Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Why Does Dairy Cause Acne

Can Avoiding Dairy Improve Acne

Dairy Free For Acne! (Does Dairy Cause Acne? Why? Hormones? Diet and acne? Pimples? Breakouts?)

Although there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that eliminating dairy may reduce acne breakouts, no scientific experiments have proved this.

Researchers are aware that there might be a link between dairy and acne, but they do not yet know why the connection exists or if avoiding dairy can improve acne.

What research has shown is that:

  • Acne is more likely to affect people who consume dairy than those who do not.
  • People who drink one or more glass of milk each day have a higher chance of developing acne than people who drink less milk.
  • Acne is more common in Western countries and affects around 80% of people in the U.S. at some point in their lives.
  • There may be a link between acne and the Western diet, which typically includes dairy proteins and foods high on the glycemic index.

The American Academy of Dermatology do not recommend specific dietary changes for people with acne. There is also insufficient evidence to support milk restriction or avoidance as a treatment for acne.

However, if a person thinks that diet might be contributing to their acne, they could complete a daily food diary.

For example, a person could ask themselves whether or not there are any particular foods or beverages that seem to worsen existing acne or trigger a breakout, and whether or not the symptoms improve if the person avoids those particular items for a day, week, or month.

How To Check If Dairy Products Are Worsening Your Acne

  • Maintain A Food Journal: Record if the consumption of certain foods, especially milk, cheese, yogurt, and protein powder, increases acne inflammation or causes new breakouts.
  • Skip A Particular Food: If you notice excessive breakouts when you consume a particular food, eliminating it from your diet for 30 days. Watch how your skin and existing acne behave.

Follow these ways for at least a month to understand the exact reason behind your acne. Can reducing the intake of dairy or eliminating it from your diet helps in acne management? Read next.

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

One study found that people who frequently consumed added sugars had a 30% greater risk of developing acne, while those who regularly ate pastries and cakes had a 20% greater risk .

This increased risk may be explained by the effects refined carbohydrates have on blood sugar and insulin levels.

Refined carbohydrates are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which rapidly raises blood sugar levels. When blood sugars rise, insulin levels also rise to help shuttle the blood sugars out of the bloodstream and into your cells.

However, 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 (

26 ).

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.

A separate study of 2,300 Turkish men found that frequently eating burgers or sausages was linked to a 24% increased risk of developing acne .

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Dairy Is Naturally A Source Of Sugar

All forms of sugar raise the glycemic index and can lead to breakouts in sensitive individuals. Milk sugar, lactose, is especially problematic for many people since it not only raises blood sugar but also leads to allergenic reactions in many people. Milk sugars also shoot rapidly through the bloodstream and have been linked to diabetes.

Dairy Breakdown And How It Can Affect The Skin

Why Does Dairy Cause Acne? deep blackhead removal video ...

Cows produce milk to feed their baby calves and help them grow. Whey and casein, the proteins in milk, stimulate growth and hormones in calves and in us when we drink their milk.

When we digest these proteins, they release a hormone similar to insulin, called IGF-1. This hormone is known to trigger breakouts. Sometimes the hormones in milk can also interact with our own hormones, confusing our bodys endocrine system and signaling breakouts.

Lactose is the natural sugar present in milk. After infancy, it becomes more difficult for humans to break lactose down and digest it. And if you belong to the 65 percent of people who are lactose intolerant, your acne-related breakout could be due to a lactose sensitivity or allergic reaction.

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Why Does Milk Cause Acne

Lets talk about whey protein real quick, since you might only know it as something you can buy in bulk for your smoothies. Whey proteins are mixtures of proteins isolated from whey, which is the liquid part of milk that separates when cheese is made, explains Skin Wellness Dermatologys Dr. Corey L. Hartman. From there, this protein can create a domino effect. Whey increases the production of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 . Insulin increases the production of oil, which contributes to the development of acne. It also triggers androgen production, testosterone hormones that stimulate oil and cause acne, says Hartman. Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, CEO of Vibrant Dermatology and Skin Bar MD, also notes that cow milk contains caseinanother protein linked to IGF-1and high levels of progesterone, which is converted to an acne-stimulating hormone dihydroxytesterone in human sebaceous glands.

But wait, theres more. Daily Harvest nutritionist Amy Shapiro notes that while the hormone IGF-1 is found in our blood already, cows that are treated with Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone tend to have higher IGF-1 levels, since RBGH stimulates milk production by stimulating the release of IGF-1.

Why Is There A Link Between Milk Consumption And Acne

Unsplash: Heewei Lee

Well, one thing scientists do tend to agree on is that there needs to be more research.

That’s because we still don’t know why this link between milk and acne exists.

One idea that has been suggested is the hormones in cow’s milk accelerate the production of sebum, the oily secretion from the glands in your skin. Sebum is perfectly normal and healthy but too much can clog your pores and lead to spots and blackheads.

Aside from the controversial milk subject, there is some evidence regarding a link between glycemic index and acne.

