“Beauty is more than skin deep”, “you are what you eat,” we hear variations of these phrases all of the time but are still absolutely confounded when faced with a pesky breakout. The explanation behind your break out may be a whole lot less mysterious than you think. While everyone’s skin is different and subject to react in varied ways, when it comes to the connection between food and skin, there are a few fundamental truths we can count on as suspects when faced with a blemish. As the rules of cause and effect would have it, an excess of any of the following deceptively delicious foods will result in an excess of acne.

SODA

Diet or not, your favorite carbonated drink is loaded with some form of sugar. You may even be surprised to learn that soda is akin to alcohol as far as fructose levels are concerned, even more concerning – it’s likely to have similar effects on your skin when consumed in excess. The fructose causes an insulin spike that leaves you feeling hungry and burnt out as fast as it got you caffeinated, making us fiend for more decadent treats as soon as they become available. We’ve been there. Trust us when we say we understand that soda sipping is a tough habit to break, so if you can’t muster up the will to cut it out completely, try keeping it out of the house and saving it for night’s out. Your skin will thank you for the break.

MILK

Rich in calcium, but heavy in hormones, milk is another sneaky culprit that could be leading to breakouts. Milk (and dairy products in general) is infused with a hormone called IGF-1, a growth hormone that helps baby cows grow big and strong but wreaks havoc on your skin. IGF-1 causes inflammation in humans, and we all know what that means: inflammation = leading cause of acne, so increased inflammation = increased acne. The hormone causes an insulin spike in your body, prompting your liver to produce more IGF-1, leading to – you guessed it – more acne. If you’re chronically oily, dairy could be exacerbating the situation. Dairy increases oil production in your skin, making it more prone to acne. You get the gist.

BREAD

Studies have shown that certain carbohydrates (looking at you, white bread) can break down collagen and cause inflammation in the skin. At this point, we all know what inflammation means – stressed, blemished skin. Most bread these days is comprised of “enriched” flour, which has a notoriously high sugar content. The excess sugar adheres themselves to proteins forming molecules called advanced glycation end products. These pesky little molecules deactivate antioxidants (ie. your skin’s safety blanket), and damage precious collagen – two things we simply can’t afford to lose. Cutting out bread from your diet is easier said than done, we know. Instead, opt for whole wheat or sprouted grain options. Keep your eyes peeled when scanning the bread aisle too, and make sure “enriched flour” is not on the ingredients list.