The Carb and Acne Connection

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While most people know that carbohydrates sabotage their diet, they may not know that carbohydrates could also be sabotaging their skin. Furthermore, these offenders are not just the carbohydrates that are usually suspected, like cookies, pastries, and pizza. Even something as seemingly healthy and nutritious as a glass of juice can cause insulin spikes that aggravate acne and produce collagen-damaging inflammation.

Carbohydrates fall into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are highly refined foods like white sugar, white bread, pasta, cake, and soda that are quickly broken down by the body and converted into glucose. The body responds by producing insulin to reduce the blood glucose level. Insulin activates androgen hormones, which, in turn, stimulate oil glands and lead to acne. Moreover, high insulin levels also create inflammation, which produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin.

Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, whole fruit, beans, and legumes, have the opposite effect. The fiber in these foods is digested and absorbed slowly, causing the rise in glucose to be gradual and avoiding the insulin spike. Soluble fiber is best because it absorbs water and turns to gel, helping to not only regulate glucose levels, but also reduce them. Foods with soluble fiber include oats, carrots, peas, apples, and citrus.carbs

An understanding of the glycemic index can help in determining which foods are safe and which are best to avoid. The glycemic index ranks foods on a scale of one to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels. The higher a food ranks on that scale, the worse its effect is on health and skin.

The process of refining foods, like turning whole grain into flour, pushes low glycemic index foods up the scale. The more processed the food is, the higher the glycemic index will be. Keeping foods in their natural state as much as possible is the best way to keep the glycemic index low. Even cooking can have an effect on glycemic index. Raw potatoes, for instance, are a low glycemic index food, but once they are fried or cooked over high heat, their glycemic index increases exponentially.

Keep in mind that juice is not the same as whole fruit. When fruits are juiced, the fiber is removed and the sugar is retained. In fact, the result may be a sugar rush because a glass of juice typically contains three to four pieces of fruit as opposed the single piece that is eaten whole.

One of the simplest ways to maintain beautiful, healthy skin is to eat low glycemic foods, including whole grains, vegetables, and nuts. Avoid fruit juice and eat whole fruit instead. Carbohydrates play an important role in nutrition; be sure to consume the right ones to avoid the insulin spikes that aggravate acne and accelerate aging.

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