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[Ask Dr. Baek] Can a gluten-free diet help my skin?

We've collected the top 4 questions that people have wondered at least once in their lives concerning the relationship between skin and food. Dr. Baek answers based on his extensive 20+ years of experience in the field of science. Let's get started!




Q: My skin is in bad shape, and a friend suggested I remove gluten from my diet to help with my condition. Can this really make a difference?

A: It's not guaranteed to work. Gluten has gained a lot of attention recently, with some people thinking that eating it can cause skin inflammation. They believe that cutting out gluten can relieve red, irritated skin and certain skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. But in reality, eliminating gluten from your diet is only beneficial if you have celiac disease or a high sensitivity to gluten. If you don't, gluten probably isn't affecting your skin, and removing it from your diet won't impact your skin's condition. It's also important to remember that unnecessarily excluding significant food groups from your diet can put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies and potential health issues.




Q: Does eating oily food make my skin oily?

A: No, it doesn't. This is a common misconception. The fat in our diets doesn't directly lead to the oiliness of our skin. Oily skin is primarily caused by overactive sebaceous glands, not the type of foods you consume. There are many reasons for oily skin, including stress, humidity, genetics, fluctuating hormones and skincare routines.




Q: Does eating chocolate make my skin break out?

A: Despite years of research, there's not much evidence to support the idea that specific foods like chocolate directly trigger acne. However, this doesn't mean that your diet has no impact. It's more probable that the sugar found in your chocolate bar or chocolate cakes is responsible for causing new pimples or more severe breakouts than the chocolate itself. If you're a fan of chocolate, consider dark chocolate as a skin-friendly option. Dark chocolate contains lower levels of sugar and high percentage of cacao.




Q: Is it necessary to avoid dairy for better skin? 

A: It's a bit of a myth. Throughout our lives, we've been told that milk and other dairy products are essential for our health. However, research does suggest a connection between dairy consumption and skin issues like acne. It's important to note that dietary records can sometimes be unreliable. For instance, someone who believes strongly that their diet affects their skin may be more likely to remember and report specific dietary elements like milk, compared to those who are skeptical about any connection. This recall bias can impact study results. Other factors, known as "confounders", also could be influencing the findings. For example, it's possible that people who consume more milk also happen to live in more polluted areas, and it's the pollution rather than the milk that's causing the observed skin issues.


Q: Lastly, what do you believe are the primary causes of skin problems, and do you have any tips for maintaining healthy, vibrant skin?

A: Currently, it's unlikely that a single diet can be solely blamed for causing skin issues or guaranteeing clear skin. Therefore, it's perfectly fine to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. Additionally, several factors can potentially harm your skin, including hormonal changes, genetics, exposure to dust and pollutants, an unbalanced diet, cold weather, insufficient sleep, acute and chronic stress, and overdoing your skincare routine. While we can't control factors like genetics, hormonal fluctuations, or weather changes, there are certainly aspects we can manage and change right now.

To ensure your skin stays at its best, consider simplifying your skincare routine by focusing on cleansing and moisturizing. A balanced diet and adequate sleep are also crucial for maintaining healthy skin! 


* No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.