A healthy diet is crucial for a long and productive life. Wherever you go, there seems to be a debate going on about what’s the healthiest diet for us to eat. And it’s no surprise that we as a society are so food-oriented since it’s an indispensable part of our social life. Even when we were growing up, even if we went for a regular check-up at the doctor, food would always be brought up as a topic.
One correlation that’s not as easily deductible is acne and diet. Most of us have gone through a period when we break out like crazy and we don’t know what’s causing it. Turns out, food might be to blame. Studies regarding the role of diet in acne formation are still recent, so it’s not easy to make a universal list of food you should avoid if you do have acne-prone skin. And different food affects people differently. That being said, there is enough evidence to conclude that some food should be kept to a minimum if we want to avoid exasperating our breakouts. So, what food is on this blacklist? Let’s explore the topic and find out.
Speaking of research, did you know that there are some studies done in regards to how milk affects acne? The participants of dairy-related studies are almost always teenagers, and the results won’t be shocking if you’ve ever researched this topic. Those who consumed high amounts of dairy products, milk in particular, seemed to have the worst case of acne out of all the participants. This makes us wonder: what exactly is in milk that makes our skin bad?
One answer might be due to the high amounts of hormones found in dairy and milk. Naturally, due to the fact that milk is created for the sole purpose of feeding baby calves, it’s filled with all kinds of hormones. The most trouble seems to be caused by androgen hormones. Milk is full of androgen hormones, which are proven to worsen acne and cause breakouts. High amounts of testosterone, in particular, almost always result in the formation of acne. Through testosterone, dihydrotestosterone is created, or DHT for short. This causes our skin to produce more oil than usual, and we all know by now that overproduction of sebum is one of the most common causes of acne there is.
Not to mention, most cows are given additional hormones by farmers in order to stimulate the production of milk, increasing the amount of produce and profit.
There is a hormone known as IGF-1, often referred to as “growth” factor, which is very similar to insulin. It’s shown to worsen acne and cause us to break out even more. Thankfully, the number of studies conducted has been enough to warn us about the effects of this growth factor on our skin. Milk consumption is linked to high IGF-1 levels.
It’s logical to believe that skim milk doesn’t have the same effects as regular milk in regards to acne. But it turns out that that’s not actually true. Skim milk plays just as big of a part in causing acne as regular milk does, if not more. Whey protein, which is found in skim milk, is known to cause inflammation and mess with our skin. inflammation is one of the many causes of acne, so you can see why it doesn’t help the case.
When it comes to hormones, skim milk is not devoid of hormones that trigger acne. On top of that, skim milk often has added sugar to it, which also causes inflammation in the body, which, in turn, causes acne. Processed sugar has a high glycemic index and is generally not recommended if you have a problem with acne and similar skin conditions.
So, if you’re a milk lover, what can you do to ensure that you aren’t experiencing any dairy-related breakouts? Most of us can’t eliminate dairy cold-turkey, so it’s best to begin with small steps such as decreasing the amount of skim milk you consume. Luckily, in this day and age, there are alternatives that will make this switch easier and will lead to a glowing complexion. There are many plant milks on the market and their popularity is growing by the day. Almond, oat, hazelnut, soy, cashew milk – the list is long and very appealing. These make for amazing alternatives both while cooking and in drinks such as smoothies and coffee. Plant-based dairy products are also available and can be found in almost any supermarket. Are you a fan of ice cream? Don’t despair, you won’t have to give it up. Dairy-free ice cream is also a thing, and it tastes delicious!
So, if you suspect that milk is causing you to break out, don’t worry! Make the switch and you won’t notice a difference in taste or texture. Trust me, your complexion will thank you later.
I touched on the subject of refined sugar and its role in acne formation earlier on in the article, but it’s important to explain the reason why processed sugar is bad for acne (among other things).
Refined carbs spike up blood sugar levels, which then causes insulin levels to rise up. High insulin levels are linked to acne because, like milk, they increase IGF-1 growth factor. This has a negative effect on acne, particularly because it causes an increase in oil production, which we know is one of the biggest threats for our skin.
On the other hand, food which has a low glycemic index is shown to improve all sorts of skin conditions, including acne. This is one of the reasons why nowadays when you visit a dermatologist, they ask you questions regarding your diet. These inquiries are typically followed by suggestions on which food you should include in your diet, and, as you can already guess by now, food with a low glycemic index is on the list. We will explore which foods are actually good for your skin later on.
But, for now, let’s clear up now what exactly falls under this category of refined sugar and carbohydrates so that you know which food to avoid in the future, whenever possible. This includes white pasta and bread(or anything made from white flour for that matter), desserts high in sugar, sodas, and juices, sweeteners, white rice, and pastries.
