The most promising correlation is, perhaps surprisingly, sugar. “Multiple studies have now found that diets with a high glycemic load can trigger acne in certain persons,” says Rajani Katta, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas at Houston. Anne Chapas, the founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology, agrees. “The spikes in blood sugar which arise from eating high-glycemic foods causes oil production, which in turn causes acne,” she says. “We know that those cause a harmful hormonal environment.”

High-glycemic foods are foods such as white bread, potatoes, and white rice, which all cause a quick rise of glucose in the blood, or what is more colloquially known as a blood-sugar spike. This blood-sugar spike also causes an increase of insulin, and that insulin spike, in turn, stimulates the activity of the hormone androgen and a protein known as insulin-like growth factor 1. These act together to encourage the growth of skin cells and the production of an oily glandular secretion called sebum. And that combination of skin growth and oil production—you guessed it—can lead to acne.

The multitude of SkincareAddiction Redditors ditching milk to cure their pimple problems might have the right idea. “Limited evidence suggests that some dairy, particularly skim milk, may influence acne,” the AAD advises. Only a few studies have been conducted looking at the connection between dairy and acne prevalence, and none of them was both randomized and controlled. But they all discovered, more or less, that the regular consumption of milk, particularly skim milk, appears to worsen acne. Cheese and yogurt don’t seem to have an effect one way or another.

I asked Abigail Rapaport, a senior dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital, why there have been so few studies connecting acne and dairy. “Nutrition studies are hard to research in general,” she said. “Most of the research is on teens, and acne can be multifactorial, so you can’t say it’s only from dairy.”

So while the connection between milk and acne isn’t a myth, a lot more research is needed to confidently tell acne sufferers to give up lattes. Still, myths abound: that eating gluten or greasy foods can cause acne, for example, or that chocolate will worsen your breakouts.

Katta recently surveyed her patients, and found that “90 percent think there’s a link between diet and acne, and most of them think there’s a link between chocolate and greasy foods and breakouts.” But unless you’re rubbing the hamburger all over your face, greasy food on its own likely isn’t the problem. “Eating greasy food has little to no effect on acne,” the Mayo Clinic advises. “Though working in a greasy area, such as a kitchen with fry vats, does because the oil can stick to the skin and block the hair follicles. This further irritates the skin or promotes acne.”

All photos Getty Images

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of SELF.

Having amazing skin isn’t only about the products you put on your face. Your complexion is also a reflection of the food you eat. Certain additions to your diet can help heal acne and inflammation, while other ingredients can cause your breakouts. Read on to find out the best (and worst) foods for your skin.

Fill your plate with these foods that fight inflammation and acne.

1. Probiotics

Found in kombucha, sauerkraut and pickles, they may help reduce inflammation by encouraging healthy bacteria to grow in your gut.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Inflammation-fighting foods like salmon and walnuts have a higher ratio of omega-3s (the good fats!) than omega-6s, says William Rietkerk, M.D.

Related: 11 Dermatologists Share Their Best Advice For Gorgeous Skin

3. Antioxidants

Acne sufferers have fewer of these complexion boosters, says Whitney Bowe, M.D. Snack on dark greens and berries to get your fill.

4. Zinc

Lower levels of this essential mineral have been connected to more severe acne, says Dr. Rietkerk. Nosh on cashews and almonds to up your intake.

Eat these ingredients in moderation to keep your breakouts at bay.

1. Coconut oil

The oil of the moment could be a pore clogger. Consider swapping it for sunflower-seed oil if you see breakouts around your mouth.

Related: I Tried 9 Coconut Oil Beauty Hacks For A Week So You Don’t Have To

2. Whey Protein

One small study showed that this ingredient could lead to acne. Dr. Bowe has seen improvement when patients eliminate powders and bars that contain it.

3. High-Glycemic Foods

“These raise blood sugar,” says Jennifer Burris, R.D. That causes hormone levels to rise. Stick to whole, high-fiber foods instead.

4. Dairy

Double trouble: Not only does most dairy cause hormone production on its own, but it’s also full of the same acne-causing hormones from cows, says Dr. Bowe.

The struggles of having acne:

I get pimples when I eat bread with butter

Why do I develop pimples on my face whenever I use butter on bread? What causes this and what alternatives can I use to make my bread tastier? Gideon

Dear Gedeon,

What is your age? Pimples are more common in adolescence and teen years. Puberty causes hormone levels to rise, especially testosterone. These changing hormones cause skin glands to start making more oil i.e. sebum. Oil is released from the pores to protect the skin and keep it moist. Acne begins when oil mixes with dead cells and clogs the skin’s pores. Bacteria can grow in this mixture and if this mixture leaks into nearby tissues, it causes swelling, redness, and pus. This swelling is called a pimple.

Though common in teenagers, acne and pimples can develop at any age. Even middle aged and elderly can have it, though it is uncommon. A new born can get acne if the mother has passed higher levels of testosterone to him. At times, stress of birth can cause release of hormones causing acne in a new born.

Certain hormonal disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome can lead to acne and pimples as manifestation. Certain drugs like corticoids, antidepressants like lithium can cause acne as adverse effect. Apart from all these, a genetic predisposition is also present. It was postulated that oily and fatty food induce and aggravate formation of acne and pimples. However this has not been proved scientifically in recent studies,

Butter does make the bread tastier, but is also rich in cholesterol and fat. Unless one is physically very active, it tends to augment weight. This tends to cause obesity related diseases like diabetes high blood pressure and heart problems and hence not a good choice to use regularly. Alternate healthy choice would be to use fresh vegetables like tomato, cabbage, cucumber, e.t.c. with bread. Fruits like avocado, mango, e.t.c. can be cut into slices and used as bread spread. Salt, black pepper, e.t.c. any flavoring substance can be used to enhance their flavor. Regular physical exercise is also helpful.

5 Common Myths About Acne

If you’re trying to find out what’s behind your acne breakout, first get the facts about acne.

Clare A. Pipkin, MD, a dermatologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, clears up some of the confusion about acne.

Acne Myth No. 1: Poor Hygiene Causes Acne

A lot of people have heard this one — that acne is caused by dirty skin.

