5 Possible Causes Of Acne (by a dietitian)
Hey everybody! Today, we're gonna talk about five possible causes of acne, nutritional causes, conventional treatment for acne right now, and I have a long history. Some of you know my story where I had severe acne starting around age 10 to 12. Then for the next decade was on and off a lot of these conventional therapies, so the topicals, of course, antibiotics, some retinoids, Accutane, and some others.
So basically you yo-yo through these until something seems to work. And oftentimes people do this and nothing really works. It might help a little bit, but doesn't really fully get rid of it. And that are the people that I want to be watching this video.
And even the other ones because there are a lot of root causes that you might not be told by your dermatologist because on average, doctors have less than 20 hours of schooling in nutrition science.
I really wish I had known this information, back when I was 12 years old.
So interestingly, prior to 1950, the Eskimos did not have any acne. And then after 1950, they started to have acne. What changed?
Well, prior to 1950, they were mostly eating fish, wild games, some berries, and veggies. And then after they transitioned to a more Western diet. So some of the things we talk about today were most likely the triggers of the acne that they started to see coming up in the Eskimos.
Does Sugar has great impact?
And so today we're gonna talk about sugar. Does it really have an impact? Does chocolate, you know, really make a difference? Do I really have to cut out chocolate, also milk, and dairy? (and then more so stay past the five because I do have some bonuses at the end as well).
I'm Ashley Oswald, I'm a gut health dietitian and owner of Oswald Digestive Clinic where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, diarrhea, constipation, and more. We now take insurance, which is really exciting because some of our clients have full coverage for unlimited appointments a year.
And if you're interested in working with us, you can go ahead and schedule an initial appointment, and then you'll get a form of questions to call your insurance and ask to see if you have coverage or not. Or you can download our free guide. So without further ado, let's dive right in!
5 Possible Causes Of Acne
So the first thing I wanna talk about is refined sugar. We have a small study that showed it could possibly be beneficial to decrease your sugar intake. The group that had done no sugar for a month did have improvements in their acne than the group that kept on with their regular eating habits.
But the difference was really hard to tell. So also hard to say how much this will help, but it's worth trying alongside the things I'm gonna talk about next. So it could benefit by decreasing insulin. So it might be if you have high insulin cutting out sugar, getting that down could help because that can help to decrease inflammation in the body and can help with all over hormone balancing.
Food Allergies or Sensitivities
So the next category to talk about is food allergies or sensitivities, and yes, the research shows that this could be at the root of acne for people. So if you have a food sensitivity, you might notice that your skin improves when you avoid that sensitivity. And there might be other compounds in foods that can negatively influence the skin.
So like for example, in milk and dairy, the hormones in it could be the issue. And then amines in chocolate could be the issue. So common foods do include milk.
So it's worth cutting out dairy for, I would recommend four to six weeks to really see if you notice benefits. It will take that long, that many half-lives for that inflammatory cascade to calm down in your body. Other foods are kind of random like tomatoes, oranges, and nuts.
Pork is seen in the research and could possibly contribute to acne. We use mediator release testing at our clinic. So that could be a possibility to explore as well. And then always thinking about what's the root cause of these food sensitivities, especially if you have a lot of food sensitivities and we should see if we can improve the gut health so that you can tolerate foods better and it's not triggering an autoimmune response in your body.
And that's where the handout on five ways to improve gut health and end food intolerances for good could come in handy if you haven't downloaded it already.
Alright, number three is chocolate. So I briefly mentioned chocolate in the last section. So let's explore it a little bit more in this one.
So we need a little bit more research on, but I'm gonna share with you what we have. So basically chocolate causing acne was deemed to be a myth based upon a study from 1969, but I'm gonna share with you new research where it could actually not be a myth. It could actually cause acne to be worse.
So basically the study that I'm referencing had, individuals, eat a large chocolate bar for four weeks, and then the placebo group did not. And they found the results to be insignificant. Like the acne did not get significantly worse in the people eating the chocolate bar.
