8 Foods That Trigger Acne & What to Eat Instead

No one likes dealing with acne! Not only is it unsightly, but it’s also a sign of high inflammation levels present within your body. Fortunately, by controlling what you eat, you can combat acne flare-ups. If you want your skin to look its best, beware of these 8 following foods that trigger acne (and what you should be eating instead):

1. Refined Sugar

Foods that trigger acne the most usually contain refined sugar. In fact, refined sugar is one of the most notorious causes of acne, yet it manages to go unnoticed. The problem with refined sugars is they are everywhere. You’ll find them in soda, baked goods, your morning coffee and even in peanut butter. Excess sugar causes your insulin levels to spike up and down which makes your cravings for more junk foods incredibly intense.

Studies show that simply consuming refined sugars can increase your risk of developing acne by as much as 30%. High insulin levels cause acne to grow by encouraging the growth of new skin cells. Low levels of insulin create cravings for refined sugars and grains which causes your blood sugar and insulin to spike which starts the cycle all over again. Do your best to eliminate snack and drinks with added sugar if you’re suffering from acne.

2. Greasy Foods

There are lots of greasy foods that trigger acne. There’s a strong correlation between acne and a diet full of greasy foods. Common foods such as chicken nuggets, burgers, hot dogs and French fries are loaded with calories, fat and refined carbohydrates. There are studies that show regularly consuming these types of food increase your risk of developing acne by 17%. Scientists theorize that these high-fat high-calorie foods alter hormone levels and gene expression in a way that causes acne to develop.

In addition to being unhealthy for your system, junk food also poses the problem of getting grease all over your face. If you have acne, chances are you already have greasy skin and eating these types of foods make it worse. It’s essential to develop the habit of washing your hands and face after a greasy meal to prevent the oil from clogging your pores.

3. Bagels

Bagels may seem unlikely foods that trigger acne, but they are an example of a food that can contribute to insulin spikes. While bagels can be part of a healthy diet, they are high in gluten, and they will make your blood sugar levels to rise.

If you eat bagels only sometimes, you likely won’t have a problem, but if you regularly eat bread, pasta and other carbs made from white flour, your body is more susceptible to acne. Try using different sources of carbs such as barley, sweet potatoes, and brown rice to avoid sudden rises in your insulin and blood sugar levels.

4. Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate bars are full of refined sugars which cause insulin and blood pressure spikes. Chocolate has been long debated as to whether or not it causes acne, but if you look at what’s in milk chocolate, it’s easy to see how it will affect your body. There have been double-blind studies as recent as 2014 that have confirmed the effect milk chocolate has on acne prone individuals.

However, if you choose dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, your body may benefit. Dark chocolate contains significantly less sugar than milk chocolate, and it’s loaded with powerful antioxidants. Dark chocolate that’s at least 75% cocoa can give you an enjoyable fix without the insulin and blood sugar spikes.

5. Ice Cream

Ice cream and dairy are notorious culprits when it comes to foods that trigger acne and cause inflammation. Milk, ice cream and dairy foods, in general, are highly insulinogenic which means these types of foods cause your body to react with a surge of insulin. As you already know, this surge of insulin is going to cause you to develop more acne. Milk is also loaded with hormones which may throw your natural hormone balance out of whack and contribute to the development of acne.

With ice cream, not only do you get the problems found in dairy foods, but you also get the problems found in foods high in refined sugars. Both of these effects compounded with each other cause ice cream to contribute to breakouts more than any other food.

6. Refined Grains

Similar to refined sugars, refined grains are going to cause your body to experience a spike in blood sugar. Foods like white flour bread, pasta, tortillas, bagels, and cereal are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream which causes your blood sugar to rise rapidly. In response to this increase in blood sugar, your body produces insulin to help reduce the amount of sugar in your blood stream which only contributes more to your acne problems.

7. Whey Protein Supplements

Whey protein is also another overlooked food that causes acne. Whey protein shakes are loaded with amino acids which encourage your skin cells to grow and divide quickly. This excessive skin cell activity contributes to the development of acne. Amino acids can also stimulate the production of insulin which makes the problem worse. Try using plant-based protein powder instead since most whey protein powders also contain dairy.

8. Foods That Cause Inflammation

Inflammation is at the root of acne. You can see this in action by looking at the drugs prescribed to combat severe cases of acne. Anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids are effective treatments for acne because they help bring levels of inflammation in your body down.

Your diet may be contributing to high levels of inflammation if you’re eating lots of pro-inflammatory foods. As we already covered, refined sugars and refined grains are prime examples of foods that cause the release of inflammatory compounds inside your body. Food sensitivities can also cause inflammation in your body. If you find yourself experiencing bloating, gas, or intestinal pain after eating a certain type of food, you may have a sensitivity. Try eliminating these foods from your diet and see how it affects your skin.

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