Acne & Diet: Acne-Causing Foods People Should Avoid

Here is a list of foods you should not eat if you want to prevent acne.

3 min read
Acne & Diet: Acne-Causing Foods People Should Avoid
Hindi Female

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Acne is a common skin problem and around 10% of the world's population is affected by it. Everyone must have experienced a zit or pimple after a long tiring day, long hours of makeup, or just before an important event. Any skin type can get acne but a few major reasons include:

  • Sebum production

  • Keratin production

  • Hormonal Changes

  • Clogged pores

  • Inflammation

Whatever the reason may be, there are ways to get rid of it. Doctors also recommend a particular diet if the problem of acne is severe and recurring. But do you know there are certain foods that may be the reason behind your acne?

Here is a list of foods that can cause acne and can be excluded from the diet if you suffer from stubborn, recurring acne problems.


Refined Foods 

According to PubMed Central, people who eat added sugars have a 30% more risk of developing acne whereas people who consume pastries, cookies, cakes, etc. have a 20% higher risk.

The other foods that contain refined carbohydrates, grains, or sugars include bread, pasta, noodles, crackers, cereals, sodas, maple syrup, honey, cane sugar, etc. These foods increase blood sugar levels, thus increasing insulin levels. Increased insulin levels lead to sebum production, which, in turn, causes more acne.

Dairy Products

According to the US NIH, dairy products can have a direct link with acne, and people who consume ice cream and milk are four times more likely to suffer from acne-related skin problems.

There are several proposed theories surrounding the relationship between acne and dairy products, and a few of them include:

  • Milk increases the insulin levels in the blood, which leads to an increase in sebum production, which, in turn, develops acne.

  • Cow's milk has amino acids that have been linked to IGF-1, which results in the development of acne.

More research is required to know if it is the milk that is responsible for acne or the frequency of dairy consumption.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein powder is rich in amino acids – leucine and glutamine. These amino acids help the skin cells grow and divide more quickly, thus resulting in the formation of acne.

The amino acids in whey protein also stimulate the body to produce higher levels of insulin, and research has proved that there's a link between insulin and the development of acne.


Moreover, studies have shown a link between the consumption of whey protein and acne in male athletes. The number of days one consumes whey protein also determines the severity of acne.

Omega-6 Foods

According to Healthline, people who consume diets with large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (like the typical Western diet) might suffer from inflammation and frequent acne breakouts.

Large amounts of corn and soy in Western diets make them rich in omega-6 fats, and other foods that contain omega-3 fats include fish and walnuts.

If there's an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the body is pushed into an inflammatory state, which worsens acne severity.

On the contrary, supplements of omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and acne severity.

However, more research is required to know about the links between omega-6 fatty acids and acne.

Fast Food 

Acne is also experienced by people who consume a diet filled with calories, fats, and refined carbohydrates.

Fast food like burgers, nuggets, hot dogs, french fries, sodas, etc., are the main components of a Western diet that increase the risk of acne.

Research has proved that high-fat diets are linked to a 43% increased risk of acne and regular eating of junk food increases the risk by 17%.

Frequent consumption of burgers or sausages is linked to a 24% increased risk of developing acne.

More research is required to know why eating fast food increases the risk of developing acne. According to some researchers, fast food may affect gene expression and hormone levels, which result in acne development.

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