The Connection Between Diet and Acne: Can Certain Foods Cause Breakouts?

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In this installment from my ‘Ask Me Anything’ series, which you can find on my social media channels, I delve into the topic of acne and diet.

“Do you believe certain foods can cause acne?”

Absolutely, certain foods can cause acne. But there needs to be a predisposition towards getting acne, which is why foods affect people differently. In susceptible individuals, highly insulinogenic foods like dairy or refined carbohydrates can cause acne.

Insulin works in two primary ways to contribute to acne: increased conversion of testosterone to DHT (a more anabolic metabolite that plays a role in acne and hair loss in genetically susceptible people) and increased synthesis of IGF-1, which increases sebum production.

Dairy (especially milk; less so cheese and yogurt) and other insulinogenic foods like refined carbohydrates increase insulin signaling and can have acne as an unintentional side effect.

Having high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can also play a role for the same reasons plus further increasing oil production, riling up the immune system, and promoting the proliferation of acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

The best thing you can do for acne is maintain a healthy body weight, as being too fat is the primary cause of chronically elevated insulin levels regardless of what you are eating. After that, just pay attention to patterns you notice in acne after eating certain foods or dietary patterns. There’s a huge individual component, so keeping a food diary or doing an elimination diet and noting any changes in acne severity after consuming certain foods can be a helpful strategy in identifying potential triggers.

Hope that helps!

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