How does the Ketodiaet affect acne

Get rid of pimples with a healthy diet - how low carb and keto can help you fight acne

Most people eat ketogenic or low carb to lose weight, control blood sugar, or lower blood pressure. And these results usually occur. However, these aren't the only positive effects of ketogenic diets. Your skin can also benefit: the frequency and extent of acne can decrease significantly. Since the ketogenic diet and low carbohydrates have an effect on hormonal health, you can also bring acne under control. This is how your pimples go away with a healthy diet.

90% of teenagers have skin problems, but around half of all people between 20 and 40 still have to live with pustules and blemished skin on their faces and bodies. At least in western countries! Acne is the most common skin disease here. Creams, ointments and miracle drugs are used to try to get acne under control. There are many indications that changing your diet will produce the best results. It is obvious that acne is a problem of more western culture. This could be related to the Western diet. In regions where very traditional forms of nutrition (e.g. Inuit) with low carbohydrates and very fatty and protein-heavy foods predominate, acne problems are rare. That's why the pimples are gone with a healthy diet: Let's take a closer look at the biological processes that cause acne to develop to understand why our diet is so important.

Causes of acne are

  • Increased skin cell reproduction
  • Excessive shedding of skin cells around the hair follicles
  • Increased production of sebum
  • High concentration of bacteria called Propionibacterium Acnes

Complex interactions take place under and in our skin, which can lead to acne. Glands in our skin produce sebum, an oily substance. These sebum glands are connected to hair follicles in the outer layer of the skin. They make the hair and skin cells greasy and slippery.

Do you have acne? Then it means this system of sebum production is not working properly.

  • The sebum production increases and you have oily skin as a result.
  • In addition, the skin cell production intensifies and the skin cells do not renew themselves as usual.
  • Excess cells and excess sebum clog your pores like a plug.
  • The closer the clogged pore, called microcomedones, is to the surface of the skin, the more the skin pigment melanin oxidizes in the air. This becomes visible as a small black point - a blackhead. If the microcomedones are deeper in the skin, purulent, whitish pimples develop.
  • As if that weren't enough, bacteria also come into play. They live on and in sebum and feel particularly good in clogged pores.

Our skin, like the intestinal microbiome, maintains a bacterial balance. One type of bacteria, Propionibacterium Acnes, lives deep inside the hair follicles. It is present in small numbers in the outer layer of the skin. In acne, the concentration of Propionibacterium Acnes increases extremely. The bacterial balance gets out of whack. This leads to inflammation in the skin - you see this inflammation as redness and swollen pustules.

Hormones are responsible for acne

The above four causes of acne are caused by insulin and other hormones like testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The fact that hormones are related to acne is particularly evident during puberty. When hormone regulation gets out of hand and the hormones seem to explode in the body, pimples and blackheads sprout.

Among other things, the androgen (androgens: male sex hormones) testosterone and DHT are responsible for sebum production. The sebum glands are sensitive to increased levels of testosterone. The connection with hormones and acne is also clear in people who have high levels of sex hormones such as DHT. For example, women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome have increased levels of androgens and also have excessive levels of acne. People with few androgens or insensitivity to androgens, on the other hand, are rarely plagued with acne.

Just like testosterone, sebum production increases with a lot of insulin and IGF-1. IGF-1 levels also increase during puberty.

Many acne sufferers look forward to summer, as plenty of sun will improve their acne. Why does that help? One of the reasons is the higher production of vitamin D. With the help of cholesterol, the body builds vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is also used in the body as a prohormone and converted to calcitrol. Calcitrol reduces skin cell production. The increased production of skin cells is one of the causes of acne. When the sun isn't getting enough, many acne sufferers consume large doses of vitamin D to relieve their skin problems. How do you get rid of your pimples through a healthy diet?

Get rid of pimples with a healthy diet?

In recent years, acne research has focused more and more on nutrition as a cause. Experts suggest that carbohydrates are the culprit in acne as they have a negative effect on the body's hormonal regulation. In 2007, Smith et al. conducted a study with 43 acne-stricken men. The result? A low-glyx diet leads to more acne reduction than a high-glyx diet. (Glyx, or glycemic index: indicates the blood sugar-increasing effect of carbohydrates in food.) And there were even more positive results:

  • Group 1: ate little food that raises blood sugar.
    Result: drop in androgens and insulin levels, higher insulin sensitivity and even weight loss.
  • Group 2: took a blood sugar-increasing diet.
    Result: She even gained weight, showed higher insulin levels and insulin resistance.

