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July 21, 2011 at 1:12 PMComments: 10 Faves: 0

Got acne? Ditch dairy!

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the A Dairy Diary Blog Series

Ahhh, milk. What could be healthier? From an early age, we're taught that milk is absolutely essential to our diet because of the numerous benefits it provides. And it's true; milk does boast a nutritional profile that includes protein, vitamins, and of course, calcium. All of these are necessary. It's because of this (and some support from the dairy industry) that we constantly see advertisements featuring pretty people of all ages smiling, laughing, and having the time of their life - all while sporting a cute little white mustache and drinking a big ol' glass of 2%.

But what these ads don't show is far less glamorous: a nice big zit.

Despite its near-spotless reputation in the media, milk (and milk products) have been repeatedly shown to be a major cause behind one of the most common - and most frustrating - skin conditions. I'm talking, of course, about that four-letter word: acne.

Here's the breakdown.

Cows' milk hormones turn on the oil tap. The milk that cows produce is not intended for human consumption - it's made for baby cows. Cows that give milk are kept pregnant and milking at a pretty steady rate, and while pregnant, they produce hormones at high levels. These hormones that are natural for the cow. But unfortunately, when consumed by humans, these hormones turn on our oil glands - especially in the face.

Sebum suffocates the skin. Once ingested and broken down, the cow's hormones kickstart the production of a waxy substance called sebum. When the sebum has hardened, it blocks and suffocates the glands that produced it, giving rise to blackheads. Your body tries to get rid of the blockage...but unfortunately, its way of doing so is:

Your body creates a big, red, inflamed pimple. Inflammation is your body's way of telling you that it's trying to get some foreign or unwanted object out of your bloodstream. In addition to the cow's hormones, you're also ingesting some pretty nasty stuff every time you drink milk. Almost any milk you'd buy in a store (even if it's pasteurized, lactose-free, or organic) has a measurable amount of pesticides, bacteria, herbicides, dioxins, and more . It's no wonder your body is trying to get rid of it!

Cutting out dairy products may seem like a drastic and impossible step to take. But luckily, there are more dairy-free options available now than ever before. If you are having trouble with acne, try going without dairy products for a while. (Be sure to consult your doctor!) Go to your grocery store and try out some of the fortified milk alternatives - soy, almond, rice, or hemp milks are popular and can offer various nutritional benefits depending on what you're looking for.

So, despite what all the advertisements say - it might be time to wipe off that milk mustache.


What did you think?


Next:My troubled history with milk

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  • Oh man, I just started drinking milk again. :/ Well, I like milk too much to stop drinking it all together, even if it's not meant for human consumption. I am glad to know these things so I can be more aware of how much I drink. Especially now, milk combined with this 90-100 degree humidity is just the right environment for pimples to grow.

    And once I try almond milk, maybe I'll never want cow milk again! :)

  • It's okay! It's not like milk is the devil or anything, haha. I still drink it from time to time, but I'm more conscious of how much dairy I'm consuming. (I love ice cream and cheese way too much to give them up!)

    I like having a variety of different milks available; they're good for different things :) But you know I'm biased towards almond milk!

  • You're absolutely right. Many people react negatively to dairy products from cows. For some it may simply be due to the sugar content, others may be sensitive to the lactose, and for some the reactions may be caused by the hormones. As any change in hormones may negatively influence your skin, be sure your dairy products are hormone free by selecting organic or rBGH-free versions.

    On the other hand, dairy products offer positive benefits for skin as well. Dairy is a great source of vitamin A (a key nutrient for healthy skin) and certain yogurts offer healthy bacteria. Yogurt rich in live and active cultures may help to create a better balance of healthy bacteria within the entire body.

    For myself, the only dairy that causes a skin eruption is if I eat ice cream. This will also occur if I have a piece of cake or sugary cereal. This has led me to the conclusion that sugar is the enemy of my own skin, which certainly makes sense as sugary foods lead to a great deal of inflammation and oil. When our blood is filled with sugar (glucose) the hormone insulin is released in droves to pick it up and deliver it inside of our cells for energy. The hormone surge can then cause your oil glands to secrete extra oil onto the skin creating a vicious cycle.

    Great blog :)

  • kinda wary of believing that completely though this may be the millionth time am reading this correlation with milk. I'd be more interested to know the reason that triggers acne in people who are on milk and have acne, compared to those who drink it but do not have any acne! any ideas? i'd be happy to hear!

  • Ash, that's a very good question! I think it just affects people differently, and I'm not sure if it's known why that is. As shown by Jessica's example, some people's skin reacts badly to sugar, while I'm sure other people would be completely fine. (Of course, you should stay away from excess sugar for other reasons!)

    Bottom line - do whatever seems to work best for you. :)

  • yep i completely agree with you laura! :)

  • Great Information! I switched to Soy awhile ago and have noticed a difference in my skin, however, I haven't given up milk entirely and this motivates me to do so....I have two pre-teen kids and acne is starting to make it's "head-way"....I plan on discussing this article with them.

  • I'm glad you enjoyed it, Victoria! Giving up milk can be a challenge, but we're lucky we live in a time where there are tons of alternatives: soy, almond, rice, coconut, etc...I hope this article helps them :)

  • Victoria - Try almond milk with them. I love it - and I was kid that would drink 3 glasses of milk a day easy. Even my 8 year old and fiance love it. We don't buy cow's milk anymore.

  • i dont specially like almond milk to be honest but its def not a bad substitute either! :)

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