A low-glycemic diet may help improve acne, a new study reports. In addition, the low-glycemic diet may also result in weight loss and body mass reduction.
Researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, explained that although the pathogenesis of acne is currently unknown, recent studies suggest that dietary factors, including the glycemic load, may be involved.
The study investigated whether a low-glycemic-load diet improves acne lesion counts in young males.
Researchers recruited 43 male acne patients aged 15-25 years for the 12-week, parallel design, dietary intervention incorporating investigator-blinded dermatology assessments.
The experimental treatment was a low-glycemic-load diet composed of 25 percent energy from protein and 45 percent energy from low-glycemic-index carbohydrates. In contrast, the control situation emphasized carbohydrate-dense foods without reference to the glycemic index. Acne lesion counts and severity were assessed during monthly visits, and insulin sensitivity was measured at baseline and 12 weeks.
The researchers found that at 12 weeks, the mean total lesion counts had decreased more in the low-glycemic-load group than in the control group. The experimental diet also resulted in a greater reduction in weight and body mass index and a greater improvement in insulin sensitivity than did the control diet.
The authors concluded that the improvement in acne and insulin sensitivity after a low-glycemic-load diet suggests that nutrition-related lifestyle factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of acne. However, further studies are needed to isolate the independent effects of weight loss and dietary intervention and to further clarify the underlying mechanisms.
The glycemic index is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response (i.e. their conversion to glucose within the human body). Glycemic index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point and is given a glycemic index (GI) of 100.
Foods with a high GI are those that are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels and have proven benefits for health.
The theory behind the glycemic index is to minimize insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on blood sugar, especially for those with diabetes.
Low-GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) and reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance. Low-GI diets may also have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger.
Reliance on GI may lead to over consumption. GI should only be used to rate a food's carbohydrate content. If it is used as the sole factor for determining diet, individuals may easily end up over consuming fat and total calories.
A major criticism of the GI-diet is that the reference food used to determine the glycemic index, white bread, is popular only within a particular culture. Even proponents of this diet acknowledge that the glycemic index tests were developed for people who eat at least 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Results for people whose foods do not feature large amounts of carbohydrates have not been investigated.
The GI value of a meal featuring every major food group is difficult to predict. Consumers should note that the GI diet is not approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that following the USDA's Food Pyramid is one potential way to eat healthfully, although some might disagree.
Some junk foods, including chocolate, potato chips and many candy bars, have low GI indexes. However, some suggest that this might be due to small portion sizes. The safety of this diet is not yet well-researched, but consumers should avoid excessive consumption of these generally unhealthy products if they choose to abide by the GI diet. Most of the information about the GI diet available on the Internet is also promoting a product related to this weight-loss plan. Consumers should critically evaluate the bias of information about the GI diet available on the Internet.
therapies with strong, good or unclear scientific evidence for the treatment of
acne include vitamin A (retinol), zinc, guggul and tea tree oil.
For more information about the low-glycemic diet, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness database.