Grains, carbs, and acne: Is diet triggering your flares?

Give your diet a long, hard look if a blemish-free complexion is your goal. Everyone knows that good eating habits play a big role in improving skin health. But in case you have pimples popping up despite a healthy diet, it may be time to put your grain consumption under the acne care scanner.


Know your grains

Common types of grains include rice, wheat, oats, and corn. Also known as cereals, these staples are the building blocks of our everyday meals. Whether you are a die-hard rice eater, somebody who loves bread and chapattis, or a serial snacker who can’t do without their pizza and corn chips, know that you are consuming grains at every step. Your grain intake could also come from breakfast cereals, pasta, noodles, and desserts made with flour.

In short, we’re talking all about your favourite carbs. Since grains show up at nearly every meal, reducing your dependence on this food group is a challenge, and cutting it out entirely isn’t always an option.


Grains and acne

While the link between diet and acne remains a matter

of debate, anecdotal evidence suggests easing up on grains for relief from acne. Some people with pimple-prone skin suspect a nexus between grains, carbs, and acne. Their suspicion that grains cause acne may not be entirely misplaced.

One could pin the blame on how the body reacts to refined carbohydrates—that is, grains which have been processed (‘refined’) by a food manufacturer. Here’s what happens when you consume refined carbs:

  • The bloodstream absorbs refined carbs quickly, leading to a spike in blood sugar levels. 
  • This causes an increase in insulin levels. Insulin is needed to move the sugar from the bloodstream to the cells.
  • A high insulin count is bad news for acne-prone skin. It could result in rapid skin cell growth and increased sebum production, creating the perfect environment for acne development.


Good and bad grains

Refined grains are the clear ‘bad’ grains here. That’s because the refining process removes:

a) the bran (the fibre-rich shell coating that covers a grain), and
b) the germ (the nutrient-rich core that can grow into a new plant).

What you are left with is:
c) the endosperm (the biggest part of the grain, but it contains mostly carbohydrates and protein).

This is why refined grains are often lacking in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

If refined grains are ‘bad’, are whole grains ‘good’? Whole grains contain bran, germ, and endosperm, which makes them more nutrient-rich and better for overall health.

But are whole grains good for acne? Depends on who you ask. Some believe that since whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, they can minimise acne. Others opine that as all grains raise blood sugar levels, whole grain acne is real.


Balanced diet, better skin

Say, you’re convinced that grains are behind your persistent acne problem and are trying to eliminate all forms of grains from your daily diet. You’ll quickly find that’s easier said than done. If you are accustomed to eating rice, roti, and bread every day, you will find it hard to quit cold turkey. Besides, there are simpler ways to improve your meals:

  • Reduce your intake of refined grains and switch over to whole grains. If you do buy refined grains, look for products that are fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Eat grains in moderation. Sometimes, your skin issues do not stem from carbs exactly but rather, from the overconsumption of carbs.
  • Add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your routine.
    The next time you find yourself reaching for a bag of corn chips or ordering a burger, munch on an apple or a guava instead.
  • Identify any dietary sensitivities that may be triggering your acne. For instance, check if you might be sensitive to dairy products like milk, cheese, or even ice cream. 

(More on how gut health affects acne.)


Acne triggers and solution

Your grain consumption and other dietary factors are just one part of the picture. Acne happens for so many reasons: 


  • Environmental factors (like heat, humidity, or pollution)
  • Improper hygiene practices (like not washing off the sweat after the gym, sleeping on dirty pillowcases, or even cleansing your face too often)
  • Physiological issues (like hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, or an underlying health problem)
  • Daily-use items (like cosmetics, hair gels, moisturisers, and even certain medicines)

    Since just about anything could lead to a flare, focus on making acne care a part of your twice-daily routine. A gentle plant-based product like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream can help you minimise all the common acne symptoms. Simply cleanse, tone, apply the cream, and moisturise. 

    A simple acne care routine will help you target the outward signs of acne. Meanwhile, take the time to improve your diet and start working towards better skin.




    Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.