But that wasn't an explicit low-carb diet. The carbohydrates, which increase blood sugar, were not given up as a matter of principle. Would an even greater positive effect be seen here with a low carb or keto diet? Only 5 or 15%, instead of 44% as with the low-glyx diet, of the energy would come from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are supposed to be the culprits? Doesn't fat make the skin more oily? And don't extra fats lead to more acne on a ketogenic diet? In short: no. The pimples go away with a healthy diet. However, little fat is not necessary for this. There seem to be a few exceptions, but most of them don't. Bodo Melnik, dermatologist, professor and internationally known acne expert, confirms this. According to him, saturated fats and trans fats play no role in the development of acne. On the contrary, he even recommends consuming more omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. in fish.

Low carb and keto acne killers

While research is still needed on low-carb diets and acne, many people have reported that ketogenic and low-carb diets made their skin cleaner. Get rid of pimples with a healthy diet - with keto and low carb.

There are many logical reasons why a low-carb and especially ketogenic diet can help you if you have acne problems. This is why your pimples go away with a healthy diet:

  • Lowering insulin levels: an increased insulin level stimulates the increased skin cell sebum and androgen production and thus sets the basis for acne explosions on the face. A ketogenic diet often lowers insulin levels very significantly.
  • Anti-inflammatory effect: Inflammation drives the development and progression of acne. The ketogenic diet showed an anti-inflammatory effect - through the avoidance of sugar and processed carbohydrates as well as through ketosis itself.
  • Lowering IGF-1: Ketogenic diets reduce the level of IGF-1. Like insulin, IGF-1 increases sebum production and plays a major role in acne.
  • Supplying your body with cholesterol: Many people shy away from cholesterol in their diets. Not so with low carb and ketogenic diets. These are high in cholesterol. This allows vitamin D to be built up and this reduces acne.

Studies have not yet investigated whether low carb or keto is more effective in treating acne. Can you get your pimples away with a healthy diet? As with weight loss and blood sugar lowering, it will likely vary from person to person. However, a strict low-carb diet and ketogenic diet may be more effective. In testimonials, many ketarians say that their skin became better and clearer through the ketogenic diet. Yes, eating pimples away with a healthy diet really works!

How do you also maximize the effects of keto and low carb on acne?

  • Eat oily fish: Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, which are anti-inflammatory and have been shown to reduce acne. It's best to eat salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings, and anchovies.
  • Eat low carb vegetables: Green and cruciferous vegetables promote hormone regulation and improve skin health. Skin scientist Bodo Melnik recommends a low-carbohydrate diet with lots of vegetables for acne treatment. So the pimples go away with a healthy diet.
  • Avoid dairy products:Dairy products lead to increases in insulin levels and IGF-1. While skimmed milk appears to have the most impact on acne formation, cheese can also be a cause. For example, you can replace milk and cream with coconut milk or cream and use vegan cheese instead of normal cheese. There is even coconut yogurt!
  • Drink green tea: Your body draws the antioxidant EGCG (epicallocatechin gallate) from green tea. The oxidation of melanin, among other things, is thereby reduced - the blackheads are reduced. A 2016 study also found that green tea extract could improve acne scars in adult women.
  • Avoid sweets, including dark chocolate: In 2016, a study found that chocolate has a different effect on our body than other sweets - specifically on acne. Even 99% cocoa, sugar-free dark chocolate worsens skin problems in acne-plagued men.
  • Eat fresh low carb foods: Avoiding sugar and starchy foods? Excellent! But additives such as corn syrup are also often found in processed meat. This increases your insulin level and causes inflammation. Eat fresh foods and watch out for the packaging labels if you want to keep your pimples away with a healthy diet. (As a ketarian you actually do that anyway ... but now you have an additional reason!)
  • Exercise daily: Running for just 15 to 30 minutes, for example, already increases your insulin sensitivity and thus reduces the severity of your acne.
  • Be patient: Paradoxically, many people report the first signs of worsening acne after starting a keto or low carb diet. Isn't that true, with the pimples gone through a healthy diet? But! This is only short-term and part of your body's acclimatization phase. In the long term, the majority of people will get better acne on a low-carbohydrate diet. So you should be ketogenic for at least a month to see really long-term results.

Although the scientific evidence is still preliminary, there are many reasons why low carb and keto can improve acne. By eating little to no carbohydrates, you lower your insulin levels and avoid inflammation. The pimples go away with a healthy diet. You are giving yourself the best chance for better, purer and healthier skin.

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