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We often imagine that acne is inevitable for adolescents because of the surge of hormones at puberty. Although that may contribute to skin problems, there are societies in which teenagers don’t get pimples. What is the explanation?

A surprising amount of evidence points to the typical American diet as the culprit behind skin problems. Not only teens but also many adults suffer from skin blemishes and inflammation. Research now suggests that a diet rich in easily-digested carbohydrates and sugars (soft drinks, potato chips, pizza, cookies, bread and lots more favorites) contributes to inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. Lowering the glycemic load can help us avoid complexion problems from acne to wrinkles and brown spots.

Guest: Patricia Farris, MD, FAAD, is a clinical assistant professor at Tulane University. She is a board certified dermatologist and authority on anti-aging skin care. She is editor and contributor to the textbook Cosmeceuticals in Cosmetic Practice. She is also co-author of the book, The Sugar Detox, with the website thesugardetoxbook.com

Dr. Farris is known for her interest in the emerging field of nutricosmetics, which explores the role of nutrition and nutritional supplements in skin aging. She is co-chair of the American Academy of Dermatology’s working group on complementary and alternative medicine and a member of the Academic Society for Functional Foods and Bioactive Compounds. Her practice is in Old Metairie, LA. You can also find her on Twitter. The photograph of Dr. Farris was taken by Oscar Rajo.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.




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  1. AMH

    Great presentation of how diet affects skin. Another reason to take a few minutes to make fruits and vegetables a priority in meals. It is too easy to put off getting up until the last minute, run through the fast food drive up, and grab a sausage biscuit off the dollar menu. Wow! Beauty foods! Now I know I don’t have to look like a sausage biscuit as I get older. Knowing is half the battle of course. Off to the produce section!

  2. JW

    wonderful show – thank you!!
    Which is more important to track – the glycemic index or glycemic load? I’ve looked online, at the Harvard Med and Mayo Clinic info… but it’s still unclear to me. Should ‘acceptable’ foods be reasonably low on both scales?

  3. shell

    DAIRY products – get off these for clear skin.

  4. kss

    The “sunshine vitamin” is D, not C (show no. 922)

  5. Virginia

    I was a teenager in the fifties and the only treatments for acne were: no sugar, no fried foods, and sun lamps. The doctor says this is all new science about diet. It it rediscovered science.

  6. J David A.

    Improving nutrition helps the whole body. Advising chicken consumption at the typical restaurant is a mistake however. There may not be too much fat but the fat molecules in cheap meats are largely the same ones you would get at a fastfood fryer vat when the oil is thrown out. Insulin resistance, tumors, clots and inflammation are the result. We don’t excrete much fat and can’t metabolize these oxidized polyunsaturated fats so they accumulate. With weight loss, these industrial molecules concentrate increasing the chances for mutations and regulation of DNA transcription. Americans are now the heaviest people in the industrialized world.

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