The Anti-Acne Diet: How To Eat Your Way To Clear Skin

“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.”

It’s impossible to deny the truth behind this old but wise statement by the Father of Modern Medicine, Hippocrates. When it comes to acne, your diet has a massive impact on its occurrence. And while you cannot just make it vanish with your nutritional intake, you can certainly influence it. Depending on your intake of nutrition, the severity of acne might reduce or get worse. Wondering how? Read on to know all about acne diet.

If you are thinking that not taking proper care of your face gave you that ugly acne, dump that thought. Because your hormones influence the occurrence of acne. They make your skin produce more oil. And when a layer of dead skin cells accumulates on the  pores, you get acne.

For a few people, acne diminishes with age, and for some, it gets severe, and this is due to the function of your immune system and other genetic factors (1).

Diet And Acne: The Link

Research doesn’t deny the link between acne and your diet. What you eat shows up on your face, and a healthy diet helps you get rid of acne. A review of several studies found that specific diet and food items can aggravate or reduce acne .

Now, let’s see how you can control your acne breakouts with an anti-acne diet.

The Acne Diet: Diet For Acne-free Skin

1. Low Glycemic Index (GI) Diet

Several studies were conducted to find out the effectivity of a low glycemic index diet. Glycemic index (GI) is a measure where food items are ranked as per their effect on your blood sugar levels. In other words, foods that do not escalate your blood sugar levels have a low glycemic index. Clinical studies and controlled trials found that a low glycemic load diet reduced the free androgen index (i.e., controlled the release of a hormone called androgen, which is one of the primary causes of acne), thus reducing the severity of acne (3), (4).

Food Items With Low GI

  • Oat bran and rolled oats
  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Nuts and raisins
  • Peanuts
  • Lentils (red and green)
  • Carrots (raw and boiled)
  • Eggplant (aubergine or brinjal)
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushroom
  • Red peppers
  • Coconut
  • Kiwifruit
  • Oranges

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

What Does Research Say?

These fatty acids are mostly found in protein sources, such as eggs, fish, and a few plant sources. A study published in Lipids in Health and Disease reveals that omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, and those who included omega-3s in their diet experienced reduced levels of acne severity (5).

Food Items High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Fish such as mackerel, herring, sardine, and salmon
  • Cod liver oil
  • Oyster
  • Caviar
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Grass-fed dairy products and meat

3. Foods containing Vitamins A, D, And E

What Does Research Say? 

Vitamin A (retinol) fights acne when applied topically. A study conducted on both men and women showed that retinol was highly effective in treating acne inflammation .

A 2014 study published in Dermato Endocrinology found that people who suffered from acne had low levels of vitamin D. Another study found that the people suffering from acne experienced an improvement in their symptoms after they started taking oral vitamin D supplements.

Also, vitamin E, along with vitamin C, helps in preventing the formation of comedones and the growth of acne-causing bacteria.

Food Items High In Vitamins A, D, And E

  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Egg yolk
  • Raw whole milk
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Caviar
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Tomatoes

4. Antioxidant-rich Foods

What Does Research Say? 

Oxidative stress is one of the main reasons for acne. Your body has an antioxidant defense system, such as catalase (CAT) and the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) that regulates the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), thus maintaining the redox balance of the cells. High levels of ROS and low levels of antioxidants causes oxidative stress. So, consume foods that are rich in antioxidants to avoid acne .

Food Items High In Antioxidants

  • Dark chocolate
  • Berries (cranberry, mulberry, goji berry, blackberry, and wild blueberry)
  • Pecan nuts
  • Kidney beans
  • Cilantro
  • Artichokes (boiled ones)
  • Raisins
  • Green tea
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes

5. Diet Enriched With Zinc-containing Foods

What Does Research Say?

According to studies, this micronutrient is crucial for the development of the skin and to maintain its proper function. Also, zinc is effective against acne-causing bacteria. Several studies concluded that people who were suffering from acne (both men and women) had significantly low levels of zinc in their bodies (11), (12). When consumed orally, it reduced acne inflammation significantly.

Food Items High In Zinc

  • Spinach
  • Chicken
  • Mushrooms
  • Yogurt or kefir
  • Lamb
  • Cashew
  • Chickpeas
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds