Dairy-Free Diet

Whole Milk

Dairy-Free Diets exclude the consumption of milk and all milk-based products, such as yogurt and cheese. The natural function of milk is to provide the nutrition necessary for the growth and development of young offspring. All female mammals produce milk and the name “Mammal” derives from “Mammary”, which is the gland responsible for milk production. Humans, cows, dogs, cats and mice are all mammals. Milk is a rich nutritional source that contains abundant concentrations of essential compounds, such as proteins, sugars, vitamins and minerals.

Dairy Cows
Dairy Cows

Unfortunately for some adult humans, consumption of milk and other dairy products can cause unpleasant side effects. Some people are lactose-intolerant, which means that they are not able to properly digest lactose (a sugar naturally found in milk). Dairy-Free Diets are commonly prescribed for people who are lactose-intolerant. Consumption of dairy products can also cause allergic or auto-immune reactions in some people. Although this process is not entirely understood, certain milk proteins (eg. Casein) are known to cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Milk consumption is one of the dietary factors that has been most frequently correlated with acne symptoms. There have been numerous scientific studies to investigate the relationship between dairy intake and acne. Although there is some disagreement between studies, many of the studies have found that high dairy consumption was associated with more acne symptoms.

There are several possible reasons why dairy consumption might cause more frequent or severe acne outbreaks. One possibility is that some molecules found in milk might trigger hormonal changes that can contribute to acne. Another possibility is that the hormones in milk (milk naturally contains hormones, most milk products no longer contain synthetic hormones, such as bGH Bovine Growth Hormone) directly affect the hormonal balance in the body. A third possibility is that milk can contain high levels of specific molecules (eg. Iodine) that can trigger acne in high doses. Overall, the causative relationship between dairy consumption and acne symptoms remains poorly defined, but warrants deeper investigation.

Dairy-Free Diet Images

References

Dairy Products @ Wikipedia
Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls. Adebamowo, et al. 2006.
High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. Adebamowo, et al. 2005.
Food allergy. Its manifestations and control and the elimination diets. A compendium. Rowe, et al. 1972.
Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Melnik, et al. 2011.
Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. Adebamowo, et al. 2008.
Acne and milk, the diet myth, and beyond. Danby, et al. 2005.
High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study. Ismail, et al. 2012.
Role of insulin, insulin‐like growth factor‐1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. Melnik, et al. 2009.
Family history, body mass index, selected dietary factors, menstrual history, and risk of moderate to severe acne in adolescents and young adults. Landro, et al. 2012.
The role of diet in acne: facts and controversies. Davidovici, et al. 2010.
Diet and acne. Bowe. 2010.
Acne: the role of medical nutrition therapy. Burris, et al. 2013.

Low Glycemic Diet

Refined Cane Sugar (Sucrose)

Low Glycemic Diets are dietary regimens that minimize the consumption of sugar and other easily digestible carbohydrates (eg. refined flour, cereals or mashed potatoes). The purpose of the Low Glycemic Diets are to prevent large spikes in blood glucose (sugar) concentrations. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes have difficulty regulating their blood glucose levels, and Low Glycemic diets are commonly prescribed for this population. Low Glycemic Diets (especially when combined with protein supplementation) are also commonly used to support healthy weight loss.

Chocolate Chip Cookies are a High Glycemic Food
Chocolate Chip Cookies are a High Glycemic Food

Reducing consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates may help improve acne symptoms for some individuals. There is scientific evidence that high-sugar diets suppress immune function and can trigger hormonal changes, both of which can contribute to the development of acne. Many popular diets, such as the Paleo Diet, are versions of a Low Glycemic Diet.

In general, consumption of significant amounts of sugar (particularly sucrose aka cane sugar) is bad for your health. The reason why sugar, and sucrose in particular, is bad for you is because the human body is not metabolically adapted for its consumption. Refined sugar is a very high-energy, rapidly digested substance that is not readily available in nature. The human metabolic system has been slowly evolving for hundreds of thousands of years based on a diet of largely unrefined plant, fungal and animal products. Refined sugar only became widely available to the general population in the last 200 years. It is no coincidence that rates of obesity, dental caries, heart disease and diabetes track very closely with rates of refined sugar consumption. The bottom line is that eating less refined sugar is a good idea for virtually everyone.

Low Glycemic Diet Images

References

Low-Glycemic Diet @ Wikipedia
Evidence that supports the prescription of low-carbohydrate high-fat diets: a narrative review. Noakes, et al. 2017.
Sugar consumption in acne vulgaris and seborrhoeic dermatitis. Bett, et al. 1967.
Diet and acne: a review of the evidence. Spencer, et al. 2009.
A systematic review of the evidence for ‘myths and misconceptions’ in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight. Magin, et al. 2005.
The role of diet in acne: facts and controversies. Davidovici, et al. 2010.
Diet and acne. Bowe. 2010.
Acne: the role of medical nutrition therapy. Burris, et al. 2013.
Relationships of self-reported dietary factors and perceived acne severity in a cohort of New York young adults. Burris, et al. 2014.
Nutrition and acne. Danby 2010.
The effect of a low glycemic load diet on acne vulgaris and the fatty acid composition of skin surface triglycerides. Smith, et al. 2008.
A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. Smith, et al. 2007.

Vegetarian Diet

Fruit Market

A Vegetarian Diet is a primarily plant-based diet that is devoid of meats, fish and poultry. Unlike a vegans, vegetarians allow themselves to eat certain types of animal-derived products, such as eggs and dairy. Pesca-vegetarianism is a form of vegetarianism that also allows for the consumption of fish and other types of seafood.

