People with acne-prone skin need to be much more cautious about their food intake since a poor diet may aggravate their skin condition. While greasy, spicy, and junk food is mostly blamed, sweets, especially chocolate, also contributes to the negative impacts that unhealthy foods have on the skin.
As much as you love having a chocolate bar to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings, you must not forget that your favorite treat can be a cause of blemishes on your flawless face. So once you’ve fulfilled your temptations, it’s time to start looking for solutions as to how to prevent acne after eating chocolate and maintain your beautiful, perfect skin — continue reading to learn more!
Diet And Acne Connection
Depending on the foods you consume, there’s a solid possibility that your diet can affect acne. This is because certain foods can cause inflammation throughout your body, and there’s a possibility that this may trigger acne breakouts. In addition, various foods can influence your hormones that, as a result, worsen acne problems. For example, foods with high sugar content and milk can raise insulin levels that alter the hormones affecting the skin and result in sugar acne.
Similarly, a diet with plenty of high-glycemic foods and drinks can trigger acne, too. Examples include sugary drinks like milkshakes, white rice, cornflakes, doughnuts, white potatoes, white bread, etc. It is believed that shifting to a low-glycemic diet can reduce acne. The explanation is that such changes help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels that cause inflammation throughout your body and push it to produce more sebum (an oily substance) — both being common causes of acne.
All in all, a higher intake of high-fat foods (such as meat and milk) and sugary beverages and foods are associated with a higher incidence of acne problems. Incorporating skin-friendly food choices, like spinach, blueberries, peas, nuts, salmon, tomatoes, etc., can help soothe your skin, but always make sure to consider any food sensitivities and allergies (if any) you may have.
Does Chocolate Make You Break Out?
Although various research studies have dodged the link between chocolate and acne, a recent study has suggested that chocolate acne is a real problem. “Can eating chocolate cause an outbreak of acne? Yes,” said Dr. Brian Berman, emeritus professor of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami.
Chocolates have pro-inflammatory effects on the skin, which contribute to inflammatory acne (characterized by red pustules and papules). Additionally, an epidemiological research has stated that chocolate stimulates the mononuclear cells in human blood, leading to dramatic reactions whenever they come in contact with acne-causing bacteria like propionibacterium. A double-blind study conducted on men aged from 18 to 35 further emphasizes the fact that unsweetened cocoa is correlated with chocolate acne.
A study suggests that a high-glycemic diet, i.e. foods rich in carbohydrates and sugars, worsens acne breakouts. This is because such foods cause a spike in the blood sugar level, which increases insulin levels and a hormone called androgen. Resultantly, the body starts producing more sebum, causing the excess oil to blend with dead skin cells and become trapped in pores. This leads to pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.
So, since the high amounts of sugar in chocolates have proven to be an acne-causing ingredient, the type of chocolate is an important consideration when it comes to avoiding sugar acne.
Does The Type of Chocolate Make A Difference?
Remember, it’s not the chocolate that causes acne, but rather the ingredients that make the chocolate bar. This means the type of chocolate does create a significant difference.
The good news for chocolate lovers is that cocoa in its raw state has no negative impacts on the skin. In fact, raw cocoa is loaded with zinc and Vitamin C, A, and E — all components that promote good skin health. It’s often the sugar and dairy mixed in chocolates that are the root cause of acne. So, next time you buy a chocolate bar, search for bars with a higher amount of dark chocolate or snackable cacao nibs rather than milk or white chocolate that contain all the acne-triggering ingredients.
Dark chocolate is known to have many beauty benefits. It offers protection from harmful UV rays and carries multiple skin moisturizing properties. Being an antioxidant, it also has a good reputation for minimizing wrinkles and maintaining a youthful, glowy look by preventing your skin collagen from breaking down. Additionally, dark chocolate soothes stress hormones to help induce feelings of calmness, while the high amounts of manganese aid in better nutrient absorption to promote improved overall health. Therefore, if you pick your sweet treat with at least 50% dark chocolate or above with a low sugar content, it will not only prevent chocolate acne but will also bring tons of unimaginable benefits to your skin.
Which Chocolate To Avoid For Better Skin?
Since most studies suggest that sugar is the main culprit for exacerbated acne, it is better to avoid chocolates with extremely high amounts of sugar. However, as Farris said, “The pathogenesis of acne is complicated. … It’s not just one thing,” it is important to note that just giving up on milk or white chocolate cannot change your acne-prone skin completely. There are many other foods you need to rethink and several dietary changes you need to incur for flawless, healthy skin.
Foods That Cause Acne
“I think we can safely say that avoiding chocolate addresses only one piece of a very large puzzle,” says Dr Patricia Farris, a dermatologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Now you might be wondering which other pieces fit and complete the puzzle of clear skin. A study proves that the type of foods you consume in your everyday diet plays a significant role in acne development. From oily edibles to various dairy products, there are many foods that can raise the frequency of acne breakouts by as much as 10%. So before you go on for acne treatments, it is recommended to learn about the primary acne-causing foods you must avoid.
