Acne and the Atkins Diet

Alison from South Carolina asked, “I’m in my early 30s and I just started developing a pretty bad case of acne. I’ve heard rumors that the Atkins Diet can help clear up acne. Is this true? I’ve been looking at the Atkins Diet for a while now anyway, so this would be a fantastic coincidence if it were true. Thanks!”

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For decades, we were all basically told by the medical community that foods high in fat would lead to increased weight gain and the health complications that come with it. We then began searching grocery aisles for anything with the label â??low fatâ? on it. But then a rebellious doctor by the name of Atkins decided to challenge conventional wisdom and proclaim fats to be good for us. Instead, Dr. Atkins claimed, it is carbohydrates that we must stay away from in order to keep the pounds off and live a healthier lifestyle. Followers of the diet soon found a connection between acne and the Atkins diet: namely, the diet helps reduce acne.

Dr. Atkins believed that carbs were the source of many of our dietary problems. Well, at least those processed carbs that we all seem to crave so much! Things like sugar and flour are examples of processed carbohydrates and neither could be found in the human diet for thousands of years. Even the flour used to make the breads of old was not refined nearly to the degree used to make modern breads.

Refined carbs are a problem because they are known as â??ready-to-useâ? energy sources. Instead of going through the standard digestive process and being stored as fat, processed carbs can be immediately injected into the body for immediate energy. The â??ready to useâ? energy from carbs creates a spike in the blood sugar level. This is what causes the connection between acne and the Atkins diet.

Spikes in the blood sugar levels will ultimately lead to acne because they cause the sebaceous glands to malfunction. The sebaceous glands are responsible for producing the oils (lipids) that help keep the skin lubricated and protected. However, the lipids combine with bacteria to produce acne when the glands malfunction and this is the source of most acne outbreaks. When these special glands malfunction, it is a good bet that a bad case of acne or dry skin is just around the corner!

By consuming fewer processed carbs on the Atkins Diet, our bodies are less likely to have blood sugar spikes. Fewer spikes equal more stable lipid production and dramatically lower chances of acne outbreak

However, there are other causes of acne to consider such as: hormone imbalances typical of puberty, pregnancy, and ovulation; lack of physical activity and poor circulation; stress; and a diet where the body is robbed of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy skin. Still, the Atkins diet (when followed properlyâ??hint, hint!) will help stabilize lipid production so that the chances for acne outbreaks are reduced. If you are not certain about the cause of your acne or if the condition is severe, it is time to see a dermatologist who will be best qualified to determine the cause and recommend treatment options.


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