First of all – let’s get one thing straight, insulin is not a bad hormone…excess insulin is what’s the trouble. Insulin is completely necessary for human health – it is the hormone that converts blood sugar into glycogen AKA energy! There is a chain of events that occur within the body when food is consumed. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose and glucose triggers the release of insulin. Insulin converts the glucose (blood sugar) into glycogen and uses it as energy throughout the day, any left overs are sent to glycogen receptors and held in your glycogen stores for when you next need energy.
It is when you have full glycogen stores that the problem happens. Basically, you’ve consumed too many carbohydrates à there has been a tonne of insulin dumped into your system to disperse the glycogen quickly à your glycogen stores are full à you have all this glycogen floating around and the body deals with it by releasing more insulin, basically it’s like a communication breakdown within the body. The glycogen stores should be saying “ok, it’s a full house, insulin – you need to calm down, go away and sort yourself out” but instead they go quiet and insulin keeps pestering them to get some sort of reaction. The only way to get rid of this excess insulin is to burn it off via exercise, otherwise the surge of insulin creates a negative affect within the body. When there is excess insulin floating around long term, your body becomes less sensitive (insulin resistant) to it which results is insulin production overkill, this creates even further problems and is the right step towards diabetes.
Excess insulin can trigger androgen hormones, which are strongly correlated with acne. It can cause weight gain and eventually obesity and it also impacts the production of sebum, which is the oil that is produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands. Excess sebum can block pores, create inflammation and cause acne. If insulin levels are up and down, it is almost impossible to be acne-free.
You can see the vicious cycle that is created and that can be avoided by exercising and being mindful of keeping insulin levels under wraps.
Here are some quick tips to follow to keep this cycle at bay:
+ Eat every few hours to avoid a big dip in insulin levels (resulting in a huge explosion of insulin once food is consumed).
+ Move your body daily to keep glycogen stores in check.
+ Balance out meals with proteins and healthy fats.
+ If you do want to have a binge on sugar (carbs) couple it with a handful of nuts or another form of protein, consumed 15mins pre or post.
+ Keep face clean after a binge – know that sebaceous glands are producing more sebum and in order to avoid clogged pores, wash your face AT LEAST once a day (hello Jojoba oil).
+ Consume fresh foods as opposed to packaged foods. Fresh complex carbs like fruit, vegetables + wholegrains are good for the body, the packaged, sugar-laden processed stuff is where the problem lies.