Dealing with acne isn't fun. It can be especially frustrating if you've literally tried every remedy possible to no avail. Unfortunately, acne is a complicated condition. Treating it comes down to not only using the right kind of skincare products but also eating the right kind of foods. In fact, research has found that breakouts are associated with certain foods. Want to know more? Here's your guide to the anti-acne diet.

Acne and the glycemic index

What the heck is the glycemic index, and what does it have to do with acne? A lot. The glycemic index is a system for ranking carbohydrate foods based on how they affect blood sugar levels. Foods that are considered high glycemic index spike your blood sugar, while foods that are low glycemic index help you maintain steady blood sugar levels.

Research suggests that high glycemic index foods cause more outbreaks. This is because when blood sugar rises, a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 also rises, leading to more oil production. The result? Unpleasant breakouts.

High glycemic index foods include:

  • Sugar
  • White potatoes
  • White rice
  • White flour
  • Raisins
  • Bread
  • Sweets
  • Watermelon
  • Soda
  • Cereal

Foods that are low glycemic index include:

  • Most vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Plain yogurt
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Most fruits
  • Farrow
  • Oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sprouted wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa

To manage acne, you should only consume foods that are low glycemic index combined with lean proteins and healthy fats. Good sources of protein include fish, tofu, and chicken. Most people notice a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of breakouts they experience within three months of following a low glycemic index diet.

Eating low GI is easy peasy

Going on a low glycemic index diet doesn't have to be complicated. Just make a list of low glycemic index foods you enjoy, and create some meals using them. Need some inspiration? Check out the recipes below.

Southwestern scramble

1. Southwestern Scramble

This breakfast recipe combines low GI foods with protein and healthy fats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 15 ounce can of black beans, drained
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • Fresh salsa
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin

Directions:

  • Beat eggs in a bowl and add the seasonings
  • Heat olive oil in a pan
  • Saute the onions
  • Pour in eggs
  • Cook for one minute
  • Add the black beans and tomatoes
  • Cook for a few minutes
  • Add the spinach
  • Cook until eggs are done
  • Top with salsa and avocado

Mediterranean Quinoa

2. Mediterranean quinoa

Serve this low glycemic index dish with some baked chicken or fish for a healthy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • Italian seasoning

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat
  • Add the onions and bell peppers
  • Cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes
  • Stir in the quinoa, vegetable stock, and tomato puree
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes
  • Stir in chopped tomatoes
  • Season with Italian seasoning

 Lentil Salad

3. Squash and lentil salad

This colorful salad is full of fiber and powerful antioxidants.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon seeded mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Place butternut squash on a baking dish
  • Toss with oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper
  • Roast for 30 minutes
  • Place lentils in a bowl
  • Add red onion, arugula, feta, almonds, and roasted butternut squash
  • For the dressing, whisk together balsamic vinegar, oil, and mustard in a bowl
  • Combine the dressing with the salad and serve

Clear skin comes from within

Acne is frustrating to deal with, but the frequency and severity of outbreaks has a lot to do with your diet. Follow a diet that is rich in low glycemic index foods, and watch your skin gradually clear up. Make sure, too, to consult with a dermatologist about the right type of skin care products you should be using.

References
  1. "4 Easy Tips for Eating Low on the Glycemic Index," Eating Well, December 2007.
  2. "A List of Low to High GI Foods," Shape, n.d.
  3. "The Diet That Helps with Adult Acne," Huffington Post, January 1, 2017.

acne | zits | diet | breakouts | skin care