Not All The Great Pyramids Are in Egypt: Your Diet and Its Effect On Acne

Acne is a drag.

(I’m sure the Pro-Acne Lobby disagrees with me, but for the most part I think you’ll get onboard with this one).

Acne is a complete, inconvenient drag.

It appears just as you are about to meet the Queen. Or when you go for that big interview. Or on that date with that sexy barista from your favorite coffee shop. Inevitable.

Or for some – any time.

Acne is part of every day life. It can pose ongoing challenges that bring embarrassment and frustration on a regular basis. For a few, it brings discomfort and life long issues hard to navigate around.

However Eric Schweiger, a dermatologist at Clear Clinic in New York City, seems hopeful. Although he provides a variety of treatments for his patients, basic diet and lifestyle changes play an important role in his suggestions. In fact he created a handy simple graphic to help people reduce the appearance of acne. His Acne Food Pyramid helps people figure out which foods make the problem worse and which make it better. His hope that a simple graphic, like the USDA My Plate program, will support those needing a handy reminder of what to avoid at all costs.

The winner of the worst foods to eat? Simple carbohydrates.

Not a surprise really.

White rice. Potatoes. Pretzels. Scones. Muffins. French fries. Sugar Cereal. Even rice cakes. Rice cakes are higher on the glycemic index than table sugar if you can imagine that. So much for my idea that regular rice cake chomping was a healthy alternative to potato chips.

Life can be cruel.

His food pyramid and his clinic are featured in a recent article (see here) and his advice sounds solid. Basically he suggests lots of antioxidants (like berries), lots of fiber (say from veggies) and good hydration (drink your water). Stay away from the processed foods in favor of a nice leafy green. Keep your hydration up so that your body keeps everything flowing well. Keep glycemic load down so as to keep insulin levels – and therefore hormone levels – down.

Just the kind of things we talk about all the time here at Organic MD. Pay attention to what goes in your body and make sure to support toxins and waste getting out. Find ways to balance your system, rather than having multiple levels too high or too low. Interesting how this message keeps appearing again and again in the media. Find your balance and your body becomes vibrant and happy.

(Image courtesy of Clear Clinic)

Simple Carbs Be Gone

The evidence for all this stems from research that appeared last year in the Journal of Drugs in Dermitology. (Check it out here). The authors of the work, Shereen N. Mahmood MD and Whitney P. Bowe MD, found that dietary issues are a key contributor to acne outbreaks.

From the introduction of their paper they state:

“The relationship between diet and acne….has been historically controversial. In the 1930s through the 1960s, patients were regularly counseled regarding their dietary habits, as dietary triggers were thought to play a major role in acne. Following two critically impactful studies dietary restrictions were deemed no longer necessary. The idea that diet affected acne was relegated to myth.

In 2007, one of the authors published a review in the JAAD re-implicating certain dietary factors in acne based on emerging evidence. This article concluded that refined carbohydrates and certain dairy products, in particular skim milk, appeared to be associated with acne. Since that review, several studies have been conducted, further elucidating which dietary factors play the largest role when it comes to acne.

In this update, we present those studies and confirm our initial suspicion that refined carbohydrates are indeed the main dietary contributors to acne. This article is meant to serve as a follow up to that original JAAD publication, providing an update on the evidence linking diet and acne with a specific focus on carbohydrate intake.” 

They found that foods with a high glycemic rating helped acne outbreaks kick in even more, suggesting that dermatologists encourage patients to stay with Low Glycemic Foods whenever possible. Foods like broccoli, red peppers, sweet potatoes and chick peas fall in this category.

If you look on the Pyramid graphic, wheat is a component of several items on the high end of the scale – mostly the processed ones. I am always amazed how many products have wheat snuck in somewhere. Although whole wheat does appear in Low Glycemic Foods list as well, this connects to sprouted grain and less processed wheat. Source is important. So if you eat wheat, look for brands like Ezekiel bread as an item lower on the index.

However even if you are gluten free altogether, you might still have an issue. Many gluten free foods often fall on the high end of the glycemic index. Rice pasta is a good example. Or gluten free bread. They seem good except that usually these foods use rice, potato starch and tapioca to compensate for the lack of wheat. In the end you avoid wheat only to replace it with an equally troublesome item that boosts your sugar levels.

Sorry about that, but important to be aware of this.

We talk to people every week wondering why they feel off even after cutting out wheat. When we ask we hear that they simply replaced the wheat products with their gluten free counterparts. Instead of same-same replacement, strive for more overall balance of foods. I know the desire for crunchy pretzels is strong, but the gluten free option proves to hurt you as well.

If Only King Tut Ate More Veggies (Sorry little pyramid humor)

Again veggies win the day, giving your skin (and body) a better chance to stay healthy and clear. Grains like Quinoa step in to save you so that your family does not revolt after the millionth salad. One does need to be practical. Luckily the alternatives work well and don’t break the budget. For 2015 plan to see more recipes from us to cover this very issue of how to eat well and inexpensively.

Although diet may not be enough for some in regards to acne, it’s a good place to start. You can control diet and what you eat. Harder to do with the environment. Each time you go to the market you can choose. You can make an impact on your wellness. Sure that means saying goodbye to those Sugar Snacky Pops, but frankly you are better off without them.

Yea they taste great in the moment. Less so when they start to damage your body.

We appreciate Dr. Schweiger and his willingness to put his idea out there. Helpful tools to support us in navigating the complex dietary environment of our lives is always appreciated. The options of what to eat everyday seem to multiply by the minute. Manufacturers are learning more inventive ways at masking or downplaying the effects of certain ingredients in their food. We as consumers must be ready with as many resources as possible to help us find our way.

Have an acne transformation story from a diet change? If so, share your story in the comments. Your experience of success inspires others that change is possible.

On Friday, in the first of a multi-part series, we explore the role Minerals play in our wellness. Don’t miss it. Minerals are foundational to our health and we do not get enough of them.

Until then – To Your Health.

 

 

Post image courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / designer491

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