Do Pizza, Hamburger, Fries, And Other Fast Food Items Really Cause Acne?

“Unless you’re rubbing the hamburger all over your face, greasy food on its own likely isn’t the problem,” says Atlantic Health writer Angela Lashbrook. But it is still reasonable to be wary of greasy food when you’re acne-prone. Read on to find out why.

Although several studies show that there is no direct link between diet and acne, dermatologists still recommend maintaining a clean diet to achieve clear, healthy skin. Look out for the following types of food and monitor if they affect your breakouts.

High-Glycemic Food

The glycemic index measures the speed by which a type of food causes a rise in blood sugar levels. High-glycemic food quickly releases sugar into the bloodstream and can lead to a variety of issues.

Anne Chapas, the founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology, explains that increased blood sugar levels activates oil and insulin production. Increased insulin levels stimulate androgen or male hormone activity. This cycle heightens chances of acne formation.

For a list of high-glycemic food, refer to this article from Harvard Health Publishing. This list includes white bread, potatoes, white rice, and more.

This goes to show that fast food doesn’t quite affect acne in the way many think they do. It’s not actually the grease in fries and hamburgers that triggers acne, but sugar.


milk dairy - foods to avoid for acne

Most acne-eliminating diets recommend ditching milk, particularly skim milk. One theory suggests that growth hormones found in milk may disrupt our bodies’ natural hormonal balance, confusing our body’s endocrine system and signalling breakouts.

Another theory suggests the proteins found in milk—whey and casein—release an insulin-like hormone, called IGF-1. As mentioned above, increased insulin levels stimulate androgen activity, which heightens chances of acne growth.

The American Academy of Dermatology warns that there is insufficient evidence that shows the correlation between dairy consumption and acne prevalence. A few studies observed that milk seemed to aggravate acne, but these were not randomized and controlled, and are therefore not definitive. 

Controlling Your Diet Isn’t the Be-All and End-All Acne Cure

measuring tape around fork

Dermatologist Dr. Elena Poulos says that the research on diet and acne is promising, but it’s not conclusive and is still up for debate.

Note that some of the biggest factors that trigger acne are genetics and hormonal imbalance. Consider these before going on an acne-eliminating diet. 

Be careful not to go overboard with cutting out certain foods from your diet, so you don’t end up depriving your body of essential nutrients. Most importantly, consult a health professional before embarking on a diet change, or any acne treatment, for that matter.

We understand that battling acne can be frustrating, especially when there is no quick cure for it. We want to assure you that you’re not alone in this. Reach out to us and let us know how we can help!

If you have tips to share with fellow acne warriors, please comment them below. We’d love to hear from you.



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