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August 21 2014

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chocolate and stress, your skin’s mortal enemies

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This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. The following query was culled from a private stock, but we’ll be accepting readers’ questions soon.

Is the myth that certain foods will cause you to break out true—for example, does chocolate really cause acne?

Yes, it’s true. Acne is an inflammatory disease. One of the primary and most effective ways to control it on a cellular level is through diet. The key to an anti-inflammatory diet is to eat foods that prevent a rapid rise in blood sugar, which typically causes an insulin response in the body, which then causes an inflammatory response. Different foods are converted to sugar at varying rates. If we consume foods that are rapidly converted to sugar, such as sugary, starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, sweets, soda, candy, chips, rice cakes, pretzels, breads and bagels, snack foods, energy drinks, etc.), we’re putting pro-inflammatory agents into our bodies. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically. Stress also precipitates acne. One way it does this is by elevating levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can result in a flare-up of acne.

Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACN, is a board-certified clinical and research dermatologist, and CEO of NV Perricone MD, Ltd. The author of the three New York Times #1 Best Sellers, he is regarded as the Father of the Inflammation Theory of Aging. Known for a holistic approach to aging and general skincare, he treats his patients in three ways: through diet, nutriceutical supplements, and eponymous line of cosmeceuticals.

Photo: John Lamb/GettyImages

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