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7 Foods that May Be Causing or Worsening Your Acne Breakouts

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Sheetal Rawal, Founder, Apsara Skin Care

Left: Sheetal Rawal, scientist (human genetics) & founder of Apsara Skin Care

By: Marty S.

Watching what you eat doesn’t just apply to your waistline. Although acne is caused by a number of different factors - for example, hormones, genetics, and a lack of a daily skin care routine - your diet plays a pretty important part too. You might love to scarf down a pizza on a Friday, but in the morning, you could wake up with a pizza face.

It is not as cut and dry as what your mom may have told you growing up: oily or greasy foods do not increase your likelihood of getting acne. Plus, everyone is different. Foods that you’re particularly sensitive to won’t cause the same reaction to another person and vice versa. However, there are certain foods that - while not inherently bad for you - can cause more frequent breakouts.

Look, our intention is not to completely ruin your favorite foods. It even pains us to add some of these mouth-watering items on the list. But all we ask is for you to read the whole article and then consider how you can find and eat healthier alternatives, especially if you are suffering from acne.

1. Chocolate

While chocolate does not directly cause acne, eating a lot of chocolate can make you more likely to get acne. Chocolate has a lot of sugar and it has a high glycemic index, meaning

Chocolate and acne

the sugar in chocolate is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. That spike in sugar can cause your skin to overproduce natural oils such as sebum, which can clog your pores and lead to acne. If you have a craving for chocolate that you can’t quench with a healthy fruit snack, indulge in some dark chocolate instead. Dark chocolate has less sugar than regular chocolate. Plus, dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in your body, such as inflammation caused by acne.

2. White Flour

While people don’t eat white flour by itself (which, by the way, you shouldn’t), it is the main ingredient of so many other foods out there such as white rice, white bread, and pasta. However, white flour is a natural source of refined carbohydrates. Like sugar, refined carbohydrates are easily absorbed into the bloodstream so foods with refined carbohydrates usually have a high glycemic index. The more refined carbohydrates you eat, the more likely it is you can get a breakout. Just switching from refined grains to whole grains can be a big step towards getting clear skin.

“Within a matter of weeks, I saw results… My goodness has my skin been clearing up… I am very satisfied with the results I am getting.”

3. Gluten

Even if you are consuming whole wheat bread instead of white bread for health reasons, the gluten within bread can be a problem for those who are struggling with acne. While you may not be allergic to gluten, you can be sensitive to it. People that are sensitive to gluten cannot properly digest it. For these people, gluten triggers an inflammatory response in their bodies; while they may not get sick from eating gluten, gluten sensitivity manifests in others ways, for example, acne breakouts.

4. Coffee

While coffee does not cause acne, it can make your acne worse. Aside from the sugar and soy milk you may be using, caffeine is a factor that can affect acne breakouts. The caffeine in your coffee elevates your stress levels, which causes your body to overproduce oils that

Coffee and acne

can clog your pores. Sure, it may make your mind more alert, but the rest of your body pays the price. That being said, it is really difficult to quit drinking coffee cold turkey, especially when it helps us function even when we can’t lift an eyebrow without it. But if you have acne and you think the coffee may be a problem, the best thing you can do is limit your intake at least by a little bit. Also, you don’t need all that extra sugar. 

5. Energy Drinks

Energy drinks have everything you don’t want when it comes to acne. They may be able to give you a nice burst of energy, but, as we have mentioned above, the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks can make your body more susceptible to acne. It is also thought that the B vitamins in energy drinks may another factor for developing acne. Those energy drinks may look tantalizing, but it is best to opt for sparkling water if you want a little pep in your drink. The same goes for soda too.

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6. Fried Food

While there is no evidence to suggest that fried food is related to worsening acne, they are often made with a lot of salt, which can be bad for your face. A salt-heavy diet can cause

French fries and acne

your body to retain more water, which increases inflammation and swelling from sources such as acne. Plus, the oil used to cook fried food can also be a factor that exacerbates acne. Too much omega-6 fatty acid-rich oils - such as corn oil and soy oil - in your diet can result in more inflammation and acne. There are plenty of solutions, though. For example, you can use less salt and try baking your french fries instead. You’ll still be able to enjoy these finger-licking crispy potatoes without having to worry so much about acne.

7. Non-Vegan Food

Typically, there are a lot of hormones and antibiotics in non-vegetarian food, which can have an adverse effect on acne. Vegan food has none of those harsh chemicals so as a result, your likelihood of getting acne will decrease. Plus, there are other ways of getting protein in your diet - for example, chickpeas and lentils - so you don’t have to rely on non-vegan food like whey protein for nutrition.

If you do not know how to approach a skin care routine, click here to get expert advice from Sheetal.

Go natural. It is good karma!