While acne is caused by a number of factors–including the overproduction of skin oils as a result of genetic, hormonal or chemical causes–eating particular foods is not one of them, regardless of what your mother may have told you. However, it is true that many individuals suffering from acne find that certain foods greatly aggravate the incidence and severity of their outbreaks.
Meat or vegetables cooked in or containing large amounts of grease–including items such as fried chicken or french fries–do not seem to play a direct physiological role in aggravating existing acne. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, individuals eating these foods are more likely to inadvertently transfer oil from the food or from their hands to their faces. The addition of more oil to facial skin already overproducing oil may be why many acne sufferers report that eating greasy foods worsens their acne.
High-starch foods such as bread, pasta or potato chips may help to aggravate acne by causing a sharp spike in an individual’s blood sugar. Although medical researchers are uncertain about the direct connection between blood sugar levels and increasingly severe acne outbreaks, a number of studies report this correlation, including one study conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Sydney, Australia. In this study, researchers found that acne sufferers placed on a diet specifically designed to maintain low blood sugar levels experienced a significant decrease in the amount and severity of their acne when compared to acne sufferers consuming a diet high in sugary snacks and processed food products.
According to research reported in the May 2008 issue of “Journal of American Academy of Dermatology,” which examined the connection between dairy products and acne in adolescent boys, the more dairy products some teens consume, the more likely they are to develop acne and experience severe acne outbreaks. The researchers concluded that commonly consumed dairy products may either contain hormonal compounds or otherwise influence the physiological balance of hormones in a manner that directly affects acne severity and development. This study seemed to confirm an earlier study that suggested that the high levels of the growth factor IGF-1 in milk could trigger acne outbreaks during adolescence.