“Some patients believe this and end up washing their face numerous times a day, sometimes scrubbing vigorously and using harsh astringents,” says Dr. Pipkin. In fact, washing your skin too frequently and too aggressively can make an acne breakout much worse.

“Ultimately, this can lead to irritated, traumatized skin that looks worse after treatment,” Pipkin says.

Instead, wash your face only once or twice a day with lukewarm water, a mild cleanser, and gentle motion — no scrubbing or harsh abrasive products needed. Make sure one of those times you’re washing your face is in the evening, to remove makeup and dirt and sweat from the day.

Acne Myth No. 2: Squeeze Those Pimples

When that pimple sprouts, you may not be able to resist the temptation to squeeze it out to try to bring it down to size.

“Some patients will squeeze pimples in an attempt to try to open up a clogged pore,” says Pipkin. “However, this usually leads to further inflammation, which makes the acne look worse and last longer.”

Keep your hands off — and leave that pimple alone. Instead, try using an over-the-counter acne treatment gel, ointment, cream, or lotion to help it shrink. Look for products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid – they’re the most effective, over-the-counter acne remedies.

Acne Myth No. 3: Junk Food Causes Acne

You may have heard that eating greasy foods and candy can cause an acne breakout. Though there are some links between diet and acne, the relationship isn’t quite what you may think it is.

“Many people with acne have oily skin, so for a time people thought that greasy foods should also be avoided,” says Pipkin. However, a number of studies have shown that downing foods like French fries, cheeseburgers, and chocolate doesn’t have any impact at all on your skin’s health. But getting that grease on your skin can make an oily complexion worse, clogging pores and leading to an acne breakout.

Greasy foods may be off the hook, but there could be other diet culprits behind your acne breakouts.

“Milk consumption has been associated with an increased risk of acne. Other studies have shown that a low glycemic index diet that’s high in fiber and fruits and vegetables is beneficial for acne,” notes Pipkin. “So, if someone is suffering from acne, avoiding milk or sticking to a low glycemic index diet may actually be helpful.”

Acne Myth No. 4: Acne Goes Away on Its Own

You don’t have to suffer silently with acne — there are treatments available to clear up acne breakouts and help prevent future pimple problems.

Acne is caused by clogged pores in the skin — and they’re often clogged with the skin’s natural oils, says Pipkin. If your pores become clogged, the skin’s natural bacteria can cause inflammation — and worsen acne.

Don’t just leave a pimple to swell and mark your skin. There are plenty of treatments — both over-the-counter and prescription — available to help unclog those pores and clear up an acne breakout.

Acne Myth No. 5: Tanning Beds Clear Up Acne

If you’re looking for a reason to justify using harmful tanning beds, acne treatment isn’t it. This myth started years ago, when tanning beds became a popular acne remedy, says Pipkin.

“However, studies have shown that UVA light, which is the light typically used in tanning beds, does not benefit acne,” she adds.

Not only does tanning not offer a benefit for acne, but it can damage your skin. “The World Health Organization has found tanning beds to be a risk factor for the development of skin cancer. There is absolutely no reason that anyone should ever use a tanning bed for acne or any other purpose,” stresses Pipkin.

There are other acne myths out there as well. Ignore them, and talk with your doctor about acne treatments that will work for you.

Can what you eat cause acne? As it turns out, science is showing us that there are certain foods that cause acne and foods that help fight it. Find out how you can improve the health of your skin and keep it clear of blemishes.

Going through puberty can be tough. Many teens grapple with social awkwardness, school pressure, confusion about the future, hormonal surges, and…

Acne.

But acne doesn’t only strike teenagers. In fact, many people struggle with it, to one degree or another, for their entire lives.

And even apart from acne, if you’re like most people, you want healthy skin. You know that beauty isn’t just skin-deep, but you want to look good. And you want your skin to feel good, too.

So, let’s take a deeper look. What causes acne? And are there foods that cause acne, or even fight it?

(Spoiler alert: Yes, there are foods that cause acne — and even better, foods that can promote clearer skin!)

What Is Acne? And Why Do You Get It?

Most of us have been there: Among our peers at school or at work, suddenly dealing with an eruption of embarrassing blemishes that appeared out of nowhere — as if on a mission to steal our confidence.

Acne is a skin condition in which pores (or hair follicles) — usually on your face, chin, chest, or back — become blocked.

So, what causes acne?

The sebaceous glands of your skin create an oily substance called sebum. An overabundance of sebum, in cahoots with an overgrowth of normal skin cells called keratinocytes, can clog your pores.

Both of these substances can promote excessive amounts of the bacteria that normally live on your skin, which can compound the problem.

Pores don’t like to be clogged. And when they are, the skin around them becomes red and irritated. This results in what we see as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.

But, what causes your skin to make the sebum and keratinocytes that clog your pores in the first place?

Both male and female bodies make hormones called androgens, which are known to trigger the production of both keratinocytes and oily sebum. Androgens increase during puberty, and women’s bodies also produce more of them during and after pregnancy, as well as with oral contraceptive use.

Acne can also be caused by a normal immune response to the skin bacteria that cause pimples, and even by imbalances in your gut.

Your body can also react poorly to certain personal care products, which will, in turn, cause acne to worsen. Choosing water-based, sheer, non-comedogenic cosmetics can help prevent clogged pores and clear up the skin, as can fragrance-free products and pure soaps with a neutral pH.

But above all else, the food you eat seems to be the biggest factor in fueling, or fighting, acne.

In fact, there’s so much evidence that the question of whether or not diet plays a role in acne isn’t really up for debate anymore.

What’s the Role of Diet in Acne?

Among people who eat the modern industrialized diet, acne is almost ubiquitous.

In the United States, for example, acne affects 79-95% of adolescents.

But among many non-westernized cultures, including New Guinea, Paraguay, and among the Inuit and Okinawans, acne is virtually non-existent.

Coincidence? Research says no.

Foods That Cause Acne: What Are the Worst Ones?

If there were an Olympics for the diet that was best for promoting the most chronic diseases, the modern industrialized diet would stand an excellent chance of winning gold.

It’s increasingly well-known that a diet high in sugar, processed foods, factory farmed animal products, and chemicals fuels cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a plethora of other diseases. But now we can add a new downside to the list: acne.

