I am often asked by patients, “Can diet cure skin issues?” The answer is yes and no! Improving your diet alone will not cure acne, psoriasis or eczema. And, it will not prevent future skin cancers. But I can say that changing your diet and developing a healthier lifestyle, combined with the dermatologist’s recommended treatment plan will help.
Can diet cure skin issues such as acne, aging skin, skin cancer, psoriasis or eczema?
Acne and Diet:
Scientific evidence points to an association between diet and acne. High glycemic foods (foods high in sugar and carbohydrates) increase the body’s insulin which, in turn, increases oil production in the skin. This can worsen acne. There is also evidence the hormones in milk may play a role in causing acne, especially in teenage boys. Can diet cure skin issues such as acne? Try this in addition to medications recommended by a dermatologist.
- Decrease intake of sugar and high carb foods
- Increase foods high in Omega 3 such as salmon and walnuts or take a supplement
- Consume dairy products from cows not treated with hormones
Aging Skin and Diet:
The science on aging skin and diet is evolving. There are few large scale studies supporting any particular food or supplement. The advice below is supported by scientific evidence:
Here are some proven skin aging fighters:
- Coffee and green tea: both contain polyphenols which supply a large number of anti-oxidants. Both have been shown to reduce photo aging changes such as brown spots.
More research is needed:
- One study showed that an oral supplement containing collagen peptides, the building blocks of collagen reduced wrinkles, improved skin elasticity and improved moisture.
My colleague, dietitian Jeanne Peters, recommends “Supercollagen” available at Whole Foods. She states that her skin, hair and nails are noticeably improved. I plan to try it myself! Can diet cure skin issues such as aging skin? These suggestions combined with fanatic sun protection may help!
Skin cancer and diet:
It’s no secret that the major cause of skin cancer is UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. The UV exposure causes free radicals which damage the skin’s DNA, resulting in skin cancer.
Vitamin supplementation with B3 and skin cancer:
Recent clinical trials of oral Vitamin B3 or niacinamide, have shown promising results High risk patients with a history of 2 or more basal or squamous cells showed a 23% reduction in new skin cancers after taking niacinamide 500 mg twice daily for a year. I recommend this to all of my skin cancer patients!
Certain foods have anti-oxidant properties that may be helpful in skin cancer prevention:
- Lycopene: The red pigment in tomatoes
- Polyphenols in Tea: It takes at least 4 cups of fresh brewed green tea to reduce skin cancer risk
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: found in salmon, tuna, and walnuts
- Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables
Taking B3 and improving your diet will help your skin health. But, the most important skin cancer prevention is using proper sun precautions.
Psoriasis and Diet:
Psoriasis is known to be linked to obesity or higher body mass index (BMI). Several studies have shown increased severity of psoriasis in patients who have higher BMIs. Can diet cure skin issues such as psoriasis? These diet interventions, combined with medications prescribed by a dermatologist will help more than medication alone.
- Decrease intake of alcoholic beverages
- Reduce carbohydrate and sugar intake
- Increase Omega Fatty Acids either with supplements or foods such as salmon, tuna and walnuts
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables.
Skin Health and Vegan Diets:
Vegan diets, without supplementation, may be deficient in B12, iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamin D. Dry skin, increased paleness, brittle hair and nails may be signs of nutritional deficiency in vegans. Can diet cure skin issues due to nutritional deficiencies? Yes! Check with a registered dietitian for recommendations.
A famous quote by Hippocrates states, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Since the skin is a mirror of your overall health, a well-balanced, healthy diet is critical to combating skin disease. Try some of these specific measures if you are at risk for aging skin, skin cancer, acne, or psoriasis.