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3 Acne-Causing Foods to Avoid (And What To Fill Up On Instead!)

There’s much controversy around whether or not certain foods may contribute to acne. While we are certainly open-minded and love a good debate, today we'll share evidence backing it up. 

If you’ve ever noticed an increase in acne breakouts after eating certain foods then you may not be imagining it, although it can be hard to identify the true culprit. 

Some foods increase inflammation in the body, which in turn amps up inflammation in your skin. Sometimes, the effects may only be seen days later.

In today’s post, we want to identify 3 top acne-causing triggers, show you how they can impact your skin, and where the breakouts might appear on your face.

Let’s dive in!


According to studies, acne does appear to be worse in people who drink milk versus non-milk drinkers and it will all make sense in a minute. 

The hormones in milk have always been widely-believed to be the main culprit, however, there’s another, lesser-known key player.

Our bodies break down the proteins found in milk into insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a protein similar to insulin. This growth factor actually peaks naturally in the body during puberty when acne breakouts are often at their worst. 

This growth factor, along with various hormones found in dairy, stimulates the sebaceous (oil)  glands which creates a breeding ground for bacteria and, therefore, acne breakouts. 

There's another interesting culprit in the dairy-acne link, and it’s something that is not usually found in high amounts in dairy at all! A world-class dermatologist; James Fulton, a self-titled “acne-ologist” did much research around this subject and came up with something many hadn’t seen before. 

He explains in his book, Acne RX, 2001 that the main cause of dairy-induced breakouts is iodine, an essential mineral most often found in seafood. Iodine is added to cowlick salt and that is how it ends up in the cow’s milk.

As with many things, small amounts of iodine plays a key role in thyroid health and can help to regulate the hormones, however too much of anything is never usually a good thing and high amounts of this mineral can cause your acne to flare.

Acne as a result of dairy, which negatively impacts the hormones, appears along the jawline and around the chin and in women, it may peak right before menstruation. 

Finding healthy dairy-free substitutes or at least cutting back on your dairy intake can really make a massive difference in the health of your skin, try it for yourself to see! If you suffer from severe periods, including heavy periods, pain and mood swings, then cutting back on dairy, especially a few days before your period is due can help to better manage your symptoms. 

We love almond milk, cashew milk and oat milk to name a few delicious and super creamy dairy-free alternatives!


Too much sugar may speed up the signs of aging in your skin, as it breaks down collagen, a structural protein essential for taut, plump and youthful skin.

But there’s another way sugar affects your skin and this is through inflammation.

Sugar increases inflammation in the body, which can contribute to a heap of issues from increased stress and anxiety as your stress hormones rise, to a weakened immune system and, of course, pesky blemishes. 

Internal inflammation will always manifest externally too, and it often appears as acne, as a result of internal toxins attempting to clear themselves out of the body. 

Another way the body tries to expel toxins is through mucus so if you are experiencing more mucus than usual along with breakouts then that may indicate there’s inflammation happening and too much sugar in your diet may be contributing. 

Sugar pimples most often appear on the forehead as a result of increased sebum. In fact, there is a term known as “sugar face” as a result of eating too much sugar, characterized by sagging, dull skin, lines and wrinkles, and painful pustules. 

We know how hard it may be to back away from the sweet stuff, but your health and your skin will thank you. There are many healthier alternatives that are just as a sweet and just as delicious; maple syrup and agave syrup are just two of them!


There’s been much debate over this with many people going gluten-free and others not understanding all the hype. 

Some people may be intolerant to gluten or gluten-sensitive and experience symptoms including brain fog, rashes, fatigue, an unsettled stomach and even anxiety after ingesting it, while others may suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small bowel that causes a severe, reaction to gluten including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. If you suffer from celiac disease you cannot even ingest trace amounts of gluten without a terrible reaction.

Gluten is a protein in wheat that helps bread hold its shape as well as helps it to rise. Whether you are gluten sensitive or not, the majority of people cannot digest this protein and as a result, it increases internal inflammation, which by now we know is not a good time for your skin. 

The large, undigested molecules may find their way into your bloodstream where your body views them as invaders and activates an immune response that leads to inflammation. 

Our best advice here is to simply pay attention to how you feel after eating gluten, as well as how your skin reacts, after all, your body will always let you know. This is where a food journal can come in handy.

We hope you have learned something today and that this article has helped you to make more sense of what could potentially be causing your stubborn pimples. 

Any processed, often packaged food, as well as fast, fried or fatty food may increase inflammation and therefore, have a negative impact on your skin. 

Here are some recipes with foods we do highly recommend for glowing, clear and healthy skin!

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