How Dairy Can Cause Acne

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We've all heard the impassioned testimonials from vegans who claim their acne disappeared after cutting dairy products from their diet. Let's look a bit further into the relationship between dairy and acne.

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Does Milk Cause Acne?

After years of going back and forth, science has finally confirmed that there is a link between what you eat and the appearance of acne. One of the central questions stemming from this debate was does dairy cause acne. Milk and other dairy products are especially notable culprits in instigating breakouts.

In order to understand the link between dairy and acne, we must first understand the nature of acne. That’s because acne is an inflammatory condition. In the formation of acne, oil gets trapped in your pores, which clogs them. This trapped oil is a breeding ground for bacteria, which causes the inflammation and bumps on the skin that we recognise as acne.

Research has shown a direct link between the consumption of milk and acne. Since the milk we drink is so often sourced form pregnant cows, it has hormones in it. The hormones react with hormones in our own bodies such as testosterone, which increases the production of sebum in the skin. Sebum is the oily substance that is responsible for clogging one's pores, so this is how dairy causes acne.

You may be wondering if you are lactose intolerant if this could cause acne. This is unrelated to the body processes that cause acne, so luckily there is no such thing as lactose intolerance acne.

PHOTO CREDIT: dodoni.eu - Milk

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Do We Have To Cut Dairy Out?

If you’re someone who has severe cystic acne or if your acne is inhibiting your self confidence, then cutting all dairy from your diet is probably a good idea. If you notice your skin clearing up, add dairy products back in gradually to see what you're especially reactive to. If you're wondering can milk cause acne, then it certainly can. Milk acne is probably the most common form of dairy-induced acne because of its high glycemic index and hormones.

Genetics plays a role in how well each of us digest and react to dairy, so one person could be totally fine while another person breaks out in spots after consuming dairy. Just experiment with taking out certain products and then adding them back in to see what you're particularly sensitive to.

The hormones in milk are another factor that could prove to be a major culprit in causing acne, as they react with the hormones in our own bodies. If there's an excess of certain hormones or an imbalance it could result in breakouts, so cutting out milk is definitely a good place to start if you want to cut dairy out.

PHOTO CREDIT: Zoë Harcombe - Milk and Cheese

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Dairy Alternatives

Some solutions aside from cutting out dairy include purchasing organic products instead of conventional ones. Organic products don't have the hormones that normal ones do, so they won't mess with the hormones in your own body.

You could also opt for semi-skimmed or whole milk, as they have a lower glycemic index. This means that they won't cause as great of a blood sugar spike as skimmed milk. This blood sugar spike results in inflammation that could go on to cause spots.

There is some evidence that goat’s milk may be more compatible with human nutritional needs, and may be easier to digest. There are also plenty of plant-based dairy milk alternatives. You could replace dairy milk with almond milk, coconut milk, or any other form of nut or plant milk. By doing this you'll still be able to cut out dairy without giving up using milk entirely.

PHOTO CREDIT: Healthy Magazine - Coconut Milk

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How Dairy Can Cause Acne

  • There is a link between dairy and acne because of dairy's high glycemic index and hormones.
  • The high glycemic index causes a spike in blood sugar, which causes inflammation that could go on to cause spots.
  • The hormones interact with the hormones in our bodies, which can throw them off balance and cause acne.
  • To avoid getting acne from dairy products you have a few options. You can selectively cut it out, opt for fuller fat products to avoid the blood sugar spike, or you can switch to plant-based milk alternatives.

PHOTO CREDIT: Fulper Farms - Milk

On That Note

It can be frustrating when your diet interferes with your complexion. After years of debate we can see that there is a link between dairy and acne, which is bad news as dairy is likely integral to many people's diets. Dairy acne is unfortunately something that some of us will face. However, there are plenty of alternatives out there if you find your skin is sensitive to dairy, so you'll be able to enjoy those without breaking out.

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