If you believe everything you see or read, a vegan or vegetarian diet is a natural and healthy way of clearing up acne.
However, can switching to a plant based lifestyle prevent your acne breakouts?
Well, there are some studies which suggest acne could be caused by having a lot of animal proteins in your diet.
Acne And Meat – What’s The Link?
In the body there’s a protein-complex known as mTORC1 (or mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1). This is responsible for the healthy function and growth of cells.
It is believed by some researchers that mTORC1 can cause a chain reaction that triggers acne breakouts in the body.
mTORC1 can be activated by certain nutrients and particularly amino acids such as leucine. Chicken, beef and other meets have a naturally high level of leucine.
mTORC1 may be overstimulated when subjected to very high levels of leucine. This, in turn, affects sebum production, inflammation and the growth of skin cells.
Also, leucine is a building block from which our sebaceous glands can create sebum. The factors are all linked with the development of acne.
When mTORC1 is over-activated, androgen hormones are also increased. These are major players in the development of acne.
Although these factors are known, more studies will be needed to prove beyond doubt a link between eating meat and developing acne.
Will Becoming A Vegan Help Me To Control My Acne?
Like a vegetarian, a vegan won’t eat any meat but they also won’t eat any other foods which are derived from animals including eggs, dairy products and often honey.
Evidence has shown that dairy can have a role to play in developing acne, with dairy having been demonstrated to trigger acne breakouts in those with a sensitivity.
Cheese and skimmed milk appear to be the most problematic culprits. Like meat, both skimmed milk and cheese have a high level of leucine.
It has been suggested in other studies that hormones found in milk could also have a role to play. IGF-1 is an insulin-like growth factor found in high levels in milk and IGF-1 is also known to stimulate mTORC1.
It is important, however, to be aware that consuming dairy products hasn’t been demonstrated to result in acne breakouts in anyone with typically clear skin.
However, for some, milk could worsen any existing breakouts. Other foods which are animal-based like honey, lard and eggs, haven’t been demonstrated to affect acne development at all.
Also, sticking to a vegan lifestyle has not yet been proven to eliminate acne. While reducing the amount of dairy you consume could reduce breakouts for some people, switching to an entirely vegan diet may not be necessary.
I Am Vegan/Vegetarian And I’m Still Suffering From Acne – Why?
It’s likely that diet does have a role to play in development of acne, but it is probably an attributing factor rather than a primary one.
Some people can live a very healthy lifestyle with a vegan or vegetarian diet, no sugar or junk food and only organic produce and still suffer from acne.
On the other hand, some people eat lots of dairy and meat and never develop spots.
The way in which diets affect the skin and body is complex. As yet, it isn’t fully understood.
However, there is no direct link between specific foods and breakouts. You can’t simply say that meat causes acne or dairy causes breakouts. Having one glass of skimmed milk won’t necessarily cause pimples tomorrow!
However, certain people may find that specific foods influence their acne development, making their existing breakouts more severe.
If you want to become a vegan or vegetarian for moral reasons or to improve your health, that’s great. However, if you’re a committed carnivore who is thinking about switching to a plant-based diet solely to improve your skin, you may end up being disappointed. While some sufferers may see improvements, others will experience no change.
If you are suffering from acne breakouts, the best thing to do is use a specific over the counter treatment for acne prone skin.
If you experience no relief, visiting a doctor or dermatologist is then the best course of action so you can get professional help and advice.