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Leyla Muedin

Leyla Muedin M.S., R.D., C.D

Dairy, Acne and Autoimmune

Could dairy be the culprit?

Q: Several of my family members have had bouts with adult acne and each has pinpointed yogurt as the culprit of producing large cyst-like blemishes on the face. This pertains to my two older sisters (57 & 60 years old) and my 23 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

My daughter is under a rheumatologist's care but I am analyzing her diet and am concerned for her to avoid yogurt with its probiotic nature. She has completely avoided yogurt for the last three months and most dairy and has not had one of these "cystic" breakouts during this time. We don't know if it is related to the avoidance of dairy but she has also had a lessening of her RA symptoms which were concentrated in her hands. Her doctor of course would laugh if I shared this with him which is a topic for another time.

Because of the medication she is taking and periodic IBS-like symptoms I would like my daughter to take a probiotic in pill form but am wondering what causes the acne with yogurt? Is it the dairy, probiotic nature or other factors?
We are long-time fans of Dr. Hoffman's and appreciate all the information that you provide to your listening audience.

A: Dairy products, even low-glycemic ones like full-fat plain yogurt, are known to spike insulin levels the same way high-glycemic foods do (sugars and starches). We know that consumption of high glycemic foods, and the subsequent rise in insulin levels, are associated with acne in that the desquamation process in skin becomes impaired-a cause of blocked pores. For more information on this, go to: I would recommend you read The Dietary Cure for Acne by Dr. Loren Cordain.

You can find a good quality non-dairy probiotic at your local health food store.

It is not a coincidence that your daughter's RA symptoms began to lessen with avoidance of dairy. Casein, the protein found in all animal milk, is associated with autoimmune conditions such as RA. Avoidance of dairy in the setting of autoimmune conditions is often recommended.


About the Author

Leyla Muedin

Leyla Muedin is a clinical nutritionist and lecturer at the Hoffman Center in New York City.