The Blog

January 26, 2024

Does Dairy Cause Acne?

Does Dairy Cause Acne?

By Callie Birtles, RHN in The Clear Skin Solution

To achieve clear and healthy skin, it’s important to start from within by making some dietary changes. This involves steering clear of processed foods and sugary treats while incorporating more fresh fruits and veggies into your meals. Although dairy is often promoted as a crucial source of calcium, it can trigger acne breakouts for some. So, how does this happen, and how can we ensure we’re getting enough of this essential mineral?

The Deal with Acne & Dairy

First, let’s look at where dairy comes from. Most dairy comes from cows, a much bigger animal than we are. A full-grown dairy cow weighs about 2,000 pounds or 900 kilograms. That’s about the size of a Smart car. Meanwhile, the average adult human weighs about 150 pounds or 70 kilograms. The difference in size between the two species is huge. So, it’s no surprise that milk from a cow contains many more hormones than human milk and up to 4x the amount of protein. 

The Hormone Link

Yep! Dairy cows are given artificial hormones to assist with their milk supply. When we consume milk products, these hormones may also affect our own hormones, leading to imbalances known to contribute to acne. Even dairy products labelled hormone-free still contain over 60 naturally occurring hormones.

The proteins found in milk, namely whey and casein, have been shown to aid in calves’ growth and hormone production. Interestingly, when we consume milk from these same animals, these proteins similarly affect our bodies. Upon digestion, these proteins release a hormone called IGF-1, which is comparable to insulin. Unfortunately, this hormone has been linked to causing breakouts

Bone Health

The main reason we’ve been led to believe we need to or should consume dairy is for strong bones because of its high calcium content. But here’s the thing: this line of thinking is not entirely accurate. In fact, there are many other minerals that are essential for maintaining strong bones and ensuring that calcium is deposited in the right place – your bones – and not in your arteries!

When it comes to maintaining strong bones, we often focus on the importance of calcium. However, did you know that there are other minerals that work in conjunction with calcium to build and maintain healthy bone tissue? Calcium alone will not build or keep your bones strong! These minerals help improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.

One such mineral is magnesium. Magnesium is important for regulating calcium levels in the body and enhancing bone strength. Studies have shown that individuals who consume higher amounts of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density than those who consume lower amounts. Good sources of magnesium include spinach, almonds, avocado, and black beans.

Another key mineral for strong bones is vitamin D. While it’s not technically a mineral, vitamin D plays an important role in helping the body absorb calcium from food sources. Without enough vitamin D, our bodies can’t effectively utilize all the calcium we consume through our diets.

Vitamin K is known to play an important role in the health of the bones because it helps regulate how calcium is laid down in the bones. Studies have shown that individuals with lower levels of vitamin K have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Therefore, it’s important to include foods with vitamin K in your diet, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli.

Phosphorus is essential to the formation of strong bones. Phosphorus is a major mineral that helps form the hard tissue of your bones and teeth. It’s also needed for cell growth, energy storage and metabolism, as well as other important body processes. Phosphorus holds Calcium in “place”. 

Yet another component of bones and teeth is boron. Boron strengthens the structure of your bones and helps to keep them strong. It also plays a role in the process of absorbing calcium from food, along with vitamin D and magnesium.

Possibly the most important factor in calcium absorption is stomach acid. Inadequate levels of stomach acid will result in poor solubility and uptake from the small intestine into the bloodstream.  Eating plenty of foods that are high in calcium and taking calcium supplements can be helpful. However, if your body can’t absorb the calcium, it won’t make a difference. 

What’s The Buzz About Raw Dairy?

Raw dairy has become a hot topic in the world of health and nutrition. Some people swear by it as a natural cure for acne, while others argue that it’s no better than conventional dairy products. So, what’s the truth? Is raw dairy really any better for acne?

What is raw dairy? 

Raw dairy is characterized by its lack of pasteurization or homogenization. The primary appeal of consuming raw dairy lies in its purportedly higher nutrient content and abundance of beneficial bacteria, which are often lost in processed milk. Additionally, raw dairy is often considered less allergenic. Despite these benefits, consuming raw dairy isn’t without its risks. One of the most significant concerns is the potential exposure to harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.

When delving into the relationship between acne and dairy, the scientific landscape is somewhat sparse. There’s a notable lack of comprehensive research delineating the benefits or drawbacks of raw dairy as opposed to conventional dairy in the context of acne. Additionally, access to raw dairy can often be a challenge; it’s typically easier to source if you have a direct connection with a dairy farmer.

In our practice, while working therapeutically with clients to clear up chronic acne, we advise a pause on all dairy products initially. This break allows us to understand how dairy might be affecting your skin. If you’re considering reintroducing dairy later, we typically suggest starting with raw goat or sheep dairy. These options are often more digestible and less likely to trigger acne compared to cow’s dairy. However, it’s crucial to source these products from reputable suppliers to minimize health risks.

