Acne is a common skin condition that affects nearly 10% of the world’s population (1Trusted Source).
Many factors contribute to the development of acne, including sebum and keratin production, acne-causing bacteria, hormones, blocked pores and inflammation (2Trusted Source).
The link between diet and acne has been controversial, but recent research shows that diet can play a significant role in acne development (3Trusted Source).
This article will review 7 foods that can cause acne and discuss why the quality of your diet is important.
1. Refined Grains and Sugars
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 (6Trusted Source).
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 (IGF-1). This contributes to acne development by making skin cells grow more quickly and by boosting sebum production (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
On the other hand, low-glycemic diets, which do not dramatically raise blood sugars or insulin levels, are associated with reduced acne severity (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
While the research on this topic is promising, more is needed to further understand how refined carbohydrates contribute to acne.
SUMMARYEating lots of refined carbohydrates may increase blood sugar and insulin levels and contribute to the development of acne. However, more research is needed.
2. Dairy Products
However, the studies conducted so far have not been high-quality.
The research to date has focused mainly on teenagers and young adults and has only shown a correlation between milk and acne, not a cause and effect relationship.
It is not yet clear how milk may contribute to the formation of acne, but there are several proposed theories.
Although there is speculation on why drinking milk may worsen acne, it is unclear whether dairy plays a direct role. More research is needed to determine if there is a specific amount or type of dairy that may aggravate acne.
SUMMARYFrequently consuming dairy products is linked to increased acne severity, but it is uncertain whether there is a cause and effect relationship.
3. Fast Food
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.
One study of over 5,000 Chinese teenagers and young adults found that high-fat diets were associated with a 43% increased risk of developing acne. Regularly eating fast food increased the risk by 17% (27Trusted Source).
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 (6Trusted Source).
It is unclear why eating fast food may increase the risk of developing acne, but some researchers propose that it may affect gene expression and alter hormone levels in a way that promotes acne development (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
However, it is important to note that most of the research on fast food and acne has used self-reported data. This type of research only shows patterns of dietary habits and acne risk and does not prove that fast food causes acne. Thus, more research is needed.Read More