How Does Your Diet Affect Your Skin?

How Does Your Diet Affect Your Skin?

Acne is the most common skin condition, which can affect anyone and everyone. Nearly 10% population of the world suffers from acne. There is not one single cause of this problem. In fact, there are many causes of acne.

For most of the cases, acne is linked with sebum and keratin production, which is sometimes affected by bacteria. Hormones may also be responsible for it. Some of your skin pores may block and cause acne. Inflammation of skin also results in acne.

According to a number of studies, the health of the gut and the daily intake of a person can have a huge impact on all bodily functions and may cause many complications as well. Acne and other skin conditions are also said to be affected by food eaten every day.

Many people do not realize that their unhealthy habit of eating processed foods and others can be a reason behind their stubborn acne. A few studies have even claimed that a clean diet is mandatory for acne medication to work.

Which Foods Can Cause Acne?

It is a common misconception that many of the so-called ‘healthy’ foods can be a cause of acne. Such foods may not be harmful to one person but can have a different impact on another.

In addition, an abundance of any food is likely to cause health issues. Following are some foods that may lead to acne:


Refined foods (grains and sugar)

People using refined grains and sugar are most likely to play role in acne development. Those who use these refined products less in routine have reduced chances of getting acne. The refined carbohydrates are in the form of following food items.

  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Desserts
  • White flour pasta
  • White rice
  • White noodles
  • Soda
  • Artificial sweeteners

Using these refined foods may increase the risk of acne by affecting blood sugar and insulin levels. These refined carbohydrates make a part of the body after consumption and increase blood sugar level.

The blood sugar level affects insulin directly, which activates it to control blood sugar leaving the bloodstream. The high levels of insulin become problematic by causing acne.

Additionally, the excessive insulin makes androgen hormones active and increases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). It makes your skin cells growing more than normal. The sebum production increases too which results in multiple acne outbreaks.

On the other side, people with low sugar diet do not experience such a dramatically high rise in blood sugar and insulin level. Also, they are less exposed to acne.


Dairy products

Dairy products also cause acne. It is proven by research that acne outbreak is more common when a larger part of your diet is milk and its products. The risk is higher in younger adults who regularly use milk, ice cream or related foods.

Most of the research done on acne caused by dairy products is on teenagers. It may not show the same results in adults. Also, the reason for this relationship is unknown. One assumption says that milk increases the insulin levels in the blood, which makes acne worse.

Milk, especially cow’s milk has amino acids in it, which is responsible to stimulate the liver. It produces more IGF-1 and causes acne in a person.

Fast food

Fast food may be convenient but it is strongly associated with weight gain and acne. The food items regarded as fast food are burgers, nuggets, fries, sodas, pizza, hotdogs, subs etc.

It is unclear that what mechanism causes this increase of developing acne when you eat fast food. But many scientists believe that it may affect gene expression and changes the hormonal levels. This hormonal change affects acne development.

It is important that most of the research about fast food linked acne is a self-reported data. It may have other underlying conditions i.e. lifestyle too. More research is required to confirm it.


Is Your Diet Responsible For Your Skin Problems?

Omega-6 rich foods

If your diet has a huge part containing omega-6 fatty acids, you are more likely to suffer from inflammation and acne. The diet usually contains a large amount of corn or soy oil brings excessive omega-6 for the body. Some natural foods such as fish or walnuts also have a high content of omega-3.

When omega-3 and omega-6 are imbalanced inside the body, they take up an inflammatory-like condition, which makes the acne worse. If you aren’t having acne before, it will increase the risk of having acne.

On the opposite side, supplements with omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce the inflammation and acne as well.


You might have heard the benefits of chocolates and how many benefits a dark chocolate can bring for you. But you must also know that chocolate can also trigger acne breakouts.

It doesn’t have a research but survey reports telling that eating chocolate will increase the risk of acne development. Exactly how chocolate promotes the acne production is not clear. However, it is assumed that reactivity of immune system to acne-causing bacteria is responsible for it.


Whey protein (powder)

Are you a workout freak? Many of regular exercisers incorporate protein powder in their diet for extra nutrition. Whey protein powder is one of the most famous choices to be added to workout drinks.

Whey protein has a high amount of amino acids leucine and glutamine. These amino acids are responsible to multiply the skin cells rapidly which sometimes result in acne.

These amino acids also stimulate the body to make more insulin and this insulin levels go beyond normal. It is again a factor for causing acne. Not just the women but men are also a victim of it.

Many sportsmen and athletes suffer from severe acne as whey protein is one of their regular workout routine’s part. More research is required to highlight the mechanism at a cellular level.


Allergens and Food Sensitivities 

As it is famous that acne is due to inflammation, it supports the assumption that anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids are the best treatment for acne. Elevated levels of inflammatory molecules in blood trigger this internal inflammation.

Usually, the food items that you are sensitive have high chances to cause inflammation. Such reactions are called delayed hypersensitivity reactions. This food sensitivity only occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes food as a threat to the body and attacks it.

The result of such reactions is a high level of pro-inflammatory molecules that are distributed inside the body. These molecules are responsible for causing inflammation.

There are so many foods that your immune system can mistake. The best is to completely stop using the foods about which, your body feels sensitive. The eliminated diet under the consultation of a registered nutritionist will make your acne go forever.

The elimination diet means to restrict some of the food ingredients temporarily. There are certain sensitivity tests that you can try such as Mediator Release Testing (MRT). It can help you to know which food ingredients are leading you to the immune-related inflammation.

RELATED3 Ways To Treat Acne Fast

It is easy to eliminate such foods from your diet once you identify them. The link between inflammation and acne doesn’t have a direct research as a background source.


Is Your Diet Responsible For Your Skin Problems?

Which Foods Can Help With Acne?

While all the foods mentioned above play a role to develop acne, there are certain foods, which make your skin healthy and beautiful. Some of the best food choices for a healthy, acne free skin are as follows.

  • Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods
  • Probiotics
  • Herbal tea i.e. green tea
  • Spices i.e. Turmeric
  • Vitamins A, D, E and zinc
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Water


Andrea White

As a graduate of Public Health and Policy, Andrea developed an interest in disease development, food and safety and the latest advancements in health. She is a Freelance writer who had affiliations with multiple blogs. Andrea is now pursuing her post-doctorate in Behavioral Sciences.

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