Does Yogurt Cause Acne? The Snack-time Favorite on Trial

By Valeria D.

May 8, 2020

acne, breakouts, yogurt

Yogurt is a “snack” enjoyed all around the world. 

You can have it for breakfast, before or after lunch, as a midnight snack—it’s all up to you. I myself enjoy a cup of vegan yogurt, especially after working out. 

Along with how universally enjoyed this snack is comes a certain question. Does yogurt cause acne?

Surely, with its reputation for being a healthy meal, there’s no way yogurt causes acne, right? And as I checked my initial search results, it seems that the theory holds true. In short, there’s a lack of relationship between yogurt and acne.

Good news, yes? 

Well, not exactly. 

The thing is, even with theory, you still find people breaking out from yogurt. To better understand what’s going on, we need to dig a little deeper. We’ll look at the possible causes for concern when it comes to yogurt and acne. Then, we’ll see whether yogurt is indifferent, bad, or good for acne. 

Sounds good, natural beauty Queen? Then, let’s go!

Yogurt and Acne: What’s the Cause for Concern?

does yogurt cause acne?

Before the existence of vegan-alternatives, dairy yogurts were flooding the marketplace. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that. But studies started pouring in, painting a different picture. We’ve now come to have a better understanding on how dairy affects our skin.

Since then, acne-sufferers are often advised to cut dairy from their diets. And the results for some are quite positive. So no wonder people suspect yogurt for triggering acne. The proof is in the dairy. 

But is that all there is to it? Let’s elaborate some more.

Yogurt as a Dairy Product

Concern

Experts have found evidence that dairy can trigger acne. Dairy products contain a hormone (IGF-1) that clogs pores. To make matters worse, dairy products prompt a large insulin response from your body. High insulin levels mean bad news for acne as it contributes to overproduction of oil. Then, it’s only a matter of time for excess oil to clog pores and summon acne.

Rebuttal

One study, among many, found that dairy intake and acne development are connected. But among all the dairy products tested, yogurt did not have a relationship with acne. Meaning, yogurt didn’t cause acne unlike other dairy products in the study.

Why is that? 

Well, as the researchers explained, it’s may be due to the fermentation process. The process, including probiotics, can possibly reduce the IGF-1 levels of milk. IGF-1 is the hormone associated with acne development. So, though yogurt is a dairy product, it’s a bit less likely to cause acne the way milk does.

Yogurt and Dairy Allergy

Concern

When I say “dairy allergy,” I don’t mean lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance deals with difficulty in digesting milk. Yogurt is actually lower in lactose compared to other dairy products. So often, lactose intolerant people can get away with snacking on yogurt. 

Now, compared to lactose intolerance, dairy allergy is much worse. People with dairy allergyhave immune systems that treat dairy products like dangerous invaders. The reaction to these “invaders” can start from itching, swelling, and of course acne breakouts. But it can end up life-threatening, too. How? Worst reactions include vomiting, bloody stools and even anaphylactic shock. 

Rebuttal

The concern above sounds very, um, concerning--yes. But dairy allergy is quite rare. About 2% and 3% of children younger than 3 years old are allergic to milk. 80% of them are said to outgrow the allergy by the time they are 16. So, yes, yogurt can cause acne as a symptom of dairy allergy. But if you don’t have this allergy, you have a lot less to worry about.

Does Yogurt Help with Acne?

The cause for concern with yogurt and acne is not as alarming as it first seemed to be. Turns out yogurt, even though a dairy product, is not a baddie for acne after all. The question now is, does yogurt help with acne?

Fortunately, yogurt can deliver.

When you think of yogurt, probiotics comes right after. These are helpful or good bacteria that keeps your gut healthy. And they are often found naturally in fermented food – like yogurt. But what do these bacteria have to do with acne?

Well, research has it that a healthy gut can help acne by:

  • Enhancing absorption of nutrients like zinc
  • Improving mood
  • Decreasing stress
  • Helping with fat loss

Ain’t that beautiful! So go ahead and include yogurt in your diet. Your skin might just thank you!

Eating the Right Kind of Yogurt

Oh, yup, we’re not done yet. 

Everything we’ve talked about so far tells us yogurt is a goodie. But step inside a store, even just a small one, and you’ll be faced with so many options. Are all these good for your skin?

The answer is no. Especially yogurt that’s packed with sugar. 

Yes, you’re getting some good ‘ole probiotics but that sugar won’t do your skin any favors. After all, studies show that a high glycemic-load diet have negative effects on acne. This type of diet involves eating food loaded with sugar. The rise in blood sugar causes more frequent and severe acne.

So, what kind of yogurt should you opt for?

Here is the thing. I originate from Bulgaria and yogurt is actually one of the symbols of the country. In fact, the bacteria used to make yogurt is called lactobasilicus bulgaricus! Even a professor from the French Pasteur Institute even researched the relationship between the longevity of Bulgarians and their consumption of yogurt. 

My point? I grew up eating a lot of yogurt and I truly LOOOVED it.

The facts: 

  • I am vegan
  • who used to love yogurt
  • and who is perfectly aware of the amazing benefits of fermented foods rich in probiotics,
  • but has realized all the potential problems dairy consumption can cause to our health.

So, to offer a well-researched but non-biased answer: What diary yogurt should you optin for? 

Unsweetened, no-fuss Greek yogurt is the way to go for the dairy option. It’s often touted as the healthiest option when it comes to yogurt. 

Now, if you prefer a non-dairy, vegan alternative, as I do, don’t fret! Vegan yogurts come from plant sources like almonds, soy, coconuts, peas, or cashews. And you’ll be happy to know they are packed with probiotics, too. 

Vegan yogurt is the way to go, especially if the dairy in regular yogurt concerns you. Yes, dairy yogurt has little of the hormones connected to acne. But if you suffer from hormonal acne, even that little amount is a cause for concern. By opting for non-dairy yogurt, you won’t have to worry about those acne triggering hormones, and you’ll keep the milk for the calfs where it belongs. 

Final Thoughts

A majority of sources gives us a confident conclusion that yogurt is good for acne. But of course, our skin varies greatly from each other. People can have great luck with removing yogurt and dairy in general. While some people find that it’s the opposite.

With all that’s said and done, your diet is not nearly half the battle with acne. There’s still a lot of factors that could be causing or worsening your acne. So never get tired of learning something new each day. A piece of knowledge today could mean big things in the future of your skin care journey.

What’s your experience with yogurt and acne? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Stay tuned and take skin care!

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