9 Foods That Cause Acne Breakouts

Precious Ade

the foods that cause or increase risk of acne

To start with, it is good you know that there is no cure for acne. To give a brief overview of acne, acne is a skin condition that gives rise to different skin surface bumps.

Acne is one of the most common skin disorders  in the world. It even affects about 85% of people in the U.S., especially those between the ages of 12 and 24. It is puberty related as it is seen mostly at the onset of puberty.

It is good to acknowledge the fact that there have been a lot of controversies on this topic. The reasons for these disputes tie back closely to  people's belief in acne. For example, some people strongly believe that diet has nothing to do with your acne breakout, whereas it does play a role...

In this blog post, we will shed more light on the  effect diet has on acne, and the foods that have been shown to promote its breakout, and those that hinder it.

Does Diet Have An Influence On Acne?

Different studies have shown a relationship between what you eat and the risk of having acne. The old saying “You are what you eat” is true-- what you give your body is what your body will process and  use to replace and repair worn-out cells, tissue, and organs. 

Several studies have revealed that eating certain foods help acne thrive on your skin while some diets suppress its impact. There is also an association between increased levels of insulin and acne.

When the insulin level increases in the blood, the oil glands produce more oil, which can worsen acne. Insulin won’t  spike if there isn’t an increase in blood sugar. Also, blood sugar won’t increase if you eliminate certain  food types from  your diet.


These types of  food has been shown to promote acne when included in diet;

1. Dairy

Dairy is food produced from or related to the milk of animals such as cattle. Examples of dairy products include cheese, butter, yogurt, ice-cream, condensed milk, dried milk, etc.

Many studies have shown an association between milk products and acne breakouts, especially in teens. Though it remains unclear how dairy can add to the formation, there are many proposed theories.

Among the theories is that milk is seen to shoot up insulin levels, which affect the blood sugar and, in return, worsen acne. Also, research showed that cow's milk contains amino which stimulates IGF-1 production from the liver and is linked to the spread of acne.

2. Sugars and Carbs

Carbs are one of the easily consumed and the most consumed food in diets in recent times. They are found everywhere around us in most of our favorite snacks and foods.

It has been proven that people with acne eat more sugars than people with no acne. This simply means sugars and carbs promote acne flare. It is because an increase in sugar and carbs increases blood glucose. This causes the insulin level to rise and causes sugar to be pushed into your skin cell, resulting in acne. 

3. Junks and fast foods

Fast food is primarily consumed because  it is quick, convenient, and cheap to get. Examples are burgers, hot dogs, french fries, nuggets, milkshakes, sodas, among others. They usually are known for containing high fat, cholesterols, and sodium. 

Teenagers who eat a high amount of junks and fast foods are known to have more acne flare-ups. However, it is still unclear why eating fast food contributes to the risk of developing acne. Yet, studies revealed that it affects the gene expression and alter hormone level, causing acne flares. 

4. Food with high Omega-6 fat content 

A typical western diet is known to contain a large amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and it increases the level of inflammation and acne. An imbalance between omega-6 fat and omega-3 fat pushes the body into inflammation, thereby worsening acne.

Examples of food high in omega-6 fatty acids are corn, and soybean oil.

5. Chocolate

Eating chocolate can worsen your acne flares because of its high sugar content. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't give in to your cravings for chocolate. Not all chocolate worsens acne--like dark chocolate, which is made with about 80% cocoa.

There is not enough evidence that chocolate causes acne, but studies revealed that it could increase your risk of developing it. This is because studies show that eating chocolate increases how reactive your immunity is to bacterias that cause acne.

6. Allergic diets

We all have different body types, and because of that, one’s immunity can be  stronger than someone else’s. The same concept can be applied to the way each of us react to what we eat. What I might take and feel good about, might upset your body when you take it. 

When your body reacts to what you are eating, several reactions take place-- the body gets pumped up, the heart speeds up, and inflammation can flare up-- causing an acne breakout.

7. Greasy diet

There may be a connection between eating greasy foods and experiencing an acne breakout, though greasy food has not been confirmed as a cause of acne.Fried food is an example of greasy food because of its high oil content. Other foods with lots of grease and oil, like burgers and bacon,cause an outbreak of pimples. All blame is not on the fat, but on hydrogenated oils used in preparing most of these meals.

8. Whey protein

Whey protein is a good source of protein and amino acid. It is mostly consumed by athletes and bodybuilders. Studies have shown a link between male athletes and taking whey protein powder and acne. 

The amino acids present in whey protein cause the body to release high amounts of insulin, which is linked with acne development. There is still more research needed to conclude if whey protein causes acne.

9. Excessive Alcohol

Moderately intake of alcohol is not harmful to your body. It has even been proved to be beneficial to the body. However, when you take alcohol in excess, it can trigger inflammation and worsen acne. 

The leaky gut syndrome is a condition that causes bacterias from the digestive system to leak into the body and then causes widespread inflammation. This condition is associated with excessive drinking of alcohol. 


Indulge in the foods below to help maintain acne-free skin. 

  • Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acid
  • Earlier we mentioned the detrimental effects of omega-6 fatty foods; on the other hand, omega-3 fatty foods help to balance this effect.

    They reduce inflammation and improve the symptoms of acne. Research shows that consuming food rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps to reduce the risk of developing acne.

    Examples of food rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish (mackerel and sardines), pastured eggs, mustard seed, spinach, and kale.

  • Low Glycemic food (Low GI foods)
  • These are foods that are low in sugar. They are mostly complex carbs. They are less likely to cause an increase in blood sugar. Low glycemic foods keep blood sugar stable in a healthier range.

    If there is a reduced amount of blood sugar, insulin remains depressed, and the risk of developing acne breakout is reduced.

    Examples of low GI foods include whole grains, legumes, eggs, chicken, among others.

  • Consuming more food rich in Vitamins and Zinc
  • Many studies have revealed that vitamins and Zinc play important roles in skin health and immunity and, in turn, prevent acne.

    The vitamins of concern are vitamins A, D, and E. Vitamins are known for their antioxidant property which can improve skin health.

    Some researchers carried out a study in 2013 on the levels of zinc, vitamins A and E in the blood of people with acne and those without acne.

    The result showed that the levels of the vitamins and zinc in people with acne are significantly low. Therefore, it was concluded that including these vitamins and zinc in diet could help prevent acne.

  • Mediterranean diet
  • The Mediterranean diet is not just a single meal, just like the way you eat rice; it is an eating pattern taken from the southern European countries. This diet’s key ingredients are fresh fruits and vegetables, oily fish, loof meat consumption and refined sugar, and little dairy intake.

    According to research, using this diet will reduce your risk of developing acne.

  • Make water your companion
  • Taking a lot of water will help to flush away toxins in your body system. It will even help to hydrate your skin. You can make taking at least 8 glasses of water per day your standard. 


    What you put into your mouth to eat has a lot of impact on your health, both within and even outside (on the skin). Research has linked certain foods to an increased acne risk, while other foods have been identified with flattening the risk.

    It is advised that you seek your doctor’s consent before starting any diet plan. 

    Eat healthily! Eat a balanced diet!! Eat fresh fruits and vegetables!!!



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