What Types of Foods Cause Acne?

Foods that cause acne.

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What Types of Foods Cause Acne

What foods do and don’t cause acne and why. The research within this article will look at the good, the bad and the ugly as it relates to food consumption and acne breakouts.

Essentially, there is much conjecture about the relationship between food and acne. The research about this topic is also vast and varied. This is why there are so many sources dispelling different theories about the types of diets that cause acne and on what not to eat when you have acne.

While chocolate and greasy potato chips cannot be targeted as the primary culprits behind your embarrassing – and sometimes painful – blemishes, there is some truth about the relationship between diet and acne.

As we discussed earlier, acne is mostly caused by hormonal changes – whether these result from other life events or from puberty. However, you should also know that your lifestyle habits – including your diet and stress levels – are related to the prevalence and inflammation of these breakouts.

In this guide, we will look at some of the foods that can cause acne, as well as what you should eat to fight your acne and clear your skin.

Table Of Contents for

What Types of Foods Cause Acne

Is Acne Caused by Diet?

What Is the Best Diet to Get Rid of Acne?

Diet Suggestion: The Mediterranean Diet

What Foods Can Cause Acne?

What Are the Top 10 Foods That Cause Acne?

3 Additional Resources For Fighting Acne


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Types of foods that can cause acne.

Part of the reason people deal with acne related issues is because of the types of food they eat. Understanding what types of foods you need to stay away from in order to have a clean clear complexion can go a long way when it comes to being rid of annoying pimples once and for all.

Is Acne Caused by Diet?

Short Answer: What foods cause acne?

  1. Dairy
  2. Chocolate
  3. Alcohol
  4. Bread
  5. Bagels
  6. Potato Chips
  7. Soda
  8. Pizza

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In-depth: What not to eat when you have acne?

Is Acne Caused by Diet

You really are what you eat and your acne makes that painfully true. Find out the truth about food and how you can avoid acne by eating the right things.

You can easily treat acne caused by diet by changing what you eat. Even as you look for information on the relationship between your food and acne, you should keep in mind that some diets will help you deal with the problem while others just aggravate it and make it more problematic.

So, can your diet affect acne? According to researchers, it turns out that your eating habits tend to affect how you feel and look more than you probably thought. Luckily, you should be able to change things around by cutting out all the acne-causing foods that are keeping you away from healthier and clearer skin.

With regards to acne, the scientific community has been debating on the relationship between diet and acne for a very long time. Various findings have shown that diet plays a definitive role in making your skin look better or worse – at least for most people.

As you try to answer the “can certain foods cause acne” question for yourself, you should test staying away from the following to see how it affects your personal quest to be rid of acne:

1. Dairy

If you struggle with acne, it is highly likely that you have been advised to cut down on your intake of dairy as well as to eliminate milk and other food products that contain similar ingredients – such as ice cream and cheese.

This is because milk has androgen precursors which when exposed to certain enzymes can be converted easily into male hormones. The pores of your skin have these enzymes and when these two combine, it may lead to the formation of skin lesions, blackheads, and pimples.

2. Chocolate

Other studies have examined the relationship between chocolate and the incidence of acne (particularly acne vulgaris). However, the results from these studies are inconclusive and varied.

In 2003, for instance, a study found that eating chocolate significantly increases the levels of insulin in the body – particularly if the chocolate was combined with milk. The study concluded that the increase in insulin resulting from eating chocolate resulted from the active compounds that are found in chocolate. In particular, eating chocolate increases the production of IL-10 protein in the body, which leads to an acne outbreak or aggravates an already-existing acne problem.

IL-10 protein Defined

IL-10 protein (also Interleukin 10 protein) is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that signals through receptor complexes that consist of 2 IL-10 receptors 2 proteins and 2 IL-10 receptors 1 proteins; it is also referred to as the human CSIF (cytokine synthesis inhibitory factor)

A separate 2013 study showed that inflammation (a factor determining the severity of acne) increased among study participants who ate chocolate. From this study, it was found that eating chocolate increases the production of interleukin-1b (an inflammation marker) and more interleukin-10. This report suggested that chocolate makes the skin more susceptible to acne blemishes and infection.

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3. Alcohol

Alcohol causes hormonal fluctuations and imbalances in different hormones, which may result in a breakout of acne. Drinking alcohol can also depress and compromise the immune system which means that your body won’t be able to combat the infectious bacteria that causes acne.

Mixed alcohol drinks also tend to be filled with sugar, which may spike insulin levels and – in the process – worsen your inflammation. Additionally, alcohol weakens the liver, the primary body organ responsible for regulating blood sugar levels and hormones.