So now this was done on 65 people. So certainly it was a very small study and they also didn't measure how bad the acne was, just what amount of the face was acne. So it could be that the chocolate exacerbated the acne to look worse too.
And then in a more recent study and this is a smaller study and that's why I say we just need more research, it's on 10 men and it showed that the ones were eating unsweetened a hundred percent cocoa chocolate. So we couldn't attest it to the sugar, right?
And the lesion count increased from 2.7 at baseline to 13.4 on day four and 18.2 on day seven. So there was a positive association between eating chocolate and the acne getting worse.
Now what I would recommend at this point, I'm gonna share a little bit more as we go through is the elimination and reintroduction throughout at least a month cycle because hormones can play into acne as well.
So we want the elimination to last, at least four weeks because A: as mentioned food sensitivities can take that long to decrease the cascade in the body, and then B: So we have a better understanding of how this is helping versus that normal hormone fluctuation throughout the month.
So number four that we're gonna talk about is milk. And we talked briefly about this in the food sensitivity category and yes, milk can definitely contribute to acne. And this honestly tends to be the biggest offender for people.
And luckily nowadays we have a lot of non-dairy milk alternatives so it shouldn't be too hard to do a trial and reintroduce it. Certainly, it's challenging if you like eating out and things and making sure milk wasn't used in the preparation of the dish. And I think you might enjoy hearing about the science of why this happens.
So basically many farms nowadays they'll have the cows get pregnant, they give birth and then they give milk for about three months and then the farmers try to get them pregnant again. So about 75 to 90% of the milk on the market is pretty hormonally active. And what this means is that it contains progesterone and steroids that get metabolized into a type of testosterone in the human body.
And this can cause a hormonal imbalance that can cause acne Now, another thing about this is looking for that BGH-free label is not gonna matter because it's still gonna have those hormones in it.
And then also we have some research showing that iodine could make acne worse and iodine is actually used to clean the udders when the cows are giving their milk. And so that could be another reason why dairy milk can make acne worse or be the sole root cause of acne.
Last but not least is zinc. We have research sewing that low zinc can contribute to acne and supplements can help to improve acne even at as low as about 30 milligrams per day. As some of the research went as high as like 130 to 150 milligrams a day, just be cautious about over supplementing with this. I know a lot of people are taking it for their immune system.
It can actually cause a decrease in copper because zinc and copper go hand in hand and that can cause inflammation itself. Too much copper can cause inflammation, and too little copper can cause inflammation. It's all a delicate balance to really testing your levels is best here.
Or you could do a trial of the zinc for a few weeks to see if you notice any difference, but testing is best.
Alright, now to the bonuses!
And before we go there, I should do my disclaimer, not medical advice. Check with your main healthcare providers. You can become a client at our clinic if you want.
So vitamin A in high doses has also been shown to help with acne and you can get this from cod liver oil. Interestingly Accutane is actually a derivative of vitamin A. And so instead of taking this medication, right, we could just take a more natural vitamin A supplement.
It does have toxicity concerns so you should always check with your main healthcare provider. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and you maybe have heard the story of how you should not eat polar bear liver cause it has such a high amount of vitamin A that it could cause death. And I'm just sharing that story because hopefully, that'll help you remember cautious with vitamin A supplementation.
And then other categories to explore would be hormone balancing, maybe too much estrogen. So then maybe some progesterone cream could help to balance it out.
Thyroid issues could be part of the root cause of acne, other nutrient deficiencies like vitamin C, selenium, vitamin B6, and then certainly other gut issues like an imbalance, maybe a bacterial overgrowth, um, low stomach acid, which could be caused from chronic stress and, and more.
So thank you for being here! Let me know what questions you have. I hope this video is helpful and again, you can have our free guide if you wanna download it. Or schedule an appointment with us to become a client at our clinic.
I will see you all on our next topic. I hope you have a great rest of your day.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic using the link below.
We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health.