The Crazy Reason No One Living On This Island Has Ever Had Acne

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Way out there in the Pacific Ocean, in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, there is an island called Kitava. It is one of the four main Trobriand Islands, an archipelago with a total population of 12,000 indigenous inhabitants. Rich with culture, surrounded on all sides by clear blue water and lush rainforest, Kitava is as stunning as it is remote. But it's got more to offer than good views. As Byrdie reports, Kitava is also home to a people whose diet and nutritional habits remain engineered for well-being, untouched by Western influence. A lifetime of not knowing the sweet, sweet sensation of the salt from a potato chip hitting the roof of your mouth has done more than just spare Kitavans from chronic ailments like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia: It’s also given them a lifetime of smooth, acne-free skin. In a study of 1,200 subjects — including 300 adolescents and young adults — conducted by a team led by medical doctor and professor Steffan Lindeberg over 843 days, not one breakout was reported. They also found that genetics played little to no role in the results; “genetically similar” groups who don’t follow the same dietary guidelines are more susceptible to Western ailments than their Kitavan counterparts. The average Kitavan diet is, by all accounts, fairly unremarkable. It’s simple, with no purported “miracle fruit” or “rare nut” to speak of, and Kitavans don’t even exercise much. Lindeberg, who devoted his life to researching the many downsides of the typical Western diet, concluded that what makes the island’s way of eating so special is that it’s one of the last places on earth where the current inhabitants still follow the same diet as the indigenous people. That diet consists primarily of yams, sweet potatoes, and taro (all part of a group known as tubers), local fruits (namely coconut), fish, and vegetables. At its core, the Kitavan diet is little more than what annoying Instagram foodies refer to as “real food." But it’s apparently managed to keep an entire population blemish-free for generations. But if you're already pulling out your suitcases and drafting a resignation letter to your boss, you might want to slow your roll. For one thing, the closest airport is over 700 miles away from the island, so good luck getting there. And consider this: Do you really want to move somewhere where you'll be the only person with zits until the diet kicks in? Didn't think so.

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