Previous generations were always told that eating certain foods, such as fried foods and chocolate would clog their pores and make their acne worse. Recently, doctors have been saying that diet doesn't affect acne; it's all hormones, bacteria, and genetics. However, an Australian study suggests that the previous advice about avoiding certain foods was sort of right, but now we know exactly what foods and why we should avoid them.
A research team, led by Associate Professor Neil Mann from RMIT University’s School of Applied Sciences, has discovered a solid link between acne and diet.
"We think we've come across a way to alter your diet in a very healthy way that will alleviate the symptoms of acne and at the same time will make you a lot healthier," Associate Professor Mann said.
The study recruited 50 boys and divided them into two groups. One group consumed a typical teen diet of sugary snacks and processed foods, while the other group followed a more natural diet higher in protein and with low-glycemic index foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, and legumes. The study showed impressive results in just 12 weeks.
"The acne of the boys on the higher protein-low GI diet improved dramatically, by more than 50 per cent, which is more than what you see with topical acne solutions," said Associate Professor Mann.
“A diet high in processed foods pushes glucose and insulin levels higher, exacerbating the problem, but low-GI foods do the opposite. The mechanism and the results are as clear as day."
The study seems pretty definitive, but exactly what is the glycemic index? The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates that break down rapidly during digestion have the highest glycemic indices. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a low glycemic index.
Potatoes, rice, white bread, cakes, cookies, soft drinks, and sugary snacks are examples of high-GI foods that elevate blood glucose levels and insulin levels dramatically. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are examples of low-GI foods. When you hear people talking about bad carbs and good carbs, they're talking about high-GI and low-GI foods.
Before you throw up your hands at the changing scientific advice about acne treatment, remember that a low-GI diet is good for your general health, not just for acne treatment. A low-GI diet can help prevent or treat obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are widespread medical problems today. It's the diet that you should be following anyway. Improving your acne is just a bonus!