And here are the top three foods that cause acne and why:

1) Dairy

Scientists have been examining the link between dairy consumption and acne for a long time.

A 2011 study done as part of the Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series Pediatric Program concluded that in industrialized countries, the habit of consuming dairy products past infancy is the biggest cause of acne. The researchers suggested two solutions: either we stop drinking cow’s milk or we create a cow’s milk that doesn’t have these effects on our health.

The first one sounds a lot easier to me!

One reason dairy may contribute to acne is because it promotes insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).

Dairy products also increase the activity of an enzyme in the body called mTORC1, which contributes to the development of acne (as well as many other chronic diseases, such as insulin resistance, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and age-associated diseases).

Even if you don’t drink milk or eat cheese, a lot of the foods we eat today contain dairy. To be sure, check packaging labels for an allergen statement that will tell you if milk is an ingredient.

You can also choose plant-based milk products instead because they don’t share the same properties that make cow’s milk promote acne. Milk, yogurt, and cheese made from almonds, cashews, coconut, soy, hemp, and peas are nutritious, have many uses, and they taste great.

2) Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar

People who have acne tend to eat more refined carbohydrates than those who don’t have acne.

In fact, a 2012 study done in 2,300 adolescents in Turkey found that those who ate the most added sugars had a 30% increased risk for developing acne, and those who ate the most sugary baked goods had a 20% increased risk.

Why?

For one thing, refined carbohydrates can contribute to acne by causing more sebum production. They also have a higher glycemic index.

When the body digests foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, white pastas, and sugary beverages, they enter your bloodstream faster than those with a low glycemic index, like kale, lentils, and whole grains.

Research shows that refined foods — the ones with a higher glycemic index — play a role in fueling acne. But studies have also found that a diet high in foods with a low glycemic index can improve acne. Many researchers now suggest that dermatologists tell their acne patients to eat less refined foods.

You can replace high glycemic index foods in your diet with more whole grains, such as quinoa, millet, barley, oats, and farro. Your whole body will thank you — and your skin may even clear up.

3) Fast Food

The modern industrialized diet features a lot of convenience foods that are laden with sugar, salt, and cheese.

One study found that participants who regularly consumed fast food, specifically sausages and burgers, had a 24% increased risk for acne.

We don’t know with certainty what it is about fast food that contributes to acne. Perhaps it’s the dairy, sugar, salt, animal products, or bottled oils that are usually in it. But we do know that it can fuel acne, and that just might be yet another reason to steer clear.

A Note on Chocolate

You’ve probably heard that sweets, especially chocolate, can cause acne. But it’s not that simple, so don’t go blaming your chocolate bar just yet.

There is some evidence that individuals who are prone to more severe acne may want to avoid cocoa, which is the basis of chocolate.

But what else is usually in a chocolate bar? That’s right — cow’s milk and sugar, two of the top diet-related contributors to acne. It’s not chocolate’s fault that we’ve clouded many of its proven benefits with so much dairy and added sugars.

What Can I Eat to Improve My Acne?

Now that you know the foods that cause acne, here are some of the foods and nutrients that can improve acne and contribute to clear, glowing skin:

Zinc

Zinc, a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, is more than just a lozenge to take when you start feeling sick. It has also been long studied as an acne treatment.

A 2014 study in the journal Biomed Research International found that lower serum zinc levels might be related to the severity and type of acne for some people. Increasing serum zinc levels by eating more zinc-containing foods can help clear up the skin.

You can take zinc as a supplement — as zinc acetate, zinc gluconate, or zinc sulfate — or apply it directly to your skin. You can find zinc in foods like toasted wheat germ, whole grains, nuts, and beans.

Green Tea

Polyphenols in green tea have been shown to reduce sebum production and skin inflammation, even when applied topically to the skin.

A 2010 study in the Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences applied 3% ethanolic green tea extract to the healthy skin of ten men 24 to 40 years old for eight weeks, observing a statistically significant reduction in how much sebum their skin produced. They found a 10% reduction of sebum in the first week and a 60% reduction by the end of the eight-week trial.

Many people report experiencing these effects after drinking green tea daily for just a few weeks.

Turmeric

Turmeric, a bright yellow spice often used to flavor Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.

Curcumin is a potent polyphenol in turmeric, and has been shown to reduce bacteria production that can lead to acne. Studies have shown turmeric to be beneficial for skin health when used both topically and when eaten.

You can add turmeric to soups, rice dishes, hot tea, smoothies, or stir-fries.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, and omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.

It’s important to eat the right balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids for our health. There is plenty of debate about what the optimal balance is. Some researchers think it should be 4:1, while others think it should be 1:1.

But most of us are eating closer to a 16:1 ratio, and I don’t know anyone who thinks that’s optimal.

As you can imagine, this results in a pro-inflammatory diet, which may promote acne, among many other diseases.

Omega-3 foods can easily be increased by adding ground flaxseed to your casserole, chia seeds to your smoothie, or taking an omega-3 supplement (DHA and EPA can be made from algae — here’s my favorite source, which also supports Food Revolution Network).

And you can reduce omega-6 sources by minimizing or eliminating consumption of fried foods and processed vegetable oils, like sunflower, corn, and soybean.

Vitamins A, E, and D

Having low levels of fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and D have been observed in many individuals who have acne. On the other hand, supplementing acne patients with these vitamins may be able to improve their skin.

  • Vitamin A is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, and dark leafy greens.
  • When exposed to sunlight, the skin makes Vitamin D. You can also consume it in the form of a vitamin D3 supplement.
  • Vitamin E is abundant in peanuts, sunflower seeds, broccoli, and hazelnuts.

Antioxidants


Colorful plant foods contain powerful compounds known as antioxidants. They’ve been shown to help prevent and reverse many diseases — and it turns out they may also help prevent acne.

Some of my favorite ways to eat more antioxidants are by adding a variety of colorful berries, citrus fruits, and dark leafy greens to my diet. Learn more about the best sources of antioxidants in our article, here.

One particularly powerful antioxidant when it comes to acne is resveratrol, which may have the ability to prevent the overgrowth of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Resveratrol is abundant in blueberries, cranberries, red grapes, peanuts, pistachios, red wine, and dark chocolate.

Barberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich dried fruits available, and they have also been shown to be highly effective in acne treatment.

