Bringing it to a head: could teenage diets be linked to pimples and acne?

Of all the times for unsightly pimples to break out, the teenage years must be the absolute worst!  Already plagued by school, homework, peer pressure, body image and confidence issues; pimples and acne can be a devastating blow for teens.

In a desperate attempt to find a cure, costly topical treatments can mistakenly appear like miraculous lifesavers. Clear-skinned teens smile from TV advertisements offering the hope that simply smearing on a lotion will magically erase spots and blemishes in days.

Many of these products are designed to dry out the skin, temporarily lessening sebum production—which is not a long-term solution (without sebum, skin becomes dry and wrinkled).

During their teens, many young people have an inadequate diet of soft drinks, processed food and sugary snacks. Teenage boys especially lack vital nutrients, consuming an average of 18 teaspoons of sugar per day.

A diet heavy in simple carbohydrates has the potential to trigger pimples and acne, due to their fast conversion to sugar within the body.

The body’s reaction to these carbohydrates occurs something like this:

  1. sugar, pasta, bread or similar are consumed
  2. converts to sugar
  3. blood sugar level rises
  4. insulin is released
  5. IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1) is produced
  6. production of male hormones is promoted
  7. increases in sebum and bacteria growth occur
  8. result = pimples.

The teenage years are also a time when hormones are constantly fluctuating within the body. The liver is the primary organ filtering toxins out of the body and overloading it with hormones in addition to a heavy load of junk food, is a recipe for breakouts.

It is no coincidence that during life stages when hormones are in flux, the skin is more likely to breakout with spots, pimples and boils.

Removing foods from the diet which contain artificial additives and replacing them with natural, unprocessed produce can assist liver function, balance hormones and facilitate toxin transport and release.

Dermatologists also stress the importance of good hygiene around affected areas. They recommend keeping the face clean with warm water and mild soap, and to avoid squeezing or picking pimples.

It’s a tough time for teens – and it usually lasts for three to five years. While we can’t stop teenage hormones from raging, a healthier, low GI diet – combined with exercise – could help to manage hormonal fluctuations and reduce skin flare-ups.

Clearer skin can deliver a big boost to a teen’s confidence. And as every parent living with a teen can confirm, anything which makes them happier and more confident is a step in the right direction — bring it on!

Category: FamilyHealth

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Article by: Defence Health