Are you vulnerable to acne? While many people used to believe (doctors included) that food didn’t affect acne, that idea is now a medical myth. The reality is that every part of your body is impacted by the foods you eat. After all, the Oxford Dictionary definition of vitamin is “any of a group of organic compounds which are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.” And where do we get vitamins? From the food we eat. So it should be no surprise that the foods you eat can either improve or impair your skin’s health. Some foods can trigger an acne outbreak even in adults. Below are some of the worst foods that trigger acne:
- Iodized Salt and foods that contain it (most packaged, processed, and prepared foods)
- Milk and Other Dairy Products
Research shows that insulin levels may play a role in triggering acne. Insulin is secreted in response to consuming sugar or sugary foods. The study followed 43 teenage boys and young men with acne for three months. Some of the boys/men ate a low glycemic diet (a diet that has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels) while others ate a diet high in carbs. The researchers found that those who at the low glycemic diet had more improvements in their acne.
To help keep insulin levels stable it is important to eat a diet high in fiber and low in sugar (even natural sugars). It is also important to ensure there is protein at each meal (plant-based protein like nuts, seeds, organic tofu, and beans is best) and to eat every two to three hours.
Other research in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found a correlation between consumption of milk and dairy products (cheese, cream, ice cream, breakfast drinks, cottage cheese, etc.) and acne breakouts. The scientists examined the diets of 47,355 women and found a link between dairy consumption and acne. Another study, of 4,273 teenaged boys found an association between milk consumption and acne flare-ups.
If you’re worried that the above list makes up the bulk of your diet, it’s not usually necessary to avoid all of these foods but to eat them in moderation or to minimize them if you’re particularly vulnerable to acne outbreaks. Also you may notice that fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are not on the list and can be enjoyed freely.
While they are not foods, two other common triggers for acne include some medications (particularly hormones) and tobacco from smoking or second-hand exposures. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect your medication is aggravating your acne.