Vegetarian Garbanzo Bean Salad
Vegetarian Garbanzo Bean Salad

There are very few scientific studies on the effects of a Vegetarian Diet on acne symptoms. However, many vegetarians believe that this diet helps to reduce the frequency and severity of their acne breakouts. There are several ways in which a Vegetarian Diet might help to reduce acne symptoms. For example, Vegetarian Diets tend to be lower in processed sugars and starches then conventional western diets. High sugar diets have been reported to induce hormonal changes that may contribute to the development of acne.

Many animal based food sources come from animals raised in conditions that are deleterious to the environment and the animals are often treated with antibiotics. These factors can accelerate the development of antibiotic resistance bacteria, which can lead to antibiotics being less effective when used in humans. Acne-causing bacteria, such as Propionibacterium acnes, are becoming increasingly resistant to common antibiotics. More research needs to be done on diet and acne, but some people may find that a Vegetarian Diet helps improve their acne symptoms.

Vegetarian Diet Images

References

Vegetarianism @ Wikipedia
Acne, diet, and the conventional wisdom. Rosenberg. 1984.
Effect of the glycemic index of carbohydrates on acne vulgaris. Reynolds, et al. 2010.
Faulty Dietary Habits vis-à-vis Acne Vulgaris: An Epidemiological Study. Manisha, et al. 2015.
Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: Impact on skin health and beauty. Piccardi, et al. 2009.
You are what you eat? Vegetarianism, health and identity. Fox, et al. 2008.
Diet and acne. Michaëlsson. 1981.
The Effects of a Low Glycemic Load Diet on Acne Vulgaris in Adolescents and Young Adults. White. 2015.

Vegan Diet

Vegan Foods

Vegan Diets are plant-based diets that exclude all animal products, including eggs and dairy. Strict versions of Veganism also exclude insect-derived products, such as honey. Many Vegan diets also exclude heavily-processed foods, such as refined starches and sugars. Veganism is purported to have many positive health benefits and is becoming an increasingly popular dietary choice in many regions of the world.

Vegan Noodle Dish
Vegan Noodle Dish with Tofu

Many individuals with acne who have adopted a Vegan Diet have reported improvements in their acne symptoms. Although there has been little scientific research on the specific relationship between a Vegan Diet and acne, there are several reasons why this a Vegan Diet might be helpful for people with acne. Vegan Diets tend to be low in high glycemic index foods, such as processed sugar and starches. Excessive consumption of these foods is known to cause hormonal changes that can contribute to acne symptoms. In addition, dairy products are believed to cause auto-immune reactions, including acne-like symptoms, in some people.

For many people, switching to a Vegan Diet is one part of a larger re-orientation towards a lifestyle that is healthier for them and the environment. Some animal products come from animals that are treated with high levels of antibiotics or are raised in conditions that are deleterious to the environment. Many animal based food sources have high levels of fat and cholesterol, which should be consumed in moderation. It has been reported that a high fat diets rich in red meats can cause systemic inflammation. Inflammation of the immune system can translate into more acne breakouts. While more research needs to be done on diet and acne, many people are likely to find that a Vegan Diet helps reduce the frequency and severity of their acne outbreaks.

Vegan Diet Images

References

Vegan Diet @ Wikipedia
Diet and acne. Michaëlsson. 1981.
Acne and diet. Wolf, et al. 2004.
Dietary intervention in acne: attenuation of increased mTORC1 signaling promoted by Western diet. Melnik, et al. 2012.
Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: Impact on skin health and beauty. Piccardi, et al. 2009.
Western Diet-Mediated mTORC1-Signaling in Acne, Psoriasis, Atopic Dermatitis, and Related Diseases of Civilization: Therapeutic Role of Plant-Derived Natural mTORC1 Inhibitors. Melnik. 2012.
Diet in dermatology: Present perspectives. Basavaraj, et al. 2010.
Factors aggravating or precipating acne. Kairavee, et al. 2010.

Paleo Diet

Paleo Diet Chicken Kebab Skewers

The Paleo (Paleolithic) Diet is designed around the types of food that were most likely consumed by ancient hunter gatherer peoples. The core concept of the Paleo Diet is that for the bulk of human evolution, our diet consisted of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, tubers and unprocessed grains. Therefore, our bodies and metabolic systems have evolved to work best when we consume these foods. The Paleo Diet restricts all processed foods, especially sugar, and it is very low in simple carbohydrates.

Paleo Diet Dinner
Paleo Diet Dinner

Many individuals have found that switching to a Paleo Diet (and other diets that minimize consumption of processed foods) helped to improve their acne symptoms. There are several possible reasons why this may be true. First, high intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates may alter the balance of hormones (eg. Insulin Growth Factor 1, IGF-1) that have an impact on acne symptoms. Second, some people may have food-specific allergies that contribute to acne symptoms, and these foods are often excluded in restrictive diet. Third, a well-balanced and healthy diet can improve overall immune function, which can help control acne symptoms.

There has been little clinical research into whether switching to a Paleo Diet is an effective treatment for acne. However, any dietary changes that reduce the consumption of processed foods and sugar, while increasing consumption of vegetables, lean meats and fruits, are likely to have a positive effect on overall health. For many acne sufferers, improving dietary choices is likely to be at least somewhat beneficial.

Paleo Diet Images

References

Paleo Diet @ Wikipedia
Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization. Cordain, et al. 2002.
The role of diet in acne and rosacea. Keri, et al. 2008.
Linking diet to acne metabolomics, inflammation, and comedogenesis: an update. Melnik, et al. 2015.
Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Cordain, et al. 2005.