Say Goodbye To Acne

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Say Goodbye To Acne

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Sugar & Acne: What to Know & How to Control

November 3, 2023

Knowledge is (will) power!

The beginning of the sugar season is upon us.

Ahhh, as the post-Halloween-candy-coma is behind us, it undeniably marks the beginning of the ‘sweets and sugar season’ awaiting us just around the corner. Holiday get-togethers, family dinners and sugary, homemade treats……commence! It’s colder outside, daylight hours are fewer and food is often the center of our social gatherings…spelling over-indulgence and sometimes downright out-of-control pumpkin pie inhalation. (Don’t look at me! I’m merely suggesting this phenomenon!)

As we’re on the verge of popping the next tasty treat into our mouths, let’s take a moment to break down some potentially unintended consequences of consuming too much (Note! We said ‘too much’ and definitely not ‘some’) sugar on our bodies and skin. Knowledge is (will) power!

What happens to your body (and your skin) when you consume sugar?

Special shout-out to biological sciences as we dive in here….

The Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food causes our blood sugar levels to rise. The measure ranks food on a scale of 0-100.

Low GI: 1 to 55
Medium GI: 56 to 69
High GI: 70 and higher

Every bite of food (whether it ranks high or low on the glycemic index) is broken down into blood sugar and that signals the pancreas to release insulin. The insulin ushers the blood sugar into the body’s cells to be used for energy. Insulin also signals glucose storage in the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue for future energy requirements. Foods with a high GI are quickly digested and absorbed, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar, a corresponding rapid rise in insulin and overall weight gain if energy is stored and not quickly used.

A spike in blood sugar, hyperglycemia, creates overall body inflammation which absolutely affects the skin (remember, the skin is the largest organ of the body!). Systemic inflammation causes elevated cortisol levels which leads to surges in skin oil, or sebum production. While sebum is good for our skin because it makes our skin soft and waterproof, too much leads to more breakouts for acne-prone people. This is because sebum gets trapped in the layers of retained dead skin cells in the hair follicles, which attracts bacteria into the follicles to feed on the sebum and that triggers our immune systems to produce heat and send in white blood cells (create a pimple) to fight off the infection. Whew!! I hope you followed all that!

Studies show that people who consume a high amount of refined sugars have more severe and longer acne breakouts (due to the high inflammation levels in their body) than those who consume foods that rank low on the glycemic index. Bottom line is to maintain a well balanced diet full of vegetables, lean proteins and low in sugar. A low inflammatory diet also gives your body the necessary building blocks to heal breakouts quickly.

Unfortunately for most people, eliminating sugar completely from your diet will not eliminate your breakouts. But what you may find is that by reducing refined sugars and simple carbohydrates in your diet, the number and size of your breakouts decreases as well as the healing rate increases so your skin looks and feels its best. Without inflammation exacerbating breakouts and without the excess sebum production, your breakouts could be dramatically shortened.

So what is the net-net?

Enjoy life. It is short. Eat the candy – just not all of it. Make the cake then enjoy a slice with your kids. Just maybe not two slices. Everything in moderation… even gluttony. 🙂


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