Is Milk the Cause of Your Acne?

An expert explains how dairy products might be coming in-between you and a flawlessly glowing skin

The quest for clear skin is an arduous one. Except for a few lucky ones, we all have to rely on masks, serums and creams for flawless, glowing skin. But if you have been battling with skin breakouts despite all OTT treatments then there could be another underlying cause. Do you like milky lattes, creamy ice creams and cheesy salads? If you answer in affirmative then the dairy products in your diet have been causing all your skin problems. 

Dr Niketa Sonavane, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai, explains the link between dairy and your skin woes. She says, “There is definite research to prove that people who consume a diet rich in dairy are at a higher risk of developing inflammatory skin problems such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. The risk is particularly high in those who are exposed to pollution, smoking and a diet consisting of packaged food and refined sugar.”

How does milk affect your skin? 

Cow's milk which is largely consumed in India, contains casein and whey protein. “Both these raise levels of growth hormones such as insulin-like growth factor-1(IGF-1), which is strongly linked with increased sebum, which in turn irritates acne-prone skin. Besides this, cows and buffaloes are regularly injected with artificial hormones to increase their milk supply. When you consume dairy that is mass produced with such practices, it throws your hormones off balance.”

Also, as per reports more than 50% of the world's population is lactose intolerant. After infancy, the body loses its ability to digest lactose, which is the natural sugar present in milk. “This triggers all sorts of skin allergies and hypersensitivity,” says Dr Niketa.

Dairy may also promote growth of unhealthy gut bacteria and cause gut inflammation. “This alters the way your food is digested and absorbed, this can lead to vitamin deficiencies and dull skin,” she adds.

And if you are thinking, you can skip this and resort to skimmed milk, then Dr Niketa cautions that it is the more likely to trigger acne and other inflammatory skin conditions due to the amount of processing that it undergoes.

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How to prevent dairy related skin problems?

To begin with try cutting out dairy from your diet and see if your skin condition improves. “Reduce dairy intake and switch to high-fiber diet instead. Increase your intake of omega-3 rich food and supplements to get a blemish-free skin,” advises Dr Niketa. 

Do not substitute dairy with packaged almond milk or soy milk. Consider switching to green tea or freshly brewed black coffee instead. Both of these have plenty of antioxidant benefits which boost your skin immunity and make your skin glow.