Does milk cause acne?

Milk, dairy products and acne

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You may have heard about the relationship between milk, or other dairy products with acne and you might be curious or unsure whether the rumors are true. Do milk and other dairy products really cause acne? The answer is yes. This might come as a surprise to most because milk is usually associated with good health. However, the sad truth is consuming milk, ice cream, cheese, and other dairy products do more harm to your skin than good. Some even say that cutting the consumption of dairy products is the single most useful step to clearing your skin.

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Why is Milk Bad for Your Acne?

How dairy affects your skin

Milk triggers acne because of the following reasons:

Milk has an abundance of IGF-1

This is a hormone which is good for calves, but not for you. IGF-1 is a development hormone which makes infant cows grow up big and strong. In people, the same hormone tends to make your acne grow big. IGF-1 is among several factors that cause inflammation in human beings, and which ultimately cause acne, together with the redness and swelling. 

Milk and dairy products trigger an insulin spike

In human beings, dairy products trigger insulin spike which in turn prompts the liver to produce more IGF-1 and hence leading to acne.

Dairy triggers your skin to produce more sebum

When the skin produces excess oil, it leads to more clogged pores and subsequently more acne. Excess sebum creates a breeding place for P. acnes germs, which eat the oils and spew out inflammatory products.

Dairy sticks dead skin together

Dairy products glue the dead skin in the pores making them hard to leave naturally, resulting in blocked pores and which eventually leads to acne.  In the last years or so, a number of research studies have discovered a strong link between the intake of milk and increased the occurrence of acne. For example, one such study discovered that teenagers who consumed milk broke out more frequently, and more badly than those who didn’t drink milk. A minimum of five other studies have validated that, in general, the more milk you drink, the worse your acne will be.

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Getting clear skin in regards to dairy products

What to do to have acne-free skin

What do you do to clear your acne? Well, cut dairy out of your diet. You need to cut out milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, and so on. Anything that has milk would probably lead to acne.  Yes, it is not that easy to completely cut out dairy. In facts, there are some products that have dairy products in disguise and might be easy to miss.  It is so hard to make the sacrifice, but it is worth it. If you want clear skin, you better cut the dairy out. There are two plans you can start implementing to help you with getting rid of dairy products in your diet. 

Completely getting rid of dairy products for clear skin

The most effective way to clear your skin is to completely eliminate dairy products from your diet. Here, you cut out all sources of dairy from your diet for 30 days. If you feel up to it, you can start cutting out dairy immediately for 30 days or take on the more likely approach of graduating reducing dairy prior to the 30-day dairy-free challenge. Whatever the case, if you are true to yourself, after 30 days you will see some obvious improvements in your skin! After that, you can consider adding back some top quality dairy products. Try drinking raw, grass-fed whole milk, or consuming some natural kefir, cheese, butter, or yogurt. To know which product works for you, consume one at a time, leaving some days in between. Do not consume all at ones. If after 30 days your skin does not improve; it does not mean that your skin is immune to the effects of dairy, no. It just means that your acne is likely triggered by something else. It might be something else you’re eating, some nutrients you’re missing, gut dysbiosis, or some environmental contaminants, or stress. Look into the other factors that trigger acne. 

Reducing the consumption of dairy products for a clear skin 

Dairy products are part of our daily diets and therefore really hard to completely cut it off, especially for the people you love such products. Cutting them out just like that would be impossible and hence the second plan of gradually reducing your dairy intake.  Similar to a person trying to stop drug addiction, you slowly ration the amount of dairy you consume. You also stick to the top quality stuff. Now, what you do is you avoid any dairy in processed food or when you eat out. The quality is usually low-grade and poor. At home, switch to full-fat, raw, grass-fed dairy products. Or, if not available, go for whole organic, grass-fed milk. In stores, they are found in the organic food section. If there are improvements after a month, then you can continue with the changes. You can also try to completely leave out dairy from your diet; you might get better results. However, if you don’t notice any improvements, then you should reduce dairy consumption even further or even completely stop consuming it. Whatever the case, do not lose hope. Acne has many triggers, and you need to vet your lifestyle properly to avoid all the other triggers as well. 

Are you addicted to milk?

