Is Oat Milk Causing My Acne?


“It could be that we found another hot ingredient with sneaky, stealthy sources of added sugar,” London says. (Or maybe not so sneaky: I buy vanilla-flavored oat milk specifically because it makes my coffee sweeter.) Even though plant-based milks are sometimes marketed as healthier options versus dairy, creamers and barista blends can be loaded with sugar, especially if you use a big glug or three. (Guilty.) “I think why we’re seeing more people feeling like there are side effects of some of these plant-derived milks is because there’s a lot more added sugar in that category on the whole,” London explains. (The label on the oat milk creamer I use says it contains four grams of added sugar. Regular old cow’s milk, by contrast, typically does not contain added sugar.)

Is oat milk spiking my glucose levels?

In a word: yes. But stay with me. According to London, if you have normal blood sugar, your glucose levels will go up and down throughout the day after you eat—that’s just how bodies work and, for most people, is nothing to worry about.

Glucose sounds like a scary word, but it’s just table sugar, says Dr. Landry, and it’s in a lot of what we eat. “It’s a perfectly fine thing at the end of the day,” she confirms. When you ingest glucose, your body releases insulin as a reaction. Typically, the body should release a proportional amount of insulin to the amount of glucose you’ve consumed, but that’s not always the case. “What happens in a negative situation [like eating a lot of sugary food at once] is that we have this big glucose spike and our body either doesn’t release enough insulin or releases too much insulin to handle that spike or amount of sugar we’ve taken in,” Dr. Landry explains. This is why you might feel sluggish or crash after eating a sugary latte and pastry, or a bunch of candy, white bread sandwich, and a soda at lunch. London says frequent spikes like these could also increase sebum production.

According to Dr. Landry, “What we do know is that higher glycemic foods in general [like white bread, sugary cereals, French fries] can be associated with either some kind of hormonal fluctuation or inflammation itself. There are tons of things that we want to avoid because it makes our blood sugar spike really quickly,” he says. “Whereas things like fresh vegetables, beans, or even just steel cut oats in their natural form are lower in that glycemic index.”

So, should I stop drinking oat milk?

Both London and Pavitt recommend looking closely at the label of your chosen non-dairy milk or creamer, keeping an eye on the “Added Sugars” line in particular. Pavitt herself uses dairy milk and says not to be “scared” of it, but if you’re sensitive to dairy, she recommends almond or cashew milk instead of oat, as they rank lower on the glycemic index. London recommends prioritizing protein via unsweetened soy or pea milk, which will give you about seven and eight grams of protein per serving, respectively—a number similar to dairy milk. Dr. Landry’s pick is soy milk, which he says is closest to cow’s milk from a nutritional standpoint.



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