‘Well Mr. Potato, do foods cause acne? Fess up.. this is only going to get worse for you if you lie.’
A recent study by the Baylor College of Medicine found that foods with a high glycemic index actually can affect, if not directly cause, acne.
‘What’s that spud? You want a lawyer? You haven’t even been charged with anything yet. Why are you acting so guilty?‘
For good reason, it seems. We’ve known fairly conclusively for a long time that lots of things can spark an acne flare-up, and that certain foods cause acne episodes in some people.
According to Dr. Rajani Katta, professor of dermatology at Baylor, the correlation between acne and your diet is very interesting. He says that years ago “dermatologists thought the two were not linked, but now researchers say there is evidence for a link between sugar and carbohydrates and acne.”
Do foods cause acne… don’t make me laugh. This is a slam dunk case.
‘Go ahead and squirm Potato. Because the overwhelming body of evidence has shown that foods with a high glycemic index can indeed influence breakouts.‘
Dr. Ramsey Markus, associate professor of dermatology at Baylor, furthers adds that “foods high on the glycemic index, meaning foods high in refined carbohydrates such as sugar, cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels. And as a result of the high blood sugar levels there is a cascade of hormones released that eventually stimulate the oil gland, leading to worsening of acne”.
‘I knew it spud, you’re guilty of inciting acne in the first degree!’
Let’s put that in perspective. If pure glucose has a glycemic index of 100, a baked russet potato comes in at a whopping 111.
High glycemic index foods might include these, for example:
Russet potato, baked
Puffed rice cakes
There’s more to the story, but it gets complicated and isn’t entirely related to the basic correlation between high glycemic index foods and acne.
That is, the studies didn’t show a preference for low or high glycemic load carbohydrates, just that the high blood sugar level correlated with an increase in acne.
But for the sake of complete clarity I’ll add it to the discussion of foods causing pimples.
Specifically, if you’re looking into how much of an effect a particular food has on blood sugar, you have to think about two things: how fast that food’s glucose enters the bloodstream, and how much total glucose that food delivers.
That value is called the glycemic load.
To make it easier for you to figure out how guilty Mr. Potato really is, you reach the glycemic load (GL) of a food by multiplying that foods Glycemic Index (GI – as a percentage) by the number of net carbohydrates in a given serving. Shown mathematically as:
GL = GI/100 x Net Carbs
(Net Carbs are equal to the Total Carbohydrates minus Dietary Fiber)
A glycemic load of 10 or lower is low.
A glycemic load of 20 or above is high.
Remember that I said it gets complicated? Well, here’s why. Understanding the glycemic index and glycemic load sheds more light on the foods you love, but requires you to think in a big-picture way.
Take watermelon, which has a really high glycemic index (80). However, because it has so few carbohydrates per serving (6 grams), it has a low glycemic load of only 5. Not too bad.
So for watermelon, 80/100 x 6 [or] .8 x 6 = GL of 4.8 (rounded to 5)
You could be confused with watermelon because based on the really low GL it has, it seems healthy… and it is. While that low GL is great for your waistline, watermelon, due to its high GI of 80, is still a possible trigger for acne.
So here’s the takeaway to make this simpler. For most of us acne sufferers only worry about the Glycemic Index of a food and avoid those which are high. There’s no ‘magic’ GI number, use good judgement and keep to foods as low as possible, whenever possible.
Do Greasy Foods Cause Acne?
According to Dr. Linda Stein Gold, no, greasy foods aren’t by themselves a problem.
Dr. Stein Gold is a dermatologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and is a leading expert in the field. She was also involved in writing the proverbial book on acne, the New American Academy of Dermatology’s guidelines on managing acne.
But she agrees that sugars and carbs, like those found in the defendant, Mr. Potato.. those are another story.
According to her, when we consume high carb foods, “the sugar in the blood goes up quickly, and that triggers a cascade of events that increases hormones and increases sebum, and all this together actually causes acne to flare up,” she explains.
Who else thinks that foods can lead to acne?
Dr. Mitchel Goldman agrees with me that foods (specifically high glycemic foods) can cause an acne episode. Watch him talk about it here.
Also, according to the NIH, foods can definitely cause a pimple problem.
The National Institute of Health writes that the following are believed to be acne triggering foods, though there’s no citation of evidence.
“Three major food classes that promote acne are: 1) hyperglycemic carbohydrates, 2) milk and dairy products, 3) saturated fats including trans-fats and deficient polyunsaturated fatty acids.
There are other things which we’re certain can trigger an outbreak, such as the hormonal swings of youth and midlife, pollutants and even pharmaceuticals like steroids and lithium.
Also, if you’re deficient in vital nutrients from poor or improper diet, then your acne can be affected. That’s why I recommend an organic and all natural supplement and vitamin company like Nature’s brand, which you can check out here.
For an extended list of foods and their glycemic index value, have a look my post here on Glycemic Index And Acne.
But we’ve gotten side-tracked, haven’t we? Sneaky potato.
Pimples And Food And Blame
Why are we even having this discussion? Because acne will affect about 80 percent of us at some level and some point in our lives.
Despite that, we don’t know much about what causes or triggers acne, and of course there are few known effective treatments.
Worse still, the most severe cases of acne won’t even respond to traditional pharmaceutical acne weapons like Accutane, nor benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics. We need more research and it looks like we’re getting there.
Do Foods Cause Acne – Rebuttal
The defense steps up and argues that the evidence is inadmissible because it generalizes and unfairly singles out their client.
They offer up as proof the following information, presented by the UCLA Newsroom in an article which cites ground-breaking scientific discoveries which may exonerate their client.
Spud sits upright in his chair and leans forward, listening intently.
Specifically to this topic of foods causing acne, we know that bacteria on our skin plays a role in whether or not we’ll get acne. And we know that everyone has the acne bacteria living on their skin.
However, and to the point, 1 in 5 people may only ever have a single pimple in the entire life, no matter what they eat.
This leads us to what may be good news for you, and for Mr. Potato’s criminal record.
A February 2013 study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute discovered that acne bacteria contains “bad” strains which we have associated with pimples, and a “good” strain which might even be a skin protectant.
The study was published in the February 28, 2013 edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
This bacteria in particular, the baddie known to lab geeks as Propionibacterium acnes (and known to the rest of us as P. acnes) has lots of strains.
Researchers isolated 1000 strains from the 101 samples of bacteria taken from the noses of their study subjects. They sequenced the genomes of 66 of those strains and ultimately made the discovery we’re talking about.
In particular, they found two strains which were most commonly found in acne sufferers and seldom in those without acne. And even more promising to researchers was the discovery of a strain which is almost never found in acne sufferers… meaning possibly that adding this strain to creams could be a future treatment for acne.
Enough Already, I’m Getting A Headache
O.K., I hear you, I’m falling asleep just writing it. The bottom line is this, as it relates to Mr. Potato’s guilt or innocence.
Food may act as a trigger for acne only on those who are predisposed to acne as a result of this bad bacteria strain (which sadly is about 4 out of 5 of us). And as of right now we have no way of testing for which foods serve as our personal triggers.
If you’re in the 20% of the population who don’t get acne and pimples like me and the rest of the world, eat whatever you want (you make me sick).
The rest of us should heed this advice.
There is merit and validity to the claim that foods can cause acne. In particular, as mentioned earlier, stay away from high glycemic index foods and keep your face clean, which means don’t touch it with your nasty, bacteria-laden hands. LOL That’s a pet peeve of mine.
So yes, foods do cause acne for some people.
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