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Let's Talk Acne?

Posted on April 23 2022

Let's Talk Acne? - Roshni Sanghvi

Can dairy be the reason behind it?

Whether a teenager or a grown adult, acne is a universal problem that does not seem to go away very quickly. And once it begins to appear, it might sometimes become dreadful if not treated on time.

Blocked oil glands cause acne in the skin's surface layer, which can cause irritation and infection. Acne results from the oil glands that produce a waxy oil called sebum, which can become clogged, resulting in whiteheads, blackheads, and eventually red, inflamed, and infected blisters or boils. These boils can be acute enough to cause scarring by damaging the collagen layers beneath the skin.

Wellness Tip of the day

But what is the relation between acne and dairy? You might have heard the saying, "Milk is bad for your skin", and there might be some truth to that after all. According to Dr Joshua Zeichner, Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital, it is well known that dairy, predominantly skims milk, has been linked to skin irritation and acne outbreaks. "Skim milk is considered to have a high sugar content as well as whey protein, which triggers transmitters that activate our oil glands." Therefore, it implies that there will be more oil and inflammation, which will result in acne outbreaks.

What does science say?

A Harvard Nurses' Study discovered that the link between milk consumption during adolescent years and acute medically tested teenage acne was even more vital for skim milk than for other types of milk. The study is funded by the National Dairy Council and published in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

It might be because skim milk contains significantly more levels of estrogen. Researchers discovered 15 steroid sex hormones in commercial milk straight off the shelf, with skim milk having the most significant amounts, particularly in comparison to 2% and whole milk.

Harvard researchers did another study directly examining milk intake and acne in adolescent females to validate this relationship between cow's milk and acne. Researchers found that girls who had two or more glasses of milk per day had 20-30% higher acne than girls who consumed less than one glass per day, according to a 2006 study of 6,094 girls aged 9 to 15.

Low-fat milk was accused in this study, implying that it wasn't the fat in milk and cheese that caused acne but rather the qualities of the dairy protein. According to this study, milk protein increases the vital growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which in turn increases acne. Another factor for dairy's responsibility in acne is the development of male hormones called androgens, which are boosted by milk and cheese consumption.

Actionable tip of the day

There can be two options for dealing with this issue. The first option is to limit milk protein consumption, or the second is to develop milk that does not have these side effects. In any case, limiting milk intake or developing less [insulin-affecting] milk will significantly influence the prevention of several chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders, and especially acne.

Alternative milk choices such as oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, and others can be used to minimize milk protein consumption. However, when buying alternative milk, it's best to study the ingredient labels first, looking for clean, straightforward, whole-food-based ingredient lists.

Staying hydrated, eating a clean and whole plant-based diet, recognizing food intolerances, and repairing the gut microbiome are just a few of the keys to clear skin that is free of acne.


Roshni Sanghvi


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