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High Carbohydrate Diet linked to Acne and Psoriasis

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You may understand the mechanism behind eating lower carbohydrates weight loss, diabetes and heart disease. Carbohydrates directly raises blood sugar and triggers a hormonal cascade that influences appetite, mood, fat storage and many health risk factors.  Current research implications suggests that skin conditions, like acne and psoriasis, are linked to metabolic health conditions and also call for a low carbohydrate meal plan for treatment.
It is interesting that recent published studies correlate skin conditions with diet and genetics. For example, Psoriasis is linked to diseases of carbohydrate metabolism such as diabetes and cardiometabolic conditions via immuno-inflammatory pathways, diet and other environmental factors, i.e. exercise, tobacco exposure… in this paper:
Gelfland JM. Psoriasis, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and Obesity: Weighing the Evidence. JAMA Dermatology,  2016.
It is a cross-sectional, population-based study of about 34,000 Danish twins aged 20 to 71 years of age completed a questionnaire relating to psoriasis, diagnoses of type 2 diabetes and BMI.
The correlation was so strong, the author proposed, ” The weight of evidence linking psoriasis to cardiometabolic disease continues to increase, tipping the scale toward changing clinical practice in dermatology. Dermatologists’ may well need to screen for these conditions or offer some lifestyle counseling.”
A commentary by Bodo C. Melnik concurs. His paper entitled, ” Diet in Acne: Further Evidence for the Role of Nutrient Signaling in Acne Pathogenesis” is published in Acta Dermato Venereologica,,  discusses two randomized controlled acne studies.
Melnik states,  “Acne is absent in populations consuming paleolithic diets that are void of refined sugars, grains, milk and dairy products.”  He discusses a randomized controlled study, by Smith et al., showing that high glycemic diets increase the intensity of acne and sebum production; and also explains the evidence of another acne study showing a low glycemic load diet reduced the size of sebaceous glands, decreased inflammation, and diminished the expression of pro-inflammatory interleukin-8 and sterol regulatory element binding protein-1 (SREBP-1), the key transcription factor of lipid biosynthesis,
There is a direct connection with diet and acne through nutrient signaling. Acne outbreak occurs with high glycemic load and increased insulin ( IGF-1) and leucine (found in dairy products) levels.
Melnik  maintains Gelfand’s position and says, “Acne should be considered a disease of civilization, like obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer induced by Western diet. Early dietary counseling of teenage acne patients is thus a great opportunity for dermatology, which will not only help to improve acne but may reduce the long-term adverse effects of the Western diet and on more serious (genetic mTORC1-driven) diseases of civilization.”
Despite government guidelines and many expert opinions, mounting evidence continues to build towards eating foods that reduce inflammation (coconut and omega 3 foods) and maintain a normal glycemic load to circumvent insulin spikes (fats, protein, nuts/seeds, low glycemic non starchy salad vegetables). Eating balanced meals that are healthy and inline with lowering carbohydrates is the best way to treat and prevent skin conditions and many illnesses that plague us.

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.

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  • Kudos Valerie, for bringing this to light to a refined carbohydrate addicted society!
    Many health professionals still tell their patients and clients that diet is not related to acne! Hopefully this article will spur changes in all those who read it!