Treating acne just got a little bit easier, with recent research offering us a greater understanding of the role low-fat and skim milk might play.
A study discovered that teens with facial acne consumed significantly higher amounts of low-fat/skim milk than those without acne. Full-fat milk was not associated with acne. Skim milk has actually been implicated in many health conditions, ranging from infertility to colorectal cancer.
How does skim milk contribute to acne?
The link between low-fat dairy and pimples is a little bit more complicated than a simple case of ‘too much sugar’ or ‘not enough vitamins’ in the diet. There are certain elements of milk that are far more biologically available in skim milk, because the fat and other critical elements that keep them in check are gone.
The hormone left free of constraint in low-fat or skim milk responsible for triggering some types of acne is called insulin-like growth factor.
What’s missing in skim milk?
In full-fat milk, this hormone is matched with another molecule (a protein) that binds to the insulin-like growth factor and deactivates it.
This doesn’t happen in skim milk, because the ratio is off – the special binding protein is either destroyed or removed (we’re not quite sure which). That means insulin-like growth factor can roam unimpeded throughout our bodies simply because there is nothing to stop it.
How does insulin-like growth factor cause acne?
Insulin-like growth factor causes acne by stimulating the production of androgens, like testosterone. Excess androgens are a known trigger of acne, since androgens cause the sebaceous glands in the skin to enlarge, and as a result, these bigger glands produce more sebum – oil. This blocks pores and results in an oily feast for certain types of skin bacteria: acne. Not just a couple of pimples, but full-blown inflamed acne.
Teenagers have higher levels of androgens, especially boys, since they are required for the development of what’s known as secondary sex characteristics: pubic, facial, and underarm hair, development of the testes, and deepening of the voice. Put these two sources of androgens together – low-fat milk and adolescence – and you have a recipe for acne.
In adults, the same applies, but there are less teenage androgens at play, and other factors involved that can cause acne. Being judicious with food is certainly one weighty element to cleaning up your skin, but it’s not everything – as you can see, there are some foods you might consider very healthy that are actually causing you health problems. This means having your acne properly investigated and treated is crucial if you want to have clear skin.