Sugar Gives You Acne (And What To Do About It)

Last week we spoke about how Sugar Gives You Wrinkles.  If that wasn’t horrifying enough to get you to give up sugar for the rest of your life, maybe the fact that it also gives you acne will.  We’ve all been through those awkward teenage years when our skin seems to turn into an oil refinement plant. It is estimated that worldwide 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30[1] have had an acne breakout at some point, and it can continue into middle age for up to 12% of women and and 3% of men.[2]

What is Acne?

Acne is a disease that effects the skin’s oil glands.[1]  When the oil gland gets clogged with a combination of dead skin cells and excess oil a pimple forms.  Bacteria can develop in this mixture causing redness and swelling.


What Causes Oily Skin?

Dermatologists have attributed oily/acne prone skin mainly to genetics.[1]  The exact mechanism is not clear[3], but a rise in hormones, especially testosterone, leads to increased oil production[4]. There are some other factors that can exacerbate the problem, but the mainstream theory is that you have your genes to thank – even if the cause is not fully understood.  Other factors that have been associated with oily skin are the use of birth control pills and other medicines, hormonal changes (i.e. puberty, pre-menstruation, etc.), and greasy makeup.  Costly treatments that line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies have been created to help combat it.  We here at Kaiya Naturals even wrote an article on the scientific evidence behind how Tea Tree Oil is just as effective for treating acne as Benzoyl Peroxide.  Is oily/acne prone skin something many of us have to put up with because of our genetics?  Should we just accept the fact that all we can do is treat the symptoms with expensive medications, and not the cause?  Well, not really.  Acne, it would seem, is a western problem.

The Western Culture of Oily Skin

Consider the following:

  • Acne is nonexistent among Inuit populations living and eating in the traditional manner.  After being transplanted into western settlements the prevalence of acne becomes similar to that in western societies.[5]
  • The island inhabitants of Okinawa had no acne prior to WWII when the island was an isolated outpost. [6]
  • An examination of rural schoolchildren in Brazil found only 2.7% had acne.  That is significantly less than the 80% that the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimated above. [7]
  • Bantu adolescents in South Africa had lower rates of acne than white children. [8] [9]
  • Acne became a problem for Zulu villagers only when they moved from rural villages into cities. [10]


To sum up, there is strong evidence showing that rural non-industrial societies have significantly less acne.  This evidence goes on to show that only when those inhabitants were introduced into western society did they experience the same rates of acne as westerners. That puts a big gaping hole in the accepted theory of oily skin being determined solely by our genetics, doesn’t it?  If our genetics aren’t the main cause, what is?

The Chocolate Dilemma

Woman with box of chocolates

Dermatologists are quick to point out that diet has nothing to do with acne.  This is because of one study, done in 1969, where sixty five subjects either ate a chocolate bar, or a placebo bar containing no chocolate.  There were no significant differences between the two groups and it was concluded that chocolate has no effect on acne.  It was then further concluded that diet has no effect on acne.  Case closed.

But… the study was found to have been improperly controlled because it did not account for other ingredients, present in both the chocolate and non-chocolate bars, that could have exacerbated acne in both groups.

For this reason another study was done in 2014 with 100% pure cocoa using placebos and a double-blind methodology.  This study found a significant statistical difference.  However, it too has its limitations.  There were only fourteen participants, and to control for the effects of hormonal variations in females due to menstruation, all the subjects were male.  The small, uniform sample size makes it difficult to expand these findings to the broader population.

Does diet affect acne?  Probably.  Especially when you take into consideration other research that has been done.

Acne and The Glycemic Index

WEDNESDAY-WEIGHT-LOSS-BLOG-High-vs-low-GI-foods-mylusciouslifeFirst of all, what is the Glycemic Index?  The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement of how different foods cause a rise and fall in blood sugar.  High GI foods cause a rapid rise and fall of blood sugar, while Low GI foods cause a slow rise in blood sugar followed by a more gradual decline.  See the diagram on the right.

