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An Acne Diet has shown to be effective among some people struggling with mild to moderate acne.
Acne (pimples) has some relationship with nutrition, however there is little credible research providing links between certain food groups and acne.
As an acne sufferer it is a process of trial and error. However there are some dietary guidelines that may be useful.
Foods That May Cause Acne
As part of an acne diet, these foods should be avoided.
- Foods with saturated fats and trans fats can contribute to oily skin. Saturated fats are found in most animal products – such as meats, dairy, and poultry. However the body does still require other essential fatty acids – such as from fish, flaxseed or hempseed oil.
- Some believe that a high calorie intake (i.e. eating too much) can lead to increased hormone levels, and subsequently more ‘break-outs’ – but this is unproven.
- Refined sugars and carbs. It is believed that high sugary diets helps to feed the bacteria that cause acne. Many who have “cleaned” up their diet have seen improvement.
- Soft Drinks. Cutting out soft drinks as part of an acne diet has also been linked with improved skin as long as the soft drinks are replaced with plain water.
- Processed foods. These foods are laden with refined carbs, sugars, salt, and preservatives, which affects the health of many organs including the skin.
- High levels of iodine in the diet does impact some acne sufferers – by causing new outbreaks of acne lesions. Note that very salty (iodized salt) foods such as chips etc, contain high levels of iodine and should be avoided.
What About Chocolate?
Many believe there is a direct relationship between eating chocolate and increased acne.
However this is unproven – although chocolate can have a high proportion of saturated fats. When eating chocolate choose the variety with the highest percentage of cacao you can tolerate (i.e. 70-90% dark chocolate). This will also have a lower percentage of added sugar.
Acne Treatment Methods
Besides an acne diet, there are some treatments that have been shown to be effective.
- Anti-Sebum Cream w/ Green Tea – reduces oil, clears pores and kills bacteria associated with acne.
- Proactive – A topical treatment system developed by dermatologists.
- Some people have found that Vitamin A and Zinc have helped with acne.
- In addition Green Tea could also be incorporated into the acne diet (as it leads to a decrease in androgen production).
Foods That Help Treat Acne
Adversely, an acne diet that includes the following foods may help to heal acne.
- A higher protein intake may assist in acne control.
This may be to do with the decreased production of a certain enzyme that can cause more oil production, and increased clogging of pores. A diet with 60-70% carbohydrates may be too high in carbs. Diets like The Paleo Diet may help.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.
These foods are full of vitamins and minerals and nourish your skin properly.
- Drink plenty of water.
Water helps to flush away toxins and hydrate the skin. Aim for at least 8 glasses a day.
Medline Plus acne information
American Academy of Dermatology
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
- Goulden, V., Stables, G. I., Cunliffe, W. J. (1999). Prevalence of facial acne in adults. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 41(4), 577-580. link
- Caperton, C., Block, S., Viera, M., Keri, J., Berman, B. (2014). Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 7(5), 19. link
- Williams, H. C., Dellavalle, R. P., Garner, S. (2012). Acne vulgaris. The Lancet, 379(9813), 361-372. link
Last Reviewed: January 16, 2018