Up to 45 million Americans have acne, making it the most prevalent skin condition in the U.S., according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms can include whiteheads, blackheads, pink bumps, pimples and large, inflamed and pus-filled lesions known as cysts and nodules, which might lead to scarring. Particular foods do not cause acne. Your overall dietary lifestyle, however, might play a role in managing your symptoms. For best results, seek guidance from your dermatologist or dietitian.
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Whole grains, such as oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa and popcorn, contain all nutritious parts of the grain. As a result, they provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber, and have a lower glycemic index, or impact on your blood sugar, than refined grains. Lowering the glycemic impact of your diet might lead to fewer acne symptoms, according to a report published by the "Skin Therapy Letter" in 2010, by improving levels of the hormone insulin. Hormonal imbalances are one factor that contributes to acne outbreaks. To lower the glycemic impact of your meals, replace enriched breads, pasta and rice with 100 percent whole grain equivalents. For example, air-popped popcorn provides a low-glycemic snack alternative to potato chips and pretzels.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are top sources of antioxidants, including vitamins C and A, which support your body's ability to fend off and heal from infections and disease. Vitamin A has many properties identical to those of retinoid drugs, which are used to treat acne. Unlike medications and dietary supplements, vitamin A-rich foods aren't known to pose risks for side effects. Fruits and vegetables particularly rich in vitamin A include mangoes, apricots, tangerines, cantaloupe, papaya, spinach, kale and carrots. Carrot juice is an additional valuable source.
Soy is a protein-rich legume consumed in whole food form and as the basis of nondairy milk products, such as soy-based milk, yogurt and cheeses. Although dairy products affect people differently, they are associated with increased acne symptoms in some people. If your symptoms tend to flare up or worsen after consuming dairy products, opting for nondairy, soy-based equivalents provides a nutritious alternative. Soy products particularly rich in calcium include fortified soy milk and tofu.
Cold-Water Fish and Flaxseed
Cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and halibut, and flaxseed are top sources of omega-3 fatty acids -- essential fats with anti-inflammatory properties. Although research is lacking, according to the "Skin Therapy Letter" report, cutting back on omega-6 fatty acids, which are prevalent in meats and dairy products, and consuming more omega-3 fatty acids might help reduce acne by decreasing follicle inflammation and improving your hormone levels. Because fish is rich in protein, and flaxseed is rich in fiber, both foods are also low-glycemic. For best results, consume baked, broiled, poached or grilled cold-water fish instead of fatty steak, hamburgers and other red meats routinely. Eat flaxseed on its own or as a nutritious addition to smoothies, yogurt, baked goods and cereals.