Healthy skin doesn’t stop at the face wash. Diet plays a huge role, and if you’re not careful, eating certain foods will bring on acne. It won’t even matter if your skin care routine costs a pretty penny. If you don’t eat well, bad skin is sure to come.
One might argue that hormones are at play. Well, it would please you to know that food affects your hormones! Everything has nutrients that jumpstart reactions in the body. If your diet doesn’t have healthy nutrients, you won’t be happy with the reactions. The typical Western diet isn’t the best for clear skin. Food staples are linked to inflammation, excess sebum production, and other acne-causing processes. They have a bigger impact than you think. But, of course, every person’s body is different.
Constantly eating something might mess with your skin but not for your friend. Pay attention to the way your body reacts and figure out which foods cause acne. Here are three things that might be harming your skin.
1. Milk And Dairy
We all know that milk gives the boost that babies need to grow. It signals specific growth-promoting proteins, which then enhances signaling of insulin-like growth factor 1 or IGF-1. Interestingly, IGF-1 is the major growth hormone during puberty. Bingo! IGF-1 increases the spreading of cells, especially in the sebaceous glands. This leads to greater sebum production and therefore, pimples.
Additionally, milk contains leucine, a growth-promoting amino acid that acts on IGF-1. It also has glutamine, an amino acid that promotes leucine uptake. Glutamine helps sebaceous gland cells grow and flourish. It’s an excellent reason to avoid animal milk. Consider fortified non-dairy milk made with soy, coconut, or oats. Don’t forget about dairy products, too! High intake of cheese, yogurt, and milk are all linked to acne.1 2
2. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined grains never had a good reputation. Foods like white bread, pastries, and white rice are all connected to type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and more. And acne is definitely on this list. A high-glycemic load decreases binding proteins that control IGF-1. This lets serum IGF-1 increase, causing sex hormones to act up. Together, these hormones increase sebaceous gland size and sebum production.
In a 2012 study, Korean researchers looked at how a low-glycemic diet affects acne. After a 10-week diet, sebaceous glands and sebum production both improved. So, it definitely is a good idea to ditch those refined carbs. Reach for whole grains like quinoa, barley, and oats instead. Limit or avoid processed pastries like donuts and cake. Imagine refined sugar as “fuel” for acne.3 4
3. Fried Food
Most Western foods are fried. This cooking method is cheap and easy, but it’s not very healthy. Plus, beyond destroying nutrients and increasing calories, fried foods also encourage acne. It’s all because of saturated and trans fats.
Oil breaks down unsaturated fats but creates trans fats. Both saturated and trans fats increase IGF-1 signaling, along with the inflammatory response in skin follicles. The simple solution is to avoid any type of fried food whenever possible. Think French fries, chicken nuggets, and onion rings. When cooking at home, opt for seaming, baking, or poaching.5 6
For general health, it’s a good idea to limit these foods. Fighting acne is like the icing on the cake. If you’re not sure what causes the breakout, keep a food diary. Record everything you eat and the breakouts. Over time, you’ll be able to find a relationship.
|↑1, ↑2, ↑4, ↑5||Melnik, Bodo C. “Linking diet to acne metabolomics, inflammation, and comedogenesis: an update.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology 8 (2015): 371.|
|↑3||Kwon, Hyuck Hoon, Ji Young Yoon, Jong Soo HONg, Jaeyoon Jung, Mi Sun Park, and Dae Hun Suh. “Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in treatment of acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a randomized, controlled trial.” Acta dermato-venereologica 92, no. 3 (2012): 241-246.|
|↑6||Guallar-Castillón, Pilar, Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Esther Lopez-Garcia, Luz M. León-Muñoz, Pilar Amiano, Eva Ardanaz, Larraitz Arriola et al. “Consumption of fried foods and risk of coronary heart disease: Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study.” BMJ 344 (2012): e363.|