The truth is that an oily substance called sebum causes acne. It's made and secreted by the skin. In fact, there's no evidence that any specific food causes acne.
You’ve probably heard this myth since you were a teenager: if you pig out on chocolate, French fries, or other junk foods, you’ll be promptly rewarded with an unsightly breakout. The old logic was that because oily skin tends to be more prone to imperfections, eating greasy foods will worsen your skin’s oil problems. In reality, oil in your diet doesn’t equate to higher production of sebum (your skin’s natural oil).
Don’t go throwing a parade through your nearest drive-thru just yet, though. What you eat still affects your skin. You are what you eat, and certain foods can trigger emotional and hormonal responses that may negatively affect how your skin looks. This is especially true for those that believe they have food sensitivities or allergies. Research has shown that there are some foods that could aggravate problem-prone skin. If that describes you, try staying away from the foods and beverages listed below for a while to see if your skin troubles subside.
Refined sugars and processed grains. Simple carbohydrates are known to cause spikes in insulin, which messes with the hormones responsible for skin-cell growth and sebum production. More cell turnover combined with more oil can be a recipe for skin disaster.
Breakouts are typically connected to inflammation, and for people that have any level of sensitivity to it, dairy can really flare things up. While research is conflicted, milk, cream, and ice cream appear to have more negative impacts on the skin, while yogurt and hard cheeses tend to cause fewer issues.
You’re not going to want to toast to this: alcohol is a nightmare for the skin. Not only is it hard on the liver, the organ responsible for detoxifying your body, but it also dehydrates the body and the skin. Most cocktail mixers come with hefty added doses of sugar, which will cause the dreaded insulin spikes. And in case you thought red wine was exempt because of its noted health benefits, for a lot of people it can cause flushing of the face. If you’re going to imbibe, try not to go overboard, and drink plenty of water. Your skin will thank you the next morning and in the long run.
It turns out that some of the advice your mother and grandmother gave you about skincare aren’t backed by science or reality. The good news is this golden age of skincare provides more options than ever to make the best choices possible for your unique skin.
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