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No-Grain Diet Clears up Acne for Good

August 23, 2003 | 70,729 views

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
     with Rachael Droege

Acne affects about 85 percent of the population at some time in their life and is the most common skin disease treated by dermatologists. Most teens get the type of acne called acne vulgaris, which can appear on the face, neck, shoulders, back and chest.

Most doctors and dermatologists say that acne is not related to diet, but I can confidently tell you that there is indeed a link--and a strong one at that. In my own practice, most patients' acne clears up when they follow the no-grain diet described in my nutrition plan and further explained in my new book. As I struggled with acne for the first 40 years of my life, I wish I would have known this information when I was younger. However, since I have come to understand the influence of grains on health, acne has been a non-issue for me.

Why is a no-grain diet beneficial for acne?

Eating refined carbohydrates and sugar leads to a surge of insulin and an insulin-like growth factor called IGF-1 in your body. This can lead to an excess of male hormones, which cause pores in the skin to secrete sebum, a greasy substance that attracts acne-promoting bacteria. Additionally, IGF-1 causes skin cells known as keratinocytes to multiply, a process that is associated with acne.

Some say acne is a disease of Western civilization because studies have found that the condition is virtually nonexistent in non-westernized societies, where refined carbohydrates and sugar are rarely eaten. For instance, in one study that looked at acne cases in islanders of Papua New Guinea and hunter-gatherers of Paraguay, no acne cases were found in either group. The findings, which are in-line with many other studies, make a strong case for the significant role of environmental factors, such as diet, in acne.

Limiting grains is an integral step toward optimizing your health. The more we study the influence of grains, and their secondary consequences on insulin, the more we will find that their pervasive influences touch nearly every aspect of our health.

A Healthy Diet Can't be "Sold"

So you may be wondering why doctors typically say diet does not influence acne. Well, doctors cannot sell you a healthy diet, and they are under strong influence by the drug companies to prescribe expensive and sometimes harmful topical acne creams and antibiotics. No one is going to get rich from recommending a healthy diet to heal acne, except maybe you when you start saving money that you were spending on acne medications.

Further, many dermatologists prescribe long-term antibiotic treatments for acne. This can be especially problematic since every time you take an antibiotic, you kill beneficial bacteria along with the problematic bacteria. This can lead to many secondary conditions, such as yeast overgrowth.

The Emotions Factor

Anyone who has experienced an outbreak of acne knows that it can take a significant psychological toll. Many people feel embarrassed by acne, and the embarrassment can keep them from socializing and feeling confident.

On the other hand, recent studies have found a link that suggests stress can actually aggravate acne. One study involving college students found that the students' acne flared when they felt stressed from examinations.

Well, stress has the ability to make just about every disease we encounter worse, and this includes acne. This is why it is so important to deal with your stress before it becomes overwhelming. There are a variety of ways that you can do this, like yoga, meditation or making sure you get enough quality sleep, so it is important that you find a method that works best for you.

My favorite tool for relieving stress is the Emotional Freedom Technique, which involves tapping your body's energy meridians and voicing positive affirmations to clear emotional blocks, thus restoring your mind and body's balance. You can review my free 25-page report to learn how it's done.

Just remember that acne likely results from a combination of dietary and emotional factors. Addressing both sides of the equation will give you the most beneficial results.

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