Top 6 Foods That Can Cause Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that affects nearly 10% of the world’s population. Many factors contribute to the development of acne, including sebum and keratin production, acne-causing bacteria, hormones, blocked pores and inflammation. The link between diet and acne has been controversial, but recent research shows that diet can play a significant role in acne development.

This article will review 6 foods that can cause acne and discuss why the quality of your diet is important.

1. Dairy Products

Many studies have found a link between milk products and acne severity in teenagers. Two studies also found that young adults who regularly consumed milk or ice cream were four times more likely to suffer from acne. It is not yet clear how milk may contribute to the formation of acne, but there are several proposed theories. Milk is known to increase insulin levels, independent of its effects on blood sugar, which may worsen acne severity.

2. Refined Grains and Sugars

People with acne tend to consume more refined carbohydrates than people with little or no acne.

Foods rich in refined carbohydrates include:

  • Bread, crackers, cereal or desserts made with white flour
  • Pasta made with white flour
  • White rice and rice noodles
  • Sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Sweeteners like cane sugar, maple syrup, honey or agave

High levels of insulin are not good for those with acne. Insulin makes androgen hormones more active and increases insulin-like growth factor 1. This contributes to acne development by making skin cells grow more quickly and by boosting sebum production.

3. Fast Food

Acne is strongly associated with eating a Western-style diet rich in calories, fat and refined carbohydrates. Fast food items, such as burgers, nuggets, hot dogs, french fries, sodas and milkshakes, are mainstays of a typical Western diet and may increase acne risk. It is unclear why eating fast food may increase the risk of developing acne. But some researchers propose that it may affect gene expression and alter hormone levels in a way that promotes acne development. However, it is important to note that most of the research on fast food and acne has used self-reported data.

4. Chocolate

Chocolate has been a suspected acne trigger since the 1920s, but so far, no consensus has been reached. Several informal surveys have linked eating chocolate with an increased risk of developing acne, but this is not enough to prove that chocolate causes acne. While recent research supports a link between chocolate consumption and acne, it remains unclear whether chocolate actually causes acne.

5. Foods You’re Sensitive To

It has been proposed that acne is, at its root, an inflammatory disease. One way that food may contribute to inflammation is through food sensitivities, also known as delayed hypersensitivity reactions. Food sensitivities occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies food as a threat and launches an immune attack against it. This results in high levels of pro-inflammatory molecules circulating throughout the body, which may aggravate acne. While there appears to be a link between inflammation and acne, no studies have directly investigated the specific role of food sensitivities in its development. This remains a promising area of research to help better understand how food, the immune system and inflammation affect acne development.

6. Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein is a popular dietary supplement. It is a rich source of the amino acids leucine and glutamine. These amino acids make skin cells grow and divide more quickly, which may contribute to the formation of acne. The amino acids in whey protein can also stimulate the body to produce higher levels of insulin, which has been linked to the development of acne.