Therefore, if you want to control your acne, you should keep away from alcoholic beverages, particularly those that are excessively sugary. You might also want to limit your intake to ensure that your skin has a better chance to glow vibrantly and stay healthy.

4. Bread

Bread can cause acne, mostly because it contains gluten which causes damage to the small intestines and increases systemic inflammation. Bread also depletes the valuable stores of antioxidants in the body. This means that you will be more susceptible to developing acne.

Additionally, scientific studies have shown links between gluten sensitivity and psoriasis. Other studies show that gluten sensitivity leads to dermatitis herpetiformis – a condition that is also referred to as the celiac disease of the human skin.

Psoriasis Defined

Psoriasis is a common disease of the skin that is marked by scaly, itchy, and red patches

Therefore, you might want to cut bread out of your diet especially if you are prone to outbreaks of acne or you already have inflammation. Instead, look for other options to replace bread in your diet.

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5. Bagels

Bagels also contain tons of gluten and are – as such – bad for people with acne. It may also cause a quick increase in the levels of insulin in your body. Other foods that might lead to an outbreak of acne include white flour, refined grains, pasta, and other similar foods that are high on the glycemic index.

6. Potato Chips

Potato chips, particularly those that are made from white potatoes, are among the most common junk foods around the world. These snacks are fried in hot oils and tend to lack in almost all minerals and vitamins that your body needs. As such, it comes as no surprise that they cause acne.

Chips contain too many carbs, meaning that they will produce a spike in insulin when ingested and cause systemic inflammation. Additionally, the industrial seed oils that companies use to make potato chips are also high in omega-6 fats, which are bad for your body.

7. Soda

Soda is another one of the acne-causing foods (drinks in this case) that you should avoid. They are loaded with fructose – which comes with its own unique set of health problems – and is devoid of beneficial nutrients.

Soda is on the same level as alcohol with respect to the damage it can cause to your body. The fructose in it combines with the remaining sugar content to cause a spike in insulin levels, followed by a quick crash. This is why you will typically feel hungry after drinking soda.

How to Reduce Your Soda Intake
  • Decide to stop drinking soda
  • Go caffeine free
  • Switch to healthier alternatives, such as water and natural fruit juice

8. Pizza

Pizza is topped with dairy. It is also devoid of beneficial nutrients and is high in carbs. This means that it is a major culprit behind the outbreak of acne among those who eat it on a regular basis. Therefore, as an answer to your “does fast food cause acne?” question, you should always remember that this is one of the fast foods you need to avoid if you are trying to get rid of your acne condition.

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What Is the Best Diet to Get Rid of Acne?

Short Answer: What foods are good for acne?

  1. High Glycemic Index Level
  2. Medium Glycemic Index Level
  3. Low Glycemic Index Level

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In-depth: What foods are good to eat for acne?

Get Rid of Acne

Eating and living healthy can do wonders for undesired skin blemishes like acne. Here’s how to achieve a healthy acne-free you.

Now that you have seen the connection between food and acne, you should look for a diet to get rid of acne. In the paragraphs above, we discussed some of the dietary causes of acne and you should have a good idea about the right answer to the “does your diet affect acne?” question.

That said, low glycemic diets are effective in helping control acne breakouts. To better explain, the glycemic index is the universal measurement of food based on how it affects the levels of blood sugar in the body. Ranging from 1 to 100, this index comes with 3 different GI levels.

a) High Glycemic Index Level

High glycemic index values range from 70 to 100. Any food that falls within this level should be discarded if you are trying to fight acne. These include white bread, pizza, and bagels – among others.

b) Medium Glycemic Index Level

Medium glycemic index foods range from 56 to 69 on the glycemic index. A good example, in this case, is honey.

c) Low Glycemic Index Level

These include foods with a low glycemic index measure that is under 55. Examples of low GI foods include hummus.

There are many health benefits that come with eating low glycemic index diets.

It stands to reason that diets that are good for overall health and wellness are also essential to protect your skin and clearing it of any acne. This is because the higher the level of glucose in the bloodstream, the more insulin the body will produce.

With these sudden spikes in blood sugar, your body may react and cause excessive inflammation – which plays a crucial role in the frequency and severity of acne blemishes.

Therefore, if your diet is always filled with high glycemic index foods, then your body may respond by elevating its hormonal issues. These hormones, on the other hand, may increase your production of sebaceous glands on the skin. The excess sebum will, thereafter, cause acne.

