One of the most common questions I am asked by the parents of young teenagers I am treating for acne is "What type of diet should I put my child on to make his/her acne better?" I have always wondered about why people always feel their looks depend on what they eat. Especially when it comes to acne. What does something you put in your stomach have to do with what happens on your face?
So, for years my response has been that there is no artery or vein that brings eaten food directly from the stomach to land in the face and distribute "these acne causing ingredients." Any food that is digested would be equally distributed throughout the body and wouldn't therefore express itself in one location e.g. the face. Greasy fries and fried chicken-no problem for acne. Chocolate may ruin your teeth and give you a sugar rush, but it shouldn't harm your face. And I still believe this to be true. But--my thinking about foods and acne is slowly changing with recent research I have been reading the past year or so.
Insulin (which regulates sugar control in the body) is also a well know stimulus for male hormones to be produced. Male hormone is a trigger for oil production by oil glands in the face. Oil glands producing excess oil can clog the facial pores, trapping oil and bacteria, thereby leading to acne. Recent research has shown that children who eat high carb and sugar (carbs are essentially metabolized as sugars by the body) diets have more acne. This sort of makes sense. If you are eating a high carb/sugar diet, you will need to make more insulin to help eliminate the carbs/surgars, and the increased insulin will also stimulate male hormones and hence the production of acne. But, all this said-I still feel that the food-acne relationship is indirect, as there are many steps needed to go from ingesting high carbs to actually creating acne.
One other piece of research I have heard that I give less credence to is that dairy or milk ingestion triggers acne. Some people believe that milk produced today has too many hormones and that cow male hormones ingested by the stomach can act like or trigger the production of human male hormones and hence acne. I'm not a believer in this one yet. For one, I don't know how cow male hormones can act as human ones, and secondly, any ingested hormones should be dissolved by stomach acid long before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.