Avoiding high glycemic load foods could help acne sufferers clear up their skin, the results of a new small study suggest.
High glycemic load foods refer to foods that cause a sharp increase in blood glucose, or sugar, such as low-fiber carbohydrates. Low glycemic load foods cause an more gradual and sustained increase in glucose, and include foods such as high-fiber, complex carbohydrates.
After 12 weeks on a low glycemic load diet, men with acne had a significant reduction in pimples, whiteheads and other lesions compared with their peers who stuck to a conventional diet, Dr. Robyn N. Smith of RMIT University in Melbourne, Victoria and colleagues found.
"The results of this study open up the prospect that nutrition-related lifestyle factors may affect the (development) of acne," Smith and her team write in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, while cautioning that additional research is needed.
Low glycemic load diets have been promoted for weight loss and diabetes control. Given that high levels of insulin may contribute to acne, Smith and her team note, it's possible that reducing dietary glycemic load could reduce acne severity.
To investigate, Smith and her team randomly assigned 43 men with acne to a low glycemic load diet or a standard diet. Men in the low glycemic load group were instructed to replace high glycemic load foods with more protein and lower glycemic load choices, while those on the standard diet were simply encouraged to include carbohydrates in their diet.
By 12 weeks, the number of acne lesions had dropped by about 22 in the low glycemic load group, compared with about 14 in the control group. The men eating the low glycemic load diet also lost weight, and showed greater reductions in levels of the male sex hormone androgen and increased insulin sensitivity.
It's not possible to determine if the improvement in acne was due to weight loss or better insulin sensitivity or both, the researchers write. "Therefore, these results should be considered preliminary and larger scale studies are needed to confirm the effect of dietary intervention on acne," they conclude.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, August 2007.
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