Dairy products, especially milk, have been found to contribute to acne in a recent study. In fact, another research states that young adults who drink milk every day are 4 times more likely to suffer from acne. This is because milk raises insulin levels, which worsens acne.
Similarly, cow’s milk contains amino acids that stimulate the liver to release more IGF-1 (a hormone linked to acne). You might think replacing whole milk with skimmed milk would be a great solution, but the truth is that the milk proteins (such as whey and casein) added to skim milk cause even more inflammation.
Since milk is hard to cut out of the diet completely, try substituting it with healthier options, like almond or cashew milk. The options are out there; you just have to find the one you love!
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein is a common dietary supplement. It is packed with amino acids (glutamine and leucine) that promote faster growth and division of skin cells and stimulates the body to release higher levels of insulin — both being the root causes of acne.
Typically comprising of nuggets, burgers, french fries, pizzas, sodas, and all other grease-filled finger food, the processed ingredients and high saturated fats in fast food can throw off your hormonal balance and blood sugar levels entirely, resulting in pimples and blemishes.
To avoid such issues, try satisfying your fast food cravings with healthier versions made at home. For example, you can swap white meat for red meat in your burgers and opt for baked potatoes instead of fried potatoes.
Refined Sugars And Grains
Foods loaded with refined carbohydrates include:
- Sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, and cane syrup
- White rice and rice noodles
- Pasta composed of white flour
- Cereal, bread, desserts, or crackers made of white flour
A study has found that people who regularly ate added sugars were at a 30% greater risk of developing acne. This risk can be explained by how refined carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels and insulin.
Carbohydrates are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a rise in insulin levels. Higher insulin stimulates a higher release of the IGF-1 and sebum production, leading to increased acne severity.
Foods Rich In Omega-6 Fats
A typical western diet contains foods (such as soy and corn oils) rich in Omega-6 fats and fewer foods (like walnuts and fish) with Omega-3 fats. This imbalance pushes your body into an inflammatory state, which exacerbates acne.
Foods You Are Sensitive To
Research suggests that acne is an inflammatory disease.
When you consume food that your body is sensitive to, food sensitivities (also called delayed hypersensitivity reactions) are triggered, and your body launches an immune attack against these edibles. This results in a spike of pro-inflammatory molecules circulating throughout the bloodstream, which aggravates acne.
Drinking too much alcohol can disrupt your hormone levels. Although alcohol has not been proven to affect acne directly, it usually causes an imbalance in testosterone and estrogen, both major factors that influence acne severity. With the hormone levels rising, your skin starts producing extra sebum. Resultantly, your clogs become blocked with bacteria and oil, giving way to painful breakouts.
Foods To Eat For Clear Skin
We’ve now comprehensively discussed the answer to the common question “does chocolate cause acne?” and the foods that negatively impact the health and appearance of the skin. But once you’ve chosen the suitable type of chocolate, eliminated the acne-causing foods, and received treatments for your acne-prone skin, what foods can you include in your diet to prevent triggering hormonal imbalances and sebum production to maintain your glowing, clear skin?
Low-Glycemic Diet: A low-glycemic diet minimizes the spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. Examples of such foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, steel-cut oats, and beans.
Zinc-packed Foods: Zinc is an important mineral for good skin development, regulating hormones, and stabilizing metabolism. So, foods like turkey, beef, quinoa, lentils, seafood (crabs and oysters), cashew, pumpkin seeds, etc., are great sources to avoid acne.
Vitamins A and E: These popular acne-fighting vitamins enhance the skin’s natural regeneration process.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Antioxidants: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in animal-protein sources and certain plants, while antioxidants are found in foods like broccoli, potatoes, spinach, and carrots. Together, these supplements are known to reduce acne and improve mental health.
Turmeric: Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory elements which assist in regulating blood sugar levels and inhibit the production of acne-causing bacteria.
Green Tea: Green tea carries polyphenols (a compound that helps reduce sebum production and inflammation). These anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea make it an effective treatment for acne.
Probiotics: Tightening up a leaky gut can reduce acne and encourage better skin health. Consuming probiotics is one way to do so. These supplements promote a healthy gut and rebalance an imbalanced microbiome. This, as a result, controls inflammations and lowers the risk of developing acne.
While we await the results of further studies and experiments, experts believe noticing and realizing the effects chocolate has on your skin can give you all the information you need to prevent chocolate acne.
Remember, food is an important — but not the sole — aspect that affects acne development and severity. Your skin’s health is linked to many other things, such as genetic factors, a build-up of dead skin cells within the pores, and a hormonal imbalance (especially in women).
Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet and a good skincare routine is as important as implementing tips on how to prevent acne after eating chocolate. You can always treat your cravings to the delicious chocolate bar you can’t stop thinking about — just make sure to opt for safe and healthy chocolate bars!