Do you or your kids have acne problems? The majority of adolescents and a small number of adults deal with
significant facial blemishes. I remember going through a bought in my early 20’s. It can be difficult for teens and
young adults entering the dating years if they are always worrying about how they look. If your kids are struggling
with acne, you may be able to help them out now, while setting them up for a healthier future at the same time.
An interesting article published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described improvements in
teenage acne using a low glycemic diet. I have written many articles before on the glycemic index. Typically, I
have focused on the benefit of a low glycemic diet for weight loss, chronic disease prevention and energy level
increases. However, this new study suggests that it is also beneficial for acne therapy.
In the study, the investigators recruited 15 – 25 year old boys/men with acne problems. They instructed half of
them to eat low glycemic foods and the other half continued eating mostly as they had been. They made sure that
the change in diet did not differ from the amount of calories they were already eating; they didn’t want weight loss
to be a factor. The investigators also made sure that the participants didn’t now that they were being checked for
acne treatments – to avoid a placebo effect. Instead, they thought it was a test for monitoring protein to
After 12 weeks of dietary intervention the low glycemic diet group had significant improvements in their acne
compared to before they started on the diet and compared to the control group. This is another ingenious example
of how to use lifestyle choices to address problems that we often resort to drug treatments for.
The cause of acne is still mostly unknown. Way back in the 1930’s doctors believed that it had something to do with
blood sugar, but this fell out of favor with some research in the late 1960’s. More recently, that later work has been
called into question and the concept that acne has something to do with carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar
has gained ground again. This new study suggests that the blood sugar metabolism theory may have some validity.
To revisit, low glycemic foods are those that don’t spike your blood sugar. They consist of proteins and complex
carbohydrates, typically higher in fiber, that burn slowly and give you sustained energy release. We don’t
completely understand the reason why these foods would be good for acne treatment, but it seems to have
something to do with insulin levels.
High glycemic diets spike insulin levels by spiking blood sugar. Insulin, in turn, affects a whole bunch of other
hormones that are especially raging in teenagers and young adults and this appears to stimulate acne.
You don’t need to understand all the nuts and bolts of the biology to get the benefit. The great thing is that this new
data will arm you with some reasons to convince your teens to adopt a healthy low glycemic diet. They will
probably care much more about eating foods that will help clean up their face now, than they will about preventing
heart disease and diabetes in their forties and fifties. But paying attention to what they eat will help them now and
Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLC