There is a lot of information and misinformation floating around the Internet in regard to the correlation between nutrition or diet and acne. While the debate rages on about specific foods that cause acne and what, precisely, the causal relationship may be, there are some foods more widely believed to affect skin health, including the formation of acne, than others. These are some of the biggest offenders.
1. Milk and Dairy Products
Milk and dairy products are often cited as public enemy number one when it comes to acne. They often contain high levels of hormones that promote oil production which leads to blocked pores.
What products are included in this list? Probably some of your favourites, including:
- Ice cream
Not only are dairy products common as foods by themselves. They are often used as ingredients in favourite meals and must be avoided on all levels. Fortunately, there are many non-dairy alternatives on the market that allow you the experience of milk products without unwanted skin consequences.
2. Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol is an inflammatory that exacerbates existing skin conditions, like acne, causing more breakouts. Combine that with the fact that many exotic alcoholic beverages and cocktails are loaded with sugary additives. Sugar is pro-inflammatory as well as alcohol so it's a double whammy for promoting acne according to A. Vogel. Yet another reason alcohol is bad for skin is that it causes dehydration. This, in turn, forces your body to produce more oils, which leads to breakouts.
3. Refined Carbohydrates
This includes bread, sugar, white rice, white flour and similar foods. All of them, as mentioned above with sugar, promote inflammation which can be very bad for people who already have acne prone skin by increasing the frequency and duration of acne outbreaks.
4. High-Glycemic Foods
In addition to refined carbohydrates, some high-glycemic foods, can also lead to more inflammation and create greater difficulty controlling acne. These foods include things like:
Many of them even look healthy at first glance, though they can cause wild fluctuations in blood glucose levels that increase inflammation.
Instead, look for fruits and vegetables that have lower glycemic index numbers, such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens
- Water chestnuts
These foods do not cause wild fluctuations in blood glucose levels and actually help to soothe the skin.
5. Fatty Foods
Fried foods and those that are highly processed with trans fats often contain cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory and known for making the skin red and blotchy, creating a target-rich environment for blemishes to form.
6. Whey Protein Powder
This is one that isn't talked about much. The dietary supplement, whey protein powder increases amino acids, like leucine and glutamine which grow at faster rates, contributing to the formation of acne. Healthline reports that studies have indicated direct links in the consumption of whey protein and acne amongst male athletes as well as correlations between the severity and duration of acne outbreaks amongst those using whey protein supplements.
7. Highly Processed Convenience Foods
This includes a wide variety of foods filled with ingredients that promote skin inflammation, are filled with unhealthy fats, and contain shocking amounts of refined sugars, flours, etc. They may make meal preparation easier and are often budget-friendly, but they are not good for acne-prone skin.
While the key ingredient in chocolate is not the primary culprit, but milk chocolate and lighter chocolates are heavyweights when it comes to promoting acne. WebMD recommends choosing dark chocolate, which is made with less refined sugar and milk as a better fit for people seeking to clear their skin.
Another shocker on the list of foods not to eat when trying to control acne is chicken.
Just like dairy there are often added hormones in chicken that could trigger inflammation making your skin more vulnerable to breakouts.
For some people, it's the added sugar and dairy they introduce to the coffee that's the problem. For others, it's the "adrenaline" rush that first cup of coffee in the morning creates that gets you going. Unfortunately, it also boosts the levels of the stress hormone cortisol creating a ripe condition for ramping up oil production and causing acne.
Making small changes to your diet may improve acne, by supporting your immune system and boosting your overall health. However, there is currently no substantial evidence to prove that certain foods cause acne.
Acne is no laughing matter for those who struggle with it continuously. In addition to dietary changes that eliminate the foods listed above, consider talking to your doctor about acne treatments which are suitable for you.