Why Dairy May Cause Acne

I tend to scoff at the idea that making a single lifestyle change is enough to improve one’s skin dramatically. I’ve made plenty of changes in the past with hopes of getting better skin, and there wasn’t one change by itself that totally transformed my skin. Yet, over and over again I see people on internet forums write something like:

“I stopped eating dairy and now my skin is great!”

Ha! If only it were that easy. It definitely wasn’t that easy for me, but maybe there is something to this. Maybe for some people getting rid of dairy is just what they need to stop acne. Let’s look at this a little further.

My Experience With Dairy

I try to no longer consumer dairy. I say “try” because foods that I eat in my everyday life often contain traces of cheese or milk. And honestly, is life worth living without chicken parmesan?

That said, the amount of dairy I consume is limited. You’ll never find me chowing down on a block of cheese or chugging a glass of milk.

Overall, I just view dairy as one of the least important food groups, and for many people it may have a negative impact on their health. Personally I find that I don’t tolerate dairy well. I often get stomach aches, bloating, and gas after eating something such as a few slices of pizza. I also don’t tolerate whey protein, which is a milk derivative, well. I would  get terrible headaches and nausea. If dairy was causing these symptoms throughout my body, it wouldn’t be a surprise that it may have been contributing to acne as well.

Why Might Dairy Cause Acne?

It’s only in the last few years that the medical community has begun to recognize a link between the food we consume and the acne on our face. One of the worst culprits is dairy:

“A 2005 article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the diets of 47,355 women and found a strong connection between milk and milk product (like cream cheese, sherbet, instant breakfast drinks and cottage cheese) intake and breakouts. Another study, of 4,273 teenaged boys also found an association between milk and acne flare-ups.” (Doctor Oz)

On top of the studies out there, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that says that: Yes, traditional dairy contributes to acne.

But why?

When you think about it, the answer is pretty obvious. Milk is created in mammals as a means of providing essential nutrients and hormones to newly born animals. When you’re consuming a glass of milk, you’re drinking something that was designed for a  baby cow, or goat or whatever. Wile milk does have nutrients that humans can tolerate and can make use of, this milk contains hormones that are designed to proliferate growth in small cows.

Ya, really.

Does that mean I should give up dairy entirely?

As I said before, I still eat a little dairy here and there, but only because it’s found in so many foods. What my suggestion would be is that if you do your own grocery shopping, stop buying dairy products altogether. If you live with your parents or someone else is responsible for your food, let them know you want to cut back on dairy.

Keep in mind though that dairy is in many store bought products, as well as restaurant menu items. Milk and it’s derivatives are common ingredients so to try and cut out all dairy is going to be difficult. Just do the best you can to keep dairy out of mouth.

How to Replace Dairy Products

If you’re the type of person to drink milk everyday, fret not as there are many milk substitutes. I personally use and love almond milk, and have also used coconut milk in the past. Both are great options,although keep in mind these are a little pricier than regular store bought milk.

Note: Do NOT buy soy milk. Soy may even have more detrimental effects on your hormones than regular milk. That’s just my opinion, but I don’t touch soy with a 20 foot poll.

As for products like yogurt and cheese, you can look for some non-soy substitutes, but personally  don’t know any. One option you do have is to find raw or organic milk products. This is something I haven’t touched on yet, and don’t plan to because I know nothing about it and have no personal experience with these products. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on everything, so if you’re interested in learning more about the different types of milk, check out the links provided below.

Further Reading

Does Milk Cause Acne? from Clear Skin Forever

Eating Dairy When You’ve Got Acne from The Love Vitamin