I’ve written before about the link between food and your skin. Today I am going to focus on acne and why specific types of foods can trigger outbreaks. Research has shown a trend that certain foods can actually effect your acne. So before you go out and purchase expensive ‘spot treatments’ and acne fighters, I would encourage you to review your diet to see if any changes might benefit your skin.
There are three main categories of food that I think about when I consider how a diet can impact acne: cow’s milk, sugar and high-glycemic foods.
1: Cow’s Milk – A 2010 study has found an association between cow’s milk and acne, although there are only theories on why this is. Cow’s milk spikes blood sugar (increasing inflammation which leads to pimples) and increases insulin levels (encouraging the production of skin oils). Additionally, the added hormones found in cow’s milk can encourage the overgrowth of skin cell’s, which can block pores. Blocked pores = breakouts.
Suggested diet change: Purchase organic dairy products to avoid added hormones. If you notice a link between your acne and dairy, think about other non-dairy sources of calcium (I like almond milk). If you choose to drink milk, also be aware that skim milk is actually worse for your acne!! The process used to produce skim milk actually leave more acne causing hormones behind.
2. Sugar – Similar to milk, a spike in your blood sugar levels is going to lead to increased inflammation, causing pimples. You need to consider exactly how much sugar you’re eating in a day – and especially concentrate on any time that you are eating a large amount at once.
Suggested diet change: Cut back! We don’t require sugar in our diets and the more we eat, the more our body craves it. Try dropping one soda or sugary snack to begin with and keep cutting until it’s all gone. Try using natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup) if you really need to sweeten something.
3. High-glycemic foods – Foods that break down quickly in the body (think things like white bread, processed cereals, white rice, cakes, pretzels, etc) will trigger an insulin spike and raise blood sugar levels. These changes will trigger hormonal fluctuations and inflammation which in turn encourage acne. If you choose low glycemic foods (vegetables, whole grains, etc) instead you are sure to notice a change in your skin.
Suggested diet change: Same as the sugar, cut back! Avoid junk food (and fast food) opting instead for clean snacks and meals. Choose salads with lean protein over a cheeseburger and fries and think about nutritious snacks that will provide you with long-lasting energy (almonds are my go to!).
Personally, I think altering eating habits should always be the first step towards enjoying clearer skin. A clean, consistent diet will help to ensure beautiful skin (and definitely won’t hurt your waistline either!). It will take time to see results from any changes in your diet, but if you don’t see improvements after four to six weeks you should contact a Board Certified Dermatologist for a more detailed analysis of your skin.
Have you personally cleared up your skin with dietary changes? I would love to hear about it! Comment below or email me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
African American Dermatologist