What Kind of Food Causes Acne?
While there is no scientific evidence that there are foods that directly cause acne, there have been studies showing that certain foods can indirectly make acne skin conditions worse by influencing other factors within the body.
For instance, diet directly affects the body’s insulin level. Insulin is the master hormone that influences all other hormones including androgens (male hormones). Higher androgen levels result in more oil/sebum secretion which can lead to worse acne. Therefore, it makes sense that diets that cause insulin spikes may ultimately worsen acne skin.
So what are the foods that cause acne? While diet might not be the specific cause for acne skin, there are certain foods that have been targeted as more problematic than others when it comes to acne.
Foods to Avoid:
If there is just one food you remove from your diet in order to reduce acne, make it dairy products! Dairy products are considered to be one of the main foods that cause acne. Dairy products (including cow’s milk, cheese, cream, and yogurt) can aggravate acne for a number of reasons. Many people are lactose intolerant without realizing it and even a mild intolerance can result in acne. Dairy products are also acid-forming in the body. Our bodies need to be slightly alkaline and over-acidity can lead to acne. Consuming dairy, especially non-organic dairy products, can increase the levels of hormones in the body because there are hormones in milk. An increase in hormone production often results in increased sebum secretion, clogged pores, and more acne.
2. “Bad” fats: Saturated fats and Trans fats.
Saturated fat is found in animal products, many dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm kernel oils. Too much saturated fat is hard for the body to break down and can contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. Not to mention clogged pores. Trans fat should be avoided at all costs! Trans fats are found in processed and packaged foods such as chips, donuts, cookies, and a multitude of other snacks in order to extend their shelf life. All of these processed foods are potential foods that cause acne skin conditions. Trans fats can lower HDL (good cholesterol) and increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and are the worse type of fat for your health. So stay away from processed and packaged foods as much as possible if you are trying to avoid foods that cause acne. *Side Note*: Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the good fats and you want them in your diet. They are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. They help attract moisture into cells and keep skin lubricated.
3. Refined carbohydrates and sugars:
Eating refined carbohydrates and sugar (white rice, pasta, white flour, sweets, etc) leads to a surge in insulin levels. This in turn leads to an increase in the production of androgens (male hormones), which then encourage the skin to excrete large amounts of sebum. The end result can be clogged pores and zits. The overproduction of insulin can also lead to weight gain and diabetes. Unfortunately, sugar is found in many foods. It may also go by the names of high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maltose, and dextrose. If you are a sugar lover, try using raw sugar instead of refined sugar or you can use real maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup as substitutes for sugar. Most importantly, avoid processed foods and simple carbohydrates, such as sucrose (table sugar), fructose, and lactose (milk sugar).
4. Fatty meats:
Fatty meats such as beef and pork should be avoided in order to achieve clear, glowing skin. Cooked animal protein is difficult to digest and often takes several days to get through the digestive system. During this time, it putrefies and creates toxins in the body. These toxins can manifest in acne. As with dairy products, meat is acid-forming in the body and non-organic meats often contain synthetic hormones. If you want to eat meat, the best options are organic poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.) and organic fish. Tofu is a good substitute and if you are worried about not getting enough protein, try eating nuts, seeds, chickpeas, etc. These all contain high amounts of protein.
5. Excess Salt:
Salt, or sodium, is a necessary part of our diet because it retains fluid in the body’s cells and plasma, among other things. If you have too little sodium in your diet, you can become dehydrated; however, too much sodium can cause the body to retain fluid. This results in bloating, weight gain, and possible kidney damage. According to the American Heart Association, we should only consume about 2.5 grams (about a teaspoon) of sodium per day! This is far less than the average American consumes on a daily basis. Salt is also rich in iodine which has been linked to acne. If you use iodized salt, consider switching to alternate products such as celtic sea salt which you can find at gourmet or health food stores.
Caffeine stimulates hormone production, which, as described earlier, can lead to overproduction of sebum and ultimately clogged pores and zits. Caffeine can also increase some people’s anxiety and stress levels which can also aggravate acne.
Written by pagman13