Do I need to avoid dairy to clear my skin?

On a daily basis, as a Registered Dietitian, clients will often tell me that he/she does not consume dairy products as dairy products are bad their health.

Dairy products are a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D, B-vitamins, phosphorous and potassium.  I find myself often recommending Greek yogurt as a great way to get protein intake for those who do not have alot of meat consumption. I also find because Greek yogurt is so rich in protein, it is a great snack suggestion for those who are looking for something fast, easy, nutritious and portable. For the right client, I also do suggest Skyr yogurt from time to time. To meet daily calcium needs, I generally encourage individuals to have at least 2 to 3 glasses of milk per day (if they are open to having dairy products). Most individuals are shocked to hear you need to have at least 2-3 glasses of milk but you must also remember that there are components in our diet (i.e. fibre and oxalate) which block calcium absorption; therefore, there are very few instances where 100% of the calcium is absorbed into our bodies.

As you can see, I personally have nothing against dairy products and do include dairy products as part of my repertoire of recommendations.  On the other hand, I do respect individuals who choose to only consume milk alternatives due to personal preference (i.e. they do not like the taste of milk), lifestyle choices (i.e. vegan lifestyle, allergies to milk protein, sensitivity to lactose) or they are very calorie conscious (i.e. unsweetened almond milk only contains 25 kcals per cup). Whether you consume dairy products or milk alternatives, the volume of consumption is similar. You would need to have 2-3 glasses of milk alternatives per day to help meet your daily calcium needs. As a friendly reminder, soy milk is the only milk alternative which contains the same amount of protein content as milk. The other milk alternatives (i.e. oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, rice milk) all are quite protein deficient.

When it comes to skin health, unfortunately, there seems to be a correlation between dairy consumption and acne and/or accelerated aging.  Cows naturally possess hormones within their bodies; when individuals consume these products, the hormones may cause acne and/or accelerated aging.

nature animal agriculture cow

If you are questioning if you have a sensitivity to dairy products (i.e. breakouts occur  more often when dairy is consumed), you may want to eliminate dairy products from your diet for 120 days (~ 4 months). Why 120 day (~4 months)? This is the lifespan of a skin cell. 🙂 If your skin clears up, dairy may be a factor and/or dairy may be something you may want to consider cutting out of your diet; however, if your skin does not improve, you may want to look at other dietary factors which may be affecting your skin health (i.e. are you consuming alot of refined sugars?).

person washing his hand

Food For Thought: Removing dairy from your diet is a personal choice. You must keep in mind that dairy consumption is not the only factor in maintaining good skin health. A diet rich in fibre and antioxidants can definitely help with skin health. Genetics is also a factor. 😉 If you believe you are sensitive to dairy products (i.e. you break out more when you consume dairy products), be diligent and cut dairy products (i.e. milk, yogurt, cheese) for ~4 months. See if your skin health has improved. If your skin has not improved, you may need to start evaluating other parts of your diet (i.e. how much refined sugar are you consuming daily?).


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