When I first read that dairy can cause acne, I was shocked! My whole life I had been told that I needed to consume milk for my bones and overall health. Not only was this liquid said to provide me with essential vitamins, minerals, and all the calcium I needed, but I loved it too! So I had at it: cheesecakes, cheeses, and yogurts galore. As I was consuming dairy more frequently, my face was getting worse. Only now, after battling acne for years, have I noticed the quantity of dairy I had consumed and how it directly impacted my skin’s health.
But WHY is dairy bad for our skin and HOW does it cause acne?
1. ALL dairy contains hormones. Even organic, raw and growth-hormone-free milk (which only means that the animal was not given growth hormones) contains hormones. There can be 60 different types of hormones in an average cup of milk. These hormones help a calf (i.e) to develop and grow (calves put on 70-400+ lbs in their first year of life).
Since milk contains DHT precursors (a hormone that signals our skin cells to produce more sebum) while our skin glands contain enzymes needed to convert their precursors to actual DHT, this means more sebum build up in our pores.
2. IGF-1 is another hormone found in milk. This hormone increases sebum production AND promotes skin cell growth. This also means that more dead skin cells can clog our pores. This hormone also causes inflammation, which can lead to those big pimples that hurt.
On top of it all, milk causes insulin spikes which in return cause our liver to make even more IGF-1!
3. Milk is actually physically addictive. The casomorphin (part of the morphine family) and casein in milk and dairy products binds to opioid receptors in our brain, which cause a chemical reaction resulting in the feeling of happiness. This works like other drugs, but to a lesser degree. For me personally, while “weaning” off of cow’s milk, I’ve noticed that dairy products don’t have that amazing taste is you aren’t regularly eating them. In the end (right before going completely dairy-free) I actually hated the taste of milk and some dairy products I use to love. Almost as if the chemical reactions in our brains cause a difference in taste.
Try cutting out dairy for a month and see how your skin reacts. You might get an excess amount of acne at first, while your body rids itself completely of the dairy in your system. After a month you can decide whether you are sure you see a difference in your skin or try out if the lack of dairy made a difference by consuming dairy and allowing a few days to see how your skin reacts! Even try it out twice to make sure. Remember that you can gradually cut out dairy (or go cold turkey), and there are many dairy substitutes that will not leave you missing dairy!
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