Does whey cause acne?
Some practitioners may notice acne on the face and body after taking nutritional supplements, especially whey. However, we don't all react the same way, and everyone has their own sensitivity and reaction to taking whey. To try to understand this phenomenon, we will focus on the reasons that can cause acne in some people.
The relationship between milk and whey
Whey is a protein powder made from milk. Some scientific studies have actually linked acne to the consumption of dairy products such as milk or cheese in susceptible people (1). So milk and whey are closely related because they contain lactose, a sugar that is difficult for the body to digest. Lactose is easily digested at birth through breast milk because it is an essential nutrient in infant nutrition, but as we grow up, our bodies don't have lactase to digest. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in the body so that it can be easily digested without difficulty.
Consuming whey protein can increase the production of anabolic hormones such as testosterone, thus raising the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands responsible for oily skin. Biochemical and epidemiological data support the effects of milk and dairy products as stimulants of insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling and exacerbation of acne (2).
If you are sensitive, eating dairy products and therefore whey protein, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort causing acne or other reactions. So it can be comedogenic because it clogs the pores of the skin in people sensitive to this nutrient.
Other factors that can cause acne
Lactose may not be the only cause of acne, and there are other substances found in cow's milk: IGF-1 and bovine insulin. IGF-1 is a growth factor very similar to human growth factor and is elevated in people who regularly consume milk. It can stimulate the proliferation of some cells such as the growth of fat cells, and the glands that produce sebum, thus causing acne.
Bovine insulin is a substance that can cause an autoimmune reaction that promotes blisters. As its name implies, this substance causes a sudden rise in insulin in the human body. Moreover, foods that are high in carbohydrates with a fast glycemic index can cause acne in more sensitive people.
How do we avoid acne caused by whey?
If you are sure that your acne is caused by taking whey, it is advisable to stop taking it or switch to other sources of protein. In fact, there are, for example, whey isolates that do not contain lactose or protein powders made from albumin, soy and other plant sources. On our site we offer a wide range of whey products and have a special lactose-free or vegan category.
It is also important to know that if you are sensitive to whey, you are also sensitive to consuming dairy products in general. So take care to control your daily intake by limiting the consumption of cheese, cheese and other foods made with milk. Restricting milk intake or producing less insulin-acting milk will have a significant impact on the prevention of Western epidemic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and acne (3).