A 2012 placebo-controlled clinical study on fifty 12 to 17-year-olds with acne found that those who were given barberry (about a teaspoon dried three times daily for one month) experienced a 43% reduction in pimples. Barberries are usually easier to find dried than fresh.

Probiotics and Fermented Foods

Functional medicine, an approach to health that looks at the whole-body connection and sees acne as an inflammatory condition, tells us that there may even be a connection between the health of your gut and the condition of your skin.

You can help repair this connection by eating more foods that support a healthy gut bacteria balance, such as fermented foods and probiotics.

Probiotics might be able to help your skin directly, too. A 2017 study in the journal Scientific Reports found that the bacterial balance of the skin has a lot to do with acne development, and probiotics can be helpful.

Probiotics can be found in supplement form or in fermented foods, such as tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, miso, and natto.

Eat More Plants, Enjoy Clearer Skin

For many people, skin health is a vexing problem. And it’s influenced by some factors that are beyond your control.

But diet isn’t one of them. And it turns out that what you eat can make an enormous difference for acne — and for skin health overall.

A whole-foods, plant-based diet that minimizes dairy, sugar, and fast foods — and that’s rich in antioxidants and critical nutrients — can do more than fight acne. It can also help to restore the sheen to your skin and bring vitality to every cell in your body.

Check out our favorite skincare products — all wildcrafted and organic — from Annmarie Skincare. Find out more and get a sample kit here.

Tell us in the comments:

  • What are your experiences using foods to fight acne?

  • Do you have experiences with foods that cause acne?

Top foods that cause acne breakouts

We all know junk food like fried foods, too much sugar and alcohol can flare breakouts, but most people would never guess their healthy diet can cause the problems.

There are plenty of other healthy foods that can replace the current ones that are causing acne.

Spinach

Spinach contains iodine, which can lead to acne and pimples if you over eat it. That said, spinach is also loaded with all sorts of important nutrients, including potassium, calcium and iron, while also being low in fat and calories. Basically, just eat it in moderation!

Salsa

Salsa is one of the top foods that cause acne since it contains tomatoes and vinegar. These two acidic ingredients tend to break skin out if eaten regularly, or in large quantities. Try lower your intake of salsa or swap for hummus. Delicious!

Strawberries

Just like tomatoes, the acid present in strawberries can irritate the skin if you’re especially sensitive. Despite being one of the best sources of Vitamin C, this can cause breakouts for certain people around the mouth and nose. Keep an eye on your berry intake although Vitamin C tablets can also cause this!

Bread

Damn, and we thought we were being good eating all that wholemeal bread! If that acne doesn’t seem to budge, it could be down to the protein gluten present in bread. What most people don’t know is that acne is a sign of gut-inflammation, which can cause skin issues and poor digestion. When toxins can’t be excreted through the intestines, it enters our bloodstream and tries to finds its way out of the body through the skin. If you eat a lot of wheat and notice breakouts, consider taking a break to try gluten-free variations.

Nuts

You don’t have to give up nuts, but you should eat them in moderation. Despite being loaded with protein and healthy fats, nuts can also cause acne. Nuts contain a high amount of omega-6s, but not as many omega-3s, which can alter the body’s balance and lead to breakouts.

Milk, Greek yoghurt, Cheese ETC ETC ETC

They may do a body good, but your skin? Not so much. Dairy, no matter how healthy, can cause breakouts in certain individuals, and it all relates to hormones in the body. If you have high estrogen levels, then eating dairy may pose a problem for you since all dairy foods contain estrogen on their own. Basically that’s just too many hormones for the body to handle!

Seafood

Most people don’t even realise they’re allergic to shellfish despite it being one of the most allergenic foods out there! Shrimp, lobster, crab and other sources of shellfish can cause acne if you’re sensitive to shellfish allergens. Just like spinach, seafood is another source of iodine which can lead to acne. Instead, try fish rich in Omega 3 such as salmon.

Strawberries are one of the most beloved and widely consumed fruits in America. Ever since they were first picked by the Romans over 2000 years ago, strawberries have been loved for their flavour.

Nowadays they are consistently one of the most consumed fruits (at least in the top twenty and the most widely eaten berry) and are used to flavour tons of foods such as ice cream and yoghurt.

However what many people don’t realise is that strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits ever too. Importantly for us, they are full of specific nutrients that are fantastic for your skin and can strengthen your defences against acne.

Firstly, strawberries are very low in sugar. One of the great conundrums about fruit is that while they are full of antioxidants and many beneficial phytonutrients like quercetin, they contain lots of natural sugars.

A banana, for example, contains 12 grams of sugar per 100 grams, and if you eat other high-sugar fruits this can quickly add up. Consuming too much sugar is a massive cause of chronic inflammation and thus acne.

Therefore with fruit, it’s important to calculate the perfect combination between the sugar content and the nutritional benefits. For this strategy, strawberries are perfect. 100 grams of fresh strawberries contains just 5 grams of sugar.

That’s extremely low; a banana contains far more, an apple contains about 10 grams of sugar, 100 grams of green grapes contains 16 grams. Even blueberries, one of healthiest fruits ever, contain 10 grams of sugar.

Read Annihilate Your Acne – learn how to clear your skin permanently

The only fruits that can match the strawberry’s low sugar content are raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, lemons, and limes.

Why is this particularly important? Since you have no fear about overdosing on sugar, you have far more freedom to enjoy the many benefits that strawberries have for your skin. Those benefits include…

Strawberries are very high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are vital for curing your acne and strawberries are full of them.

They score approximately 4302 on the ORAC scale, which is great compared to the banana, which scores only 795, or the watermelon with a score of just 142.

The most important function of antioxidants in preventing acne is preventing your sebum from oxidising. This is the single biggest cause of blocked pores and therefore eating strawberries is an excellent way to deprive your acne of the chance to even form in the first place.

Strawberries have performed well under examination too:

STUDY ONE – in this 2013 study, a team of scientists took some volunteers and fed them strawberries every day for a month.

They analysed the bloodstreams of each patient after both 15 days and 30 days, and found that the level of oxidative stress in their bodies had fallen substantially. Levels of key oxidative stress biomarkers like malondialdehyde and isoprostanes were far lower.

