Does Red Meat Cause Acne?

Red meat is a staple in many American diets: Burgers, steaks and of course meatloaf. Most of us grew up eating these things, and likely still eat them today. I sure do.

Could it be possible though that the red meat we are consuming could be causing acne? To understand this we must first understand what causes acne.

Everybody wants to know what may be causing their acne. I’ve narrowed it down to a few main causes:

  1. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
  2. Hormonal Imbalances
  3. Excessive inflammation (especially the gut)

Let’s go through these step by step:

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Having a deficiency in something like vitamin A, D, or Zinc are things that may cause acne. Having one of these deficiencies won’t come from eating foods; rather they come about because of a lack thereof.

While it is true that our food supply today is devoid of many nutrients compared to the past, red meat itself won’t cause deficiencies unless you eat nothing but read meat.

Hormonal Imbalances

We know that hormonal imbalances are one of the main causes of acne. It’s why it is so prevalent in teenagers.

So what’s red meat got to do with hormones?

If you’re not familiar with the process of raising cattle in America, cattle are injected with hormones and antibiotics as a means to make them grow and “stay healthy”. While this is not ideal from a consumer standpoint, it makes the most sense economically for meat producers. That’s just the way it is…

There is however another option and that is organic, grass fed beef. These cows are not treated with hormones or antibiotics and their diets consist of grass, as opposed to traditional feeds given to cattle.

While grass fed beef is definitely the better option, I firmly believe that consuming red meat a few times a week is unlikely causing your hormones to go crazy.

Excessive inflammation (especially the gut)

Inflammation is such an elusive concept for me. People like to throw around the term inflammation a lot, but the term is often used incorrectly.

However, it does seem the best way to describe what red meat may do to the body.

About a year ago I was on a high protein diet. While my diet was devoid of junk food, I kept breaking out. I was stumped.

I eventually switched up diets and ditched the excessive protein, which was consumed via meat such as chicken breasts and ground beef. Lo and behold my skin looked significantly better. It took me a while to pinpoint what had actually happened, but I came to the conclusion that my body was having a hard time tolerating my excessive meat consumption, which in turn manifested itself in acne.

The Great Red Meat Debate

There have been numerous studies about the effects of red meat on colon cancer. The mainstream medical community tells us to limit consumption of red meat to bite size amounts. On the other hand you have a growing movement of “Paleo” eaters who scarf red meat down like their cattle are going to be struck with a plague.

Like everything in life, we need to come to a happy medium. While red meat is tough for the body to digest, and excessive consumption of it may lead to inflammation, it cannot be denied that red meat is rich in nutrients like zinc and B-12 that may in face help acne.

The only way to know for sure whether or not red meat causes acne is to test it for yourself. Go at least a week without red meat and keep close tabs on your skin. Then add it back in and track any changes.

Resources

No Red Meat Diet Reviews from Acne.org

Red Meat and Colon Cancer from Harvard Medical School

Hormones in Food: Should You Worry? from the Huffington Post

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