EATING oily fish and hummus might not seem the most logical way to keep a clear complexion.
But scientists believe consuming salmon, mackerel and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids – such as chick peas – can help prevent acne.
The discovery, presented at a medical conference this weekend, will give parents a much-needed additional weapon in the eternal battle to get teenage children to eat their evening meal.
German dermatologists made the link after examining the diets of 100 people over 12 with acne, and examining levels of certain nutritional markers in their blood. They found 94 of them had omega-3 below recommended levels.
The team, from the Department of Dermatology and Allergy at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, think these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties which help stop acne from forming.
Dr Anne Gϋrtler, lead author of the study, said: ‘Nutrition plays a pivotal role in the prevention, onset, and course of many diseases, including dermatologic disorders such as acne vulgaris.
‘Clinicians should provide patients with information on how their choice of diet might impact their dermatologic diagnosis – and could potentially enhance therapeutic outcomes.’
She added that omega-3s, which can also be taken as a supplement in capsule form, ‘appear most promising’ as a way of clearing up acne ‘due to their anti-inflammatory effects’.
Volunteers in the study with low omega-3 status tended to have higher levels of a hormone which induces acne, called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
Those with higher levels of the fatty acids tended to eat lots of pulses like chick peas and lentils and legumes like green beans and peas.
Experts believe salmon, pictured, mackerel and other food high in omega-3 fatty acids – such as chickpeas and lentils – can ensure a clear complexion
Acne occurs when tiny pores in the skin called hair follicles become blocked. Below these pores are ‘sebaceous’ glands which secrete an oily substance called sebum that lubricates the hair.
These glands can start secreting too much sebum, which then mixes with dead skin cells plugging the pore, thus causing a spot. Normally harmless bacteria living on the skin can then infect the plugged pore, making matters worse.
Acne is often worse during puberty because rising testosterone levels, in both boys and girls, can cause the sebaceous glands to go into overdrive.
But it also affects about one in 20 adults, according to a study also presented at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Spring Symposium in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Assistant Professor Asli Bilgic, of Akdeniz University in Turkey, said: ‘Acne vulgaris is a condition that weighs heavily on its many sufferers, including negatively impacting their personal and professional lives.
‘It is also one of the most frequent reasons for consultation in general practice as patients look for ways to alleviate their symptoms.
‘This exciting research helps us get one step closer to providing effective treatments for the millions of people who face embarrassment and stigma from this skin condition, looking beyond topical skin ointments and classical systemic treatments to a pathway which can have additional health benefits.
‘It also strengthens the idea of a healthy diet is essential for long term remission in acne vulgaris.’