The total antioxidant capacity of the patients’ bloodstreams increased by between 25% and 41%. The scientists concluded that “strawberry consumption improves… biomarkers of antioxidant status”.

STUDY TWO – scientists in this study used antioxidant rich strawberry extract, which was especially high in anthocyanin antioxidants. The extract was tested on human cells, and the generation of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) by immune system actors was significantly suppressed.

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The scientists concluded that “our results confirm that the strawberry possesses antioxidant properties, and may be useful for the prevention of free radical-induced skin damage”.

STUDY THREE – in this 2014 study, 31 patients were fed 500 grams of strawberry pulp for 30 days. Blood samples were collected and measured for antioxidant and free radical activity.

The total antioxidant activity hadn’t actually changed much after 30 days, but the total amount of oxidants had fallen substantially. There was big inhibition of certain immune system chemicals called chemiluminescences, which spew out free radicals.

STUDY FOUR – this study fed strawberries or red wine to elderly women. After 4 hours, strawberries increased the total antioxidant capacity of the women’s blood by between 7 and 25%.

Part of the increase was due to the vitamin C content of strawberries (which functions as an antioxidant) but scientists noted that “the increased vitamin C… could not fully account for the increased total antioxidant capacity in serum following the consumption of strawberries”.

It seems that strawberries are one of the best fruits for increasing antioxidants ever.

Furthermore, the strawberry’s antioxidants are also extremely varied; this study found that strawberries contain a ton of different ones such as rutin, myricetin, quercetrin, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, and catechin. That’s great for your acne because antioxidants don’t all have the same effects. Many antioxidants have their own unique functions; lutein, for example, is an antioxidant found in eggs that can protect your eyes from blindness.

As for strawberries, quercetin is known to enhance the digestion of nutrients from food, which makes important nutrients like magnesium more bioavailable. Rutin, also found in bananas, has strong stress-lowering qualities.

7 natural topical treatments which can massively reduce acne

We also know that strawberries have a ton of medicinal uses; Europeans in the Middle Ages used the strawberry plant as a cure for depression. Therefore this wide range of different antioxidants makes it far more likely that strawberries benefit your skin through many hidden methods.

Could one antioxidant protect your body’s vitamin A (very important for acne) and allow it to be used better? Who knows, there are so many different compounds that we can’t understand them all, but anything could be possible.

Strawberries – one of the best fruits for vitamin C

Being packed full of vitamin C is one of the strawberry’s standout features. 100 grams of strawberries contains 60mg, which is nearly 100% of the whole daily allowance.

Raspberries are a good source but only contain 43% of the allowance, blueberries only contain 16%, and bananas contain just 20%. The pomegranate, which is a terrific food for acne patients, also has a lot less with merely 17%.

Why is vitamin C so fantastic? Higher levels can accelerate wound healing, and heal old acne scars faster. Vitamin C can strengthen your skin‘s structural proteins and increase their resistance to inflammatory damage.

When you’re stressed out and your cortisol levels get far too high, vitamin C is used to clear the excess hormones from your blood. You get all these benefits from strawberries and they are also quite cheap compared to other fruits. Strawberries also contain vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium, the most overlooked acne mineral in existence.

Studies on the health benefits of strawberries have been just as positive. Strawberries can improve several of the root conditions behind acne:

Lower insulin. Scientists in this study found that eating strawberries with a meal reduced the post-prandial (post-meal) increase in insulin. High insulin is one of the most common causes of acne in the 21st century. Insulin stimulates your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.

Less inflammation. Chronic inflammation is what causes your acne to get red and swollen and there’s evidence that strawberries can help to combat this. Scientists in this study found that eating strawberries with a meal significantly lowered inflammation in the hours following the meal. C-reactive protein was a lot lower and that is a classic indicator of inflammation in the body.

Why aloe vera is the nemesis of red and inflamed acne

These benefits could be due to the antioxidants, the vitamin C, or some other hidden compounds. What’s certain is that while most fruits will help your acne to some extent, the strawberry rises above nearly all of them.

Pomegranates are an excellent fruit, as we discussed in this article. However, strawberries are even better. They are not as high in antioxidants (the pomegranate scores over 10,000 on the ORAC scale) but strawberries contain far more vitamin C and are also a lot lower in sugar. With pomegranates you could never eat too many of them due to this sugar but with strawberries you’re able to eat a lot more and thus enjoy more of the benefits.

Make the most of your strawberries

One of the only problems with strawberries is that they are highly perishable. Like many berries, they will begin to degenerate if you leave them longer than two days. They won’t grow mouldy and unhealthy, but according to this study the vitamin C and antioxidants will begin to break down and become useless. They examined the strawberries for ten days and found that the nutritional value gradually declined.

However, while the overall decline was very significant in cold conditions, it was also fairly slow. Therefore you can still make the most of the acne-clearing benefits as long as you don’t keep them in the fridge for days and days. Interestingly the study also found that the decline in nutrition depended hugely on the specific types of strawberry. They used two cultivars called “dorit” and “selva” and found that the nutrition in selva was generally better maintained.

Therefore, while you might not know how far the nutrients in your strawberries have degraded, it might not be substantial depending on the specific type you have bought. Your best option for all strawberries is to eat them quickly and store them in the fridge.

Blue light devices – can reduce acne by 67%, blackheads by 50%

Also note that a strawberry that hasn’t properly matured will have lower amounts of nutrients anyway. A fully ripe strawberry is best for your acne and you can spot them by looking for the richest, most full colour you can find.

In terms of fruit and vegetables, we humans are actually designed to find the appearance of the most nutritious foods more attractive. It’s antioxidants like anthocyanins that provide vibrant colours; our brains are helpfully trying to make us eat them.

A pomegranate, for instance, is especially high in antioxidants, and hence to our eyes, it has one of the richest, most vibrant and appealing colours. When it comes to strawberries you should trust your eyes. A strawberry that’s a lighter pink, with bits of white in the mix too, is not fully ripe. The picture at the top of this page is the perfect strawberry.

Watch out for non-organic strawberries!

The debate about organic foods rages on and on. The proponents claim that organic foods contain more nutrients and antioxidants whereas the opponents claim that the difference is laughably small.