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Is It Safe To Give Up Dairy

Yes, its safe to try cutting dairy from your diet, as long as you make sure youre getting all the nutrients your body needs.

The NHS recommends incorporating dairy into your meals. This is because milk and cheese are a good source of protein and contain important nutrients like calcium. If youre going to cut out dairy completely, even for a short period, make sure youre eating foods that contain the same nutrients found in dairy.

  • Some good foods to incorporate in your diet include:
  • Milk, yoghurt and cheese made from soy, rice, oat or nut milk
  • Green leafy vegetables e.g. kale and spinach
  • Calcium-fortified soy drinks and foods
  • Breads made with fortified flour
  • Fish eaten whole e.g. sardines and pilchards

For more diet inspiration, consult the NHS Eatwell Guide.

Milk Products Androgen Production


According to a 2010 article in “Clinical Dermatology,” milk products in general contain 5alpha-pregnanedione and 5alpha-androstanedione, two precursors to the androgen 5alpha-hydrotestosterone. Testosterone worsens acne by promoting the production of sebum, which can block pores. According to this article, foods with high glycemic loads also also promote acne. This research suggests that If butter is eaten with carbohydrate-rich foods, like muffins and pancakes, then the resulting insulin release leads to an even higher level of androgen production and further increases the risk of developing acne.

  • According to a 2010 article in “Clinical Dermatology,” milk products in general contain 5alpha-pregnanedione and 5alpha-androstanedione, two precursors to the androgen 5alpha-hydrotestosterone.
  • This research suggests that If butter is eaten with carbohydrate-rich foods, like muffins and pancakes, then the resulting insulin release leads to an even higher level of androgen production and further increases the risk of developing acne.

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Why Does Eating Dairy Cause Cystic Acne

Your skin acts as an excretory system to get rid of substances that dont agree with your body. For example, if someone is allergic to shellfish, they will break out in hives all over the body but its not like they rubbed shellfish topically over the skin. The hives is the symptom of your body trying to rid itself of this allergen.

In the case of eating dairy, it is mucous forming and can be difficult for the body digestwhich is why many people are lactose intolerant. For certain people, when they get too much dairy for their body to digest, it may come out in the form of cystic acne on the chin and jaw line area.

Why the chin and jaw line area? The hypothesis is that since the majority of milk in the U.S. comes from pregnant cows , the hormone levels in milk may play a role in excess sebum production, which promotes acne. Sebum production is influenced by androgens and hormonal mediators, such as insulin-like growth factors found in milk and other animal products. The consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt may become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin to ignite the acne process.

The body may use the chin and jawline area to remove these excess hormones. There are a greater number of sebaceous glands in the face and since hormones are fat soluble, the body will use these glands as an avenue of excretion for fat-based hormones. Read theses 8 tips for preventing chin and jawline breakouts.

The Total Elimination Plan

The Total Elimination Plan is the most likely to get you the fastest, best results, so go for this plan if you can swing it. On Total Elimination, you cut out all sources of dairy from your diet for 30 days. You can go cold turkey if youre feeling like a rock star, or you can gradually reduce your dairy consumption for a week or two before you start counting your 30 days.

After the 30 days is up, youll hopefully see some noticeable improvement in your skin! If so, if you want, you can start experimenting at this point with adding back in certain types of high-quality dairy. You might try drinking raw, grass-fed whole milk, or eating some organic kefir, yogurt, butter, or cheese. Now, dont eat these all at once youll get the best feedback from your skin if you try one thing at a time, and wait a few days in between.

If your skin doesnt improve, that doesnt necessarily mean that dairy is safe for your skin. What it definitely means is that theres something else triggering your acne maybe something else youre eating, some nutrients youre missing, gut dysbiosis, or some lifestyle issue like stress or environmental toxins. For you, we highly recommend checking out our ebook, Clear Skin Forever, if you havent already.

Read Also: What Are The Causes Of Acne On Face

My Experience With Dairy And Vitamin A

Balancing dairy with sufficient vitamin A has absolutely worked for me. I have acne-prone skin, and if I told you how much dairy I consume daily, you’d probably fall off your chair! Hint: I’m drinking a glass of milk right now.

If anything, I’d say that dairy has made my skin look better than ever. And that’s what the anti-dairy crowd doesn’t get. Sure, by cutting out dairy, you might clear up your acnebut the resulting lowered metabolism could actually worsen your skin texture, tone and firmness , especially as you age.

I’d rather do everything I can to support a healthy, speedy metabolism through good nutrition and addressing any deficienciesnot eliminating entire food groups.

If you’d like to experiment with this idea, try to get in the habit of tracking your pulse and temperatures, as they’re an excellent indicator of whether your diet is boosting or lowering your metabolic rate. I’d love to hear about your results!

Do you break out from dairy?What results have you experienced from increasing vitamin A ?

