Many people accept acne as an inevitable part of growing up. Acne is blamed on everything from “evolutionary biology” to genetics, hormones, chocolate, or too much sun. The most common explanation is hormones. Experts often say that during periods in our lives, hormones become unbalanced and ‘wreak havoc’; most notably during puberty.
While we do have times in our lives where our hormones change, I believe that the effect of those changing hormones can be greatly mitigated by a good diet. Studies have shown that “acne is a disease of Western civilisation”. Studies of current hunter-gatherers and other populations living traditional lifestyles (1200 subjects in total, including 300 aged between 15 and 25), showed zero cases of acne. However, in Western populations, 79 to 95% of teenagers are afflicted with acne. In addition, up to 54% of adults over the age of 24 also suffer with a degree of acne. And for up to 12% of women and 3% of men, it can continue well into middle age.
I believe our Western diet is a huge contributing factor. Over-consumption of sugar and carbohydrates can increase insulin and an insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which increases testosterone and leads our pores to secrete more sebum; oil that traps acne-causing bacteria. A more natural, low carbohydrates diet can have a huge impact on skin. My son is has never had an issue with acne through his teenage years—except when he has a weekend away and eats what his friends eat, but makes a choice knowing he will have about a week of bad skin.
Cordain L, Lindeberg S, Hurtado M, Hill K, Eaton SB, Brand-Miller J. Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(12):1584–1590.