What’s not up for debate is that many pesticides that non-organic foods are blasted with are highly toxic. Strawberries, unfortunately, contain the greatest chemical contamination of any food in the world. Examination has found that strawberries contain several neurotoxins, numerous carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances, a dozen developmental toxins, and many pesticides linked to hormone disruption.

The problem is that insects particularly love berries, and therefore copious amounts of pesticides have to be used. Some strawberry companies even use chloropicrin, a chemical weapon used by the German army in World War 1! They used it as a tear gas and modern day strawberry companies use it to kill plagues that can devastate strawberry fields.

Therefore I cannot recommend that you eat strawberries if you can’t get them organic. The harmful chemicals could lead to inflammation, as other pesticides do, and if so that could outweigh the advantages from the nutrition.

In fact, it’s impossible to clear your acne without minimising your intake of all environmental chemicals and contaminants.

Such pesticides are notorious for disrupting hormones too. Regardless of your acne, you don’t want to be eating a bunch of neurotoxins.

The truth about dairy and acne

Luckily, organic strawberries are quite widely available, because strawberries are such a widely consumed fruit themselves. They are also fairly cheap so the classic stereotype about organic food making you go bankrupt definitely doesn’t apply here. Other organic berries cost a lot (particularly blueberries) but organic strawberries are very affordable.

Some more good news is that some of the worst pesticides are facing a minor crackdown; in 2012 the FDA banned methyl iodide, a pesticide commonly used on strawberries that has been linked to cancer. It’s likely that others will be banned, and the strawberry industry is apparently investing in less toxic alternatives.

You still need to go organic for now but stay tuned for more news. Perhaps one day we will be able to eat regular strawberries again.

The ultimate strawberry

The other glorious alternative is to keep your eyes peeled for wild strawberries. They are not as common as blackberries but can be found in many places. Wild strawberries are typically a lot smaller than commercial strawberries and the colour might be slightly different, with small hints of pink rather than straight-up red. They have a similar shape to regular strawberries but do look somewhat different.

Here’s what they look like and also the plant you see them on:

Find this and you’ll have found the holy grail of strawberries, because according to some studies, wild berries contain even higher amounts of antioxidants. The idea is that because they don’t have farmers to lovingly tend to them and keep them safe, wild berries have to develop higher amounts of protection. One of the strategies they use is very high quantities of antioxidants.

Therefore considering that commercial strawberries are already very powerful, the power of wild strawberries could be enormous.

Read this article and learn why vitamin A is great for oily skin

Wild strawberries can be found in both Europe and North America. They can be found on the sides of roads, woodland areas, and meadows. They don’t tolerate strong sunlight very well, so if you live in a southern part of the USA you are more likely to find them in shaded areas.

Apparently deer and similar animals love to eat them, so if you live in a deer infested neighbourhood (like many places in England) you might struggle to find them. What you have to remember about wild strawberries is that they are quite uncommon, but the areas in which they can appear are very widespread.

Conclusion

Strawberries are pretty much the most nutritious commercial fruit available, even beating miracles like the blueberry.

If you enjoy the taste then eating about 100 grams per day is a good idea. If you don’t then raspberries are a healthy alternative; they contain less vitamin C but slightly more antioxidants. Eating strawberries alone will not clear your skin, you have to correct your entire diet and lifestyle, but they’re one of the best foods for strengthening your entire system against acne in the first place.

Strawberries have wide-ranging benefits like preventing blocked pores, lowering stress, combatting insulin resistance and so on. If you were to eat just one portion of fruit per day, I recommend that you make it the strawberry.

NEXT: forget creams and moisturisers – discover the ultimate acne-clearing diet

Thanks for reading!

Treat Aging, Acne and Inflammation with Strawberries

While strawberries may not actually be considered a berry they still harvest a wealth of benefits for the skin when both ingested and used topically. Often considered a fruit of romance and love, strawberries have shown to help aid in weight loss, heart health, regulating blood pressure and reducing inflammation. More recently, this special fruit has been dubbed a trend in the skin care world with its qualities being added into a number of topicals to aid in anti-aging among other skin concerns.

Aiding with Anti-Aging

Even though strawberries are not technically considered a true berry, they still include numerous antioxidants that help to fight against the signs of aging. More specifically, strawberries have ellagic acid in them, which works to protect the skin against UV damage by stopping the enzymes that contribute to collagen destruction. This helps to prevent wrinkle formation on the skin.1

Strawberries are actually considered to have the third highest potency of antioxidants per serving compared to other foods in the U.S. All of these antioxidants also help to fight free radicals from breaking down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. Especially the high amount of vitamin C that is present in strawberries.2,3

Big Time Brightener

The high amount of vitamin C found in strawberries also helps to lighten the skin. One serving of strawberries has over 50% of your daily value of vitamin C. When used topically, this amount of vitamin C can help to reduce the appearance of dark spots while also helping to make dull skin look more fresh and radiant.2

Fighting Acne and Inflammation

Additionally, the acidic nature of the strawberries helps to reduce the production of excess sebum and oils on the skin.1 The astringent properties combined with the antioxidants found in strawberries help to treat puffiness in the eye area and reducing inflammation in the skin.2

Bottom line, strawberries are filled with antioxidants that help benefit the skin in numerous ways whether it be with anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal or anti-aging benefits.

Can the right diet get rid of acne?

Foods that cause your blood sugar to rise quickly, such as white bread and fries, may worsen acne. Do you avoid eating greasy fries and burgers because you believe they’ll cause new pimples? There may be a connection, but probably not for the reason you think. Here’s what the research shows.

A low-glycemic diet may lead to fewer pimples

If you’re like most Americans, you consume plenty of high-glycemic foods and beverages. These foods and beverages raise your blood sugar quickly. Examples include white bread, corn flakes, puffed rice, potato chips, white potatoes or fries, doughnuts or other pastries, sugary drinks such as milkshakes, and white rice.

Findings from small studies suggest that following a low-glycemic diet may reduce the amount of acne you have. Low-glycemic foods include most fresh vegetables, some fresh fruits, beans, and steel-cut oats.

Here’s what researchers have found may happen when people with acne switch to a low-glycemic diet.

