The subject of how our diet impacts the health of our skin has been incredibly important to me. I’ve been very vocal about this subject – even writing a book centered around the GUT-BRAIN-SKIN axis called The Beauty of Dirty Skin.

However, many dermatologists have remained skeptical about this connection because they felt that the data wasn’t strong enough to convince them to change their practice.  A new study, just out in JAMA, may finally change that.

This large, robust, epidemiological study AGAIN shows that adult acne is, indeed, associated with high glycemic index (e.g. sugary) foods and beverages as well as dairy milk.  Those findings appear consistent with prior studies as well, so this didn’t come as a surprise to me!

With the trending term “Maskne,” and all the stress we’ve been living with over the last few months, conversations about acne have hit a record high in my practice and in my direct message inbox on Instagram.  Adult acne, in particular, has been increasing in prevalence over the years, and it can really take a toll on quality of life, self-esteem and confidence.

Most observational studies to date looking at the link between diet on acne look back (retrospective design), this one looks forward.  It has what’s called a prospective design.  That prospective design, combined with the very large number of people involved (over 24,000 participants), and the wide number of dietary factors taking into account, makes these results hard to ignore.

As someone who sees the powerful effect of acne on lives every day, I firmly believe that educating patients on these associations between their diet and their skin are helping way more than hurting.  I personally don’t feel the need for a large scale clinical trial to further prove these associations. I believe if we keep waiting for “perfect” studies to be done, we will end up with many more emotional, and physical scars that could have been avoided through simple, accessible changes.

 

I wanted to share more insight into the food swaps for beautiful, clear skin that I discussed on GMA!

Skim Milk

As I discussed on Good Morning America, a number of studies are now showing that if you drink dairy milk, you will be more likely to struggle with breakouts and acne. We believe this issue arises from a combination of hormones that are found in the milk as well as milk proteins like casein and whey. Skim milk has actually been found to show the STRONGEST link to acne flares.

SIMPLE SWAP #1:

Instead of SKIM MILK, choose ALMOND MILK OR COCONUT MILK. Both are low in calories and are delicious!

Whey Protein Dietary Supplemnents:

As I also mentioned on GMA, the vast majority of protein powders and nutritional bars are made with whey protein, which has also been shown to contribute to inflammation and acne in the skin. Many of my friends and even my family members drink shakes containing whey protein daily as part of their meal plan! However, many athletes who use whey powder in their shakes or eat protein bars made with whey are finding that they are breaking out on their faces, chests and back.

SIMPLE SWAP #2:

Instead of WHEY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS, opt for VEGAN OPTIONS. Many of the companies that make these dietary supplements now offer vegan alternatives which do not contain whey. Look for pea protein or rice protein!

Refined Carbs:

If you are breaking out, you want to make sure to avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, cornflakes, chips and pretzels.

SIMPLE SWAP #3:

Instead of REFINED CARBS, choose QUINOA, BARLEY or SWEET POTATOES. These choices are great for your skin and for your waistline!

@DrWhitneyBowe

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