4 Types of Foods that Cause Acne

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Foods that cause acne, what foods cause acne

Having a clear skin diet is hard work in this day and age when you’re surrounded by foods that cause acne. Currently, the link between diet and acne is a scientific grey area however modern research suggests that there is a correlation between diet and acne which cannot be ignored for a 360-degree  approach to acne treatment.

Let’s shine the light on some of the major food groups that can be a cause of acne. Historically I love some of these foods so I have given some alternatives for you to eat, because we’re not rabbits and can’t eat salad all day long!

1. White Refined Carbohydrates – Specifically foods with a high GI (Glycemic Index)

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Examples: Bread, Bagels, Rice, Crackers, cereal, White Pasta, sugar (specifically high GI foods)

The glycemic index is a system that ranks foods on a scale of 1 to 100, although it’s not important to know the inner workings of this index it is useful to understand where certain foods fall on the index. High GI foods increase the glucose (sugar) levels in a person’s blood, therefore, increasing insulin. The problem with modern diets is that they are high in white refined carbohydrates leading to chronically elevated insulin levels

Studies have been conducted by Australian scientists who have found that there may be a link to increased insulin levels which stimulate cells to produce more sebum

Alternatives: Whole grain bread, whole grain bagels, oatmeal’s, whole grain pasta, fibrous Vegetables

2. Dairy – Insulin-like growth factors

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Examples: Cow’s milk, ice cream, cheese

The issue with modern cow’s milk is mainly related to insulin-like growth factors and androgens. These hormones are linked to stimulation skin oil production and skin cell production within pores. This twofold effect can lead to unnatural acne breakouts.

Alternatives: Soy milk, Almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, flax milk,

3. Chocolate – Dark chocolate has health benefits

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Examples: Milk chocolate, white chocolate, etc

Chocolate has had a poor representation within the scientific community. Some small studies have been performed on incredibly small sample sizes that haven’t taken into account the sugar and dairy content in the chocolates that were tested.

Dieticians can agree that milk chocolate which is both high in sugar and dairy can be a cause of acne due to the reason discussed above. It’s a double whammy of dairy and sugar!

Alternatives to Eating: Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids or more. Dark chocolate, however, has been shown to have a number of health benefits with a number of flavonoids and antioxidants.

4. Trans Fats and Saturated Fats

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Fats are essential for overall good health, however, all fats are not equal.  Both saturated and Trans fats cause your body to produce an inflammatory response leading to an overall redness and swelling of any acne that is present. But Trans fats and saturated fats can lead to further problems than just inflammation, both are linked to heart disease and damage to blood vessels.

Alternatives fats to eat: Oily fish, nuts and seeds

Combinations of foods to avoid!


Some food although delicious is a nightmare for acne sufferers across the globe. Although this not a complete list of foods that cause acne, it’s what I avoid to keep my skin clear of acne.

  • Pizza – High GI, dairy and high in saturated fats
  • French Fries – Fried in saturated fats and a high GI food
  • Milk chocolate – High GI and dairy
  • Soda – High GI
  • Potato Chips – Fried in saturated oils and High GI
  • Ice Cream – High GI and contains dairy

Final Thoughts


Although there may be a link between diet and acne, it’s not the final and lasting factor in acne treatment so the best course action is to have a combination or approaches in treating acne. Reducing your intake of the above foods will help but using acne treatment products will treat the underlying causes of acne. You can see some of the products I recommend here.

Before altering your diet consult your doctor so that there is no chance that you harm your overall health.

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