Eat Your Way To Clear Skin

Reporter: Siobhan Gleeson

Professor Neil Mann from RMIT University is leading the Australian research team who have discovered a solid link between acne and diet. They've shown that what we put in our mouths can either cause or cure pimples.

"We think we've come across a way to alter your diet in a very healthy way that will alleviate the symptoms of acne and at the same time will make you a lot healthier," he said. It is good news for adolescents, as currently about 90 per cent of them suffer from acne.

For this ground-breaking study, Professor Mann recruited 50 boys and divided them into two groups. One ate a typical teen diet full of sugary snacks and processed foods, the other followed a low-GI diet rich in protein. "These can be things like whole grain products that make it more difficult to digest foods quickly. "Protein foods such as meats, fish, non-starchy vegetables and lots of fruit," he explained.

Daniel, 20, used to live on a diet of donuts, pies and potatoes and suffered from acne.As a result, he was often teased and taunted by his peers. "I had a lot of pimples, it was very hard to see white skin on my face," he said. After following the prescribed diet the improvement to his skin was quite remarkable and he was thrilled with the results. "The count of how many pimples were actually on my face was halved in the first four weeks, and the redness was gone."

Working alongside Professor Mann is dermatologist Dr George Varigos who has been using the diet within his own practice."You have to have that lifestyle change and not expect the magic bullet," he said. There are hundreds of acne products on the market, but Dr Varigos says this study proves the best medicine for your face and your hip-pocket is food. "It is a condition that can be treated totally. "Teenagers don't have to wait to grow out of it, that is a wrong conception."

In just 12 weeks the results were impressive."We saw terrific changes, such great improvements in their skin, and also in their personalities," said Professor Mann."50 per cent improvement, in fact, which is more than what you see with topical acne solutions." Elise Graspas, 13, was battling breakouts before mum Andrea took charge. "By grade six it was quite bad and that's when I realised I've got to get this fixed, because I had been through it too," she said. Dr Varigos prescribed the skin-friendly diet. "She was lacking so much in confidence she wanted to help herself as well", said Andrea. "You can either choose if you want to have bad skin and eat junk food, or eat healthilly and have great looking skin", said Elise.

So what exactly do the experts recommend then?

The recommended skin-friendly foods are:
Wholegrain bread
Basmati rice
Sweet potatoes
Lean red meat at least 3-4 times a week
Green vegetables

Foods to avoid are:
White bread
Sweet biscuits
Sugary breakfast cereals
White rice
Cakes and sweet biscuits
Hot chips

But if you're worried convincing your teen to swap chips for carrots will be an impossible task, then listen to those who have seen the results first-hand."If they want to help themselves and their skin, they will change their habits," Andrea said.

And Daniel's advice? "I would say try it and when you see the results you won't care. "Instead of stopping at McDonald's you'll have an apple, you won't care cause the results speak for themselves."