Milk has a substance called casomorphin that make you addicted to it. Basically, casomorphin does to your brain what morphine does, only at a lesser degree. You feel happy when you take dairy products and unhappy when you don’t. This will definitely make it harder for you to quit dairy for clear skin. The best remedy to help you from backsliding to dairy consumption is actually letting yourself backslide after a dairy-free run. The results will scare you! If you go on a dairy-free run and your skin clears up, then you start taking dairy again, your skin will break out. Since you will be used to clear skin, this will bother you, and you will see the need to avoid milk and dairy. 

Keep an eye out for hidden milk ingredients

There are many restaurants meals and packaged foods that have hidden milk ingredients. Usually all packaged foods have a list of ingredients on the packets, make sure you read before you buy. In restaurants, make sure to ask if the meal you are ordering has any dairy in it as well.

Milks and Acne 

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Organic milk and acne

What about hormone-free or organic milk?

The term ‘hormone- free’ in milk is usually misunderstood. What producers mean is that no artificial hormones were given to the cows. However, the growth hormones IGF-1 is still present in abundance. The presence of this hormone is one of the key reasons why dairy is bad for your skin. Nevertheless, organic and ‘hormone-free’ milk is better for acne than normal milk. In fact, simply switching to organic milk can help you deal with mild acne problems. 

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Raw milk and acne

What about raw milk?

Raw milk will still cause you problems due to the fact that it still has the hormones that trigger acne, and it still surges your insulin as regular milk does. You can, however, slowly add raw milk in your diet and keep a close eye to your skin’s reaction. If it does not cause as much acne, then you can replace the normal milk with raw milk.  Caution should be taken when using raw milk, in some place, it is illegal to sell or purchase raw milk.

Lactose-free milk and acne

What about lactose-free milk or Lactaid?

It’s a common belief that lactose-free milk is better for acne in some way, well not exactly.  Lactaid and other “lactose-free” milk is regular milk with lactase, an enzyme that pre-digests the lactose for people with lactose intolerance. Lactose-free milk is the same as normal milk when it comes to acne.

Goat and sheep milk and acne

What about goat milk and sheep milk?

Goat and sheep milk is usually simpler to digest, but it can still trigger acne. Like cows, sheep and goats also pump in growth hormones in their milk. Yes, the A2 proteins in goat milk and sheep milk and their products are easier to absorb than the A1 protein produced by Holstein cows, goat and sheep milk still has IGF-1 hormones and still increases your insulin. Some people can tolerate raw goat and sheep milk without any problems. If you are to implement this in your diet, you need to do it gradually which observing the changes. 

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Yogurt and acne

What about yogurt?

Yogurt has a few of the IGF-1 removed through the fermentation process, however not completely. Yogurt still has some of the hormones and proteins that can trigger acne. Exceptionally acidic, sour yogurt can have significantly decreased amounts of IGF-1, but the majority of store-bought yogurt has a pH of around 4.8, which isn’t low enough to denature the IGF-1.

Alternatives to milk for clear skin

If you are addicted to milk and find it hard to keep away, then there are alternatives that might help you. They are:

  • Unsweetened, organic coconut milk.
  • Organic full-fat coconut milk.
  • Unsweetened, organic almond milk.
  • AOY-D 100% Coconut Cream.

You have to be a little cautious with milk substitutes as they tend to have a lot of added sugar and sometimes vegetable oil. These will make your acne worse. Unsweetened coconut or almond milk is the best.  Alternatively, you can make your own nut milk. Almond milk, hazelnut milk, Brazil nut milk, and all the rest. Search online to find nice recipes for nut milk. Make sure you don’t follow a recipe with weird or acne causing additives. 

Conclusion on dairy products and acne

Dairy is one of the worst acne sets off in the Western diet. It has growth hormone IGF-1, and it spikes your insulin considerably, resulting in clogged pores, redness, inflammation, swelling, and acne. While cutting out milk and other dairy products in your diet will do a great service to your skin, there also other steps you can take to ensure you get clear, acne-free skin and keep it that way. 

How to tighten skin?

To make our skin tighter, eat healthily, exfoliate your skin, limit UV exposure, and use

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