The debate goes on in 2010: it seems that scientists and consumers continue to disagree that certain foods can prevent or cause acne and the brown spots that follow as scarring. Some leading scientific organizations in both dermatology and nutrition deny any link to foods that treat acne or have any influence over the condition. But sufferers who have endured the difficult, embarrassing effects of acne often swear that certain foods, such as chocolate or fried foods cause their acne or make flare-ups worse.
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According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "diet has never been proven to have a role in the cause or treatment for acne. Dietary cause is one of the most persistent myths about acne." Instead, the AAD lists the following as "bringing on acne": heredity, testosterone in both males and females, menstruation, emotional stress, oil and grease from cosmetics or work environment. The site also mentions that "a healthy diet is good for general health," which includes the skin, the largest organ in the human body.
Opposing this view, the National Institutes of Health states that "therapeutic vitamins A, D and antioxidant vitamins C,E, and coenzyme Q10 vitamins play an increasing role in skin care. Their benefits range from improving skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis to the protection against environmental insults, or free radicals. These vitamins and the mineral selenium have been proven to "help prevent cellular damage from free radicals, which are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism that may contribute to developing chronic disease and an impaired immune system," according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
The Senior Journal reports on the largest USDA study of foods rich in antioxidants. The study, which appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, looked at over 100 foods and found the two foods highest in antioxidants are: beans, with the highest content being in dried, small red beans, followed by red kidney beans and pinto beans; and fruits such as wild blueberries cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, prunes, plums, red delicious apples, granny smith apples, cherries and gala apples.
Vegetables and Nuts
Cooked artichokes are the highest antioxidant veggie, followed by russet potatoes, cooked with the skin on. Pecans and walnuts also are beneficial.
"The bottom line," states Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D., a chemist and nutritionist with the USDA's Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock, "eat more fruits and veggies." If you keep this one statement in mind, you will have a much better chance of keeping your skin healthy and disease-free.
Selenium-rich Nuts and Proteins
The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that selenium is the most important antioxidant mineral to help your skin.
"Selenium becomes proteins to make selenoproteins, which are the most important antioxidant enzymes to help prevent cellular damage from the harmful effects of free radicals," which destroy skin cells and increase acne, wrinkles and fine lines.
The richest food in selenium is dried, unblanched Brazil nuts, followed by walnuts. Selenium-rich proteins include light tuna, canned in oil, drained, cooked beef, cod, turkey and chicken breast.
Grains, Eggs and Dairy
Selenium is also found in grains such as enriched noodles, oatmeal, rice and whole grain bread.
Proteins high in selenium include eggs, low-fat cottage cheese and cheddar cheese.
Vitamins A and D
The last two categories of skin-smart foods are those high in vitamins A & D. Highest in vitamin A, or beta-carotene, are beef liver and carrot juice. The Harvard School of Medicine warns too much vitamin A may result in hip fracture or birth defects. They recommend getting your A in the form of beta-carotene, as it is "not toxic, even in high doses."
Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are a few of the rare natural sources of vitamin D. Fortified milk and a little sunshine are the most common ways of getting this important healthy-skin vitamin.