You will not clear your acne if you’re not balancing your blood sugar levels.
Research has found that an increase in blood sugar levels and increased levels of certain hormones can contribute to acne.
👉🏻If you find yourself snacking in the afternoon or mid morning, feel brain fog or can’t concentrate, have bursts of energy and then energy crashes - you likely have an imbalance in blood sugar.
Here are 5 things I learnt from wearing a continuous blood glucose monitor for 14 days...
Let's Talk About Blood Glucose and Acne.
Research has found that balancing blood sugar, and avoiding glucose spikes can reduce acne symptoms by 25%. An increase in blood sugar levels and increased in certain hormones can contribute to acne. When glucose enters our bloodstream after eating, our blood sugar levels rise.
Insulin is released from the pancreas as a response to this to bring the blood glucose levels back to normal. This is a completely normal response from the body.
Insulin makes androgens, which are male sex hormones, more active. Insulin also increases insulin- like growth factor or IGF-1. Both androgen and IGF-1 can contribute to acne and this is by making your skin cells grow much quicker and also increasing the production of sebum. Excess production of sebum can cause acne.
So What Is A Continuous Blood Glucose Monitor?
A continuous glucose monitor, a CGM, is a system that gives a greater insight into your blood sugar levels. It's a small device which sticks into the skin measuring the glucose levels continuously throughout the day and night and can show trends in glucose levels over time.
You don't have to have diabetes to use a CGM system. In summary, over the 14 days of using this device, I've learned 5 important takeaways...
1. I wasn't eating enough food at lunchtime to keep my blood glucose stable throughout the afternoon.
I noticed after lunch, my blood sugar wouldn't necessarily spike, but it would drop to 3.9mmol/d in the afternoon. I typically eat lunch around 12:30 PM and around 4:30 PM, my blood glucose has reduced. This impacted my concentration and energy, and of course, led me to want sweeter snacks.
I resolved this by ensuring my meal was slightly larger and contained a portion of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and cooked vegetables. This is not my season for cold salads.
2. Eating porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast with protein powder, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds didn't spike my blood glucose.
For breakfast, I always have my porridge (oatmeal) alongside a source of animal protein. I was previously doing a 2 eggs omelette. Most recently I've switched to turkey mince with vegetables.
On days when I was less active, or let's be honest - on days I ran out of eggs, I would just have protein porridge. (oatmeal)
There's a lot of debate over oats being a starch and causing blood glucose spikes and then crashes. However, I found that porridge with almond milk, protein powder, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, (follicular phase seed cycling), and blueberries kept me satiated all morning.
3. The order which you eat the foods within a meal really does make a difference!
This is something I really wanted to test out. I noticed that when I ate sweet potato (boiled, mashed, and with the skin on) before vegetables and protein, I noticed that my blood glucose increased more than usual.
If your meal is mainly vegetables, proteins and fats, then you don't have to worry too much about this. For a meal with some carbs, opt for vegetables, protein and then the carbs for more stable blood glucose levels.
4. Eating a piece of fruit such as a pear or berries, on an empty stomach didn't spike my blood glucose at all.
I typically opt for low glycemic fruit options as someone who is acne-prone, but do I love some citrus. To Keep blood glucose levels stable, it's typically better to have the fruit with a protein source such as nut butter.
What I found is that the lower glycemic fruit eaten whole, alone, and on an empty stomach didn't cause a blood sugar spike because of the fibre content. This is a different from having fruit juice which can significantly increase blood glucose levels.
5. Eating a whole bar of Hu Kitchen Hazelnut Chocolate on an empty stomach and going on a walk didn't spike my levels much at all.
This is my favorite chocolate. it's dark chocolate with hazelnut but butter in the center. It doesn't contain too much cane sugar and has the added protein/healthy fat from nut butter.
I found that having this, even on an empty stomach, and going for a walk didn't cause a blood glucose spike much higher than a usual meal.
Not that would recommend having chocolate on an empty stomach, but definitely found this interesting.
Thank you for reading!
This article of the Skinsider Scoop was graciously written by Naturopathic Nutritionist dipCNM, mANP, mBANT, Melissa Birch, and edited by the Clean Skin Club team. If you're interested in more from Melissa, please shoot us an email, and follow her Instagram - @melissabirchnutrition