A study done in 2007 concluded that a low-glycemic-load diet improves the symptoms of  acne.  In that study forty three male patients with acne underwent a 12-week program where the experimental group ate a diet consisting of protein and low glycemic index carbohydrates, while the control group ate carbohydrate dense foods.  The study suggested that more research should be done to understand the mechanism behind this.

How it Works

Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD is more commonly known as the founder of the Paleo Diet and is Professor Emeritus at the Colorado State University Department of Health and Exercise Sciences.  He has written over 100 peer-reviewed articles, including  Implications for the Role of Diet in Acne.  Written in 2005, in it Dr. Cordain illustrates the mechanism behind why low-glycemic-load foods improve the symptoms of acne.

sugar_acneBasically, the culprit is insulin.  A diet of high-glycemic-load foods causes rapid rises in blood sugar.  The body responds to this by pumping insulin into the bloodstream. A lot of it.  If it pumps more insulin in the bloodstream than there is sugar then you have excess insulin circulating around.  The circulation of this excess insulin creates a hormonal cascade that results in oily skin and acne.

Low-glycemic-load foods do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which in turn does not cause the body to have excess insulin circulating around.  Since there is no excess insulin there is no hormonal cascade that causes increased oil and skin cell production.  Since there is less oil and dead skin cells to clog the pores they don’t clog as easily, which in turn leads to less acne.

However, it’s a little more complicated than just eating a diet of low-glycemic-load foods.  Chocolate is a low GI food, but it has been shown to exacerbate acne.  We may know how insulin leads to acne, but we also know that it’s not the complete picture.

Stress and Acne

The stress hormone, cortisol, also plays a role.  Cortisol has a three-fold effect.  First of all it creates a hormonal imbalance.[11]  Exactly how that imbalance works we don’t know.  We know it leads to excess oil production.  Second, cortisol inhibits the immune system.  A weakened immune system gives bacteria a chance to proliferate in clogged pores. A bacterial infection in clogged pores leads to redness and inflammation.  Third, excess stress leads to excess sweat, which can mix with dead skin cells and oils to clog pores.

What Does All This Mean?

All of this means that you can control your acne by eating a low-glycemic-load diet, giving up chocolate, and reducing your stress levels.  You no longer need to purchase expensive medications or skincare products.  I know, bummer for us since we sell those skincare products (like our Mud Mask for All Skin Types or our Toner for Sensitive Skin).  The good news for us is that we’re kinda hoping that you don’t want to give up all your favorite foods just to have great looking skin.  Is that wrong?

If you are the kind of person who is capable of making a major life change to get rid of your oily skin then here’s some great low-glyclemic-load recipes for you to start with.  Not only will you have better looking skin, you’ll most likely lose weight and just be plain healthier.

357989Quinoa and Black Beans

This recipe is a tasty alternative to rice and beans by replacing white rice with quinoa.  Get this recipe at the link below:

1101614Easy Bake Tilapia

Don’t have a lot of time to put together a healthy low-glycemic-load meal.  Then this dish is for you.  Get it below:

121690White Bean Chicken Chili

Do you like it spicy?  Then this chicken chili is for you.  Get this hot little dish below:

If there is anything that you would like me to talk about feel free to reach out to me either here via email:, on twitter @kaiyanaturals, or on Facebook @kaiyanaturals.  Also  please, please, please share or comment on this article.  Seriously, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below.

Stay Natural,


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  For educational purposes only.






[5] Schaefer  O When the Eskimo comes to town. Nutr Today. 1971;68- 16

[6] Steiner  PE Necropsies on Okinawans: anatomic and pathologic observations. Arch Pathol.1946;42359- 380

[7] Bechelli  LMHaddad  NPimenta  WP  et al.  Epidemiological survey of skin diseases in schoolchildren living in the Purus Valley (Acre State, Amazonia, Brazil). Dermatologica.1981;16378- 93

[8] Park  RG The age distribution of common skin disorders in the Bantu of Pretoria, Transvaal. Br J Dermatol. 1968;80758761

[9] Findlay  GH The age incidence of common skin diseases in the white population of the Transvaal. Br J Dermatol. 1967;79538- 542

