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One interesting finding of a study led by Loren Cordain raised suspicion that something in the Western Diet promotes acne. The study examined 1315 15-25 year olds from Papua New Guinea and Paraguay, all from non-Westernized societies, who ate traditional diets. They found zero cases of acne. To put this in perspective: 80-90 percent of American teens have some acne. The researchers hypothesized that the glycemic load - a measure of carbohydrate foods’ effect on blood glucose and insulin levels causes a cascade of hormonal changes that make acne worse.

This notion was given support by several studies. In 2007, a study of 23 Australian 15-25 year olds showed significant improvement of acne symptoms under a low- glycemic load diet. Another one of 32 20-27-year-old Korean volunteers found pretty much the same. These are small studies, but there are several other — less rigorous ones — that point in the same direction.


Studies that relied on people’s recall of their diet in their teens, and the severity of their acne, suggested that milk drinking affects acne. Looking further into milk type studies showed that only skim milk showed a statistical correlation with acne.

Foods to avoid if you have acne

Given the new information garnered from the latest research it seems that diet does play a role in acne. It certainly doesn’t cause it, but it can aggravate or improve it, at least to some degree.

In the latest guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology a group of 17 experts concluded that, regarding diet, “emerging data suggest that high glycemic index diets may be associated with acne” and that “limited evidence suggests that some dairy, particularly skim milk, may influence acne,” but “given the current data, no specific dietary changes are recommended in the management of acne.”

They did not find that the evidence was strong enough to warrant a recommendation.

Guidelines aside, since high glycemic load foods are generally to be minimized anyway - they are typically highly processed foods, foods with white flour, added sugar, and low fiber avoiding those foods is smart. This is also beneficial for your health in every respect.

Eating more fruits, non-starchy veggies and whole grains is great for you anyway, and it so happens that this eating pattern has low glycemic load. Minimizing added sugar helps curb weight gain and chronic diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis.

I have personally found that dietary triggers for this and really every disorder vary widely person to person. After establishing the actual cause, coming up with a dietary protocol specific to that person has been very beneficial in getting results.

Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you.

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Author's Bio: 

Taryn DeCicco ND, LAc, LDN of Apple A Day Clinic in Arlington Heights, IL has been specializing in Acne, Skin, and Digestive disorders for over 16 years.