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Milk and Acne: Dairy Free Alternatives for Acne

06/05/2016 11:07 | Updated 06 May 2016

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If you suffer from acne, dairy is one of the worst triggers out there and could easily be disrupting your own hormone balance and making your acne worse. So today, I wanted to talk about the best dairy free milk alternatives to help you clear your acne.

How does milk affect acne?

If you're hormones are troublesome and you're suffering from persistent skin problems then milk, cheese and yogurt is one of the first things you need to cut back on. According to the American Journal of Dermatology, milk contains, on average, 60 different hormones which are present in all types of dairy; pasteurised, grass-fed, homogenised, raw, organic, yogurt, cheese etc - there's basically no escaping the acne causing hormones in milk!

It makes sense when you think about it, cows milk is designed to grow their baby calves very rapidly. All these growth hormones mean that milk contains high levels of androgens such as testosterone and IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor). These two androgens are now widely known to contribute to skin disorders such as acne and eczema. Not only does milk contain acne causing hormones, dairy products can also have a huge impact on your insulin levels too which can have a knock-on effect on your skin.

Not only does milk contain acne causing hormones, it also has a huge impact on your insulin levels!

Unfortunately, quitting milk can be quite tricky... You need to become a savvy label reader as milk is often found in everything, from soups to crisps! One of the first things I recommend doing is replacing your milk with a dairy free alternative as pure milk often has the highest concentration of potentially problematic hormones. The process of fermentation (a process used to create kefir, yogurt and cheese) actually deactivates some of the IGF-1 (1) but I still advise to go completely tee-total to start with so you can reset your system and kick start your body on the path to healing. Whether you like a splash of milk in your tea, cream in your curries or with your granola for breakfast, if you're serious about healing your acne you need to switch your milk for a dairy free alternative. Luckily it's now easier than ever to get your hands on a carton of shop-bought, dairy-free milk - just make sure you check the labels and avoid any with added sugar or lots of preservatives! My favourite brand in the UK are Rude Health and EcoMill (unsweetened).

The best dairy free alternatives for acne prone skin

So, you're probably thinking you can make the simple switch to the ever popular almond milk and be done with it? Unfortunately when suffering from acne we need to be extra cautious about everything we put in our bodies, particularly during the first stages of healing when we want to put all our focus into reduce inflammation and bringing the body back into balance.

When suffering from any sort of inflammatory skin disorder, whether it's acne or eczema, keeping inflammation down is one of the key things we need to do in order to heal. One of the best ways to decrease inflammation is to make sure we're getting the right balance of Omega-6:Omega-3. Ideally, we should be looking at a ratio of around 1:1 to 5:1, but with a lack of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 and plenty of inflammatory Omega-6 hidden in many foods, the ratio for a Western diet is more likely to be around 17:1. Unhealthy foods deep fried in vegetable oils (sunflower/canola/grape seed) are a big no-no when it comes to our skin as they all contain a high percentage of inflammatory Omega-6 and very little anti-inflammatory Omega-3 which can throw our omega level totally out of balance. But here's the shocker...'healthy' nuts and seeds can be an issue too!

When switching over to a healthy lifestyle, our intake of nuts usually skyrockets! We replace our mid afternoon chocolate biscuit for a handful of nuts, ground almonds become a key ingredient in our baking and nut milks form a base for our porridge and shakes. These 'healthier' lifestyle switches are a great start, but if you've cut out the dairy, sugar and gluten but are still breaking out, then it's time to really crack down on the foods that could be causing inflammation within the body.

A diet full of omega-6 increases inflammation, but a diet full of omega-3 will reduce inflammation.

Although they have many health benefits, nuts and seeds can contain really high amounts of Omega-6 and not much Omega-3, you may have heard that Walnuts, for example, are a great source of anti-inflammatory Omega-3. However, while they may be high in Omega-3 (9g/100g) compared to other nuts, they're also crazy high in Omega 6 too (38g/100g)!

The exception to this rule is Macadamia nuts, which contain a much more balanced ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. Unfortunately, Macadamia nut milk and nut butter are not readily available on the market so it means a little extra work in the kitchen is needed if you want to create your own, but don't fear! I've got the perfect recipe for macadamia nut milk below.

The best dairy free milks for acne prone skin

When our diet contains an abundance of nut-based foods including nut milks, energy bars, bliss balls, ground almond based desserts and granola, it's easy to see how those pro-inflammatory omega-6 levels can creep up and potentially cause problems with our skin!

To give you a comparison on the omega-6 levels of various foods, coconut contains just 0.7g of omega-6 per 100g while macadamia nuts contains 1.5g, avocado 1.66g, egg yolks 3.5g, hazelnuts 5.5g, cashews 7.8g, almonds 12.1g and vegetable oil contains up to 74.6g of pro-inflammatory omega-6 per 100g! In fact, 1 single tablespoon (14g) of vegetable oil contains, on average, a crazy 9.5g on inflammatory fat!

If you're looking for a nut-based milk, then coconut, macadamia and tiger nuts are the best options for keeping inflammation down and your omega-6 levels in check as they contain a balanced ratio of omega-3:omega-6. Gluten-free oat milk is another dairy free alternative I recommend for acne prone skin. All these dairy free alternatives are highly nutritious choices, containing plenty of vitamins and minerals, including acne healing minerals such as magnesium and zinc.

Coconut, macadamia nuts, tiger nuts and oats can all be made in to 'milk' and can also be ground into a fine meal to use in baking as a replacement for ground almonds. I tend to make my own macadamia and tiger nut milk using the recipe below and buy organic, sugar-free coconut and oat milk from the supermarket.

Have you found replacing milk with dairy free alternatives has helped heal your acne? Have your say in the comments below!

Originally posted on Skyn.Therapy

Amy Saunders is an expert in natural beauty and founded her virtual acne clinic Skyn.Therapy after suffering from severe acne for 13 years. Amy delves deeper into the root causes of acne, proving you don't need harsh chemicals to achieve a flawless complexion. Find Amy on Twitter, Instagram, and on her blog Skyn.Therapy.

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