If you’ve been around long enough, the chances are that you’ve experienced acne at some point. It is one of the most common skin conditions that affect both adults and teenagers. It is important to note that acne is multifactorial, meaning that there are many things going wrong in the body that lead to your acne. There are also most likely a number of internal and external factors contributing to these things going wrong. Basically, acne is complicated.
It is no secret that hormones play a significant role in acne, seeing as the time when acne is most prevalent is when people are going through hormonal changes like puberty. Androgens, a kind of hormone, are known to have negative effects on a few of the complicated factors that lead to acne. I’m sure you’re still wondering what this has to do with your diet. We know that diets high in simple sugars and complex carbohydrates raise insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1, which both promote too much production of androgens. Higher androgen levels mean an increase in acne for most people.
We use a tool to measure how carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels in our food. It is called the Glycemic Index. Low food on the index is digested and absorbed more slowly, which means a slower rise in blood sugar and less insulin production. Foods that are high on the index spike blood sugar and insulin by releasing glucose rapidly. Foods like 100% whole wheat products, rolled oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and apples have a low GI. Foods like white bread, rice, russet potatoes, instant oatmeal, and watermelon have a high GI. We want to eat low GI (glycemic index) foods to keep insulin levels low. This helps keep androgen levels where they should be, eliminating acne caused by high androgen levels from food.
As we said in the beginning, there is no one-stop. Hit the nail on the head, acne treatment. Even the closest thing that we have to that, commonly known as Accutane, doesn’t rid acne permanently in a large portion of patients. There are a number of other foods that we did not discuss that have been shown to contribute to acne as well, but we do know that high glycemic diets, the standard American diet, lead to more acne. If you’re up for it, reduce your glycemic index, and your skin will thank you!