Bad Skin? Foods From One of These Two Food Groups May be to Blame
If one of your favorite pick-me-ups is a fruit smoothie made with yogurt and milk, you may need to shop around for another healthy snack if you’ve been battling skin breakouts.
Research published by the American Academy of Dermatology identifies two food groups as possible triggers to acne flare-ups: dairy and carbohydrates, reports an article published by the American Academy of Dermatology . While results are still inconclusive, the evidence is strong enough that many dermatologists and nutritionists are taking notice.
Carbs and Your Skin: A New Way of Viewing Sugars
Carbohydrate-rich foods typically have a high Glycemic Index (GI), which is a measurement of the food’s effect on your blood sugar after consumption. High GI foods cause a spike in blood sugar and corresponding hormonal fluctuations, potentially laying the groundwork for skin breakouts. A study of 43 Australian males, ages 15-25, showed that those who followed a strict, low-glycemic load (LGL) diet showed a significant decrease in acne.
Established in 1981, the GI measurement is a fairly new concept in the world of nutrition, with limited applications outside of diabetes management. Information isn’t always printed on a food’s label, making it difficult to know which foods may be problematic. The University of Sydney provides one of the more complete GI index lists on the Internet. To get started on a low-glycemic diet for the purpose of healthy looking skin, a good rule of thumb is to avoid white bread products, white rice, sugary drinks and sugary cereals. Many of these items can easily be replaced with unprocessed, fiber dense foods. Also turn to vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, which have a naturally low GI index.
Ongoing research also suggests that adding healthy fats and proteins, such as peanut butter or olive oil, to meals with foods that have a high GI may slow the uptake of glucose, thus, lowering the food’s GI.
Dairy and Your Skin: Save the Cow’s Milk for the Cows
Also raising an eyebrow: dairy products. Over recent years, evidence has suggested a link between diary products and skin eruptions, blaming the high rate of oil-stimulating hormones that are present in pregnant cows. All versions of cow’s milk contain hormones, whether it’s organic, lactose free, or other.
A 2006 study of girls showed a connection between acne and the intake of whole, low-fat, and skim milk. A similar study in 2008 among boys showed a similar relationship, but points mainly to skim milk consumption.
Because cow’s milk is found in so many products, it can seem difficult to give it up completely. But there are many dairy-free alternatives on the market. Remember to add in other sources of calcium if you eliminate dairy.
Test out the Theories
While the evidence is still mounting, if you’ve been searching for an end to problem skin, you might see if adjusting for these dietary changes can help. Eliminating one food group at a time is the most scientific way to identify a connection. Be patient; experts suggest it may take up to three months for any affects to become noticeable. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist before making major dietary changes.
And don’t despair; if a food group is a culprit for you, you may not have to abandon it for good. You may be able to tolerate occasional, minimal amounts without ill effects, or re-introduce it a few years when your skin condition changes.
Make Some Swaps
It may seem overwhelming to cut such vast food groups out of your diet, but once you start looking, you’ll find lots of tasty substitutions. Here are five to get you started:
- Ice cream: try sorbet, scrape up some Italian ice, or chop up an overripe banana, freeze it, then whir in a blender with a dollop of honey.
- Cow’s milk: almond milk, soy, and coconut milk are popular dairy-free alternatives available at most grocery stores. Try each one to see where your taste preference lies. Coffee creamers are also available in dairy-free options.
- White bread or bagels: whole grain bread products have a lower GI index, and with their denser texture and chewier bite, they can be more satisfying.
- Cheesy pizza: try topping a whole grain pizza-crust with sauce and a generous dose of chopped, roasted vegetables, such as mushrooms, peppers, eggplant and onion. You may never miss the cheese! If you do, a sprinkling of dairy-free cheese may fool you.
- Snack time: Cheese and crackers or drippy nachos aren’t the only thing to munch on; hummus, salsa, or guacamole make great, dairy-free toppings for crackers and chips.
A dietary change may be the best thing you ever did for your skin.