To maintain a diet with a low GI, it is essential that you identify where on the glycemic index the foods you commonly eat fall. In general, all processed foods that contain refined sugars automatically fall higher on this index. Therefore, you should stay away from these foods and instead opt for more fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, and whole grains.

Overcooking food may also increase the level of the food on the glycemic index – particular for foods such as pasta. Additionally, even riper fruits fall higher on this index meaning that you will be better off eating fruits that are less ripe.

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Diet Suggestion: The Mediterranean Diet


Why Opt Into Mediterranean Diets

What you eat does matter to your health, your vitality and your skin. That’s why knowing what to eat can lead to the complexion you desire and deserve.

A recent study contrasted the standard American diet with a strictly Mediterranean-style diet. This diet may help reduce the incidence and occurrence of acne.

This diet is common among those who live on the coast around the Mediterranean Sea, including the citizens of Egypt, Macedonia, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece. In general, following this diet means that you limit your intake of dairy products as well as minimizing the saturated fats from eggs and red meat.

If you following this diet, you should also eat more vegetables and fruits, use olive oil liberally, and eat plenty of cereal, pasta, rice, and bread. The Mediterranean diet also recommends that you consume more beans, seeds, and potatoes. Additionally, once you start on this diet you will have to eat locally produced fresh foods as opposed to getting processed foods.

When you follow this diet strictly, you will take in more vegetables and fruits which may supply your body with necessary plant compounds, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals – all of which are essential for preventing and treating inflammation and acne breakouts.

Other foods you should eat to help you deal with acne include, but are not limited to:

  1. Antioxidant-rich foods
  2. Flaxseed
  3. Fruits
  4. Green tea
  5. Juices
  6. Omega 3 fatty acids
  7. Probiotics, from kombucha tea
  8. Kimchi
  9. Pickles
  10. Miso soup
  11. Microalgae
  12. Sauerkraut
  13. Kefir
  14. Yogurt
  15. Vegetables


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What Foods Can Cause Acne?

Short Answer: Do certain types of foods cause acne?

  1. Cow’s milk
  2. Sugar
  3. High-Glycemic Foods
  4. Junk Food
  5. Fast Food
  6. Carbs and Sweets
  7. Greasy Foods
  8. Dairy Products

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In-depth: What not to eat when you have acne?

What Foods Can Cause Acne

Knowing what you should and should not eat in order to prevent acne is important for the health of your skin.

If you have ever found yourself asking does bread cause acne or do cashews cause acne, then you are headed in the right direction. While cashews (as well as all other types of nuts do not cause acne), bread and saturated fats are some of the foods you should avoid if you are trying to fight off acne and inflammation.

Other foods that do not cause acne include fruits and vegetables. In fact, these foods might help you deal with the problem, clear the blemishes, and take care of the pimples, blackheads, or other inflammations arising from an acne breakout.

Therefore, the answers to does chicken cause acne and does tuna cause acne are all unknown.

However, it is clear that there is a strong relationship between certain foods and acne, such as saturated fat and acne. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables good for acne include, but are not limited to:

  1. Kales
  2. Lettuce
  3. Bananas
  4. Apples
  5. Figs
  6. Lemons
  7. Oranges
  8. Mangoes
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Carrots
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Papayas

As we mentioned earlier, there are other foods that are downright bad for people with acne and inflammation. These foods include:

a) Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk has been found to be a guilty party in acne breakouts. Although science is yet to discover why this is the case, several theories have been put forth. One of these theories claims that the milk from cows will spike the levels of sugar in your blood. This may increase inflammation and cause pimples. Milk also increases the levels of insulin, which may encourage the production of sebum or skin oils.

Much of the commercial milk you buy from a grocery store comes from pregnant cows. As such, it contains other hormones that might trigger your body to produce sebum. Additionally, milk contains growth hormones that may encourage skin cell overgrowth – which could potentially block your pores.

b) Sugar

Sugar is also related to acne breakouts. In fact, there are direct links between this culprit food and acne. However, it does not mean that eating one cookie from time to time will cause you to experience a breakout.

Rather, it all boils down to the amount of sugar you consume in a single day, particularly at any given time. If you drink soda and eat a candy bar, for instance, you will experience a surge in blood sugar levels. This may cause you to break out with acne a couple of hours later.

Therefore, if you suspect that sugar is the culprit behind your acne, you should try and cut back on it. With time, you will realize that acne is easy to deal with but only if you are conscientious about your consumption of sugar.

