Here’s a quick look at the foods you should put in, but also those you should keep out.
Foods that can aggravate acne.
Refined Carbohydrates.It’s pretty well accepted that refined carbs aren’t the greatest for your overall health. Less well known is that they’re also not the greatest for your skin health either. People with acne, spots, blemishes, call them what you will, tend to consume more refined carbs than people without acne1,2. Foods high in refined carbohydrates include:
- Bread, crackers and cereal made with white flour
- Pasta made with white flour
- White potatoes (especially when they are turned into fries)
- White rice and noodles
- Sugary drinks
- Honey, cane sugar and syrup
Essentially, it’s the usual suspects. Foods that are High GI (Glycaemic Index). Studies have found that people who consumed a lot of added sugar were 30% more likely to develop acne while people who ate pastries and cakes were 20% more likely3. Refined carbs are absorbed more quickly into the blood stream, raising blood sugar levels. This causes an increase in insulin which, unfortunately, is no friend of acne.
Skim MilkGo figure? There are a number of studies that suggest that dairy, while not necessarily causing acne, may aggravate it. Amongst the broader category, there seems to be consensus on the fact that skim or low fat milk is the main culprit. The reasons for this are complex and quite technical. Cow’s milk contains the proteins whey and casein. When we digest these, they release a hormone similar to insulin, called IGF-1. This is known to trigger outbreaks4. In full-fat milk, IGF-1 is matched with a protein molecule that binds to it and deactivates it. This protein is removed from skim milk allowing IGF-1 to aggravate your acne. If you consume a lot of skim milk, try avoiding it for a while and see how your skin responds.
(Some) chocolateWe have good and not so good news. The good news is that cacao is packed with vitamins A, C, E and zinc, which are all really good for the skin. The bad news is that a lot of chocolates have a small percentage of cacao and higher percentages of sugar and dairy, which we’ve already highlighted as foods to avoid. So stick to dark chocolate high in cacao and avoid milk or white chocolate.
Whey ProteinsGood on you if you’re a gym junkie. If you’re a gym junkie who supplements your workouts with protein shakes, then a word of caution. It could be that the amino acids in whey protein can cause the body to produce more insulin, and as we mentioned earlier, insulin is no friend of acne6.
Foods high in Omega-6 FatsOmega-6 fats are found in the likes of corn and soy oil, typically part of the modern Western diet. These oils are linked to increased levels of inflammation and acne.
Probably best to avoid a combination of all of these foods.
Having read through the above list, it’ll come as no surprise to you that something like your obligatory ‘Value Meal should best be avoided’. High GI, high fat, high sugar and a heap of salt. Even if you go the veggie patty option, this is pretty much a perfect storm for acne. If you can’t avoid the temptation, try, try, try to keep it to a once every blue moon occasion.
Foods that are great for you and your skin.
While the list above may make it seem like putting anything in your mouth can set of your acne, there are lots of delicious and nutritious foods that can help in the good fight against spots, blemishes and blackheads.