Acne: Foods That Cause and Fight Acne and Pimples

There are foods that trigger acne and foods that help acne.

The Food and Acne Relationship

Acne is a complex condition. Diet plays a role, but so do your lifestyle and genes. There are foods that help cause acne and foods that help fight it. More research is needed about the link between diet and acne. Here's what we know about food causes of acne so far.

Milk is one of the foods to avoid for acne.

Milk

According to the results of one study, drinking more milk increases the risk of acne. And the effect is worse with skim milk. Researchers don't know if it's due to the hormones in milk from pregnant cows. High levels of these hormones are associated with a greater risk of acne.

Sugary foods with a high glycemic index are not the best foods for clearing acne.

Sugar and Some Carbs

Some foods and drinks contain a lot of sugar or they have carbs that break down and enter the bloodstream fast. Sugar, white rice, white bread, and cake are so-called high glycemic index foods that may make acne worse. High glycemic index foods and drinks trigger the production of insulin to lower blood sugar. The hormone cascades that follow intake of these foods increase oil production in your skin.

Foods bad for acne include chocolate.

Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the foods that may trigger acne, according to results from some small studies. Cocoa was considered the main culprit but one of the studies showed that people who ate chocolate containing 10 times the amount of cocoa were no more likely to get breakouts than those who ate chocolate containing regular amounts of cocoa. Choosing dark chocolate to manage acne may be a better choice since it has less milk and sugar.

People who eat a lot of fiber may see their acne improve.

High-Fiber Foods

Foods that fight acne include high-fiber foods like oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, beans, carrots, and apples. No one knows why these foods that get rid of acne work. It may be that fiber helps control blood sugar, which affects levels of other hormones involved in acne.

One of the best foods for acne is omega-3 fatty acid rich salmon.

Salmon

When shopping for foods to prevent acne, don't forget to grab some salmon. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower inflammation in the body. They may help keep acne at bay. Consuming the fish also decreases IGF-1, a protein that increases the risk of acne.

Eat antioxidant-rich foods to clear acne like nuts.

Nuts

Acne is an inflammatory condition and many people with breakouts are low in antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium. Nuts are rich in these compounds and may help keep your skin clear. Reach for almonds, Brazil nuts, and peanuts as foods that may help clear acne. Antioxidants help repair cells and help ward off infections. Be careful though. Nuts are high in fat and calories. A sensible serving is 3 to 4 Brazil nuts or about 24 almonds.

Oysters are acne preventing foods because they are high in zinc.

Oysters

Zinc is antibacterial and may help kill certain kinds of bacteria that contribute to acne. Zinc inhibits the production of chemicals that promote inflammation, another process involved in acne. Excess zinc is not healthy. Adults should take care to not ingest more than 40 milligrams per day of the mineral.

Seaweed is one of the foods that trigger acne due to the iodine content.

Seaweed

It's a staple of Japanese cuisine and you eat it with sushi, salads, or as a snack. Seaweed is rich in iodine, but it may trigger acne breakouts. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most adults for iodine is 150 milligrams per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more. Iodine is found in seaweed but also fish, iodized salt, and dairy products.

It’s a myth that fried items are foods that give you acne.

Does Oily Food Trigger Acne?

Your mom told you to avoid eating oily, greasy foods because they give you acne. Not so. It's a myth that fried foods trigger acne. However, if you cook with a lot of oil, you may get more breakouts. Oil from a deep fryer or pan may clog your pores while you are cooking.

You should see a doctor for acne if diet changes, home skin care, and OTC treatments don’t resolve your skin condition.

When to See a Doctor

Diet changes, home skin care, and over-the-counter treatments are not always enough to get acne under control. If that is the case, you may need to see a dermatologist about your skin condition. Medical treatment may help you get a handle on acne and reduce the risk of scarring.

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REFERENCES:

  • Advances in Dermatology and Allergology: “Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris.”
  • BMC Dermatology: “High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study.”
  • Harvard Health Publications: “Glycemic Index for 60+ Foods," “Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods.”
  • Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions: “Acne.”
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Green Tea.”
  • Dermatology Research and Practice: “Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review.”
  • NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: “Selenium,” “Vitamin E,” “Iodine.”
  • GirlsHealth.gov: “Acne.”
  • American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Treating Acne? Is It Time to See a Dermatologist?”
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