Does Cheese Cause Acne

quitting dairy and holistic acne treatment helped clear

Heres where things get confusing. Although studies have shown that milk and ice cream are associated with acne, yogurt and cheese dont seem to have the same relationship. Scientists cant exactly figure out why cheese is a safer choice, which is why the question Does dairy cause acne? is so difficult to answer. Part of the theory stipulates that hard cheeses have less lactose than milk does, but theres no evidence that suggests lactose plays a role in acne. So take a deep breath pizza and cheese boards might not be good calorically, but they seem to be okay for your complexion.

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Is Drinking Milk Good For Acne

A third theory is that milk products, when combined with the high levels of refined foods and processed sugars in the Western diet, disrupt insulin levels and make skin more prone to acne. Not all dairy products affect acne equally. Some studies have noted that skim milk is the most likely acne trigger.

Should You Cut Dairy From Your Diet

Credit: Huffington Post

While dairy isnt as intrinsically linked to acne production around the mouth and throughout the face as we once thought, it may still be prudent to remove it from your diet, particularly if you have any kind of lactose intolerance. You may suffer from bloating, stomach cramps, and indigestion if you drink milk or eat cheese with a dairy sensitivity.

Cutting out dairy can also be a good way for some people to lose weight. Dairy products are often high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats, and everyone can do with less of all that in their diets.

However, you want to speak with your doctor before cutting dairy out completely. Dairy items tend to be high in calcium and other vital nutrients, such as vitamins A, B12, and D. Your immune system could suffer if you fail to replace those components, so your doctor may recommend a multivitamin. You can also get the nutrients you need by consuming things like calcium-enriched orange juice and enriched soy milk.

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How To Check If You Are Sensitive To Dairy

If youre unsure if you are sensitive or if dairy might be the cause of your breakouts, theres two ways to check:

  • You can just eliminate dairy completely from your diet for at least one month. While it may sound hard for you to give up cheese or other dairy products for an entire month, ultimately its worth it to see if you are sensitive. In addition, to see if your acne starts to clear up.
  • Schedule a food sensitivity test. The results of this test will tell you if youre sensitivity to dairy and in particular which dairy items. Sensitivity can make your body react in different ways. A few examples being: bloating, GI distress, and again, acne breakouts.
  • Does Drinking Milk Really Cause Acne


    The link between milk and skin inflammation is more than a myth.

    Welcome back to Beauty Basics, a column dedicated to ending pervasive beauty myths once and for all. In this edition we’re taking a look at the relationship between milk, acne, and skin inflammation.

    Naturally, my mind went straight to my increased dairy intake, since the aphorism that “milk’s bad for your skin” is as common as “drink water for good skin.” . And interestingly, I wasnt completely wrong this time. We know that dairy, particularly skim milk, has been associated with skin inflammation and acne breakouts, says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital. The thought is that skim milk contains a high sugar load as well as whey protein which activates messengers that stimulate our oil glands. This means more oil and inflammation, leading to acne breakouts.

    Read Also: What Is The Best Solution For Acne Scars

    Why Does Milk Cause Acne Should You Avoid It Completely

    All forms of milk, be it total, whole, low-fat, and skimmed, are linked to acne . The exact mechanism is unknown, but the hormones in milk are to be blamed for that.

    As discussed earlier, milk naturally contains growth hormones, anabolic steroids, and other growth factors. In dairy farms, the cows are further treated with artificial growth hormones to increase their milk production . This increases the hormone levels in the milk.

    When you drink such milk, it affects the IGF-1 levels in your body. Increased IGF-1 levels and male hormones may cause adult acne in men and women .

    If you have acne-prone skin or hormonal acne, it is better to avoid any form of milk and dairy products. If you have noticed flare-ups recently, dairy or milk can be one reason. Here are a few tips to find if your flare-ups are due to dairy products.

    Is Dairy Causing You To Break Out

    First, a confession: My skin has been a veritable mess for the past three years. I escaped my teens with only a few instances of mild acne, only to be besieged with a cystic invasion along my jawline years later. It was massively uncool and anyone who’s had to deal with acne knows the emotional toll it takes. It got to the point where I would spring out of bed, run straight to my bathroom, wash my face, and then immediately apply makeup so I wouldn’t have to see the screaming red spots. Most of it was situated in a little aggressive constellation of grossness on my right jawline, so I’d tend to avoid even turning my face so I wouldn’t have to confront it. In the past few years, I’ve been to four dermatologists who’ve put me on various antibiotics and topical prescriptions, all of which helped, albeit temporarily. I’ve been on and off antibiotics for my skin several times in the past three years.

    Could casein be the culprit?

    A hotbed of hormones

    You might be able to identify a hormonal breakout by where it falls on the face. “Breakouts around the chin and jawline are representational of reproductive and hormonal systems. Since our dairy cows are given growth hormones, the body may use this area to remove the excess hormones,” says aesthetician Renee Rouleau. “There are a greater number of sebaceous glands in the face and since hormones are fat soluble, the body will use these glands as an avenue of excretion for fat-based hormones.”

    Don’t stock up on the silk milk yet

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