The Dreadful Truth About Junk Foods: Does Junk Food Cause Acne?

The Dreadful Truth About Junk Foods: Does Junk Food Cause Acne

Having acne is already a curse but not being able to eat all the food you want is another awful story. You have to give it your best not to eat your favorite cheeseburger, french fries and chips- or else, your face can end up with large painful zits.

But does eating junk foods cause acne? Do cheeseburgers really cause blemishes?

We’re all kind of hoping the answer is no, but here’s the truth you’ve been dreading to hear.

What Makes Junk Foods Bad For Your Skin

This is probably not the first time you’ll hear about how your diet can affect your skin, but I’ll still say it anyway (sorry!). Anyway, I know that’s why you’re here, too.

Eating junk foods is bad for your health primarily because they are low in nutrients and loaded with chemicals and calories. And apparently, they are the same reasons why they can give you bad skin.

Let’s tackle it one by one.

Glycemic Index

Junk foods have high Glycemic Index. Glycemic Index, in case you’re not yet familiar with it yet, is the system that determines how much a certain food can affect your blood sugar level.

It’s a ranking of 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest or closest you can get to pure glucose.

How’s that related to acne?

Well, when you eat a specific food that has a high glycemic index, it triggers your body to produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar level down. While that is a healthy response, too much insulin can cause mayhem to your skin.

It’s because insulin can trigger the release of your androgen hormones. These hormones can make your oil glands overactive.

The Dreadful Truth About Junk Foods: Does Junk Food Cause Acne?


Omega 6 Fatty Acids

When it comes to acne, there are two types of fatty acid you have probably encountered already- Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful when it comes to acne because it can help tone down your body’s inflammatory response. It’s basically what you need to have more in your diet.

The bad news, however, is that most junk foods have high Omega 6 fatty acid content. If you’re eating them frequently, you’re likely encouraging inflammation.

Omega 6 can also boost your androgen hormones.

But, what counts as junk foods?

Now, that is a good question.

Foods that have low nutritional value but contains high amount of sugar are considered junk foods. Hence, the word “junk”.

The list includes chocolate bars, donuts, burgers and those fried meals. Even pizza and potato chips can fall into this category.

Sounds easy, right? I think not.There are tons of junk foods that are actually marketed as health foods. Examples of these foods are those that come with “fat-free” and “low-fat” labels.

Milk and salad dressings are typical example of this.

Technically, when fat is taken out, food usually comes out tasting bad. When a food does not taste good, people don’t buy them and they can create low sales.

As a solution, manufacturers load up such foods with sugar to make the taste more enticing. And while you think that’s a good idea, it’s actually not.

High sugar, as I mentioned, can trigger insulin production and you can end up with oily skin- and acne.

Another example of junk foods disguised as healthy foods are fruit juices.Fruits are generally healthy for you but the problem with fruit juices you can buy off of supermarkets is that they are not 100% pure. Some “fruit juices” don’t even have any trace of fruit in them.

Other than being loaded up with chemical and synthetic ingredients, they are also high in sugar.

The same ideas apply to sports drinks, processed organic food and vegetable oils.

Real Food VS Junk Food

What makes real food? What qualifies as junk food?

A food in its purest form, such as fruits and vegetables are considered real food. But once they undergo processing and have been added with chemicals and other synthetic ingredients, they no longer fall under real foods.

You can identify them by reading food labels. Real foods usually don’t have too much extra ingredients and didn’t undergo excessive processing.

Another trick is to understand the ingredient list. If there are more ingredients you couldn’t find in your own kitchen or you’re not really familiar with, it may not be a real food.

But, of course, there are always a few exceptions to the rule.

Take, for example, your favorite pizza. 

A pizza that comes from a grocery’s frozen section may not be as healthy as the kind of pizza you create in your kitchen. Frozen pizzas tend to have preservatives to help them last longer for consumers.

Because processing is a factor that you should consider when differentiating real from junk foods, yogurt and other fermented products can be tricky to categorize as well.

If done the traditional way, yogurt is one of the best foods that can help boost your health. However, yogurt that comes with additives and artificial sweeteners won’t do your body any good.


Does junk food cause acne? Yes, it can.

If your diet is filled with this type of food, I think it’s time you reconsider your habit. Because no matter the amount of skin care products you use or the time you spend on cleansing and moisturizing your face, you’ll still not get the clear skin you’re aiming for.

Your diet is as important as how you take care of your skin internally. In fact, it’s one of the sneakiest causes of acne.

And frankly, it’s not just the acne you should be concerned about if you frequently indulge in junk foods. It also puts you at risk of several diseases.

While letting go of your comfort foods and resisting your cravings can be hard, choosing real over junk foods is still doable. It’s just a matter of discipline.

The Dreadful Truth About Junk Foods: Does Junk Food Cause Acne?

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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