[10] Cunliffe  WJCotterill  JA The acnes: clinical features, pathogenesis and treatment. Rook  Aed.Major Problems in Dermatology Philadelphia, Pa WB Saunders Co1975;13- 14


Sugar Gives You Wrinkles (And What To Do About It)

Since Ponce de Leon first came to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth we have been obsessed with looking young.  Anti-aging products fly out of cosmetic aisles in stores throughout the country.  Americans spent two billion dollars in 2015 alone on products that give you that youthful glow.[1]  However, no matter how much you put on your skin to keep it young, what you put in your belly is undermining it.  I’m talking about sugar.  While you probably already know that sun damage is a major contributor to aging skin, what you may not know is that sugar is just as bad.

The 411 on Sugar and Wrinkles

beauty-concept-skin-aging-anti-aging-optWhen there is an abundance of sugar in your bloodstream it does a lot of bad things.  You probably already know that it causes a devastating insulin spike which leads to deadly health issues including diabetes and obesity.  You may even know that it creates a hormonal cascade that causes your skin to produce more oil (we’ll talk about that in next week’s article: Sugar Gives You Acne).  What you may not know is that it binds to protein molecules to form a harmful new molecule that destroys your skin.  This process of sugar binding to protein is called “Glycation”.  The newly formed molecules are called “Advanced Glycation End products”, or “AGEs” for short (talk about an appropriate acronym).  AGEs damage other proteins in your body.  Most susceptible are collagen and elastin.  These are the proteins that keep your skin springy and resilient.  Damage them and you have saggy, wrinkled skin.[2]

Your body normally produces enough collagen and elastin when you are younger to ward off these effects.  As you age your body stops producing as much and the effects of aging begin to show.  Many anti-wrinkle creams contain collagen and elastin in an effort to reintroduce them back into your skin.  However, these ingredients are too structurally dense to be absorbed through the skin.[3]  Your money is better spent elsewhere, like on healthy food that stimulates collagen and elastin production.  If only it was that simple.

Sugar Is More Addictive Than Cocaine!

So, tsugar-may-be-more-addictive-than-cocainehe answer is easy, right?  Just stop eating sugar, and start eating healthy food instead.  Well, yes!  However, there’s one really, really big problem.  Sugar is more addictive than cocaine![4]  I wish I was joking, but I’m not.  If you’re like me, you laugh with your friends and colleagues about your “sugar addiction” as you reach for another Teddy Graham.  The truth of the matter is that it really is no laughing matter.  Worst of all, you don’t even need to know about, nor even taste, the sugar you’re eating to get addicted to it.  Hidden sugar in things like ketchup, salad dressing, baked beans, pickles, canned soup, and cereals create a dopamine response in the brain that gives you that awkward craving for donuts later.  It’s not just limited to high fructose corn syrup, or sucrose (table sugar), either.  Simple carbohydrates create the same response.[5]

Sugar Detox Diets

8f2All over the internet you’ll find sugar detox diets that are well-intentioned.  Unfortunately, a sugar detox diet isn’t going to work the same as quitting cocaine for three weeks and then slowly introducing it back into your system isn’t going to work.  (Seriously, would you ever tell a cocaine addict that they just need to go on a three week cocaine detox diet?!?) If you are really determined about improving your skin, and your health, then you need to start treating your sweet tooth the same as you would a cocaine addiction.  That means that in addition to learning how to eat without sugar you’ll need to:

  • Accept that you have an addiction.
  • Keep sugar out of the house.
  • Stay away from places that have sugar and develop strategies for when that is impossible.
  • Get rid of sugar addicted friends and spend time with supportive people.
  • Find ways to distract yourself when you have cravings.  (After about two weeks they’ll become much weaker.  Those two weeks are going to suck, though.)

Where Do I Start?

I’m not going to lie.  It’s going to be hard.  Sugar is everywhere and it’s more addictive than cocaine.  Ever since the low-fat craze that started in the 1970s sugar has found its way into a lot of our food, and our expanding waistlines.[6]  It’s like trying to avoid the color blue.

