Omaha, NE, dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD, says a lot of patients come into his practice admitting to what they think is a big-time skin care foul.
It’s not picking at their faces or forgetting to wear sunscreen—it has to do with something most people think hits the “do” list regarding their diets. “Patients apologize to me for not drinking more milk, but you don’t want to! We’ve been brainwashed to think that dairy is good, but it’s not.”
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You may have heard this one before if you suffer from acne, but Dr. Schlessinger says it’s a belief that’s gaining a lot more traction and has a lot of solid information to back it up: Many dairy products, like milk, have hormones, and that formula isn’t so fabulous when it comes to certain skin conditions.
“Milk is the perfect food—if you are a growing calf,” says Troy, MI, plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD. “The hormones and milk sugars and proteins can result in inflammation, which manifests as acne. Although most physicians aren’t necessarily on board with this idea, many forward-thinking doctors are spreading the word that milk does not necessarily do a body good and more and more people are understanding that eating dairy products can worsen acne.”
In fact, Dr. Youn says, for his patients suffering from adult acne, one of the first steps he recommends isn’t going the medication route—it’s avoiding dairy for a few weeks to see if the acne improves.
Both doctors also say that skin milk is the worst offender from the dairy list, and Dr. Schlessinger points out that this kind of milk actually contains the most hormones. “And hormone-free just means hormones weren’t added. The milk still has hormones; the same idea goes for meat and poultry.”
“Skim milk combines sugar with the hormones to create inflammation, which can present in the skin as acne,” Dr. Youn explains, but does point out dairy items like yogurt can contain probiotics, which can be helpful for the gut. “However, there are other ways to obtain probiotics as well.” And as for the fan-favorite of cheese? Yes, it also can directly affect your skin, and also your body. “More than any food in the American diet, cheese just may cause the most obesity.”
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