  • USA: 2,258 patients were placed on a low-glycemic diet so that they could lose weight. This diet also reduced their acne, with 87% of patients saying they had less acne, and 91% saying they needed less acne medication.1

  • Australia: 43 males with acne (aged 15 to 25 years of age) ate either their normal diet or switched to a low-glycemic diet for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, those who followed the low-glycemic diet had significantly less acne than those who ate their normal diet.2

  • Korea: 32 patients with acne (aged 20 to 27 years old) ate either their normal diet or a low-glycemic diet for 10 weeks. Those following the low-glycemic diet had significantly less acne at the end of 10 weeks than the patients who ate their normal diet.3

  • Turkey: 86 patients (50 with acne) kept food logs for 7 days. Those with the most severe acne consumed a high-glycemic diet.4

Scientists believe that following a low-glycemic diet may reduce acne because this diet eliminates spikes in your blood sugar. When your blood sugar spikes, it causes inflammation throughout your body. These spikes also cause your body to make more sebum, an oily substance in your skin. Both inflammation and excess sebum can lead to acne.

While these findings show that following a low-glycemic diet can lead to fewer breakouts, other studies have not found a connection between a high-glycemic diet and acne. More research is needed to know for sure.

Cow’s milk may lead to acne breakouts

While cow’s milk (but not milkshakes) is a low-glycemic beverage, some studies suggest that drinking this type of milk may be linked to an increase in acne breakouts. In these studies, all types of cow’s milk (whole, low-fat, and skim) have been linked to acne. Here’s what the researchers discovered.

Milk and acne

In one study, women who drank 2 or more glasses of skim milk per day were 44% more likely to have acne than the other women in this study.

  • USA: 47,355 adult women were asked to recall what they ate during their high school years. Only cow’s milk was found to be linked to acne. Women who drank 2 or more glasses of skim milk a day were 44% more likely to have acne than others.5

  • USA: 6,094 girls, aged 9 to 15 years old, completed 2 lengthy questionnaires (given at least 1 year apart) about their diet. The girls who drank the most cow’s milk (whole, low-fat, or skim) were more likely to have acne.6

  • USA: 4,273 boys, aged 9 to 15 years old, completed 2 lengthy questionnaires (given at least 1 year apart) about their diet. The boys who drank skim milk were more likely to have acne.7

  • Italy: 205 patients, aged 10 to 24 years old, who were seeing a dermatologist for moderate to severe acne, and 358 patients in the same age range who were seeing a dermatologist for another skin condition (and had little or no acne) were asked what they ate. The patients with acne drank significantly more cow’s milk than the patients who did not have acne. There were no other differences in diet between the 2 groups of patients.8

  • Malaysia: 88 patients, aged 18 to 30 years old, were asked to complete a food diary for 3 days. Half (44) of the patients had acne, and half (44) did not have acne. The patients who had acne consumed more cow’s milk and high-glycemic foods than did the patients without acne.9

Why cow’s milk may increase or worsen acne is still a bit of a mystery. One theory is that some of the hormones in milk cause inflammation inside the body. Inflammation can clog your pores, leading to acne. However, more research is needed to know for sure.

No evidence yogurt or cheese can increase acne breakouts

While cow’s milk may increase the risk of developing acne, no studies have found that products made from milk, such as yogurt or cheese, lead to more breakouts.

What these research findings mean for you

While more research is needed to know whether certain foods can worsen acne, there is something that you can do right now if you think your diet affects your acne.

Dermatologists recommend that you pay attention to your breakouts, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does any food or beverage seem to trigger a breakout or worsen your existing acne?

  • If something seems to trigger a breakout, what happens when you don’t have that food or beverage for a day, a week, or a month?

Effective acne treatment includes skin care and medication

While diet may play a role in causing your breakouts or worsening your acne, keeping your skin clear requires more than a diet change. Using acne friendly skin care and acne medication helps to prevent new breakouts.

2 Smith RN, Mann NJ, et al. “The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic–load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic–load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57(2):247-56.

3 Kwon HH, Yoon JY, et al. “Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in treatment of acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a randomized, controlled trial.” Acta Derm Venereol. 2012;92(3):241-6.

6 Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. “Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls.” Dermatol Online J. 2006;12(4):1.

7 Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. “Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58(5):787-93.

8 Di Landro A, Cazzaniga S, et al. “Family history, body mass index, selected dietary factors, menstrual history, and risk of moderate to severe acne in adolescents and young adults.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 ;67(6):1129-35.

9 Ismail NH, Manaf ZA, et al. “High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study.” BMC Dermatol. 2012;12:13.

Images
Getty Images

Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. “Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls.” Dermatol Online J. 2006;12(4):1.

Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. “Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58(5):787-93.

American Academy of Dermatology. “Growing evidence suggests possible link between diet and acne.” News release issued February 2013.

Ismail NH, Manaf ZA, et al. “High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study.” BMC Dermatol. 2012;12:13.

Kwon HH, Yoon JY, et al. “Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in treatment of acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a randomized, controlled trial.” Acta Derm Venereol. 2012;92(3):241-6.

Smith RN, Mann NJ, et al. “The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic–load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic–load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57(2):247-56.

Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74:945-73.

The relationship between diet and acne is not entirely clear and still being researched. Emerging evidence suggests that high glycemic index diets (such foods and beverages raise your blood sugar quickly) may lead to increased breakouts.

The typical Western diet contains a lot of trans fats, saturated fats, carbs, and sugar. Compared to other diets, the standard American diet is low on highly nutritious omega-3 fatty acids and is high in sugar. Because of this, this diet may create inflammation in the body. These processes increase oxidative stress and minimize the antioxidative capacity of cells.

Medical experts have found a deep connection between inflammation markers and fatty acids. These inflammatory markers increase when a diet is rich in omega-6 fatty acids.

The link between inflammation processes, oxidative stress, and acne may help you understand how to recognize foods that cause acne. Scientists believe that a low-glycemic diet may reduce acne by greatly reducing the frequency of spikes in blood sugar. When blood sugar spikes, it causes inflammation throughout a person’s body and can cause excess production of sebum — an oily substance meant to protect our skin — which can lead to acne.

To prevent acne, you may want to consider excluding the following from your diet:

  • Refined grains and low-fiber food

Diets with a lot of refined carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels. These simple carbs lack fiber and other quality nutrients, so your body digests them quickly, which raises your insulin level. High levels of insulin may activate hormones that trigger acne.

