Can changing your diet help to reduce acne?

Can changing your diet help to reduce acne?

Diet plans are usually focused when someone is aiming to lose weight. What most of the people don’t know is that your diet plays a major role in the development of acne. There are many shreds of evidence that suggest that a person can prevent acne breakout if he is taking sufficient amount of omega 3 fatty acids, fewer dairy products, and very few foods that have a high glycemic index.

More than 50 million people in the USA are affected by acne every year and this makes acne one of the highly prevalent skin problems in the country. Usually, acne breakouts when puberty hits a person. The most common age group to suffer from acne is between 13 to 24 years old.

Acne may be caused by having an oily skin. Various types of skin lesions i.e. pimples also denote acne. The occurrence of acne can be at any stage from mild to severe. In any way, it affects the quality of a person’s life.

It is commonly believed that diet plays a major role in acne development. A survey from 2016 showed that 71% participants assumed that eating oil-rich food will cause acne to them. The rest thought that eating chocolate, dairy and soda drinks are highly responsible for acne.

But the exact reason behind acne development is unknown. It is an extensive topic which needs research and debate before declaring anything to be true. This article is based on the importance of diet and its relation with acne.

The relationship between skin and diet

It is clear that acne develops when skin pores are clogged with dead skin cells, microbes or debris. This clogging is sometimes caused by overproduction of sebum. Sebum is the natural oil of the skin that keeps the skin from drying out.

Once the pores are clogged, it leads towards inflammation. That’s what you see as acne and pimples. When a person hits the age of puberty, the body produces a hormone-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). There are many studies which believe that production of IGF-1 causes the overproduction of sebum and makes a person suffer from acne. Read about these studies by clicking here.

There are some foods which may also raise IGF-1 levels. So if you want to prevent acne, avoiding these foods will help. Some of these food choices are as follows.

All these foods to be avoided are selected as per results of a 2016 study.

  • All the dairy products
  • Foods that have a high glycemic index (GI)
  • Foods that have a high glycemic load (GL)

The measurement of GI determines how fast and how high any particular type of food can raise levels of your blood sugar. When measuring GL, it allows a person to compare different types of food with different GIs and portion sizes.

The simple formula for calculating GL is as follows.

GL = GI x the amount of carbohydrates per portion (in grams) / 100

You may also get the GIs of various foods list online. As per general rule, processed foods have a high GI and GL. Some of the foods that have a high GI are as follows. Read the complete details on the website of the American Diabetes Association by clicking here.

  • Bread: white bread, bagels etc
  • Sweetened breakfast cereals
  • Instant cereals
  • Certain fruits and vegetables: melons, pumpkins, potatoes, pineapples
  • Certain pasta: rice based pasta
  • White rice
  • Snacks: pretzels, popcorns etc
  • Dairy products: milk, cheese, ice cream

It is suggested that people suffering from acne should avoid all these foods.

On the other side, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests that avoiding only the foods with high GIs may affect acne breakouts more than avoiding the dairy products. It means that eating chocolate will make your acne really bad. This is due to the high sugar content of chocolate, however; unsweetened chocolate doesn’t have this same impact.

For now, there is less evidence to suggest that greasy foods cause acne. In many cases, overactive sebaceous glands cause oily skin, but not the fat and oil in food causes it.

Can changing your diet help to reduce acne?

What should you eat to prevent acne?

There is less research telling which food item prevents acne. However, various researches suggest that any diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduce the internal inflammation and thus help in acne. Some of the foods with high omega-3 fatty acids are as follows.

  • Fish: mackerel, salmon, sardine
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Soybean
  • Tofu
  • Navy beans
  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Mustard seeds

Can changing your diet help to reduce acne?

How to design an anti-acne diet?

With so much random information around and uncertainty of the functions of specific foods, it is necessary to carefully design a diet to prevent acne. These particular strategies don’t work on everyone and there are chances that only a few people will be benefitted from it.

The best way is to keep a record of what you eat and relate it with your skin condition. For this, keeping a food diary is the best way to identify the foods that trigger acne. You have to enter every meal and snack inside the food diary.

Doing this for only a few weeks or more will help you to evaluate your eating habits. You may also take this to your dermatologist. It will help him to suggest a suitable treatment for your acne. The doctor will try to understand the link between certain food type and acne breakouts by analyzing this information.

When you are changing your diet, it is essentially required to be patient. Wait for up to 12 weeks to see any noticeable change in your skin condition, as suggested by AAD.

Best tips to treat acne

  • Wash your face frequently with plain water.
  • Wash the face thrice a day and particularly after gym or sports.
  • Use skin care products that are gentle on it.
  • Avoid using highly fragrant skincare products and cosmetics.
  • Wash your hair regularly.
  • Try over the counter medication.
  • Consult a dermatologist.
  • Drink at least 08-12 glass of water daily.
  • Do not pop, prick or scratch pimples.
  • Avoid the direct exposure in sunlight.

Acne is also linked to stress and it is necessary to control stress when you are helping yourself for acne. Stress causes your body to produce a hormone called androgen. This hormone stimulates the overproduction of sebaceous glands in the skin. When more oil is produced, acne breakouts become more common.

Having acne on the face also affects a person’s confidence and self-esteem. It may also lead towards depression or social isolation. It is recommended to take the acne serious so that its physical and mental health effects are controlled.

The final word

Talking about the food, there is some evidence that0 suggest the role of dietary changes affecting the acne and pimples. However, there is no particular research based on it. A few dietary changes may help to control acne. For example, consuming a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and plants helps to improve the skin. Similarly, avoiding certain foods such as dairy products and foods with high GIs and GLs may also help. Remember that diet alone will not do any wonder, it is important to follow a complete skincare routine, treatment, and lifestyle changes to get rid of the acne.


The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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