In the late 1960s, dermatologists began to dismiss the link between diet and acne as lacking in scientific proof, no better than a myth. New studies emerged after 2005, however, that shored up the evidence that acne eruptions may stem from eating specific foods, such as certain carbohydrates and dairy products. Talk to your doctor about tailoring your diet plan to the latest clinical findings on acne.
Glycemic Index and Food Choices
The American Academy of Dermatologists notes strong evidence that eating foods high on the glycemic index makes acne worse. The glycemic index, or GI, measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood-sugar levels. Foods high on the index tend to be processed products, such as white bread, baked goods, candy, soda, breakfast cereals, chips and other junk foods. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told the AAD that these foods may spark hormonal reactions that cause acne breakouts. For an acne-free diet, choose low-GI carbs, such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and brightly colored vegetables and fruits.
Types of Dairy
The AAD also reports that some dairy foods may worsen acne, although the evidence remains inconclusive. Several large studies have linked milk consumption, particularly skim milk, with acne in both girls and boys, as well as in adult women. Dr. Bowe hypothesizes that the hormones added to milk may be to blame. However, probiotic foods promote clear skin by boosting healthy bacteria that affect the “gut-brain-skin” connection, making yogurt with live active cultures a good choice for your acne-free diet, reports the AAD.
The American diet tends to be low in omega-3 fatty acids, and this may have an impact on acne, according to a review published in “Dermato-Endocrinology” in 2009. Non-Western countries have much lower rates of acne, the authors stated, and higher consumption of omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory foods. Your acne-free diet should include plenty of healthy fats from cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, tuna and sardines. Omega-3s are also available in some plant foods, such as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
Acne-Free Meals and Snacks
On an acne-free diet, start your day with a cup of yogurt topped with fresh berries and chopped walnuts or ground flaxseed. On other days, have whole-wheat toast spread with fresh almond butter. For lunch, make a salad from leafy greens like spinach or romaine lettuce and a source of protein, such as tuna or black beans, or have hummus with fresh chopped veggies. Broiled or baked salmon with steamed vegetables and brown rice makes a satisfying dinner, or have a vegetable stir-fry made with shrimp or tofu. As snacks, try plain popcorn, a piece of fruit or an ounce of mixed raw nuts.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association: Diet and Acne
- American Academy of Dermatology: Growing Evidence Suggests Possible Link Between Diet and Acne
- American Academy of Dermatology: Could Probiotics Be the Next Big Thing in Acne and Rosacea Treatments?
- Dermato-Endocrinology: The Relationship of Diet and Acne
- Dietitians of Canada: Food Sources of Omega-3 Fats