Want Clear Skin? Quit Sugar!

August 2, 2017 By Sarah White3 Comments

Want clear skin? Quit sugar! Why giving up sugar is the real secret to clear & beautiful skin.  

While acne may be considered ‘normal’ in adolescence it can be absolutely devastating when it persists through a person’s 20s, 30s and even 40s. For many years our skin docs and the food industry both assured us that diet has absolutely nothing to do with acne. Thankfully current research is finally beginning to confirm what I see daily in my practice: high glycemic foods (aka white sugar) DO increase acne frequency and severity.

Available evidence in both human and animal models shows that sugar can induce cravings that are comparable to those generated by addictive drugs and Canadians are eating approximately 52g of it daily. This means that the average Canadian is consuming over 10 teaspoons of added sugar every single day. Sugar is a problem for the skin because it causes levels of the blood sugar regulating hormone insulin to spike, which in turn initiates a cascade of hormonal responses within the body. Most importantly, high insulin levels cause an increase in a protein called insulin like growth factor or IGF-1, which is one of the worst acne culprits. IGF-1 causes sebaceous glands (the glands in your skin that regulate oil production) to go into overdrive and also increases the cell turnover in your skin. This means that sugar causes an overproduction of dead skin cells and excess oil, which creates an ideal scenario for the acne-causing bacteria propionibacterium acnes to grow on your skin, leading to inflammation and acne.

There’s more bad news if you’re over 25 years old and consuming an excess of dietary sugars. After the age of 25 your skin’s production of collagen (the protein responsible for skin elasticity) dramatically declines leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Sugar has the ability to further decrease levels of this important anti-gaining protein via the process of glycation which causes premature ageing and dull skin.

To review, sugar increases oil production, causes inflammation and increases the number of acne-causing bacteria in the skin, making it a key player in the development of acne. In light of this, dramatically reducing your sugar intake is one of the most important things that you can do to clear up your acne for good. By starting with this one simple step you can influence a whole host of metabolic and hormonal pathways that will dramatically improve that way your skin looks and feels. It takes perseverance, education and preparation but I promise that reducing your sugar intake will have profound impacts on your skin and your overall health (trust me, I’ve been there).

Beautiful skin truly does come from within and it’s nearly impossible to achieve clear, glowing skin without drastically reducing your sugar intake. Here are a few of my favourite websites / cookbooks to help you get started:


  1. http://www.sugar.ca/Nutrition-Information-Service/Health-professionals/Sugar-Consumption.aspx
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23719144
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24719062
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1606623/

Looking to connect with a Naturopath in Oakville to develop a personalized acne protocol to clear your skin from the inside-out? Book your  in-person appointment here.

If you’d like to work together and you’re not a resident of Ontario*, or if you do live in Ontario and you’d prefer an online consultation you can book online with Dr. Sarah here.


Mauren Meneses says

MAY 13, 2021 AT 8:15 AM

Hormonal issues and nutritional help


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