The study had no control group, and there were no statements about what the teenagers were eating the rest of the time.
The 1971 study simply asked college students what they thought triggered their acne. The students were then fed large amounts of the food that they thought caused acne.
What we have here are two flawed studies that have established the myth that acne has nothing to do with your diet. And yet without question, we accept the fact that food affects our bodies in other ways. We know that eating gobs of processed, unhealthy foods can make you overweight and cause your body to deteriorate more rapidly. From that standpoint, it makes sense that the foods you eat might also affect your acne.
Dr. Nicholas Perricone is famous for his book called “The Acne Prescription,” which focuses on switching to an anti-inflammatory diet to help control acne. He recommends eating foods low in starches and sugars and high in essential fatty acids such as omega-3. Although Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields (creators of the Proactiv Solution) don’t promote a connection between diet and acne, even their book “Unblemished” recommends eating a sensible diet to stay healthy and potentially avoid flare-ups.
The truth is, apart from anecdotal evidence, we simply don’t have enough information to say with certainty that diet does or doesn’t cause breakouts. While it makes sense from a commonsense point of view to say that diet affects acne, as yet there isn’t enough scientific evidence to make any assumptions one way or the other. Your best bet is to keep an acne diary: Write down what you eat, keep track of the severity of your acne, and see if you notice a pattern.
If nothing else, just eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. You can’t go far wrong by consuming healthy, nutritious food.