What to Eat (and Not Eat) to Reduce Acne Breakouts

Let's discuss diets. While society is so caught up in diet trends for the sake of being physically healthy, we often forget that our diets are directly correlated to the health of our skin as well. Multiple studies have been conducted to explore the relationship between our food intake and acne. For example, in 2009 researcher Apostolos Pappas discovered that there is in fact an interdependence between diet and acne. While we could talk for hours about his research and findings, allow us to give you the cliff note version: "We cannot treat acne with nutrition but we can certainly influence it" (Pappas). 

With this being said, we've outlined the major foods you should eat (and avoid) to reduce your acne breakouts. Let's get started.

What Not to Eat

1.) Cow's Milk (Dairy)
Milk was found to spike blood sugar, which can increase inflammation and insulin levels--leading to the production of pimples and excess skin oils (scientifically referred to as sebum). It was also found that the way in which milk is produced contains many hormones that, upon consumption, can lead to acne breakouts and  can encourage the overgrowth of skin cells, potentially blocking pores. Try substituting conventional milk for a delicious Almond or Soy milk!

2.)High-Glycemic Foods
A quick lesson on the Glycemic Index (GI) is needed to understand why this aspect of our diet is so important. GI a measurement carried out on carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on our blood sugar. High-glycemic foods cause a spike in blood sugar and increase the amount of insulin in your body. They are known to trigger hormonal fluctuations and inflammation—both of which encourage acne. So yes, dare we say it, but you should stay away from foods such as white bread, flour, rice, and white potatoes.

3.) Fast Food
If you haven't caught on already, it's all about inflammations and the overproduction of sebum. Greasy fast food creates inflammation in the body and is linked to conditions like childhood asthma (and of course, acne.)

What You Should Eat

1.) Seafood
The typical Western diet contains too much read meat and too many omega-6 fatty acids, which are tied to inflammation (you see the common theme here?). Eating more omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and the like, can help tame inflammation and improve acne breakouts.

2.) Probiotics
Since pre and probiotics reduce inflammation, scientists believe they may help reduce acne breakouts. “There appears to be more than enough supportive evidence to suggest that gut microbes, and the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract itself, are contributing factors in the acne process,” the scientists wrote. To get more probiotics in your diet, try yogurt, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, miso soup, and kombucha tea.

3.) Vegetables and (Some) Fruits
Eating fruits and vegetables are just as good for your skin as they are for your body. Many contain beta-carotenes, which naturally help reduce skin oils, and all are naturally anti-inflammatory. Dark, leafy greens also help clear impurities from the body, which means you can rid your skin of acne. Additionally, dark-colored berries contain phytonutrients good for skin when eaten.

We would like to leave you with this piece of advice: If all else fails try your hand at a clean diet. You might see results within a couple months and when combined with regular acne skin treatments, it might even been a couple of weeks. 


Pappas, Apostolos. “The Relationship of Diet and Acne: A Review.” Dermato-endocrinology 1.5 (2009): 262–267. Print.