For many Americans, the motto for January is “new year, new me.” If social media is anything to go by, your friends and family are probably vowing to stick to their exercise routine or their newfound devotion to eating keto. And while 66% of U.S. residents are on a diet, some people go to even greater extremes to shed their unwanted weight. CoolSculpting procedures, for example, might not require surgery but can first provide results in anywhere from three weeks to four months. Seemingly, it’s never been easier to change the way you look — if you’re committed enough to the cause.
But even if you’re relatively happy with your body and feel like you have a fairly healthy lifestyle, your skin might tell a different story. No matter how many face masks you do or high-end products you use, you might still be struggling with breakouts. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, as 85% of people experience acne at some point during their lives. However, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, especially when you think you’re doing all the right things. If you’ve examined every other possibility and aren’t keen to go on serious medication, have you considered that your favorite foods might actually be to blame for your pimples?
Say it isn’t so! Well, according to some dermatology experts, it might not be. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology doesn’t actually recommend any dietary changes to manage acne, as the organization says there’s insufficient data to support that claim. But other skin gurus maintain that there are certain ingredients that can make acne worse. And some people even swear by certain diets for their potential to clear up breakouts for good.
It’s evidently an old wives’ tale that greasy food equals greasy skin, so your love affair with French fries doesn’t necessarily have to end anytime soon. But pizza, Americans’ number one favorite comfort food, might not be so safe — not because it’s greasy, but because it’s loaded with cheese. Anecdotally speaking, dairy can have a huge impact on acne.
Studies proving the correlation are rather scarce, but even many dermatologists will admit that their patients have often seen improvement after cutting dairy out of their diets. It’s not necessarily a cure, especially if your acne is serious and cystic, but it can complement the other efforts you’re making to clear up your skin. It’s also possible that reducing dairy intake can improve your skin if you have eczema or rosacea. And if you’re already lactose intolerant, you may want to consider that your food sensitivity is impacting your skin sensitivity, too.
But if you already opt for dairy substitutes and haven’t seen results, there may be another dietary reason why: sugar. Unfortunately, there may be some truth to the idea that higher sugar consumption levels may culminate in more breakouts.
According to what Anne Chapas, founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology, told the Atlantic, “The spikes in blood sugar which arise from eating high-glycemic foods cause oil production, which in turn cause acne. We know that those cause a harmful hormonal environment.”
But it’s not just about cutting down on your candy intake. Potatoes, white bread, and white rice are also high-glycemic foods that can cause your blood sugar to spike and lead to more acne. There is some recent research that suggests a low-glycemic diet could improve acne results. On the plus side, if you increase your consumption of leafy greens and other veggies, legumes, and fruits, you could end up with clearer skin and a healthier lifestyle overall.
Acne can be caused by any number of factors, which is one reason why it makes it so difficult to treat; what works wonders for one individual may make no difference (or could actually worsen the problem) in another. In the end, what you eat might not end up having any effect on your acne. Still, keeping a food journal and noting differences in your skin isn’t likely to hurt; it can merely inform you about whether you could be making better choices for the sake of your skin. That way, you can at least be informed and explore every avenue before moving on to more extreme treatment options.