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Have you wondered whether the candy bar or potato chips you ate yesterday caused your skin to break out today?

There’s a great deal of debate on whether the foods you eat contribute to acne. In the past many doctors and dermatologists have said there is no connection between the food you eat and acne (which we always thought was completely crazy!) There are finally some new studies that do suggest a link between food and acne, some people can eat whatever they want and have blemish-free skin.

So, what is the answer—do certain foods cause acne breakouts?


Does What You Eat Cause Acne?

Despite the age old debate on whether foods cause acne, recent research shows a connection between what you eat and the health of your skin. Specifically, a more Western diet containing foods high in bad fats, sugar, dairy, and high glycemic carbs.

A recent study found that adult participants who ate a Western diet reported more acne. Additionally, an experiment found participants in a low glycemic diet condition had less acne than the high glycemic control group (a more Western diet) at the end of 12 weeks. This difference may be partially because of the hormone insulin.

Your body releases insulin when your blood sugar rises, especially if levels change quickly. Excess insulin can cause your oil glands to make more oil, which increases the chance of acne forming. When blood sugar rises, the body also can have an inflammatory response, which also increases the risk of acne. But why doesn’t everyone who eats a Western diet have acne?

Not everyone may respond the same. While you may be more likely to have a breakout after eating sugary sweets, your friend may not.

Many factors can worsen acne—hormones, medicines, stress. For some people, certain foods can also aggravate or contribute to breakouts.


Foods That Can Contribute to Acne Breakouts

If you struggle with acne, even when following the recommended treatments, you may want to examine what you’re eating. It’s helpful to make one change at a time. This can help you identify which foods seem to be triggering a problem. Consult your doctor or specialist for additional guidance.

Here are some foods that may contribute to increased acne in some people.


High Sugar Foods

Highly processed sweets like cupcakes, candy bars, cakes, and more can cause your insulin levels to spike. As discussed, the increase in insulin can cause more oils to be produced in your skin. The extra oils can cause your pores to clog. As a result, P. acnes bacteria can then thrive in that situation and ultimately create a breakout.

Cow’s Milk and Whey Protein Drinks

More evidence is growing that drinking cow’s milk—skim, low-fat, or whole—may contribute to increased acne. While the mechanism isn’t completely understood, the hormones in cow’s milk may cause an inflammatory response that can contribute to acne. Whey protein drinks may also cause this inflammatory reaction that can contribute to breakouts.

Research has not found a link between acne and cheese or yogurt, however that doesn’t mean that one does not exist.

Greasy Foods

Potato chips, French fries, pizza, and hamburgers are some of the foods associated with a Western diet. You know that these and other fast foods aren’t the best for you. Truth is they could also be contributing to your acne, but not necessarily because they are ‘greasy.’

These foods are highly processed and typically high in bad fats. Too many of these foods can cause a rapid increase in your blood sugar levels and impact the balance of your hormones. As with sugary foods, your body can have an inflammatory response and increase insulin production, which can affect your skin.


If sugary foods can contribute to breakouts in some people, why discuss chocolate separately? Some types of chocolate can be good for you and your skin. In its raw form, cacao doesn’t contribute to acne. Raw cacao has a variety of healthy vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E and zinc, which are great for your skin.

That said, if you eat mainly highly processed milk chocolate and candy bars, it could contribute to your breakouts. These forms of chocolate have added sugars and milk. These ingredients may be causing the problem.


Foods That Contribute to a Healthy Complexion

While some foods may lead to breakouts for some people, certain foods, vitamins, and minerals contribute to healthy skin and complexion. Eating a balanced diet that’s low in sugar and processed foods and high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and quality protein and fats will help your body and skin.

Look for foods high in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as those containing omega fatty acids and zinc. If you find it hard to get the variety of nutrients you need for healthy skin, vitamin supplements like Innate Skin’s Clear Skin Vitamin Pack will help. This supplement has vitamins and minerals that are essential to help keep your skin clear and acne-free. It contains all the vitamins that acne sufferers have been shown to be deficient in.

Remember, food is only one potential contributor to acne breakouts. For some people, it may not even play a role. For other people, it may be the cause. Here are some foods known to trigger acne breakouts in some people.

You may not be able to remove these foods. You can benefit from cutting back on the amounts or how often you eat foods that may be contributing to your acne. If you eat a lot of fast foods like pizza or hamburgers, try making your own version at home for a healthier alternative. If you enjoy milk, try an alternative like almond milk or oat milk.

Most important, listen to your body. It will help let you know if there are certain foods—whether they’re on this list or not—that may be contributing to your acne.