Cause of Acne
Acne is the most common skin problem, especially during puberty. Acne is dependent upon testosterone. Testosterone produces sebum and sebum blocks skin pores, a cause of acne. Testosterone also stimulates cells to produce keratin, another substance that blocks skin pores. Males are more at risk because females have lower levels of testosterone.
A greater activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase is seen in the skin of people with acne. This enzyme converts testosterone to a more potent form known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), another cause of acne.[1-2]
Foods to Prevent Acne
Nutrition does play a role in acne, in both treating and preventing.
A high protein diet may help. In one study, individuals who were fed a high protein diet (44% protein, 35% carbohydrates, and 21% fat) showed a substantially less conversion of testosterone to DHT. A high carbohydrate diet (10% protein, 70% carbohydrates, and 20% fat) had the opposite effect. Healthy foods containing protein include lean red meats, fish, eggs, and nuts.
Vitamin A reduces sebum production and the buildup of keratin. Foods high in vitamin A include liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark greens, and apricots.
Zinc works with vitamin A in promoting healthy skin. If zinc levels are low, the conversion of testosterone to DHT increases. Foods containing zinc include oysters, beef, liver, crabmeat, fish, and chicken.
If vitamin E levels are low, so are vitamin A levels (regardless of vitamin A supplements). Good sources of vitamin E include whole grains, green plants, egg yolk, liver, nuts, and seeds.
Drink plenty of water. Keeping the skin well hydrated keeps it looking young and healthy.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid the following foods to prevent acne:
- greasy/fried foods
- sugary foods
- foods containing trans fatty acids (including hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils).
Milk and foods high in iodine (salt) can also be a cause of acne and should be avoided to prevent acne.
-  J Invest Dermatol 74 (1980): 187-91
-  J Invest Dermatol 56 (1971): 366-72
-  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 80 (1983): 7646-9
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