Start by learning how to eat without sugar.  This is a lifetime habit that you’ll need to follow, not a three week detox.  There are many great resources for this, but I would recommend Precision Nutrition.

Then, start making new friends.  Show me your five closest friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.  Surround yourself with people who have healthy habits.  They will help you make healthy choices.

Finally, once you’ve stopped putting unhealthy things in your body, stop putting unhealthy things on your body.  Your skin is your largest organ, and what you put on it has an enormous influence on your health.  Kaiya Naturals has a full line of skin care products made from natural ingredients that keeps your skin healthy, and looking amazing.

If there is anything that you would like me to talk about feel free to reach out to me in the comment section below, via email:, on twitter @kaiyanaturals, or on Facebook @kaiyanaturals.  Also  please, please, please share or comment on this article.  Seriously, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below.

Stay Natural,


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  For educational purposes only.









Treat Acne, Psoriasis, and Eczema with the Power of the Sea


It’s embarrassing.  No matter how common it may be to have a skin condition like acne, psoriasis or eczema it is just plain uncomfortable.  It can also be downright painful.  Treating any one of them requires harsh chemicals that we all know aren’t good for our health.  Luckily, the mighty sea is here to help.

For millennia the sea has provided us with many things.  It has blessed us with a plentiful bounty of food, allowed us to easily transport people and goods from port to port, and has given us medicine that can be plucked straight from the water itself.

It’s that last part I want to talk about.  Specifically, I want to talk about sea salt.  Unlike table salt, sea salt contains much more than sodium and chloride.  Sea water contains 90 trace minerals.[1]  Among these are potassium, calcium, magnesium, bromide, chloride, iron, copper, zinc, sulphur, and much more. It is these trace minerals that give sea salt its amazing powers.

However, there is one place that is known for the healing power of its waters.  The Dead Sea.  As compared to regular sea water with a salt concentration of 3%, the Dead Sea contains 32% salts with a relatively high concentration of 21 trace minerals.[2]  It is all these minerals that give Dead Sea salt its extraordinary powers to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema.


everything-you-need-to-know-about-acneAcne is a disease that affects the skin’s oil glands.  When a gland clogs up with excess oil and dead skin cells a pimple forms.  Bacteria grows inside the pimple making it red and irritated.  Most pimples are found on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders.[3]

Dead Sea salt contains sulfur, potassium, and zinc.  Each of these minerals has a profound effect on acne.  Sulfur has keratolytic and antibacterial properties.[4]  Keratolytic means that it helps the body to shed dead skin cells.  Its antibacterial properties rid the body of the bacteria causing acne.

Acne and dry skin can also be an early sign of chronic potassium deficiency.[5]  Absorbing potassium through the skin helps the body maintain normal potassium levels, thereby eliminating acne caused by a potassium deficiency.

Like potassium, those with lower levels of zinc have more severe acne. [6] Supplementing with zinc has been shown to alleviate acne symptoms by killing acne producing bacteria, reducing the inflammatory response to bacteria, and reducing keratinocyte activation which leads to skin cells binding together less.


psoriasis-neckPsoriasis is a skin disease that causes scaling and inflammation resulting in patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales.  These patches are often found on the elbows, knees, other parts of the legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of the feet, as well as on fingernails, toenails, genitals, and inside the mouth.[7]

Soaking in the Dead Sea has been proven to be an effective treatment for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, too.[8]  Don’t worry, if you don’t live by the Dead Sea then soaking in Dead Sea salts is an effective alternative treatment for psoriasis.[9]  While we do know that soaking in the Dead Sea, and Dead Sea salt, is an effective treatment for psoriasis we don’t know exactly how it works.


47537-583x480-eczemaEczema, a.k.a. Atopic Dermatitis, is a long-term skin disease that causes dry, itchy skin, along with rashes.  Scratching can cause redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” clear fluid, crusting, thick skin and scaling. It is often found on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and on the hands and feet.[10]

Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution has been shown to reduce the inflammation common in eczema.[11]  It is thought that the favorable effects of the Dead Sea solution is the high magnesium content which helps the body maintain its permeability barrier which keeps water in and irritants out.