  • Milk and other dairy products

If you are wondering if dairy causes acne, the answer is it depends. Some studies suggest that some dairy, particularly skim milk, may cause acne. According to some theories, hormones contained in milk cause inflammation inside the body. Inflammation, in turn, can lead to clogged pores and acne. It’s a good idea to decrease your dairy consumption and see how it affects your acne. However, this issue requires more research.

On the other hand, while milk may increase the risk of developing acne, no studies have found the correlation between fermented dairy products and acne. Actually, fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir contain beneficial bacteria that may benefit your gut flora, improve your digestion, and reduce inflammation in your body.

  • Fast Food

Fast food contains high levels of unhealthy fats, simple carbs, and sugar and may contribute to inflammation. You may find that this food tastes good, but it usually isn’t very nutritious. Eating fast food on a regular basis may raise your chances of getting acne.

  • Chocolate and sugar

Acne is not caused by chocolate. You might have heard that chocolate may worsen acne, but more studies are needed to confirm that.

If your question is does sugar cause acne, studies have shown that a low-glycemic diet prevents acne. On the contrary, foods with a high glycemic index (including sugar) may trigger an acne outbreak. It would be wise to avoid eating candies, cakes, and cookies if you want to minimize this skin condition.

Sweetened beverages can also cause your blood sugar to spike.

  • Other possible food triggers

Foods to avoid for acne have a high content of omega-6 fatty acids, especially hydrogenated fats.

Some medical experts believe that obesity may cause acne. They usually advise their patients to lose weight and offer certain tips for weight management.

Although there is some evidence that following a low-glycemic diet can lead to fewer acne breakouts, other studies have not found a connection between a high-glycemic diet and acne.

Sugar

There are so many reasons why you might have acne-prone skin. It could be genetic, or the result of puberty, medication, stress, lifestyle changes, or going on or off birth control. A poor diet doesn’t cause acne, but it can trigger breakouts or make your acne worse. These foods are some of the biggest culprits…

You probs predicted this one! Sugar is acne’s arch-nemesis, but that doesn’t mean you’ll break out every time you eat a chocolate bar. It comes down to how much of the sweet stuff you eat. Here’s a quick science lesson. Sugar has a high-glycemic index, so it breaks down quickly during digestion and raises your blood sugar levels. As a result, it messes with your hormones and increases inflammation – and guess what? A lot of acne breakouts, like cysts, are a kind of inflammation. If your acne is going crazy, sugar can make it even worse. And just to top it off, sugar dulls your skin and damages collagen. No, thanks!

The solution: Stay away from refined sugar and use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and stevia. And check out our tips for combating sugar cravings.

Vegetable Oils

This is a pretty broad category that includes canola, corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean oil, plus margarine. These are cheap, processed oils that are made in factories – not in nature. Our bodies don’t know how to break them down, and research shows they can lead to all sorts of issues, including problem skin. Vegetable oils are also high in omega-6 fatty acids. When we eat too many omega-6s instead of omega-3s (found in fish, nuts and avocado), it can inflame the body. And as you now know, inflammation makes acne worse.

The solution: Cook with coconut oil, sesame oil, or extra-virgin olive oil, and drizzle flaxseed oil over salads.

Refined Carbs

Carbs are one of the essential macronutrients, and we need them for energy. For clear skin, you want to avoid refined or simple carbs. Think white pasta/bread/rice, cereal, chips, and crackers. As delish as these foods are, they’re on the high-glycemic index and have little to no nutritional value (sorry!). They’re processed with sugars and saturated fats, which spike your insulin levels and can cause your complexion to flare up. They also encourage your hormones to secrete excess oil from your skin glands, which can lead to blocked pores and – yep – breakouts.

The solution: Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives! Eat complex carbs, such as wholegrains (like brown rice and quinoa), sweet potato, and fruit. These are low-GI and won’t send you on a ride on the blood sugar rollercoaster. Our good skin guide has a list of foods to eat for healthy skin, too.

Whey Protein Powder

Werkin’ on your fitness? That protein shake you’re sipping post-spin class helps your muscles to recover, but it may be hurting your skin. Whey protein is rich in amino acids called leucine and glutamine. These amino acids stimulate the growth of skin cells, and cause the body to produce more insulin than it naturally does. Both of these things are linked to adult acne. Whey is an ingredient in cow’s milk, so if you have issues with dairy, it’s a good idea to avoid it.

The solution: Use a vegan version, like pea or rice protein. They’ll help to repair your muscles and rev up your metabolism, and they’re easier to digest, too.

Dairy

Do you get deep, painful pimples on your cheeks or chin? And do they pop up at that time of the month, when you’re already feeling crappy? Dairy might be to blame. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it contains hormones that stimulate the sebum glands in your skin. When those glands are over-stimulated, they produce more oil than they need to and clog your pores. Secondly, cow’s milk is often taken from pregnant cows, so it has a high level of progesterone (a female hormone). This can throw your hormones out of whack and cause – or aggravate – acne. Finally, dairy is high in sugar, which is one of the biggest breakout culprits. A lot of acne-prone people find their skin clears up dramatically when they ditch dairy. Try cutting it out for a few weeks and see what happens.

The solution: Get creative! Stock up on non-dairy options that won’t inflame your skin: nut milk, coconut milk/yoghurt/ice-cream, and cashew cheese. They used to be hippy-dippy, but now you’ll find them in every supermarket.

Chicken

We’re putting an asterisk here because not all chicken is on the shit list. You’ve probably heard from your mum/PDHPE teacher/the news that chicken is often pumped up with hormones. This makes the chickens bigger and more symmetrical, which is great news for the farmers trying to sell their goods but not so great for our bodies. If you eat a lot of chicken with added hormones, you might find that your hormonal acne gets worse. And if your skin is seriously spotty, consider cutting down on red meat, too. It slows down digestion, and lead to your body pushing out toxins through your skin. Hello, pimples.

The solution: Buy organic chicken when you can, and experiment with going vegetarian a few times a week. While you’re at it, pop a probiotic daily for good gut health!

Words by Katia Iervasi

Food causes of acne

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