I'm currently living in Finland and I see a lot of acne. Beautiful women whose faces and backs are chronically covered in pimples. This is troublesome because severe acne can have more than a 'beauty' impact on individuals. Severe acne has been associated with low self esteem, social withdrawal, depression and poor body image (1).
Finns aren't the only population suffering with acne of course. Westernized countries are mostly affected. Acne affects 40 to 50 million Americans and 40% of American adolescents have acne to the extent that it requires treatment (2).
But does diet play a role in acne?
Today I'll discuss the findings of a review of 27 scientific publications (3) on diet and acne and review the major dietary culprit.
Do you think there's more evidence supporting french fries, chocolate or milk as a contributor to acne?
Well, it turns out, one of the biggest dietary culprits influencing acne is.... milk. And they drink A LOT of milk in Finland.
One study in this review found that total milk and skim milk consumption was significantly associated with severe acne. The severity of acne increased as the fat proportion of the milk decreased. Participants consuming more than 3 skim milk servings per day were 1.44 times more likely to experience severe acne than those consuming 1 serving of skim milk per week.
A cohort study analyzed in this review also found a significant association between skim milk and acne severity and no significant association between acne and chocolate, french fries or pizza. Acne severity was 1.29 times more likely in adolescent girls consuming skim milk twice per day compared to those consuming it once per week.
This review found inconclusive evidence supporting the claim that chocolate is a causative factor on acne, and found both cow's milk and high-glycemic are significantly associated with acne.
So, my dairy consuming friends with acne, my suggestion to you, is to do an experiment. Stop eating all dairy foods for 6 weeks. Instead, focus on eating more whole, plant foods... baked potatoes, salads, whole-grain pasta dishes and so on. See if your acne improves or doesn't get any worse from eliminating dairy and incorporating whole, plant foods.
I'd love to hear from you about this topic!
Take Control Now
Are you surprised milk may contribute to acne? How many servings of dairy are you currently consuming everyday or week?
Put your answer in the comments section below. Please share any thoughts on this topic.