What Do I Do Now?

467160845_xsYou can use the power of the sea with a Kaiya Naturals Body Soak which contains Dead Sea salts, along with other powerful salts, herbs, and oils.  It has been formulated to keep your skin naturally healthy.  Simply fill a bath with warm water, dissolve a container of our Body Soak into it, and immerse yourself for 20min.

If you either don’t want to take a bath, or can’t because you don’t have a bathtub, then you can create a compress.  To do that, start by dissolving a teaspoon of Kaiya Naturals Body Soak into a cup of warm water.  Use a clean wash cloth to soak up the warm salt water and apply to the affected area for 20min.

If there is anything that you would like me to talk about feel free to reach out to me either here, via email:, on twitter @kaiyanaturals, or on Facebook @kaiyanaturals.  Also  please, please, please share or comment on this article.  Seriously, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below.

Stay Natural,


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  For educational purposes only.













September 7th is National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

These famous words are thought to be the motto of the US Postal Service.  In truth, they are not.  They are inscribed in gray granite over the New York City Post Office on 8th Ave and come from the telling of The Persian Wars by Herodotus.  It’s still inspiring, though.  Images of Kevin Costner braving the elements to deliver a letter flash across my mind.

2241572ybaws0nk9irxo0qcniqawdibhtqzl2aid_hyijlv1i5vllmaincufwgyzgonpfg54bcgdkzs2m9ecdxuiwqToday, September 7th, is National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day.  It is the day the New York Post Office mentioned above opened in 1914.  We often take the postal service for granted, but it is so important to our way of life that it is even written into the US Constitution under Article I Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power…To establish Post Offices and post Roads.

The ability to freely exchange ideas is fundamental to the democratic process.  The simple act of mailing a letter may not seem like such a crucial element in a world where the internet is so pervasive, and private delivery companies like UPS and FedEx have offices around every city corner.

Yet these things are only recent developments.  I remember a time before cell phones, beepers, and answering machines.  A time when the phone rang and rang and rang…because nobody was home.  A time when you wrote letters back and forth to family, friends, and pen pals you had never met.  Getting a letter in the mail put a smile on my face.

The reason that a postal service is so important is because citizens in a democracy have an obligation to become informed about the issues at hand and have the right express their own opinions about them.  They are free to praise or criticize their elected leaders.  Discussion is paramount to this process.  It is through discussion that we become informed, form opinions, and persuade others.  The US Postal Service is the infrastructure that has allowed this to happen since it was established on July 26th, 1775 by the Second Continental Congress.

I have often wondered how postal workers could brave the elements to deliver mail.  What they must go through to get my grandmother’s carefully crafted package of binders illustrating my family history safely to me.  The journey they endured to deliver my mother’s care packages that always included some item of clothing made out of denim.

Postal Worker in SnowI imagine in the dog days of summer how they must sweat, and how the sun and heat must dry their skin.  In the dead of winter I wonder how the cold breeze must chill them to the bone and blister their lips.  When it rains I imagine them dredging through streets in wet clothes from head to toe.

Day in and day out they must endure a lot.  I imagine only a few days are pleasant in the spring and in the fall.  I  devise they must really need the skin care products we make here at Kaiya Naturals.

In the summer I envision they must need the natural cleansers and light moisturizers, like White Petal Aloe. In the winter I believe they would need a heavier moisturizer, like Chickie Gold, and the Whole Lotta Lip Love Lip Balm for their chapped lips.  After a day of getting soaked I picture they would enjoy a nice Mud Mask to melt away the stress.

Today, thank your postal worker for all they go through to make this country great.

If there is anything that you would like me to talk about feel free to reach out to me either here via email:, on twitter @kaiyanaturals, or on Facebook @kaiyanaturals.  Also  please, please, please share or comment on this article.  Seriously, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below.

Stay Natural,

Farmer Ked

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  For educational purposes only.