Is Dairy Bad For Your Skin?

Photo: Wendy Vansanten

Photo: Wendy Vansanten

Over the past several months, I have been doing a series on the many foods that may (or may not) be causing you acne. Today I’d like to talk about dairy.

 Dairy is a tough one for me personally. Like many of the culprits I have mentioned in previous blog posts, these foods can affect our bodies in many different ways, not just our skin.

For instance, I gave up meat several years ago due to the digestive problems in caused me, as well as both the ethical and environmental effects.

Dairy, though not as bad as meat, also gave me digestion problems.

Trouble is, I was addicted to cheese.

 Who doesn’t love cheese?! I’m Italian after all, and it’s been a pantry staple my entire life. I’ve always suffered from IBS, which many of the time is more stressed induced then diet induced, but I knew that block of cheddar in the fridge was not helping.

 Here’s the worst news of all: experts say that the foods you’re most addicted to are probably the ones that your body disagrees with the most.

 So I finally I had the doctor test me. Surprise, surprise, I’m lactose intolerant.

 I’m not alone.

65% percent of the human population are diagnosed as lactose intolerant and it’s estimated that that number is actually 90% (including the undiagnosed).

Why is that number so high? Well, for starters, human beings were never supposed to eat meat or dairy in the first place.

Though we’re known to be omnivores, our bodies are actually much more efficient (and healthy) as herbivores.

When it comes to meat, the human body is lacking the enzyme that carnivores, such as lions, have in order to break down and digest meat properly. This is why meat, especially pork, can live in our system for several days.

As you know, animals nourish their babies with mother’s milk. Each animal produces its own set of proteins and hormones, made for their babies, their species.

If you have a cat, you may have been told by your vet not to feed it milk, because it’s of a different animal and will cause digestive problems.

The same goes for us, and for those of us that also suffer from acne, these digestion problems will show up on the skin as well. Another even worse factor, are factory farm cows being injected with artificial hormones.


So what’s a dairy lover to do?

For everyone that knows me, this has been the hardest habit to kick. The easiest swap was milk. There are a variety of nut milks on the market (oat milk seems to be all the rage these days though I’m partial to almond milk). I also absolutely love coconut yogurt and some of the vegan ice creams, like the delectable Tofutti Cuties.

But what about cheese?

At this point, I’ve tried several of the vegan varieties and though they have gotten better over the years, I still haven’t found one that really does it for me.

Follow Your Heart’s Fiesta Blend is great for burritos and quesadillas, just as long as you melt it. Daiya Cheddar tastes more like Kraft American slices but if that’s your thing, it could work as an alternative in your cheese melts or on a burger. (NOTE: it doesn’t melt as well as regular cheese.)

 Also there is some good news in all of this: not all cheese is created equal.

Studies show that goat and sheep milk’s cheeses are indeed kinder on our digestive systems.



Here’s a creamy base that is super easy to make (I just blend it up in my Ninja Bullet Cup) as well as versatile. Served cold as a dip, a great alternative to Cesar salad dressing, and when warm, blended into cream based soups that would normally contain dairy. Did I mention it’s also a bangin’ alfredo sauce?

Cashew “cheese” sauce

-1 clove garlic

-1/2 cup cashews

-the juice of 1 lemon

-filtered water


  • Add cashews and water to blender cup. Water should just cover the cashews. Soak for at least a few hours but even better, overnight.

  • Add lemon juice and garlic clove

  • Blend until smooth. This recipe can be adjusted for taste. You can add more lemon juice, salt + pepper, nutritional yeast, the list goes on! When I make this an alfredo sauce I add white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Not sure if dairy (or any of the other foods I’ve profiled) are causing your skin problems? Try an elimination diet and go get a facial from a trusted esthetician. If you tried this recipe, let me know what you think!

Questions are always welcomed. Enjoy!

gina puliscianoComment