About 50 million people in America experience acne every year. It’s the most common skin condition in America and affects people of all ages, especially people aged 13 to 25. Yet there are places throughout the world where acne is not prevalent, even among teenagers.
Researchers have found that most people in more non-Westernized areas have low rates of acne. A 2002 study found no cases of acne among 1200 Kitavan participants who live on an island located in Papua New Guinea. These individuals live in villages with no electricity, telephones, or motor vehicles at the time of the study and have minimal Western lifestyle influences. The same study also found no active cases of acne among Aché during over 800 observation days. The Aché were hunter-gatherers living in eastern Paraguay. Their diet only consists of 8 percent Western foods.
These types of studies raise the question of whether acne is a disease of Western civilization. Is the difference in acne prevalence between non-Westernized groups like the Kitavan and Aché and Westernized areas like America due to genetics or environmental influences?
Can a Westernized Diet Be Contributing to Acne Breakouts?
At present, genetic factors may not be able to fully explain the differences found in studies that have investigated acne prevalence in non-Westernized and Westernized groups. Observations made by Otto Shaefer, M.D. found that as Canadian Eskimos transitioned into a modern lifestyle, their acne prevalence increased. The results of this and other similar observations suggest that environmental factors may also play a role in whether people develop acne.
A “Westernized Diet” Can Lead to Increased Levels of Insulin
There is debate on whether or to what extent foods play a role in the development of acne. One area being investigated is whether an overall diet that contains lots of high-glycemic foods can lead to breakouts.
High-glycemic foods often spike blood sugar levels. This factor has been associated with an increased risk of health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and more. These types of foods, such as processed carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods, are common in more Westernized diets, but not in non-Westernized areas.
These foods may trigger acne since they raise levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor. This reaction can cause an increase in testosterone, which can lead to an increase in sebum. Too much sebum can block pores and cause acne.
Vitamin Deficiencies Are Common in “Westernized Diets”
Many Americans don’t receive a sufficient amount of all the essential vitamins needed. These vitamin deficiencies include vitamins and minerals that are vital to healthy skin, like vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium.
For individuals who struggle with acne and have a hard time getting sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, taking a vitamin supplement developed for acne may help.
A “Westernized Diet” May Play a Role in Acne
Acne is a multifactor skin condition involving factors such as genetics, stress, environmental elements, and more. More research focusing on how these elements are involved and interact is needed.
While you can’t control your genetics, the good news is that there may be other contributing factors that you can change or modify if you’re struggling with breakouts. Eating a low-glycemic diet may help reduce blood sugar spikes and help you avoid high insulin and insulin-like growth factor levels. In turn, this approach may help reduce breakouts. Additionally, taking a vitamin supplement developed for acne has been shown to help most people with acne.
A comprehensive vitamin supplement for acne, like Innate Skin’s Clear Skin Vitamin Pack, can help clear your skin and ensure that your body and skin are receiving essential nutrients.