Does Sugar Cause Acne?

What Is The Link Between Sugar and Acne Breakout Feature Image

Acne affects nearly 10 percent of the world’s population. A lot of factors contribute its development, including hormones, inflammation, blocked pores, p. acnes, keratin, and sebum production. 

Thankfully there are ways to alleviate the issues, even from the comfort of your home. Although there has been a controversial link between diet and the formation of breakouts, research shows that it plays a significant role. Here, find out how sugar causes acne and what you can do about it.

Why Sugar Causes Acne

Sugar falls under the class of the high glycemic (GI) foods known to cause a spike in blood glucose levels. Think of simple carbs such as white bread and sugary treats. Science now says that foods with a high GI [1] are to blame for acne breakouts. This is because the hormone insulin is produced when excess sugars are consumed. 

When this happens, inflammation is experienced all over the body, putting your skin at risk of pimples and other skin problems. Inflammation breaks down elastin and collagen. These are the two most vital building blocks of the skin.

pancake with frosted sugar

They are responsible for keeping your skin youthful. Sugar leads to chronic inflammation, which then damages the two proteins. What results are fine lines, pimple breakouts, deep wrinkles, and early symptoms of aging. But how does sugar cause acne? You might ask. 

During the processing of sugar, your body tends to produce an excess amount of oil, leading to a dehydrating effect on the skin. This creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow in the pores. Spikes in insulin stimulate oil glands. When too much sugar is consumed, the pancreas goes into an overdrive producing more insulin than necessary and insulin-like growth factor [2] IGF (a chain of hormones similar to insulin).

IGF has the potential to activate androgens, which then prompt the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. It is clear that hormonal imbalances trigger acne. Your diet influences your sex hormones, including IGF-1, insulin, and testosterone, all of which promote breakouts. 

Your diet’s glycemic load affects your hormones the most. Eliminating sugars and eating a healthy diet can balance out these hormones. Understand that sugar also has the potential to create a suppressive effect on the immune system.

What you should do when your Skin is Affected by Sugar

  1. Switch to Low GI Foods

Foods with a low GI take longer to break down, allowing your blood glucose to stabilize. This enables you to feel full for a longer time. Instead of reaching out for sugary treats, potatoes, or white bread, eat lean meats, nuts, tofu, and low GI fruits such as plums, cantaloupe, and blueberries. 

The recommended amount of daily added sugars [3] is 150 calories, but unfortunately, most people consume far more than that. For instance, yogurt, juices, peanut butter, among others, contain a very high amount of sugar.

  1. Switch from Soda to Water

Sodas have very high amounts of sugar, and some can go to as high as 30 grams per every serving. This can quickly cause an inflammatory effect and a spike in blood glucose levels, both of which can introduce acne. If you are looking for an energy boost, choose green tea which is loaded with health benefits instead. For hydration, take more water to maintain healthy skin.

  1. Manage Stress

You seriously need to chill out to prevent the domino effect responsible for breakouts. Reducing the levels of stress can also help you stay away from sweet treats and comfort foods. Why don’t you engage in some yoga, jog around, take a nap, or get into any other healthy activities?

  1. Go Sugar and Dairy Free

Milk, even the organic type, is loaded with hormone triggers that could cause acne. This is why most studies have linked skim milk and other dairy products to acne. One study found that adults who consumed milk and ice cream regularly were 4 times likely to suffer from breakouts. 

For instance, cow’s milk has been found to contain high amounts of amino acids which cause the liver to produce more IGF-1. Dairy does not cause breakouts in everyone, but if it has recently become your daily diet, you might consider giving it a break to observe changes in your flare-ups. Switch to low GI milk alternatives such as soy milk and unsweetened almond milk.

  1. Try Seasoning

There are herbs and spices which have been found to help eliminate pimples. These include garlic, ginger, cloves, allspice, oregano, and cinnamon. Add them to your food as a seasoning for a healthier and tasty meal.

Cutting down on sugar will no doubt improve your skin. However, do not assume that it will completely clear the breakouts. In addition to eliminating it, you may need an acne treatment solution to clear stubborn flair-ups.  

While cutting down on sugars is a great way of reducing the breakouts, a good skin care routine is a step that cannot be skipped. You need a consistent application of the right products as recommended by your dermatologist. That includes anti-acne and topical medications.

Jar with raw sugar

Because there are many factors that cause acne and hormonal fluctuations in the body, you cannot just assume that sugar is the culprit. It is therefore imperative that you seek the opinion of a dermatologist to rule it out through assessment of the breakout and your skin type to put you on a skincare regimen. Acne is best treated through a comprehensive approach.

Treatment goes beyond cutting Sugar

Eliminating sugar is an impressive step towards curing acne, but there is more to it. Nutritional deficiencies can also trigger breakouts, so be sure to include vegetables, grains, healthy proteins, healthy fats, and fruits in your meal plan.

With every season comes a new change for self-improvement in terms of health and other areas of life. Committing to the changes is something that makes an individual feel better. If you are on the bandwagon for notorious acne, you might consider keeping sugar aside. Skipping sugar is not just a better choice, because it will reduce the concentration of acne, but it will also improve your overall health.

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