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Healthy Diet, Healthy Skin

Foods to Avoid When You Have Acne continued...

“It is a complex situation. Put simply, through a series of interactions, the hormones in dairy products increase levels of male hormones called androgens. Androgens increase sebum production, which leads to acne,” Fusco says.  

Simple sugars. Foods with a high glycemic index appear to cause acne breakouts in some people. High glycemic index foods break down quickly during digestion. They include white bread, potatoes, and sugary drinks and snacks.

Researchers at Colorado State University compared the skin of those eating a high glycemic index Western diet with the skin of two groups who eat traditionally low glycemic index foods. Specifically, they looked at the Kitivan Islanders, who eat a diet rich in fruit and fish, and the Aches hunter-gatherers of Paraguay, who eat lots of peanuts and wild game. Both groups had healthy skin and no cases of acne. In comparison, those eating a Western diet high in refined grains, sugary soft drinks, and processed baked goods had high rates of acne. Specifically, the study found that 79% to 95% of adolescents and 40% to 54% of adults 25 and older had acne.  

What is it about simple sugars that lead to breakouts? They cause high insulin levels. “High insulin leads to a series of reactions that increase androgen levels; increased androgens stimulate sebum production and clog pores,” Fusco says.

Research aside, you are the only one who knows the true relationship between your diet and skin problems. To find out which foods send your skin into a tizzy, Marmur suggests keeping a food journal for a month. “Then read over it and highlight your worst breakouts. Look back 72 hours prior to what you eat and see if a pattern emerges,” she says.

Reviewed on June 18, 2011

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