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Foods That Aggravate Acne

Foods That Aggravate Acne Foods That Aggravate Acne Foods That Aggravate Acne

Acne---the irritation and inflammation of hair follicles that cause eruptions and cysts on the skin---can be caused by a variety of factors, including normal hormone fluctuations that occur during adolescence. Many adults remember their parents telling them to stay away from junk food in an effort to cure acne. Junk food itself does not cause acne, but according to Australia's RMIT University, high-sugar snacks and soft drinks can aggravate acne in some people. Sugary snack foods are one example of a high-glycemic food, or a carbohydrate that causes blood sugar levels to rise sharply. Studies from RMIT, as well as those published in the July 2007 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," offer evidence that foods with a high glycemic index and dairy can increase the severity of acne.


Carbohydrates that carry a high glycemic load can cause more symptoms in patients with acne, according to Medical News Today. Foods of this kind include "white" carbs: potatoes, white breads, pastas and rices, and refined grains and flours. Eating white carbs causes blood glucose levels to rise, which can affect the way the body processes insulin. Insulin sensitivity cannot only raise the risk of diabetes, but also affects hormone levels in the body, which can contribute to acne symptoms. The July 2007 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reports that acne symptoms decreased when study participants included more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and high-fiber choices such as beans in their diets. Foods that are high in fiber are considered low-glycemic load foods and keep blood sugar levels stable.

Dairy Products

Milk, cheese, yogurt and other sources of dairy can be a factor in the severity of acne in some people. The January--February 2008 issue of "Clinics in Dermatology" explains that milk and other dairy products contain a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This hormone interacts with the sebaceous (oil) glands, which play a role in the development of acne. When too much oil is produced by the body, pores and hair follicles can become blocked. This blockage, along with bacteria and other debris, is the precursor to a pimple. Dr. F. William Danby of Dartmouth Medical School suggests a no-dairy diet, in addition to consuming low-glycemic load foods to help clear the signs of acne.

Animal Products

The National Institutes of Health has compiled what it terms "limited evidence" that saturated fats and animal products, including both meat and dairy products, may be linked to acne and increased inflammation. A 2009--2010 study funded by the Washington Center for Clinical Research closely follows the diets of participants, to determine if consuming a primarily plant-based, vegan diet decreases the severity of acne.

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