What is acne?

Photo by  Chris Knight

Photo by Chris Knight

What is acne?

The main markers of acne are pimples (blackheads and whiteheads) and pustules found on the face and upper body. They’re caused by overactive sebaceous (oil) glands and the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). P. acnes tends to thrive in an oily environment, creating inflammation and more spots.

Risk factors for acne

  • Hormones (puberty, pregnancy, hormone related conditions like polycystic ovaries)

  • Medication

  • Diet  - refined sugars

  • Hereditary

Is there any evidence that diet can help acne?

There is no mention of diet in the British Association of Dermatology BUT there are studies that support low glycaemic index and controversially reducing dairy products on controlling breakouts.

Foods to include on a low GI diet

  • Wholegrains: Quinoa, brown rice, wholegrain wheat, rye, buckwheat and barley

  • Pulses: Lentils, chickpeas, haricot beans, black beans, kidney beans and butter beans

  • Diary: Milk, cheese, almond milk, soya milk

  • Cereals: Muesli, porridge

  • Protein: Meat, eggs, fish (particularly oily fish for the anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils), nuts and seeds

  • Fats: Olive oil, butter, rapeseed oil, walnut oil, avocado oil)

Foods to avoid on a low GI diet

  • Refined carbohydrates: white bread, quick-cook oats, cornflakes

  • Cakes, biscuits

  • Sweets

  • Quick cook noodles

Anna Firth