How Do Good Diet Choices Ultimately Impact Skin Conditions? 

In the midst of the myriad claims and information about skincare, evidence is emerging that connects certain foods and beverages to an elevated risk of common skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and rosacea. This article delves into the link between diet and these skin issues, exploring how dietary changes could potentially enhance overall health and well-being.


A significant area of focus in understanding the relationship between diet and skin health is acne. Common wisdom often points to the negative effects of sugar and dairy. Dairy, red meat, and carbohydrates can break down into leucine, an essential amino acid present in protein. The combination of leucine and sugar can stimulate the production of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), activating androgen receptors in the skin. This, in turn, triggers sebogenesis, lipogenesis, and keratinization, leading to follicular inflammation and increased acne-causing bacteria (Cutibacterium acnes). Additionally, milk and other dairy products can elevate IGF-1 levels, altering hormonal mediators and exacerbating acne. Even 2% milk, when fat is removed, may contain whey proteins that can contribute to acne.


Research on diet and psoriasis highlights the role of obesity as an exacerbating factor. Evidence suggests that a hypocaloric diet can be beneficial for individuals with overweight or obesity. Alcohol consumption is linked to a lower response to treatment and more severe psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) emphasizes that while there is no specific diet to cure psoriasis, adopting a healthful eating pattern may alleviate symptoms. The NPF recommends including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, as well as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Adhering to a Mediterranean diet has been associated with reduced psoriasis severity.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a condition strongly connected to diet. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving synbiotics (prebiotics and probiotics) found that while they may not prevent AD, they can aid in its treatment in adults and children over one year old. Synbiotics are found to be more beneficial than probiotics alone. Moreover, the analysis revealed that prebiotics alone can reduce AD severity. A 2022 review ranked the efficacy of various supplements for AD, with vitamin D supplementation showing the most significant benefit, followed by vitamin E, probiotics, hemp seed oil, histidine, and oolong tea. The ‘Six Food Elimination Diet and Autoimmune Protocol’ had the least supporting evidence.


Rosacea appears to be influenced by various lifestyle factors such as sunlight, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods, and caffeine. In individuals with rosacea, these elements can induce facial flushing, edema, burning, and an inflammatory response. Certain foods can activate skin receptors and sensory neurons, releasing neuropeptides that act on mast cells in the blood, leading to flushing. Evidence also suggests the involvement of the skin-gut axis in rosacea.

In conclusion, understanding the impact of diet on common skin conditions allows individuals to make informed choices for potentially improving their skin health and overall quality of life.


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