Breaking down the biggest myths about diet and acne.

A commonly discussed factor in cystic acne and acne breakouts is diet. In fact, if you Google “Does diet affect acne?”, that search will yield close to 10 million results. Woah! 

With that much information floating around, it can be difficult to separate fact from myth, so we’re breaking down three of the most common topics related to food and acne to help clear some things up. 

Does diet cause acne? 

There is not substantial evidence that proves diet alone causes acne. In fact, the cause of acne, especially some of the more severe forms like cystic acne, is genetic. Meaning, diet can cause acne flares for those who are already prone to acne, but alone is not the root cause. 

When looking at how food can affect acne, it’s beneficial to understand something called the glycemic index (also known as glycemic load). The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or quickly they can cause an increase in blood glucose levels. Foods low on the glycemic index (GI) tend to release sugars slowly, whereas those on the high end release them more rapidly. Foods high on the scale are those with a lot of sugar, such as candy, white potatoes, white rice and chips. Eating these foods essentially causes a spike in blood sugar, which can cause an inflammatory cascade in the body that, downstream, can proliferate the oil glands in the skin and worsen a breakout. 

Will consuming dairy cause acne? 

Research shows that dairy products from cow’s milk can worsen acne, but not necessarily dairy from other sources. Furthermore, it’s actually the protein mix in the dairy, and not the fat content, that’s to blame for those breakouts. Meaning, skim milk might actually be worst for those with acne-prone skin than full-fat dairy. 

The good news is that there are now several options for things like creamers available at the market and even in restaurants and coffee shops. 

Is chocolate bad for acne?

On its own, chocolate has not definitively been proven to worsen acne. It does, however, often end up on the shelf with several additives like sugar and milk, which can be to blame for causing acne-flares. When your sweet tooth strikes, it’s best to look for a chocolate option that avoids additive ingredients and stick to the pure stuff. 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.