Dairy has long been chastised for contributing to acne and poor skin, but does the food group deserve this reputation? Let’s dig into the research: Similar to high-glycemic foods, the amino acids found in milk can promote the release of insulin and IGF-1, which correlates with acne severity. In addition, a systematic review and meta-analysis of dairy intake and acne in almost 80,000 people ranging from 7 to 30 years of age showed that drinking one glass of milk or more per day was associated with a higher likelihood of having acne compared to no milk intake.
It’s important to note that while there are some studies that showcase the link between dairy and acne, much of the evidence is largely anecdotal—and individuals who experience acne may have a mild allergy or intolerance to dairy themselves. So, it doesn’t mean that everyone needs to cut out dairy, especially if dairy is already part of your diet and you don’t experience severe acne. (In fact, dairy has a host of health benefits, outlined here.) The bottom line? If it works for your body (and skin), there’s no reason to avoid it.