Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is Dairy Causing Your Acne? Try Going Dairy-Free!

Going Dairy-Free to Prevent Acne

Since I still struggle with acne I have done a lot of research on what may cause or increase acne breakouts. While researching I came across some information stating that dairy can cause or exacerbate acne. I was intrigued, so I did more research and talked to my dermatologist about whether or not dairy could be causing my acne. I found out that there are studies that have proven that there is in fact a link between dairy (lactose) intolerance and acne. I also discovered that many people are lactose intolerant but have no idea that they are, so they continue consuming dairy which can have a lot of negative side effects on their health. As far as I knew, I wasn't allergic to intolerant to anything, so I questioned whether or not dairy could really be causing my acne if I wasn't lactose intolerant.

I decided to go dairy-free for a month to see if it had an influence on my acne. I am currently five days in to my dairy-free diet, and I can already see an improvement in my acne. Actually, I don't have any new emerging pimples and the ones that I do have are in the process of healing. I was visiting my mother yesterday and mentioned that I was on a dairy-free diet to see if it helped with my acne. She said that she could really see a difference in my skin already. Then, all of a sudden she said "Oh my gosh, you are lactose intolerant!" She then told me that when I was an infant I had to be on lactose free formula, but then as I got older I seemed to be okay with dairy and she never gave it another thought. When I told her about the link between dairy and acne, she felt horrible because she had no idea that this lactose intolerance could be linked to my acne breakouts.

I'm going to continue my dairy free diet and see if it truly is the underlying cause behind my acne. I'm actually hoping that it is so I can get rid of my acne once and for all.

How Dairy Causes Acne

Why do humans drink cows milk anyways?
I actually read a few books several years ago that really opened up my eyes when it comes to nutrition and diet and how it can impact our overall health, including our skin health (The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin, in case you're interested), and these books mention in the book that humans are not meant to drink cows milk. It makes perfect sense when you really think about it. Cows milk is meant for their offspring, not for human consumption. When it really comes down to it, we would be better off putting breast milk into containers and selling that in stores (sorry if that is a bit crude for some of you), because in all reality that is what humans are truly meant to consume. I don't think I've ever seen a goat drinking horses milk, or a horse drinking dogs milk, etc. Humans are actually the only species that consumes another species milk...isn't that comforting...?

Hormones
Cows milk has a lot of androgen hormones, which are known to cause acne breakouts. Additionally, cows only produce milk when they are pregnant and when they are feeding their offspring. In order to keep up with the demand for milk and dairy products among society, most dairy cows are continuously injected with even more hormones. As a result, cows milk is really high in the growth factor known as IGF-1, which is also a hormone commonly found in adolescents during puberty (when acne is said to be at it's worst).
Clearly this is not healthy for the cows, let alone for the humans consuming the dairy that is being produced. The hormones pass through the cows system and into the cows milk, which then passes to the people who consume it. Hormonal imbalances are a major cause of acne, so if you look at the facts here, it is clear that these hormones that are given to cows do nothing to help people suffering from hormonal acne. Not to mention that increased levels of androgen hormones are linked to an increase in sebum (oil on the face) by putting the sebaceous glands into overdrive. Anyone with oily skin knows just how important this information is when it comes to treating and preventing acne.

Antibiotics
Cows that are raised to produce milk are often given heavy antibiotics to keep them from getting infections or illnesses. As such, these antibiotics are passed on to the milk. While you may not need to worry about this issue if you drink organic milk (which is much better, but much more expensive), most of us don't buy organic milk. This means that all of these antibiotics that are given to dairy cows are also being consumed by people who drink the milk or eat dairy products. If you've been drinking milk since you were a toddler, that's a lot of years that you have been consuming trace amounts of antibiotics. That doesn't seem too healthy to me. Actually it is said that prolonged exposure to any antibiotic will cause mutations in bacteria resulting in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria...not good!

Foods That Contain Dairy

Okay, so if dairy truly does cause acne for some people, the switch to a dairy free diet will not be easy. Personally, I have been eating dairy my entire life and I never really stopped to think of how many foods I consumed that had some sort of dairy. Cheesecake is out, along with ice cream and milk chocolate. Not to mention the endless list of other foods that contain dairy...here's a few to give you an idea:

Cheese Products (Alfredo, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc.)
Milk or cream based soups (chowders etc.)
Whipped Cream
Yogurt
Butter
Cereals that are frosted (i.e. Frosted Mini Wheats)
The list goes on!

I haven't even been on this dairy free diet for a week, and I have already noticed that there are A LOT of foods that contain dairy products. Now that I'm actually being diary conscious, I can't believe how hard this is truly going to be! Just think, if dairy truly is the culprit behind my persistent acne, I won't be able to have dairy...ever! Come to think of it, I don't think that cheesecake is something that I'll ever be able to give up completely...it is one of my all-time favorite things in the whole world. I would take a pimple over giving up cheesecake any day! I will definitely be able to cut back on everything else dairy related, but cheesecake is where I draw the line!

If anyone reading this article decides to go dairy free to see if it causes acne, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes for you! I'm really interested in hearing about other people's experiences with this, and it would be nice to know that I'm not the only one depriving myself of dairy!