Foods That Cause Acne – A Research-Backed, Myth-Busting Answer

For many decades there was conventional wisdom that there was a direct link between acne and your diet. However, in the 60s some studies were released that indicated there was little to no link between food and the dreaded pimples.

So, were the old wives tales about fatty trash food, chocolate and greasy food being linked to skin conditions simply fiction? Unfortunately the science industry believed this to be true for a very long time.

But in recent years things have changed a lot and more extensive studies have proven some very important links between different types of food and skin health.

Today, more and more dermatologists agree that there is a link between the two and that changes to your diet can produce some very significant improvements to your skin.

Take this statement, for instance, from a study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology [JAAD]:

“Dermatologists can no longer dismiss the association between diet and acne. Compelling evidence exists that high glycemic load diets may exacerbate acne.”

One more study on the Journal of British Journal of Dermatology BJD says:

“A systematic review in 2005 found no clear evidence of dietary components increasing acne risk. One small randomized controlled trial showed that low glycemic index (GI) diets can lower acne severity. A possible association between dairy food intake and acne requires closer scrutiny.”

Still, no one points out those ‘often blamed’ foods, but there’s a rather clearer indication of the foods that cause acne.

High Glycemic Load Diet is Promoting Your Acne

Yes, that’s what we can draw upon these recent studies. But apart from this, there are other things to support this thought.

Why Your Diet Can’t be Ignored:

“Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.”

This is a powerful statement by the father of Modern Medicine, Hippocrates.

The idea is simple and concrete. We cannot neglect what we’re taking in to our body, when trying to cure a disease – the fact that the absorption of a pill or nutrient that mitigates a disease is fully influence by our diet carries enough weight to support this statement source.

A careful diet, however, may not solely eliminate your acne, but it can certainly influence its worsening or improvement.

Revisit Your Mindset Towards Your Diet:

Along with your regular medications (if you take any), you must concentrate on your diet if you’re serious about eliminating your acne and improving your overall health.

If I put it the nutritionist way: your conventional medications might only manage to alleviate your acne temporarily, but a careful diet is capable of achieving your dream of a lasting clear skin.

But What is That “Low Glycemic Load Diet” We’re talking about?

I’m glad you’ve asked.

To put it simply, glycemic load accounts for how much a certain food will raise your blood glucose level after eating it. The greater the GL number, the higher the food’s impact on blood glucose level.

And a diet that is low in glycemic load is regarded as the low glycemic diet.

The Benefits of a Low GL Diet:

Along with being able to fade acne, a low glycemic diet also has some other essential benefits.

  • It helps controlling the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. In fact, it was originally designed to serve this purpose.
  • It can help preventing heart disease.
  • It can also be helpful in losing extra pounds of weight.

But what will it all mean to you when you aren’t aware of those low glycemic load foods in the first place? That leads us to our next heading.

Discovering The Foods That Cause Acne

This is the core part of this post.

By now, you’ve known what recent studies say about the role of glycemic diet on acne, what is meant by the term “glycemic diet,” and what are its pros and cons. We’ll now take a look at what these foods actually are.

The following table will help you evaluate some highly consumed foods according to their glycemic load (there’s also a graphical version of this table below if you wish to download)

*Note: A glycemic load (GL) between 0-10 is regarded as low, 10-20 as medium, and above 20 as high. You should prefer low-medium glycemic loaded foods in your diet and avoid higher ones as often as you can.
Barley4White Rice (avg.)43
Pasta7Instant Oatmeal30
Rice, Mung Noodles8Bagel25
Brown Rice16Sweat corn on the cob20
Yogurt3Bagel (white, frozen)25
Dairy Milk4Vanilla cake made from packet mix with vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker)24
Ice Cream7  
Orange, Pear (avg.)4Peaches (canned in heavy syrup)28
Peach (avg.)5Raisins28
Apple (avg.)6Apricot (canned in light syrup)24
Grapes (avg.)11Fruit Cocktail (canned)20
Banana (ripe)16  
Dates (dried)18  
Cabbage, broccoli (cooked)0Corn (yellow)62
Celery (raw)0Baked russet potato33
Mushrooms, green beans, spinach0Sweet potato22
Carrots (avg.)2Yam (avg.)20
Green peas (avg.) , parsnips4  
Instant mashed potato (avg.)17  

Sources:  Hardward UniversityOptimal Foods

Glycemic load food chart: foods that cause acne.

Click here to get an enlarged version of this table.

Your Takeaway From This Post:

So what have you decided – will you revert to your regular routine? Will you pay close attention to your diet? Will you bother making use of this glycemic table I’ve provided?

Chances are, you won’t. Because you think that there’s already a plenty of other important stuffs to pay attention to, so why bother to add one more item to that list?

My answer: You’re right. But partly.

You’re partly right because our routine is indeed always full of important tasks that require our attention. Scrutinizing what we’re taking in to fuel up your laborious body might not seem so worthwhile.

But that’s not an excuse to get away with it. There’s nothing on earth like “Something for Nothing.” You always have to give before demanding to take. So if you’re ambitious to eliminate your acne, you shouldn’t be skeptical of throwing out a few extra seconds of thought before eating anything else.

As I mentioned earlier, experts are still on their way to finding out a more insights about the foods that cause acne. Particularly, the role of milk or dairy products requires a closer scrutiny. But there’s no denying to the fact that high glycemic loaded diets are affecting the development of acne among individuals.

Therefore, if you’re serious about eliminating your acne, you must not ignore the importance of maintaining a balanced, healthy, and a low glycemic load diet. And this post has provided you a great way to get started.

Sheikh has been blogging regularly at CAA for over 5 years. He spends majority of his time studying health and technology or participating in discussions about these niches (online or offline).


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