Plant-Based Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral for maintaining strong bones and teeth, muscle function, and nerve transmission.  When it comes to getting our daily calcium intake, plant sources offer several benefits over dairy products.  Firstly, plant-based sources of calcium, such as leafy greens (kale, broccoli), legumes (chickpeas, lentils), and fortified plant-based milks, provide us with more than just calcium.  They are also rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which contribute to overall health while containing cofactor nutrients mentioned earlier. Additionally, plant-based calcium sources tend to have lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, making them a healthier choice for those with dietary restrictions or concerns about heart health.  Moreover, plant-based sources are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly, as they require less land, water, and resources compared to dairy farming.  Ultimately, opting for calcium from plant sources provides a much wider range of health and environmental benefits.  

How much calcium do we really need?

  • Adults under 50: 1,000 mg per day.
  • Adults over 50: 1,200 mg per day.
  • Children: 200–700 mg per day, depending on age.
  • Teens: Approximately 1,300 mg per day for bone growth.
  • Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women: 1,200–1,400 mg per day.

Let’s have a look at some of the top non-dairy sources of calcium and what other bone-building co-factors they contain: 

  • Almonds: 1 oz – 73.9 mg calcium, plus manganese and magnesium.
  • Sesame Seeds: 1 tbsp – 88 mg calcium, with magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
  • Chia Seeds: 1 oz – 179 mg calcium, including magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
  • Sardines (canned, with bones): 1 cup – 560 mg calcium.
  • Tofu: ½ cup – 861 mg calcium, also contains manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
  • Beans & Legumes: 200 g cooked – 132 mg calcium, good for magnesium and phosphorus.
  • Broccoli: 1 cup – 42.8 mg calcium, rich in vitamin K and magnesium.
  • Kale: 1 cup – 90.5 mg calcium, with magnesium and vitamin K.

Dairy-Free Recipes to Try

Going dairy-free may be simpler than it sounds given all of the amazing non-dairy alternatives available now and may be an effective lifestyle change that can greatly improve your skin health! By eliminating dairy products from your diet, you may minimize breakouts and reduce inflammation. You can still obtain necessary nutrients by incorporating plant-based foods into your meals such as leafy greens, nuts, and beans. Remember, everyone’s skin is different so it’s important to listen to your body and make changes accordingly. Give it a try for a few weeks and see if you notice any improvements in your complexion. Your skin will thank you! 

Sources:

  1. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318522/#:~:text=It%20is%20suggestive%20that%20IGF,also%20sebum%20production%20in%20sebocytes
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4106357/
  3. https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/patients/prevention/calcium-content-of-common-foods
  4. https://draxe.com/nutrition/calcium-deficiency/

Paragraph

Let's get your skin finally cleared up.

Hint: acne is an external symptom of an internal issue. That's why years of prescriptions, medicated creams and fancy facials haven't gotten you the results you're after. Getting rid of acne is an inside job and we're here to help you do it.

TELL ME MORE →

Testimonials

"After a few months, my skin improved significantly."

Now my skin is completely blemish-free, I don’t even have to wear makeup. I don’t even break out around my cycle. I really owe it to Katie for her knowledge, and guidance during this clear skin journey. Thank you, Katie!!

-Jenyne W.

"My scars and blemishes from the past continue to fade."

I'm grateful for the knowledge, strength and support to get current breakouts under control while my body continues to detox and heal.

Laurenne B.

"My skin is definitely consistently good now."

I feel like I didn't know why I would go through good spells before and then terrible breakouts. My energy levels and motivation have also returned. This is all so huge for me.

Sara P.

"I actually enjoy the look of my face with less make-up."

 I use to wear a lot of powder and concealer to cover the break out areas, as well as to hide my scars. Both my breakouts and scars are lessening in amount and redness!!

-Nicole B.

Before & Afters

Cupcake ipsum dolor sit. Amet icing candy sesame snaps toffee oat cake jelly I love macaroon.

I love sweet bonbon. Tiramisu I love apple pie. Lollipop macaroon pastry danish. Sweet roll jujubes gummies tootsie roll fruitcake I love liquorice. Wafer chocolate halvah. Liquorice apple pie lollipop sweet roll powder. Oat cake sesame snaps marshmallow cookie jujubes. Croissant pie I love croissant cookie.

client love

next

"

Cupcake ipsum dolor sit. Amet icing candy sesame snaps toffee oat cake jelly I love macaroon.

I love sweet bonbon. Tiramisu I love apple pie. Lollipop macaroon pastry danish. Sweet roll jujubes gummies tootsie roll fruitcake I love liquorice. Wafer chocolate halvah. Liquorice apple pie lollipop sweet roll powder. Oat cake sesame snaps marshmallow cookie jujubes. Croissant pie I love croissant cookie.

client love

next

"

Cupcake ipsum dolor sit. Amet icing candy sesame snaps toffee oat cake jelly I love macaroon.

I love sweet bonbon. Tiramisu I love apple pie. Lollipop macaroon pastry danish. Sweet roll jujubes gummies tootsie roll fruitcake I love liquorice. Wafer chocolate halvah. Liquorice apple pie lollipop sweet roll powder. Oat cake sesame snaps marshmallow cookie jujubes. Croissant pie I love croissant cookie.

client love

next

"