Foods that cause acne & inflammation
Skincare can be expensive and time consuming, and to make things worse, there are a fair amount of foods that cause acne.
Because of this, it’s important to have the basics covered.
Make sure you aren’t eating foods that cause acne, breakouts, and inflammation.
To have healthy skin, you have to start with your diet. Which completely sucks. I wish having good skin just meant having a good skincare routine – but it’s not that easy, is it? Here are the acne causing foods to avoid:
Use the table above to navigate to each section of this article.
Eating these foods that cause acne is exactly what we don’t want. (Particularly if we’re forking out $70 for a Drunk Elephant serum, only to have the results cancelled out).
It’s important to note that everyone is different. Everyone reacts differently to certain skincare products, and everyone also reacts differently to what they eat.
Some people may be able to eat certain foods just fine, or perhaps a seemingly harmless product may completely break them out.
Some people also might be blessed with perfect skin no matter what food / products they use.
(Anyone else notice some boys that use 5in1 shampoo for their skin, and live off energy drinks have perfect skin? I don’t think they’re human.)
In this article, I’ll take you through the most common foods that cause acne, and also healthier replacement options. Spoiler alert, oat milk tastes great.
Foods That Cause Acne #1: Dairy
I know what you’re thinking. This sucks. I know, it does. Dairy is… amazing. Delicious cheeses, ice cream, bubble tea, pizza, the list goes on.
I would say a strong majority of staple foods and dishes, contain dairy. Like a lot of things in life however, if it’s really good, it’s probably bad for you.
Thankfully, there’s heaps of amazing dairy alternatives, which you’re probably already aware of:
- Oat Milk: Store bought tastes amazing, but you can also easily make your own – which is even cheaper.
(Coconut and almond are also great tasting milk alternatives)
- Vegan cheese: Some of you might be jaded from experience, but I swear there are some good tasting vegan cheese’s out there. I promise. Brands such as Chao, HeidiHo, and Treeline all offer tasty options, while making your own also isn’t too difficult. Here are some recipes for vegan Camembert, Brie, and Queso. You’re welcome.
Why can dairy cause acne?
There’s a lot of conflicting research around why dairy causes acne, however most say it comes down to the hormones in milk. Cow milk is specifically made for the growth of young calves, and unfortunately for you and I, we aren’t young calves.
It’s just not made for us; it contains the hormones the nutrients for a growing cow, which naturally, can throw our own hormones out of whack. It can specifically release the hormone IGF-1, which is similar to insulin, and can cause break outs.
If you’re currently struggling with your skin, then it might be worth cutting out dairy – and just see how it goes.
If it doesn’t help, then there’s no harm done. Something to keep in mind as well, is that you don’t need to go cold turkey.
You can cut it out 80% of the time, and for that 20%, you’re much more appreciative, and you enjoy the indulgence much more.
Foods That Cause Acne #2: Sugar
I’m with you on that. It’s bad. but as mentioned before, you can set a goal of cutting it out 80%, which makes the 20% much sweeter.
Once your body stabilises, you become much more sensitive to sugar, making everything extremely sweet.
Things such as fruit will taste overpoweringly sugary, which is actually quiet a unique experience.
Cutting out sugar also obviously has a wide array of non skin related benefits, such as:
- Increased energy levels
- Weight loss
- Reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease
- May be less likely to get dementia
- Increased teeth health
Keep in mind there’s heaps of sugar alternatives as well! With refined sugar being the worst for your skin and body, natural sugars such as honey, coconut sugar, and agave syrup are all sugary options that aren’t as bad. Stevia as well is a great alternative.
Why can sugar cause acne?
As mentioned before, everyone’s different, and perhaps for you, sugar is fine. However in a lot of cases, it’s evident that foods with a high glycemic index can cause hormonal imbalances.
High glycemic foods such as sugary deserts and basic carbohydrates like rice and white bread, seem to all have a common trait of causing acne.
This is because when your body receives an excess of sugar, it produces insulin, which leads to inflammation, and an increased production of sebum – which clogs your pores.
Foods That Cause Acne #3: Chocolate
Man, this article is getting worse by the minute. I can think of heaps of desserts that contain large amounts of chocolate, dairy, AND sugar.
Chocolate is special to me, however I still managed to cut it out to a significant extent.
Those fleeting moments that I do indulge myself with chocolate, are an incredibly special experience.
The flavours are much more intense and powerful, when you’re not used to eating chocolate every couple of days or weeks.
I feel like the avoidance of pleasures such as chocolate and sugar are a great description for the philosophical paradox of hedonism.
By pursing sugar or chocolate, you are swapping out long term pleasure (having good skin plus general health) with short term enjoyment, which paradoxically creates your net happiness to be less.
Aristotle puts forward the idea that to live the ‘best’ life, you must pick the middle path between actions of excess, and deficiency.
For example, for the virtue of courage, its deficiency is cowardice, and its excess is rashness.
For the consumption of chocolate, sugar, and dairy, its excess is eating it all the time, and its deficiency is never eating it. Pick the golden middle path.
I think I got a bit off track, where was I? Oh yeah, chocolate.
Why can chocolate cause acne?
Research on chocolate is somewhat conflicting, however there has been multiple study’s linking the consumption of chocolate with an increase in acne severity on individuals already with acne. Even if cocoa itself has little acne-causing properties, it still contains dairy and sugar, which do.
Foods That Cause Acne #4: White breads and basic carbs
Anyone else agree toasted sourdough with butter is godly with any breakfast? If you do, you might want to pretend this fourth item doesn’t exist.
I won’t tell anyone if you exit out of this tab right now. Okay, everyone else still here? Great; white bread can cause acne in a lot of people.
It’s a food with a high glycemic index, that can cause inflammation and increased sebum production. Basic carbs with a high glycemic index also include:
- White rice
- Instant oatmeal
- Baked potato
- Other white baked goods such as bagels, doughnuts, croissants etc.
Why can white bread cause acne?
As already mentioned throughout this article, most of the causes come back to high GI, resulting in inflammation.
I’ve personally seen great results from greatly reducing my white bread and basic carb consumption, and have mostly gone gluten free.
You don’t need to be gluten free at all, but it helps as most alternatives are low in GI, and much healthier for you.
Trust what your body is telling you
There’s all the main acne causing foods to avoid! You’re on your way to perhaps shaking up your diet a bit, or maybe trying some different things.
Don’t forget to experiment, and listen to your body; see what it likes, and what it doesn’t.
Everyones different, and no article or website will ever be able to evaluate your skin and health better than you can yourself.
And lastly, give your skin some love. Acne is normal, and almost everyone has experienced it.
Your skin in beautiful, and having acne doesn’t change that. Kali, or @myfacestory on Instagram, summed this up perfectly in an insta post:
Show some love to your skin, with a skincare routine
If you haven’t already established a skincare routine, or perhaps you’re looking for some new products, it’s worth checking out our articles on some of the best products on the market. You’re welcome.
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