What Foods You Need To Eat (And Avoid) To Prevent Acne

Although most of us associate acne with our teenage years, it has been an increasing trend in adult women. And while acne may only seem like a skin-deep problem, it can be a major physiological issue. Not to mention a psychological one too.

Research suggests that people suffering from acne have higher rates of anxiety, depression, anger, and suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, people with acne suffer from greater concentrations of mental health issues than with any other chronic condition. Consistent with this judgement, people with acne are also more likely to be turned down for jobs by prospective employers.

What Causes Acne?

Inflammation plays a large role in the development of acne. It occurs as one of the first stages of acne. Other factors include follicular hyperkeratinization (a disease of the hair follicles), overproduction of sebum (skin oil), and oxidative stress.

Diet plays a huge role in the onset of acne. In particular, dairy, iodine, and high-glycemic foods have been suggested to activate hormones (such as insulin) that play a role in the development of acne.

Preventing Adult Acne

Luckily, we are now beginning to understand the relationship between diet and acne, and it starts with a low-glycemic diet.

How Do High-Glycemic Foods Cause Acne?

Glycemic load refers to the way our blood sugar levels respond to food. It is a measure of the quality of carbohydrates we eat, and not the quantity.

When we eat foods that are high-glycemic, it causes a spike in the hormone insulin and an insulin-like growth factor known as IGF-1.

These factors are known to be involved in the development of acne by inducing hyperkeratosis and epidermal hyperplasia, two processes that cause thickening of the skin’s outer layer and enlargement of tissues and organs associated with increased cell production.

IGF-1 is also known to cause an overproduction of oil, which can lead to the development of acne.

Foods That Fuel Acne

One good reason to avoid milk is the link between milk and ice cream consumption and acne production. Milk has been shown to increase IGF-1 levels.

If you’re looking for a dairy-free milk replacement, try some almond milk! It’s low-glycemic and can replace just about anything you use cow’s milk in. 

Other high-glycemic foods to avoid include white bread and bagels, instant oatmeal, alcohol, white rice, soda, rice pasta, macaroni, white potatoes, popcorn, saltine crackers, and rice cakes.

Foods that Fight Acne

The best way to fight acne is to replace high-glycemic foods in your diet with low-glycemic carbohydrates. Those include:

  • steel-cut oats
  • muesli
  • barley
  • bulgur
  • sweet potatoes
  • legumes
  • lentils
  • carrots and other non-starchy vegetables
  • most fruits

Foods that fight inflammation are also very beneficial for treating acne. These include salmon, tuna, brazil nuts, broccoli, grapes and eggs. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, chromium, zinc and selenium and have inflammation-soothing properties.

Other Foods That Block Inflammatory Pathogens:

  • red capsicum (peppers)
  • cloves
  • ginger
  • anise
  • fennel
  • basil
  • rosemary
  • garlic
  • pomegranate

And onions. Onions have anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties that are very effective in treating acne. They may also be able to heal scars associated with breakouts as well as other skin injuries.

In addition to reducing the appearance of scars, onions improve scar softness, redness, inflammation, and texture at the site of injury.


Your diet plays a huge part in acne. Try eliminating dairy and focusing on low GI foods. Oats, fruit, lentils, chickpeas etc. Slow releasing proteins and carbohydrates. You should notice results pretty quickly.

About Heather

Heather is a believer in the healing power of food. She resides in the United States with her husband and their daughter, where she has...

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