WATCH: Does Sugar Cause Acne?
Dr. Audrey Kunin weighs in.
Clearer skin may not start in your medicine cabinet — but with cleaning up your diet.
While dairy, in particular, gets a bad rap when it comes to breakouts, sugar, as it turns out, may be more problematic. "Refined sugars from sweets, bread, potatoes and pastas can increase blood sugar which can trigger acne," Dr. Audrey Kunin, Dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor, explained to Southern Living. "Dairy products with added sugars (like ice cream) are also on the list of potential blemish-causing foods."
Yikes. So what exactly is at play here? "Excessive consumption of sugar raises insulin levels, which, in turn, can lead to skin inflammation and trigger blemishes. It also can cause a process called glycation in which sugars become attached to dermal collagen fibers and further exacerbate acne and rosacea," offered Dr. Kunin.
Earlier this week, The Atlantic published a story with the grabby headline "Pizza Doesn't Give You Acne—But What About Sugar?" and while the correlation between diet and acne is not as clear-cut as you'd hope, the article, too, stresses the havoc sugar can wreak on our skin: "Multiple studies have now found that diets with a high glycemic load can trigger acne in certain persons," Rajani Katta, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas at Houston, told The Atlantic. "Anne Chapas, the founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology, agrees. 'The spikes in blood sugar which arise from eating high-glycemic foods causes oil production, which in turn causes acne,' she said. 'We know that those cause a harmful hormonal environment.'"
To help keep acne triggers in check, Kunin recommends a low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet. Fill your diet with high-fiber vegetables like broccoli and kale, antioxidant rich berries, lean protein, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, she advises. For more advice, check out these dermatologist-approved foods to eat for radiant skin.