Greasy foods lead to acne and gallbladder problems?


I have had terrible stomach problems for a few years now. My doctor says it's due to my love of greasy and oily foods, and that I should concentrate on eating healthier, broiled foods. Do you think if I continue on this unhealthy eating cycle, that I could develop gallbladder problems? Also, do you think my diet contributes to my acne-prone skin? Thanks for your help.

— Grease lover

Dear Grease lover,

It's not hard to understand why greasy foods hold a special place on people’s taste buds. Fat in foods helps contribute to how food tastes, how it feels in your mouth, and how it smells, making it all the more appealing. Although eating foods that are high in cholesterol may contribute to gallbladder problems, not all greasy and oily foods are high in cholesterol. On the positive end, the research doesn't indicate that oily and greasy foods is a cause of acne.

So first, what is the gallbladder? It's an organ that stores bile (the substance that helps break down fats) that is created by the liver. Gallstones and gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis) may be brought on by high cholesterol diets. While having a grease-heavy meal every now and then isn't associated with gallbladder problems, an oil and grease-rich diet could put you at risk for high cholesterol, and in turn gallstones, down the road. 

You mentioned that your health care provider chalked up your stomach problems to eating oily and greasy foods. It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of these symptoms, particularly without appropriate diagnostic tests or medical guidance. In light of this, you may want to consider cutting down on greasy foods and see if your stomach problems lessen or disappear completely. It also may not hurt to consider adopting strategies for eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet. You may reach out to a health care provider or a registered dietitian to discuss an eating plan that may support healthy stomach function and reduce your symptoms. A health care provider may also do some tests to see if your stomach concerns are due to a cause other than your diet.

As for acne, it's generally not the grease in your food that causes the zit-producing oils on your T-zone (which includes the chin, nose, and forehead). There have been some studies that have looked at the relationship between diet and acne, but these studies don’t show relationships between specific foods and an increase in acne. Some do show that a diet with more fruits and vegetables is associated with less acne, but all of these studies show association rather than causation. What is more commonly understood is that acne occurs when skin pores get clogged by oil and dead skin cells. Additionally, bacteria and excess hormones called androgens can also play a role. If this is a concern of yours, you may consider speaking with a health care provider (such as a dermatologist, who is a skin specialist) to help you decide how to banish those blemishes.

You may still love greasy foods, and in moderation, they aren't a common cause of gallbladder problems or acne. Hope this helps!

Last updated Jun 26, 2020
Originally published Aug 31, 1994