Being that I mentioned in my first post between the activity of hormones and acne I wanted to explore what the research can tell us about where or if nutrition can fit into the scheme of things. One common theme is that hormones are thought to play a major role in acne for both men and women. If I learned anything from looking at the research is that thinking about hormone and acne with adolescent means more than endogenous hormones but the effect of other “hormones”. Hormones essentially mean a substance/biochemical substance that can affect DNA transcription activation or deactivation of specific proteins.
The first thing I saw was the relationship between hormones (from the cow) in dairy and the stimulation of pilosebaceous units. The interesting is that there is no conclusive evidence that says consuming milk and dairy cause acne but there is evidence that there is a strong relation between dairy products and stimulation of the pilosebaceous unit. This creates the optimal environment for acne bacteria to grow. This is not specific to whole milk either, as skim milk can also cause similar results. Read more about this research paper here. The interesting thing is that there is no set amount of how much milk to be consumed will cause certain acne severity. Another example how taking small steps to changing your own diet can be more beneficial than drastic changes.
Another interesting thing to note was the importance of Vitamin A and D, both fat soluble vitamins. Being that they are fatty friendly (lipophilic), they can get into cells easy and have effects on DNA transcription (the membranes of our cells are made up of fats/lipids). A quick science lesson is when you try to mix oil and water. Oil easily mixes with oil and water easily mixes with water but they don’t mix together well. Since our cell membranes are fat mostly, fat soluble vitamins can easily cross this membrane. The good news is that Vitmain A and D have been shown to help different causes of acne and other skin conditions. Read more about this research paper here. The same study also validates that androgenic hormones (hormones produced in puberty) stimulate the sebaceous glands similarly to growth factors. This study also touches on how insulin (another type of growth hormone like substance) can influence sebaceous gland production. This goes hand in hand with the mentions of how glycemic index conscious diets can help with acne. More about insulin like growth factor (IGF) in this research paper.
To be completely honest, I was just about to say “yeah hormones and puberty cause acne, lots of people experience this”, but glad I didn’t. Turns out I was wrong in thinking hormones was a plug and play idea. It’s a lot more complicated and interesting. One thing of note is that endogenous hormones (made in body) usually have an on and off switch. By consuming hormones, this can start processes in the body that promote growth and inflammation (especially acne).
This is where the rage came with organic, non-gmo, steroid/hormone free products. When looking at the research, the main takeaway is that having a balance of nutritionally dense food will give your body what it needs to work properly. Maybe sometimes the “boost” your body needs is to have more vitamin D or zinc due to previous deficiency, but if your body starts showing symptoms of overdosing (like GI symptoms) then its safe to cut back a little bit and feel out your nutrition. With anything its about empowering you to make the most informed decisions about food that can increase your quality of life. I will end with make sure you check in with your physician and registered dietician when making changes to a diet or unsure of starting something new nutritionally.