A Low Carb Diet Can Reduce Acne

If you read the article on “Sugar and Acne” about how sugar consumption can cause an increase in amount or severity of acne, it stands to reason that a low-carb diet should result in less acne, and this is in fact the case. It has been shown that foods with a low glycemic index increase SHBG and reduce androgen levels, resulting in lower acne severity. See the figure below [adapted from (1)].

Robyn Smith and co-workers reported on a clinical trial performed at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia). They compared the amount and severity of acne in people that were on a low-carb diet with a control group. Participants attended a baseline appointment in which extent and severity of acne were evaluated and then randomly assigned to either the low-carb or the control group. The participants in the low-carb group were put on a diet that was achieved by modifying the amount and type of carbohydrates. They were instructed to substitute high-carb foods with foods higher in protein ((e.g. lean meat, poultry and fish) or with lower glycemic index foods (e.g whole grain breads, pastas and low sugar fruits). Every month the participants were scored for changes in inflammatory lesion counts (papules, pustules and nodules) and total lesion counts. The graph above shows some of the results. After three moths, the LGL group had a much larger reduction in amount and severity of acne lesions as compared to the control group that did not control its sugar intake.

The take-home message is clear: If you eat a lot of candy or otherwise consume a lot of sugar, you increase the occurrence and severity of your acne. We all know that there are many other reasons why it is bad idea to eat a lot of sugar, but if you are plagued by acne, you better think twice before indulging in high sugar foods!

(1) Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, et al. (2007) A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 86: 107–115.

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