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How does nutrition affect the skin?

They say that acne appears from sweets and milk, and spicy foods exacerbate atopic dermatitis. Because of such stereotypes, people with a predisposition to acne refuse dairy products. Those with atopic dermatitis eat only turkey and steamed porridge without salt or sugar, fearing another attack. We tell you how nutrition affects the skin and what you should not be afraid of.


Dermatovenereologists and cosmetologists often forbid acne patients’ products with a high glycemic index. They are sure that changing their diet prevents new rashes. The stop list includes all sweets, pastries, fast food, soda, milk, and dairy products. 

“High glycemic load enhances signaling by insulin or insulin-like growth factor,” explains a dermatologist cosmetologist, “Sebum production increases. The skin is not exfoliated enough, and horny scales close the ducts of the sebaceous glands, preventing sebum from coming out. Acne occurs. To prevent this from happening, you need to eliminate foods with a high glycemic load. However, building long-term and correct eating behavior is important, not short-term diets.

How does nutrition affect the skin?

But there is an alternative opinion  acne is not always associated with the diet, and people in vain torment themselves with heavy prohibitions. Even if the skin reacts to sweets and milk with inflammation, limiting such products is enough, but not banning them forever. People with acne may be more likely to eat sweets due to stress, and diet does not affect the severity of the disease. And we have already talked about the dubiousness of diets in general.

“Most often, acne is associated with changes in the work of the sebaceous hair follicle under the influence of sex hormones and genetic predisposition. Some products can exacerbate acne and other skin diseases. Some studies have shown the advantage of diet in the complex treatment of acne, but it should be understood that nutrition is not the main factor in the development of acne. It cannot be cured by diet alone.

young woman with closed eyes touching face with acne isolated on beige

Many scientists have studied the effect of food on acne. For example, two groups of young people aged 10-24 were compared in Malaysia. It turned out that people living with acne have more sweet teeth than in the control group. They were more likely to prefer foods with a high glycemic index and ate an average of 150 kilocalories more per day. Moreover, they ate milk and ice cream as often as healthy people from the control group. 

But the Italians found an association of acne with milk intake of more than three times a week, and people with acne more often preferred skim milk to whole milk. The same conclusion was made by other researchers, adding that in the diet of people suffering from acne, there is little fish, fresh vegetables, and fruits. 

Atopic dermatitis

Allergy sufferers carefully monitor their diet. It is clear why: even invisible traces of peanuts in desserts sometimes bring them to Quincke’s edema and hospitalization. People with atopic dermatitis also avoid foods that trigger breakouts. And they do it right: exacerbations are often caused by food to which the immune system is overly sensitive. 

“Exacerbation of atopic dermatitis is caused by foods that increase the release of the inflammatory mediator histamine: citrus fruits, chocolate, coffee, bananas, strawberries, sauces, marinades, sweets with flavorings and dyes, “In patients with food allergies, dermatitis is exacerbated when using the product – allergen.”

How does nutrition affect the skin?

Atopic dermatitis is the result of impaired bowel function. The observation showed that the intestinal microflora changes in potential topics even in infancy: there are fewer beneficial bifidobacteria and more opportunistic and harmful ones. The internal intestinal barrier becomes thinner, and food molecules become available to the immune system, which overreacts to them throughout life. Due to the lack of lactobacilli, colonies of epidermal staphylococcus grow – not only in the intestines but also on the skin. This is another factor in the allergization of a growing organism.

Japanese scientists proposed to treat atopic dermatitis with a vegetarian diet. They conducted research and proved that two months of giving up meat reduces the manifestations of atopic dermatitis by 50% on a special scale. Patients even decreased the level of eosinophils and specific enzymes in the blood, but allergy markers did not disappear. 

Nutrition for healthy skin 

Many people do not suffer from dermatological diseases but are worried about skin conditions. Women are especially fond of this. Some use the Korean ten-step skin care system and constantly change cosmetics to more innovative ones. Others are purchased with vitamins “for skin and hair” on bloggers’ advice on a well-known American site. Still, others find out what to eat to stay young and beautiful. 

How does nutrition affect the skin?

“Improper nutrition accelerates skin aging and exacerbates age-related changes. It is rational to stick to Mediterranean cuisine, which is rich in omega fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids;- It is good for the health and beauty of the skin. Adding more fish, seafood, fresh vegetables, and vegetable oil to the diet.”

Ultraviolet radiation is much more harmful than malnutrition. It accelerates the appearance of wrinkles, weakens the skin’s immune system, and provokes the development of carcinoma – a malignant skin tumor. An excess of red meat and animal fat in the diet has been shown to increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. Conversely, the Mediterranean diet may protect against melanoma.

If the skin looks dull and flaky, hypovitaminosis is a possible cause. With a lack of vitamin C, the skin’s antioxidant protection suffers: it becomes fragile and vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, and wounds and inflammation on it heal more slowly.

But only a doctor can make such a diagnosis, having received the results of the analysis prescribed by him. It’s not worth taking an analysis for vitamins on your own – it costs more than ten thousand rubles and, without a doctor’s examination, will not give anything.

Important to remember

  • Skin health is directly related to the quality of nutrition.
  • People with acne are more likely to eat sweets and drink milk, but diet does not always help.
  • Atopic dermatitis is a problem not only of the skin but also of the intestinal microflora.
  • The Mediterranean diet is the key to youthful skin and protection from ultraviolet radiation. But that’s no reason to skip sunscreen.

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