It’s no surprise that a healthy diet has a positive impact on all of your organs, including your skin. But when it comes to the role diet plays in acne, the old adage “you are what you eat” holds especially true. “In the last decade there’s been a lot of convincing scientific research confirming a link between what you eat and how your skin behaves,” explains Whitney Bowe, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Whether you’re dealing with chronic acne or just an occasional blemish, avoiding these foods can help clear up your complexion!
Fruit equals healthy, right? Not the dried variety. “It’s a refined carbohydrate that is high on the glycemic index. It causes a dramatic spike in blood sugar and a subsequent rise in insulin levels,” explains Bowe. “This leads to a cascade of hormones that can increase oil production and trigger breakouts.”
Any kind of white bread, pasta, crackers, or cereal all fall into this same “food that causes acne” category and will have a similar effects on your skin.
Malaysian research revealed that those who regularly consumed milk were four times more likely to have acne drama than those who didn’t (the hormones in dairy are thought to make your skin go haywire). More surprising: Skim may be worse than whole or low-fat milk, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The exact reason why is still unclear, although it may have to do with the different proteins found in skim.
Previous studies suggested it may be the hormones in dairy that are the culprit, but the latest research shows that milk proteins, whey, and casein are also to blame. “The exact process is still unknown, but the thought is that when they bind to receptors in the digestive tract they signal certain molecules that trigger breakouts,” explains Bowe.
Why skim in particular as a food that causes acne? When companies remove the fat, they add more of these proteins to make the milk thicker and taste less watery, Bowe notes.
Whey protein powder
Per the point about skim milk, this food that causes acne is especially problematic since it’s in a pure and concentrated form. Vegan or pea protein powders are a better option for your post-workout smoothie. And be sure to scan the ingredients on your favorite snack or meal replacement bar too; whey protein is a common additive in these as well, says Bowe.
These no-good-for-you fats typically come from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, a common ingredient in many processed foods ranging from cookies to chips to cake mix. Be sure to check the ingredients on anything packaged to ensure that you’re steering clear of trans fats.
“Just like they can lead to clogged arteries in the heart, trans fats also cause blockages in the tiny blood vessels in the skin,” says Bowe. Not to mention they trigger inflammation, which can exacerbate acne flares.
Don’t eliminate all fat though; polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly beneficial for healthy skin. Flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds are all good sources.
This food that causes acne touts a trifecta of some of the most common triggers: refined sugar, dairy, and often trans fats, says Bowe. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give in to your sweet tooth; just pick dark chocolate, made with at least 70 percent cocoa to avoid the bad stuff and get an antioxidant boost to boot.