Foods That Cause Acne

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2020)

Your Diet Could Be Making Your Acne Worse

foods that can cause acne

At least 1 in every 10 of us have acne in form or another. Its causes can include blocked pores, bacteria, inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Another cause is one that might actually shock you – Its the food that we eat.

There has been a fair amount of research into the link between our diet and acne breakouts, and although research is continuing, it has been discovered that the foods that we eat can have a distinct effect on acne breakouts.

This article looks at 7 foodstuffs that have been proven to have a detrimental effect on acne breakouts, causing their appearance and in many cases making them far worse.

It also highlights the absolute importance  of eating a good diet when trying to clear acne prone skin.

This applies to not just your face but breakouts on your back too

At least 1 in every 10 of us have acne in form or another. Its causes can include blocked pores, bacteria, inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Another cause is one that might actually shock you – Its the food that we eat.

There has been a fair amount of research into the link between our diet and acne breakouts, and although research is continuing, it has been discovered that the foods that we eat can have a distinct effect on acne breakouts.

This article looks at 7 foodstuffs that have been proven to have a detrimental effect on acne breakouts, causing their appearance and in many cases making them far worse.

It also highlights the absolute importance  of eating a good diet when trying to clear acne prone skin.

(1) Grains, Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates

Studies have shown that if you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates you are more likely to develop acne when compared to those who do not eat them.

Foods high in refined carbohydrates include cereals, crackers, white bread, pasta and rice. Natural sweeteners such as cane sugar, agave, maple and honey alongside sugar rich soft drinks are all known to increase the risk of acne.

Studies have shown that people who eat foods high in added sugars were some 30% more likely to develop acne.

A diet high in pastries and cakes can increase the chance of an acne breakout by around 20%.

eating cake can cause acne

This risk is caused because of the way that these refined sugars react with our blood and insulin levels.

When we eat a foodstuff high in refined carbohydrates, the sugars contained in them cause our blood sugar levels to increase. 

As a direct result, our body releases more insulin to reduce the sugar levels in the blood, effectively moving it into our cells.

This action is a problem for anybody with acne prone skin. Insulin increases androgen hormones, in particularly IGF-1 ( Insulin Like Growth Factor 1)

This makes acne worse by activating and increasing the skins activity, making additional sebum (the skins natural oil) which can build up in the pores, trapping dirt and dead skin cells that can if left in the pores becomes infected with the acne causing bacteria.

This infection can cause the skin to become inflamed and present as the unsightly red spots commonly linked to acne.

Now foods that do not increase blood sugar levels ( Low Glycemic) have bene linked to reduced acne breakouts.

Conclusion Foods high in refined carbs or sugars are very likely to increase the risk of acne breakouts

(2)Dairy Products

There has been a  direct link discovered that links milk based products and severe acne in young adults. Those who eat ice cream and whole milk were discovered to be far more likely to develop acne.

Milk is known to trigger an increase in insulin production. Also cows milk has been shown to contain amino acids that are responsible for increasing the production of IGF-1 which as detailed above is recognised for its ability to increase acne.

Conclusion – Research may not have determined that actual reason why dairy products can aggravate acne, but science has determined that Milk and associated products can make acne worse

(3) Fast Food

Any fat or takeaway food is usually very high in fat, calories and refined carbohydrates. fried chicken, burgers, hot dogs as well as milkshakes can all aggravate cause of acne.

A study in China followed a large group of 5000 teenagers who all consumed large amounts of fast, takeaway food. They saw cases of acne rise by 43%

A similar study held in Turkey saw your adults who eat a diet mainly consisting of sausages and burgers saw their acne increase by up to 24%

It is believed that this amounts of this type of food cause hormonal disruption and gene expression in such a way that can aggravate acne.

Conclusion A diet high in fast, ready food has been linked with severe acne breakouts. The actual effect that these food types have is still being understood, but the end result is recognised.

(4) Chocolate

Everybody’s favourite, chocolate has been linked to poor skin for decades, the facts are however that there has been no actual facts determined by scientists. 

There have been many studies on this subject and they have linked chocolate consumption  to increased acne but still no real defined consensus has been reached.

does chocolate cause acne

One study saw a group of adults eat 25g of dark chocolate daily for 14 days – most reported a direct increase in acne lesions.

Another saw a group of adults be given 10% cocoa powder daily, they too all reported a noticeable increase in acne lesions. It has not been scientifically determined yet but it is thought that eating chocolate can upset the immune system and how it reacts to the acne causing bacteria.

ConclusionAlthough the actual reasons why this happens is still unknown, the facts are that scientific studies have shown that chocolate can aggravate acne breakouts.

(5) Foods high In Omega-6

Foods high in Omega-6 have a well recognised link to severe acne breakouts , those who have a western type diet do seem to be more at risk. 

These foods contain a lot of corn or soy oil which disrupt the delicate balances in the body, causing an inflammatory state in the body. 

These are linked to acne breakouts.

It has been shown that by adding foods high in Omega-3 can actually counteract the effects of Omega-6 – look for oily fish like mackerel and salmon along with certain nuts.

Taking supplements high in Omega 3 are also known to be effective too.

ConclusionDiets high in Omega-6 are known to make acne worse, this can be counteracted by increasing the amount of Omega-3 foods being eaten

(6) Whey Protein

Very popular with athletes and people who workout regularly. 

Taken from milk, Whey is a powerful source of amino acids such as glutamine and leucine. 

It works by increasing the speed that skin cells divide and duplicate ( to build muscle mass).

This stimulates Insulin production which as seen above has been directly linked to increase acne breakouts

Clinical studies have reinforced the links between taking Whey Protein and acne breakouts.

ConclusionWhey protein is great for building muscle and enhancing strength, but its links to dairy has been shown to trigger increase acne breakouts

(7) Foods That You Have A Sensitivity Too

Many of us have sensitivity to one food or another. If eaten they can trigger inflammation and an immune system response as the body searches to destroy the source of the inflammation.

This can aggravate acne breakouts.

To treat its always worth to try and eliminate the foods that trigger these responses. Keep a food log and try to not eat any foods that you are sensitive too 

You could then try introducing them back into your diet one at a time until you can determine the cause of the breakout

Conclusion – Any food that can cause any sensitivity can trigger an immune reaction that will aggravate acne breakouts.

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The information in this website is for advice and guidance only. It is based on my own intensive research and personal experiences, and is not intended in any way to replace professional medical advice, or to diagnose or treat any health conditions. All rights reserved.