Yet Another Study Shows Diet Does Affect Acne

If anyone still claims diet causing acne is a myth, a recently published study puts another nail to that coffin.

This is going to be a rather short post since the paper is in Russian and I can only write based on the English abstract. Fortunately, the abstract covers the main findings, which I duly present below.

The numbers are what the authors call power of influence. I’m not quite sure what they mean with that, but I assume it signifies the importance of that particular factor. The higher the number the more that factor increased acne.

  • Excess calories: men: 43% / women: 42%
  • Carbohydrates in excess of normal requirements (what those requirements are, I can’t say): men: 23% / women 35%
  • Dietary vitamin A deficiency (retinol, animal form): 44% / 42%
  • Dietary carotene deficiency (plant form of vitamin A): 46% / 31%
  • Dietary vitamin D deficiency: Only affected men with severe acne 30%
  • Dietary zinc deficiency: 44% / 34%

Few caveats. The authors used vague language in the abstract. They talked about ‘deficiency’ with regard to vitamin D and ‘lack of’ with regard to the other micronutrients. I assume they talked about dietary deficiency instead of low blood levels, but I can’t be sure as I don’t have access to the full text version. It’s also not clear where the deficiency cut off points are. I’m assuming they uses Russian RDA figures or other such officially established values.

This paper more or less confirms what we already knew. The interesting bits, for me, are:

  • Women react more strongly to carbohydrates than men. This is not surprising as women are more prone to hormonal acne.
  • Zinc affects men more than women. This could mean men are more prone to inflammatory-type acne than women.

This is yet another study that supports the notion that diet affects acne. Interestingly, all the studies published in the last 2 decades confirm this. Yet, many dermatologists still tell their patients not to worry about diet. Sad, is all I can say.

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About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

14 thoughts on “Yet Another Study Shows Diet Does Affect Acne

    • Probably not. Looks like they threw everything but the kitchen sink into the pill. Other than marketing hype, there’s no real rationale to add so many nutrients into the pill.

  1. Sep, since insoluble fiber can be a problem for some, I was thinking of trying foods with soluable fiber. Do you have any recommendations of what I could eat that isn’t a fruit or vegetable but contains soluable fiber?

  2. hi Seppo,

    it’s me Marton. I wanted to ask have you written any article about the effects of garlic on acne? I might have missed it so sorry if double asking 🙂 just curious as eating it regularly is said to have a rather strong natural anti inflammatory and anti bacterial effect (I wouldn’t put it on my face though)…

    thanks 🙂

    • No, I haven’t written anything about garlic and acne. I have my doubts that eating garlic would have any real antibiotic effect. It might but I’m quite skeptical of it.

  3. Hey Seppo great article!

    I want to again continuously thank you for your relentless effort. I have a question regarding diet that from what I see online is one of the most conflicting and controversial foods for acne = NUTS. Some say nuts are great for acne prone skin because of their vitamins and minerals while others say its bad for acne. The only reason I can think of it being bad for acne is the high omega 6 content that could increase inflammation which has also made me skeptical of avocados.

    Having said that I have been eating macadamian nuts because they’re lowest on the omega 6 fats of all nuts. Most of the fat in macadamia nuts is from monounsaturated fat which I hope is good for acne? I eat them because I work out and and need the calories especially after having sacrificed so many foods for acne. I eat 50g a day but wishing I can eat 100g a day (whopping 730 calories) but scared of how it will affect my skin.

    Your feedback is appreciated thanks. Also on a side note when do you think your cream will be available?

    • Hey Sam, just saw your message, even though you asked Sep, I wanted to put my two cent. It’s true that certain nuts have a high amount of omega 6. But I think, compared to an allergic reaction isn’t a big deal. If you eat a diet that doesn’t contain any transfat or doesn’t resemble the western-diet which is high in omega 6, sugar, fat and calories. Then i don’t think you have to worry about eating some foods that contains omega 6. Since the body needs the omega 6 to function as well, I don’t think you have to worry too much.

    • Also on another note, I eat bout 90-100 grams of almonds every day because i wanted to increase my fat intake since I reduced my carb intake, and my skin is at the moment at its clearest point.

    • Glad to be of service, Sam.

      There’s no definitive data to say how nuts affect acne. However, if I would have to guess I’d say they either have no effect or are good for your skin. Fat is usually the safest macronutrient for acne-prone skin and nuts have plenty of good fats.

      I know they also have a lot of omega-6, but I honestly don’t know if omega-6 fats are as bad as many people make them out to be. Sometime back I was conversing with a paleo proponent and in the process I looked at a lot of research on how omega-6 and EFAs affect heart disease and diabetes. Contrary to the ‘paleo wisdom’ I couldn’t find any evidence that eating more omega-6 fats would increase heart disease risk. What I found was that either they reduced heart disease risk or had no effect.

      Of course I don’t recommend consuming processed vegetable oils, but I wouldn’t worry about omega-6 that comes from whole food sources. Especially if you also make an effort to include omega-3 rich foods into your diet.

      I don’t want to make any promises when the cream will be available. I’m waiting for a sample to arrive so I can test it myself. I should get it in a few days. I haven’t done anything like this before, so I can’t really say how long the whole process will take. I probably need to run some tests on the product, find a manufacturer, bottler, etc. And get the product manufactured, find a company to store the product and do fulfillment, etc. All of that will take at least a few months. I might be able to have product samples available earlier, in case someone is interested to test it.

  4. Hey Adel-Alexander Aldilemi

    Thanks for your response. I eat a pretty well balanced diet low omega 6 and high omega 3, low carb, high fat, no sugar, no dairy, and no bread. I eat about 60g of almond butter a day which gives me 400 calories a day but wanted to see if I could add more nuts such as macadamia nuts (lowest omega 6 of all nuts) to increase calories. Its been stressful trying to get clear skin and workout to gain weight I have made so many sacrifices to clear skin that would otherwise have helped make significant gains in the gym. Just having a low carb diet sets you back big time.

    Having said that I am wondering if anyone has ever seen any studies or heard of any study looking at nut consumption and its effect on acne, because testimonials are so mixed from ruining acne to people claiming it helped their skin.Thanks again for your input. Lets see what the Einstein Wizard has to say 🙂

  5. You know you don’t have to go low carb right? You can still make gains by just reducing your carbs slightly for fat. 😛 It may not be as significant as before but it’s better than nothing.

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