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Ever wake up in the morning to an unsightly pimple? We’ve all been there. No matter your age, acne can flare up when you least expect and be the cause of much embarrassment. Whether you’re heading to an important job interview, getting ready for a hot date or even just meeting friends for a night out – it’s the last thing you want to see in the mirror. Despite many years of debate, recent studies prove that what you eat can play a significant role in the health and appearance of your skin with certain foods that can increase the frequency of your acne breakouts by as much as 10%. Although there are some great acne treatments out there, it’s also important to be aware of some of the primary acne-causing foods that are best to avoid!
Dairy products, specifically milk, are thought to contribute to the severity of your acne symptoms due to the bovine hormones that remain bioavailable with ingestion. Although you may consider a good alternative to whole milk would be to drink skim milk – this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the milk proteins that are added to skim milk to make it taste less watery, such as whey and casein, have been tied to causing further inflammation. It’s often thought to be why bodybuilders that use whey protein drinks as a workout supplement suffer acne on their body.
Milk may be hard to cut out entirely as it’s in a significant amount of the foods we eat daily, however cutting down is a great start! There are many alternatives available in most supermarkets, such as almond or even cashew milk. The options are out there, all you have to do is find one you love!
A drink to celebrate a special occasion or a glass of wine with dinner is always a treat, however, consuming alcohol in large quantities can alter your hormone levels. Although alcohol has not been proven to impact our acne directly, when we drink, it usually creates an imbalance in estrogen or testosterone levels, which are a major factor in the frequency and severity of breakouts. When hormone levels are increased, our skin produces a substance called sebum which clogs our pores with oil and bacteria, eventually causing painful breakouts. Binge drinking can also wreak havoc on our immune systems which usually help fight off any bacteria causing ac
ne as well as other common viruses. Of course you should always drink in moderation, but for those who are more prone to breakouts than others, keep drinking to a minimum.
For those of you with a sugar tooth, unfortunately, it’s true that sugar and foods high on the glycemic index are a major contributor to your acne breakouts. Essentially, foods with high sugar content cause your body’s insulin levels to spike. This extreme overdose of insulin increases the production of oils in the skin, which lead to your follicles and pores clogging up with sebum – as mentioned earlier. Alongside the Inflammatory effects that are caused by a spike in insulin, this creates the ideal environment for P. Acnes bacteria to thrive, triggering a nasty breakout. If you can’t say goodbye to dessert, the best workaround is to cut down the quantity of high sugar foods. A few bites are all you need to sate your inkling for something sweet after dinner, and you’ll avoid that dreaded insulin spike.
We all know fast food isn’t the best for us. It’s the culprit for a growing number of health concerns, and for all the same reasons stated above, fast food should be on the off-limits list for your skin too. Usually comprised of french fries, hamburgers, pizza and all other grease filled finger food – the high saturated fats and processed ingredients can completely throw off your hormonal balance and blood sugar levels. If you have a craving for your favorite fast food, try making your own version at home. Swap baked for fried potatoes and opt for white meat instead of red in your burger.
Our dear old friend chocolate has long had a bad rap as the leading cause for all our unsightly blemishes. However, the good news for all the chocolate lovers out there is that cacao in its raw form has been proven to have no impact on your acne breakouts. In fact, raw cacao is packed with vitamins A, C, E and zinc which are all highly beneficial for your skin. It’s actually the dairy and sugar often mixed in with most candy bars and desserts that have linked chocolate to a severe case of acne. So next time you reach for a chocolate bar, try opting for high percentage dark chocolate or snackable cacao nibs as a treat. Avoid milk or white chocolate, which are mostly made up of all the ingredients that will lead to inflammation and agitate your acne.
It’s important to remember that food isn’t the enemy; it can actually be the solution when you eat the right foods! Incorporating foods that fight acne into your diet, like flax seeds or fish oils, can have an anti-inflammatory and protective effect. A healthy meal plan that includes lots of whole grains, green vegetables and plenty of water can make a real difference in your skin.
Keep in mind the above are general guidelines. If you have a food that makes your skin flare up, just because it’s not in one of the above categories, it’s likely a trigger for your acne. We are all made of a unique combination of chemicals and hormones, so it’s always good form to keep track of what you’re eating and how it affects your body.