Do foods with a low glycemic index improve skin?

Legumes and whole grains.
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The foods you eat affect the health of your skin.

Eating foods with a low glycemic index has become a popular diet trend. What you eat can affect the health of your skin, so you may wonder if eating a low-glycemic-index diet will contribute to a blemish-free face and a healthy glow. To understand how the low glycemic index may affect you and your complexion, you must first understand what the index is and how it works.

The glycemic index measures how rapidly different foods make your blood sugar rise. For example, sugary foods, such as candy and soda, rank high on the glycemic index -- they make your blood sugar rise quickly. That blood sugar level won't stay high for long, though -- you'll experience a "crash" feeling when it drops again. In contrast, low-glycemic foods raise your blood sugar slowly, helping to keep your blood sugar more stable so you won't get that crash. People on a low glycemic index diet eat foods that have lower glycemic scores, typically below 55 [sources: Boyles, Mayo Clinic].

Low-glycemic foods include high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, that take more time for your body to break down. Processed foods are usually high-glycemic foods that your body burns up rapidly. However, some healthy foods rank high on the glycemic index -- even though they're not processed -- and some sodas and junk food register low on the glycemic index. For example, a Snickers bar has a glycemic index score of about 55 [source: Boyles]. Obviously, eating junk food isn't good for your health, so making diet decisions based on glycemic scores may not be the best idea [source: Magee].

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To complicate matters further, research indicates that the glycemic index of a food varies for different people -- it can even vary for one person at different times of day, Also, a food's index score can change depending on factors like its ripeness, the cooking method and the foods its eaten with [source: Boyles].

Using the glycemic index as a guide for your diet or for your skin's health can be challenging. Some foods that rank high on the glycemic index contain important nutrients that benefit your skin, and some low-ranking foods provide no benefit to your skin. Keep reading to learn more about the glycemic index and how it affects your skin.