Avoid Skim and Low-Fat Milk If You Have Acne. Whole Milk Might Be Okay.
The foods we eat have a direct impact on our skin’s health. Just like certain foods like potato chips and sugary sodas have negative effects on your body, foods like sugar and dairy can have unwanted effects on your skin. Interestingly, recent studies have shown that skim and low-fat milks may have a greater impact on acne-prone skin than whole milk. Here’s a breakdown of the latest research on why this might be the case.
How Does Dairy Affect Acne?
Studies have shown a link between dairy consumption and acne. It is believed that dairy increases insulin and insulin-like growth factor levels – both of which affect the cells that make sebum and regulate serum glucose levels. This increases sebum production within the skin, resulting in clogged pores and a hospitable environment for acne-causing bacteria, Cutibacterium acnes, to thrive.
Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is known to increase during puberty, which is one of the reasons why teenagers so frequently struggle with acne. Expression of IGF-1 has been found in the cells of sebaceous glands, demonstrating a direct link between increased IGF-1 levels and sebum production. By increasing IGF-1 levels, milk consumption contributes to acne in much the same way as high glycemic index (high sugar) diets do.
Skim Milk vs. Whole Milk
Recent research has found that skim and low-fat milks may affect the skin differently than whole milk. It has been suggested that the fat-reducing process involved in creating low-fat milk products could enhance the insulin and IGF-1-promoting elements of milk, therefore increasing sebum production and the prevalence of acne.
Interestingly, two large observational studies involving 6,094 girls and 4,273 boys respectively found that severe acne was associated with the consumption of all dairy types (total, whole, low-fat, and skim) for girls, while whole milk was not associated with a significant increase in prevalence of acne in boys.
Do Dairy Products Cause Acne?
Some studies have found that cheese and yogurt consumption can contribute to acne, although not as significantly as low-fat and skim milks. A 2005 study involving 47,355 women also found a link between acne and dairy products such as instant breakfast drink, sherbet, cottage cheese and cream cheese.
Chocolate, on the other hand, has not been significantly linked to acne. Due to its higher sugar content, milk chocolate may be more likely to negatively affect the skin than dark chocolates with high percentages of cacao. However, this link does not appear to be caused by the dairy content of chocolate.
Dairy of all types have been linked with acne, although whole milk appears to have a lesser effect on breakouts.
If you have acne-prone skin, avoid milk whenever possible. Consider substituting with oat, almond, or coconut milk. Plant-based milks have not been associated with acne. If you must have milk in your coffee, small amounts of whole milk may be a better option for acne sufferers.
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