9 Foods That Cause Acne or Make Breakouts Worse

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Monday February 10, 2020

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If you have acne, you know that the effects are more than merely cosmetic. This condition can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and mar otherwise perfect days — like your wedding. 

Multiple factors determine whether and where you get zits, including your immutable and emotionless genetic code. However, one contributor you can control is your diet. Here are nine foods that can cause acne or make existing breakouts worse — please consume them in moderation if you are pimple-prone.

1. White Flour

Why is white flour bad for acne? To find the answer, you need to turn to the crafty mamacitas among humanity. They know that you can make paper maché glue by mixing flour and water — which is all well and good in arts and crafts class. It isn’t as magical when the reaction takes place in your body. 

When manufacturers make white flour, they remove the nutrient-rich bran and germ, leaving behind a calorie-rich but nutritionally empty substance. Nutritionists often refer to it as “the glue of the gut” because it can slow down digestion. Delayed emptying means that toxins linger longer in your system, and if they make it to your skin’s surface, they can cause eruptions.

2. Sugar

Your body needs to maintain optimal blood sugar levels to function at its best. However, when you eat too many high-glycemic foods too quickly, it sets off a burst of inflammation and causes your body’s insulin levels to rise. How does this process result in more acne? 

When your body becomes inflamed, it produces enzymes that bind to your body’s collagen through a process called glycation. This process breaks down the collagen and elastin your body needs to stay young and supple-looking, and it also aggravates acne and rosacea. 

3. Dairy

Milk contains two problematic proteins — whey and casein. While many people can consume these substances with no problem, they can cause acne in some susceptible individuals. 

When your body breaks down these proteins, it releases a hormone similar to insulin called IGF-1. Doctors have long pegged this hormone as an aggravating factor in acne breakouts. 

Furthermore, fully 65% of people are lactose-intolerant, meaning that they can’t digest milk’s active sugar. Consuming dairy products can trigger an allergic reaction that results in pimples as one symptom. 

4. Whey Protein

Whey is the other problematic protein in dairy. You might have better luck pinpointing this bad boy as your culprit if you use supplements. Many gym-rats swear by whey protein shakes for recovery — pay attention if your breakouts only began after you started pumping iron and sucking down smoothies containing it. 

An alternative you may consider is soy. However, know that this plant contains natural phytoestrogens, so whether this substitution works for you depends on your unique chemistry. 

5. Hot Peppers 

You probably noticed that hot peppers make you sweat. However, did you know that they can also aggravate acne in some people? 

The capsaicin in hot peppers helps get your juices flowing — including that produced by your sebaceous glands. Plus, you introduce acne-causing bacteria to your face every time you wipe your sweat with your bare hands. While spicy foods can offer considerable health benefits, lay off the salsa if you are acne-prone. 

6. Omega-6 Fats

Some research indicates that omega-6 fatty acids work as precursors to inflammation and can exacerbate acne. Foods rich in omega-6 include meat and dairy products. 

One way to reduce your consumption effortlessly is to experiment with different milk varieties. Do you have to use dairy in your coffee or tea, or could you sweeten your brew with almond coconut milk? 

7. Chocolate

Oh, say it isn’t so. Could it be that the heaven known as chocolate does cause pimples after all? 

One 2013 study published by the National Institutes of Health indicates that chocolate encourages your immune system to react more aggressively to the two bacteria that cause acne. Of course, the culprit could be the sugar, too — experiment to see if a darker variety decreases your breakouts. 

8. Fast Food

What’s so terrible about fast food? You’re bathing your body in white flour, sugar and additives, all of which can worsen breakouts, that’s what.

Fortunately, you can make healthier fast food choices when life doesn’t stop for meal prep. Look for meals that contain roasted meats, not fried, and plenty of veggies. 

9. Specialty Frappes 

That unicorn frappe you had to have might make your face more colorful, too. Who needs a donut when you can drink your sugar like Jeff Goldblum’s character in “The Fly” remake? 

Plus, coffee shop concoctions can contain additives that you can’t pronounce, let alone identify. For clearer skin, opt for green tea — the natural antioxidant properties can reduce inflammation and redness, making pimples appear less prominent.  

Cut Down on These 9 Foods That Cause Acne to Reduce Breakouts 

While your diet alone won’t cause or cure acne, if pimples plague you, you want to do all you can to reduce the redness. Try eliminating the nine foods above and see your smiling best in the mirror. 

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