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Skin Deep: Nutrition and Good Skin
An Interview with Dr. Alan Logan

Back when I was a Ph.D. student, I had this roommate who was a great athlete; he even went on to play professional sports. He was also a great student, graduating with honors. And on top of that he was a great looking guy, a big hit with the ladies.

But despite all the great things he had going for him, he had one fatal shortcoming: his skin. Whenever he was stressed out about sport, school, or women, he'd suffer severe breakouts. Quickly, almost overnight, his face would swell and get overtaken by bumps, lumps, whiteheads, and blackheads.

And it was then that he'd disappear from existence. He wouldn't leave the house. Heck, he'd barely leave his room. He'd suffer severe depression. In essence, he was a different guy entirely.

It always pained me to see him go through these phases of his life. It sucks watching your best friend on such a roller coaster with no way to help out. I'm sure acne sufferers and their loved ones know exactly what I'm talking about.

So when Dr. Alan Logan shared his latest research with me, I knew I wanted to help spread the word.

Alan is a naturopath and lecturer in Harvard's mind-body medicine courses. He studies how nutrition and lifestyle can impact everything from body composition to brain health to skin health. In his latest book, The Clear Skin Diet, Alan provides an in-depth discussion of how nutrition and lifestyle can either worsen acne or eliminate it.

Dr. John Berardi: To start off, Alan, your name should already be familiar to the T-Nation audience. The interview you did for us, Nutrition, Your Brain, and Your Body, got tons of great feedback. For those who missed the interview, let's give everyone a quick glimpse of who you are and what you do.

Dr. Berardi: Although some naturopaths are pretty out there, you're as well-referenced as they come. And I'm always impressed with your ability to see the connections between different fields of study.

Dr. Berardi: Okay, let's talk nutrition then. Around here at Testosterone, most folks think of nutrition mostly as a means to improve body composition and improve performance. However, I know you're always looking at nutrition in new ways. For example, in your book, The Brain Diet, you discussed how nutrients can impact brain health, mood, and behavior. What other novel nutrition related endpoints are you currently looking at?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: I read an advance copy of The Clear Skin Diet and noted that you've pretty much called out mainstream dermatology with your controversial theories, especially with respect to nutrition.

Why is there so much in-fighting in the field. I mean, doesn't everyone who's nutritionally aware already know that certain foods trigger acne symptoms?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: These were chocolate studies, right?

Good, healthy skin has a glow.

Dr. Berardi: Wow, what unbelievable arrogance we see in that quote right there! So as a tribute to that dermatologist, let's discuss chapter two of your book. In this chapter you've included one of the greatest expository pieces I've read to date on how limited the average medical student's nutrition training can be. What's up with this and why does it piss you off so much?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: You know, I was particularly surprised by the studies published in Nutrition Journal showing the following:

1. Nearly 25% of medical students didn't know that fat contains, gram-for-gram, more calories than an equivalent serving of protein or carbohydrates.

2. Nearly 50% of the students were unaware that olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat.

3. Nearly 50% of the students thought that folic acid (B9) supplementation can make up for a B12 deficiency.

Dr. Berardi: Plus it'd be nice if the medical students themselves actually knew something about good nutrition personally.

Dr. Berardi: Okay, let's quit picking on the field of medicine. After all, despite these flaws, there are some great things happening in medicine every hour of every day. Getting back to the subject of skin health, in your book you present the case that our current diets may be to blame for the increase in both adolescent and adult acne over the last 50 years. What do you think the biggest nutritional culprits are?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: So, dietary displacement — making room for more junk foods by removing healthy foods — is really to blame.

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: Beyond Dr. Cordain's studies, you present an interesting comparison between the Japanese and North Americans with respect to diet and acne prevalence. What's the link?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: But what about genetics? Obviously nutrition isn't the only factor involved in acne. What other lifestyle factors, genetic factors, etc. can promote a worsening of acne symptoms and breakouts?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: Well, all of these lifestyle and nutritional considerations certainly help explain the story I shared with you earlier. My roommate suffered from severe acne breakouts whenever he was having any substantial stress — whether it was sport, school, or relationship stress.

Dr. Berardi: Right, and due to this stress, he'd eat lots of sugar and inflammatory junk foods.

Dr. Berardi: In the end, what could he have done to prevent these breakouts?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: Speaking of food, what about on that front?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: Basically what many Testosterone readers already do.

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: For example?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: But what about commercial, topical products — you know, the ones that seem to be making all the folks happy on the infomercials? Why focus on nutrition when these are available?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: And while we're on the topic of other remedies, what about the stuff that seems to make everyone really sad — Accutane?

Dr. Berardi: Wow, another link to my buddy's story. He'd suffer severe depression when he'd get his breakouts. What's up with that?

Dr. Berardi:  The same deficiencies may be causing acne and depression! I wish I would've known this stuff a few years ago!

Well, Alan, this interview has been really interesting and has helped explain a lot of my own experiences with acne. I'd like to wrap up the interview with the following question:

the typical T-Nation reader prioritizes muscle mass and strength, prioritizes high Testosterone levels, trains with high volume and intensity, sweats hard and often, and eats a high protein diet. What's the prognosis, doc?

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: Uh-oh!

Dr. Logan:

Dr. Berardi: Awesome, Alan. Great stuff! Thanks for the interview and keep us up to date on your latest research.

About Dr. Logan

About Dr. Berardi

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