That being said, if your food consists predominantly of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, will eating one pastry once in a while really hurt your skin to a great extent? The answer is no. So, do your best to eat healthily but have a relaxed approach at the same time.
Chocolate is one of the biggest suspects when it comes to triggering acne. Dermatologists have suspected for decades that this delicious treat is to blame for some breakouts.
There are several studies that suggest this frightening claim to be true. But what is it in chocolate that makes people break out? Unfortunately, we don’t have a final answer just yet. There are some people who claim that cocoa itself as a substance forms acne, while others believe it is the milk in chocolate that leads to these results. There is a third option – the sugar in chocolate might be to blame, for reasons we’ve discussed previously.
If you’re a chocolate lover and suffer from acne, should you give up chocolate altogether? Fortunately, you don’t have to take such drastic steps. Firstly, you need to make sure that the acne you have is really caused by chocolate and not something else. You will need to closely examine your habits and perhaps write down the food you’re eating and the way your skin reacts to it. If you notice a pattern with chocolate and acne, lower your chocolate consumption and switch to dark chocolate, just to be on the safe side.
There is no need to remind you how bad fast, highly-processed food is for our bodies, you probably have heard enough of it. Everything that falls under the category of fast food: hot dogs, burgers, fries, sodas, cheesecakes, is not your skin’s friend. Why is this so, you might wonder? Well, it’s assumed that the skin breaks out from consuming fast food due to the change in hormonal levels that we undergo when our diet consists primarily of fast food. Another way fast food can have a negative effect on the skin is by increasing sebum production. Fast food is high in fat, which is also not an ideal option if you want clear and healthy skin. It’s also high in sugar, which negative effects I’ve already shared with you.
There isn’t enough research to conclude just why fast food has such a bad impact on the skin. Of course, there are some people who are lucky enough to eat all the fries in the world and never experience a breakout in their lives. Your response will depend on many factors, not just the food itself, so try to leave any comparisons to other people out of the picture.
This question must’ve popped up in your mind while you were reading the article. If you change your diet and exclude all the abovementioned products, how long will it take for you to see results? The answer is simple. All the positive changes you’re anticipating will take some time to show up on your skin. Now, it won’t take as long as some acne medication does, which is usually from 3 to 4 months, but it will take a couple of weeks for your body to adjust to this new lifestyle. You will start to see improvements in your skin two to three weeks after you’ve switched up your diet. Once your body has detoxed from these harmful substances, your complexion will improve and you will be more motivated than ever to continue with the changes.
So, it’s safe to conclude that you will need to have patience in order to see the results you want. Every positive change you make in your life takes a while to prove fruitful, but it’s worth it at the end.
Don’t worry, you won’t be left hanging. It’s important to balance all this information about which foods worsen acne with actual advice on what to eat instead. Here is a list of foods which are shown to have a positive effect on your complexion.
Unlike omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are amazing for hydrating your skin inside out and fighting inflammation in the body. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseed, chia seeds, soybeans, and walnuts. Try to avoid vegetable oils as often as you can so that your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio stays on point.
Antioxidants are a part of every healthy diet. Not only do they help with the skin but they also protect against many diseases. Antioxidants can be found in dark leafy greens, fruit, berries, red wine and dark chocolate. Fruits and vegetables are not only rich in antioxidants, but they also contain a high amount of vitamins such as A, E, and D. These are extremely important for improving your skin conditions. If you think that you’re not getting enough of these in your diet already, you could also supplement with a multivitamin.
You probably wouldn’t think to find spices on this list, but turmeric is an incredible tool when it comes to healing acne and fighting inflammation. Turmeric has been used in medicine for centuries, and for a good reason. Curcumin, the ingredient found in turmeric, also has an antibacterial effect which helps fight off the acne-causing bacteria. The good news is that turmeric is very easy to incorporate in your diet. If you don’t like the taste of it, just add a teaspoon of turmeric in your smoothie and you won’t even feel it!
While you’re on this journey for improving your skin, it’s best to be perceptive of any change that occurs in your body, both positive and negative. Keeping a food diary makes it easy to identify which food has a positive effect on your skin, and which worsens acne. Of course, keeping a food log can be time-consuming, but it will pay off at the end.
If you’re having doubts and concerns, then consider going to a dermatologist for specific guidance and food plan.
Every person will react to food differently. Some people never get food-related breakouts, while others have a strong reaction to certain food like dairy and chocolate. The key to determining which foods don’t agree with your skin is to be perceptive of any changes that might occur and react accordingly. If you suspect something is causing you to break out, then eliminate it from your diet and you will start to see results in no time.
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.
References:Chalyk, Natalya et al. “Continuous Dark Chocolate Consumption Affects Human Facial Skin Surface by Stimulating Corneocyte Desquamation and Promoting Bacterial Colonization.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 11,9 (2018): 37-41.