Milk causes acne because…
- There is abundance of a hormone called IGF-1 in milk, which is really good for baby cows, but not for you. IGF-1 is a growth hormone. It makes baby cows grow up big and strong, but in humans, it tends to make your acne grow big instead. IGF-1 is one of several factors that cause inflammation in humans, and which eventually lead to acne (and the ugly redness and swelling that makes acne so annoying).
- Milk and dairy products cause an insulin spike in humans that cause the liver to produce even more IGF-1, leading to even more acne.
- Dairy causes your skin to produce excess sebum (oil), leading to – you guessed it! – more clogged pores, more acne, blackheads and a breeding ground for P. acnesbacteria, which feed on your sebum and spew out inflammatory by-products.
- Dairy glues together dead skin cells inside your pores, so they can’t exit naturally, leading to clogged pores (and thus more acne).
The milk and acne effect is well documented in the literature. In the last decade or so, a number of studies have found a strong link between the consumption of milk and increased occurrence of acne. For example, one such study found that teenage boys who drank milk broke out more often, and more severely, than those who didn’t drink milk. At least five other studies have confirmed that, in general, the more milk you drink, the worse acne you’ll get. So in our blackheads diet, unfortunately dairy has no place!
Alternatives to Milk in the blackheads diet:
There are a few great alternatives to milk if you’re still hooked on liquid white stuff. Here we go:
- Unsweetened, organic almond milk
- Unsweetened, organic coconut milk (“So Delicious” or similar brand)
- AROY-D 100% Coconut Cream
- Organic full-fat coconut milk
You have to be a little careful with milk substitutes as they tend to have a bunch of added sugar and sometimes vegetable oil (both of which negatively affect your hormones and can worsen acne).
That’s why I recommend unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
(Note: by “vegetable oil” I mean canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil. These oils are highly processed and/or contain high amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fats.)
You can also make your own nut milks, of course! Almond milk, Brazil nut milk, hazelnut milk – you name it. Google around a bit if you’re curious about this – you’ll find tons of great recipes and how-to’s out there. That way, you know you’re getting just pure, healthy nuts and no funny stuff added.
My personal favorite these days is AROY-D 100% Coconut Cream. It’s prized by Thai master chefs (so I’ve read) as the best-tasting coconut milk / coconut cream around. It’s incredibly rich and loaded with healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and stable saturated fats. It mixes great into green smoothies and curries and is unmissable in your new anti-blackheads diet!
- Watch for food triggers that may seem to aggravate acne.
- Keep a food diary and share it with your dermatologist.
- Be patient. It may take up to 12 weeks of a diet change to determine if certain foods are contributing to acne.
- Continue following your regular acne treatment routine. Diet changes are only a small part of an acne treatment plan and are meant to be used in conjunction with proven medical therapies for acne.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY EXPERT ADVICE:
“Based on the studies we now have available, the evidence suggests that diet does play a role in acne,” said Dr. Bowe. “More studies are definitely needed in this area, but they are not easy studies to execute. Patients can be their own best detectives in determining possible food triggers for acne, and I encourage them to make an appointment with a dermatologist if they have any acne concerns.”
Hopefully this has given you some more insight on what to do to keep your blackheads diet going and keep blackheads at bay!