Food Good experience Health Lifestyle

Are the Foods You’re Eating Making Your Acne Worse?

Written by Jimmy Rustling

When it comes to food, it’s true that you are what you eat. High-fat foods affect your weight and your heart health. Sugar-rich foods raise your blood sugar levels. What about your skin? Yes, it’s true. The foods you eat can also have a direct impact on the pimples you see in the mirror.

While not all nibbles contribute to acne, there are many that do. The bad news is most are either tasty treats, or they’re already a part of your daily routine. The good news is that scaling back a little bit can control the blemish breakouts and make acne treatment easier. Look at this list to decide if what’s on your plate is making its way to your face.

1. Dairy

There are lots of health benefits with dairy. The vitamin D and calcium in milk and cheese can make your bones stronger. The probiotics in yogurt improve your digestion. So, how can dairy be a bad idea? As it turns out, it directly affects your insulin, potentially leading to acne.

When your insulin spikes, your body produces more androgen hormones and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Both make your skin cells grow faster, increasing acne-causing oil production. Pay close attention to what happens, especially if you’re drinking skim milk. Acne seems to be worse with this fat-free option.

2. Alcohol

With the holidays and New Year’s right around the corner, it’s a fun time to enjoy a festive drink. If you’re prone to acne, though, try to indulge in moderation. Drinking high levels of alcohol can create an estrogen and testosterone imbalance. If those hormones are out of whack, you could see more severe breakouts more often.

Higher hormone levels lead to more oil that can clog your pores. At the same time, that extra beer, glass of wine, or cocktail can also nick your immune system. When that natural armor doesn’t work as well, it’s hard to fight off acne-causing bacteria. Keep it all in mind when choosing whether to have that drink.

3. Sugary Drinks

Maybe it’s a soda you grab with lunch or that glass of fruit juice with breakfast. Not only is drinking a sugary beverage likely a habit, but it’s also a tasty topper to your meal. That jolt of sugar isn’t doing your face any favors, though. In fact, research shows five drinks is enough to cause a breakout.

With each one of these beverages, your blood sugar goes up, prompting your body to produce more insulin and IGF-1. So, just like with dairy products, your skin cells replenish faster, and you’ll secrete more oil. Both are ingredients for more acne. So, pass on the soda and stick to water instead.

4. Specialty Coffee

If you look forward to your caramel latte or blended mocha iced coffee to kick-start your morning, we’re sorry. While caffeine doesn’t cause acne (that’s the good news), it can make it worse (boo!).

No question, that specialty coffee is the wake-up cup that makes you feel more alert. When you combine caffeine and sugar, however, it boosts your level of cortisol, the stress hormone. What does that mean for your skin? It leads to the same overproduction of oil that can prompt more pimples and pustules. Remember, if your coffee tastes like liquid dessert, you could be headed for a breakout.

5. Whey Protein Powder

A meal replacement or energy shake at the end of a hard workout can feel satisfying and healthy. They’re a great way to get the protein your body needs post-exercise. Pay attention, though. If you’re seeing more zits pop up, that shake (or any foods containing protein powder) could be the culprit.

Whey protein powder contains both leucine and glutamine. Both amino acids support muscle growth, but they also make your skin cells grow and divide faster. As we mentioned earlier, those extra skin cells can directly contribute to an increase in acne. They can also increase your insulin, leading to the excess oil we’ve discussed, too.

6. Bananas

Bananas are an easy, eat-on-the-go, healthy snack. Just throw one of these vitamin-rich peelable natural treats in your bag, and you can enjoy it anywhere. You can add them to your morning smoothie to get that super-smooth texture. Even with all their benefits (health and otherwise), they’re high on the glycemic index. That means they significantly increase your blood sugar.

Eating bananas regularly could put you in the higher blood sugar-elevated insulin loop. If you’re seeing more blackheads, pimples, or pustules, pay attention to your skin. Is it getting oilier? Consider cutting back on the yellow fruit if that’s the case.

7. Chocolate

There’s been a lot of debate over the years about whether chocolate causes acne both in teens and adults. After years of research, we’re starting to get a clearer picture. The answer? It largely depends on the type of chocolate you’re eating.

As it turns out, the cocoa in chocolate isn’t responsible for blemishes you see soon after eating a candy bar. Instead, it’s the milk and sugar added to it. Once again, it’s the blood sugar-insulin connection we’ve talked about. This doesn’t mean you have to give chocolate up altogether. Switch to dark chocolate and enjoy it in smaller amounts. Your skin will thank you.

Acne can pop up for several different reasons. Genetics, bacteria, and hormones are the causes you’ll typically hear. Your food choices matter, too, though. They can directly impact the hormones that play into whether your skin is clear or pimple-filled. Examine your diet to see if you’re eating some of these foods that could be responsible. If so, cut back and see if it makes a difference.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.