The skin bumps and pimples that are acne are too familiar to many of us.
Acne vulgaris affects more than 90% of young Australians aged 16–18 years and it can lead to self-esteem and emotional issues. Many factors contribute to acne development including inflammation, excess sebum and keratin production, acne-causing bacteria, hormones, blocked pores, hormones, medications, stress, age, certain foods and more. Acne bacteria may turn a clogged pore into an inflamed pimple.
Acne lesions can increase the activity of pro-inflammatory factors on the skin (such as interleukin-1), which then trigger inflammation.
A range of treatments including gentle skin care for mild acne either unblock the sebaceous ducts or act as antibacterial agents.
Diet and nutrients may also help. Some researchers suggest that restricting refined carbohydrates, fast food, dairy, saturated fats and trans fats could be helpful.
Dietary factors that may help alleviate acne include:
Paleolithic-style eating: Paleo diets are rich in lean meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts and low in grains, dairy and legumes has been linked with a reduced incidence of acne.
Mediterranean-style diets: Rich in vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, fish and olive oil and low in dairy and saturated fats; this kind of eating may reduce the severity of acne.
Omega-3s: These are essential fatty acids (which means the body can't make them for itself). They have a potent anti-inflammatory action; regular consumption is linked to a reduced risk of acne. A deficiency of omega-3 fats is related to the promotion of acne. A randomized, controlled trial in 45 people with mild to moderate acne found that taking 2,000G of EPA and DHA supplements daily for ten weeks significantly decreased inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions.
Probiotics: These promote a healthy gut and balanced microbiome, which is linked to reduced inflammation and a lower risk of acne. Researchers concluded that the skin microbiome, or bacterial skin balance, has more to do with acne development than a single type of bacteria. Probiotic foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and kefir.
Turmeric: The active ingredient in turmeric is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial curcumin. Studies suggest that it may inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
Vitamins A, D, E and zinc: These play essential roles in skin and immune health and may help prevent acne.