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
  • Add fresh fruit (strawberries, bananas, or cherries) or dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, or raisins) to your oatmeal or cereal
  • Buy fresh fruits and fruits canned in natural juice or water
  • Buy low calorie or sugar-free beverages
  • Cut back on the foods that you eat which contain added sugar – such as tea, coffee, pancakes, cereal
  • Remove molasses, honey, and syrup as well as brown and white sugar from your table and kitchen
  • Substitute sugar with unsweetened applesauce in recipes
  • Try nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, or ginger to enhance your food with spices (in place of sugar)
  • Try zero-calorie sweeteners like saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame (but in moderation)
  • Use extracts like lemon, orange, vanilla, or almond instead of adding sugar to your recipes
  • When baking, reduce the suggested sugar by half or a third

c) High-Glycemic Foods

There are no fruits that cause acne primarily because fruits are low on the glycemic index. However, overripe fruits, such as bananas that have been on your kitchen counter for several weeks. Their overripe condition can cause them to be high on the glycemic index and as a result, cause you to develop acne.

Other foods high on the glycemic index that may lead to a breakout of acne include those that your body will break down quickly and trigger a spike in insulin and a rise in blood sugar levels.

These foods will also trigger hormonal fluctuations and lead to inflammation – conditions that are both responsible for encouraging acne. Therefore, you should always try to minimize your intake of such foods as cakes, cookies, potato chips, pretzels, white rice, processed breakfast cereals, and white bread.

Instead, opt for low glycemic-index foods like fruits, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and vegetables.

d) Junk Food

Junk foods cause hormonal fluctuations and high blood sugar levels. As such, you should always try to avoid these foods especially if you fear that you may break out with acne or you are trying to treat an already existing acne problem.

e) Fast Food

Fast food is greasy and oily. As such, it comes as no surprise that it causes body inflammation.

This kind of inflammation from fast food often causes pimples. Therefore, if you are thinking of checking into a fast food restaurant, try asking for a small salad.

f) Carbs and Sweets

Sweet foods, such as chocolate, have always been blamed for causing pimples and acne – particularly among teens. However, it might be the sugar in chocolate and not the cocoa that is to blame for the zits.

More particularly, diets that are high in simple carbohydrates and sugar may lead to a flare-up of acne. These diets include such foods as:

  • Processed foods like cookies, crackers, and chips
  • Starches, like potatoes, pasta, and white bread
  • Sugary beverages like soda and alcohol

These foods are culprits because they cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Your body then responds to these foods by producing more insulin, which leads to it cranking out more skin oils. This then causes the follicles to clog up and get blocked and, in the process, wrecks havoc to the skin.

g) Greasy Foods

The skin does not create zit-causing oil just because you occasionally indulge in such greasy foods as potato chips, fries, burgers, and pizza. However, working in an environment that is grease-splattered – like frying potatoes or flipping burgers at a fast food joint – may bring out these blemishes.

When oil particles get into the air, they may coat the skin and, in the process, clog your pores. Therefore, if you work in such a setting, you may want to wash your face several times every day – particularly with a gentle cleanser that is free of alcohol.

h) Dairy Products

Any dairy product made from milk may contribute to acne breakouts. This is because of the hormones and growth factors naturally found in milk. To find out if your breakout is as a result of milk, try to keep away from all dairy products for several weeks and check the changes in your body and complexion.

However, to ensure that you still get the daily recommended minimum of calcium, ensure that you invest in such calcium-fortified foods as tofu, soy milk, whole wheat bread, cereal, and orange juice. Broccoli, spinach, and almonds are also rich in calcium and can act as replacement foods.

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What Are the Top 10 Foods That Cause Acne?


10 Top Acne Causing Foods

You are what you eat. When that means trouble with acne and other skin blemishes nobody wins. Find out what foods to eat and what to stay away from in order to have the complexion you want.

Now that you know what foods make you break out, it is essential that you eat healthily. Not only will this improve your immune system and make you healthier – and ensure that you can naturally combat any acne-causing bacteria – it will also go a long way in helping clear your skin and give you a shiny glow.

Consider the following top 9 lists of foods that cause acne and try to keep away from them at all costs:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Carbs
  3. Chocolate
  4. Dairy
  5. Fast food
  6. Gluten
  7. Processed foods
  8. Soda
  9. Sugar

At the end of the day, if you continue treating your skin right and opting into a diet that is dense in healthy nutrients as well as avoiding all the main types of food that cause acne, you should be able to protect yourself from acne and all the problems that come with it.

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It is my goal to bring all readers the highest quality value of any acne skincare site on the web. I believe in natural remedies and encourage readers to focus on that framework for treating their conditions. While I do not intend to make medical claims of any short, I do hope to open your understanding to methods and ideas for acne relief that you may not have thought of previously.

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