Questions about the relation between food and acne are the most common questions that people with acne ask. Unfortunately, most Dermatologists do not know or are not interested to provide advice on these subjects. Here are the 10 most common people ask about diet and the best UpToDate medical answers.
- Does sugar cause acne breakouts?
If you have acne - try to avoid sugar. Sugar is an empty carb without any nutritional value. It rapidly breaks down into glucose, absorbs into the bloodstream and causes an insulin spike. Insulin spikes were proven to be harmful to our health n general and more specifically to increase the risk for more severe acne. It’s the same with all other high glycemic foods (foods that break rapidly into glucose). People with acne-prone skin should try to avoid all artificially sweetened food and especially food that contains lots of sugar (fruit juices, sodas) and food s that contain both sugar and saturated fats like white bread, candy, jam, pizza, ) and packaged snacks.
Close relatives of sugar are refined carbohydrates. These popular foods - pasta, potatoes and worst of all instant noodles meals are transformed in our gut to glucose, spiking insulin levels in our blood and increase the risk for acne breakouts. A good alternative for refined carbohydrates are the low carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables.
- Is bacon bad for my acne?
Hi. We all agree that bacon is tasty and most of us eat a lot of it. Current stats show that the average American eats more than 18 pounds of bacon each year. Does bacon cause acne breakouts? There is no real data to prove it. Nevertheless, bacon, the same as all other processed animal foods, contains high levels of sulfates, nitrates, and sodium that increase inflammation and can make acne worse. Conclusion: reducing the part of bacon can be, at least theory helpful for your acne-prone skin.
- What are the alternatives for dairy for people with acne?
Great question. Multiple studies have shown that dairy products can make acne worse. Milk products, and especially cow’s milk seems to cause insulin spikes in our blood, which in turn may cause more acne breakouts. There are some good dairy alternatives for people with acne-prone skin. If you have acne, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, hemp, or soy milk are worth a try.
- Can Seafood cause acne breakouts? Can I eat shrimps? other shellfish?
Love shrimps? Think again. Shrimps and most other shellfishes like crab can make your acne worse. Same ad seaweed, shellfish is a source of iodine which causes many people with acne flare-ups. On the other hand, omega 3 rich fish, such as salmon, trout, and halibut, seem to reduce acne breakouts and improve skin healing. Try them instead.
- Does chocolate really affect our skin badly?
It depends on the type of chocolate you are referring too. Cocoa does not make acne worse. Some even claim that flavonoids found in cocoa beans are good for the skin. These compounds act as antioxidants and protect the skin from chemical toxins and UV damage. The problem with chocolate seems to be its sugar and milk content. Both cow’s milk and sugar have been shown to cause acne breakouts. Cow’s milk due to its high content of hormones and growth factors and sugar causing spike in insulin growth factor (IGF). Thus, if you want to eat chocolate, look for low sugar chocolate containing a high percentage of cocoa (> 70%) and eat small amounts.
- Is drinking orange juice bad for acne?
Orange juice is not good for people with acne. Freshly squeezed Orange juice is a good source for vitamin C which helps control your immune system and renew your collagen. Unfortunately, orange juice is also packed with sugar which is not good for you. A single cup of freshly squeezed orange juice contains 21 grams of sugar and does not contain any of the good fiber of whole fruits and vegetables. The processed versions from the grocery store might have 30-40 grams of sugar in a single cup. These vast amounts of sugar outweigh any advantage that vitamin C may have for your acne. The sugar problem in orange juice is actually worse. 50% of the sugar in orange juice is in the form of fructose that is processed in our body differently than glucose. Fructose is transformed into glycogen and later to fat more rapidly than glucose. Lack of fiber is orange juice, enhances fructose absorption, and causes spikes in insulin and other growth factors that were shown to increase the risk for acne. Alternatives to drinking orange juice for people with acne-prone skin are whole oranges that contain only 10gr of sugar per orange and fiber that slows down the fructose absorption, clementines that are easy to peel, and have less sugar than oranges. If you have acne, your best alternatives would be green vegetable smoothies with broccoli or kale that contain no sugar and a lot of fiber and good nutrients.
- Does the Caveman Regimen (Paleo diet) work for acne-prone skin?
Caveman Regimen (Paleo diet) can work for acne-prone skin. It actually matches most of the current recommendations of the acne-prone skin diet. Eliminating sugar, white flour, and high glycemic food. I would just add to this "caveman diet" cow's milk restriction and drink lots of water!
- Can salt cause acne? What about iodides? And kelp tablets?
Some of the salts are enriched with iodides. As iodides can cause acne breakouts. Stay away from salt, foods, vitamin supplements, and sports drinks/bars that contain iodides. If you are acne-prone try to avoid seafood, seaweed, salty fast foods, and kelp tablets that some people take these for thyroid.
- Which supplements help to reduce acne?
If you are healthy and have a good diet vitamin will not cure your acne. Nevertheless, some vitamins may help with skin health and supplement your basic anti-acne treatment (effective clinically proven medical-grade creams and gels). Vitamins that are relevant to skin help are vitamins D, Vitamin B5, and Zinc which is actually a mineral.
Vitamin D: helps clear acne by stimulating the production of cathelicidin and defensins. These peptides support the immune system in fighting off acne-causing bacteria. They also help regulate the skin’s oil production. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): is naturally found in a wide variety of meat, legumes, vegetables, and grains. Vitamin B5 also supports skin health. If your diet isn’t as well-balanced as it should be, adding this supplement could help clear up acne.
Zinc: Many people with acne will benefit from Zinc addition. Is known to promote skin, hair, and nail health. Scientific studies show that people with acne have lower levels of zinc in their bodies. Several studies have shown that the mineral zinc may reduce the effects of acne. It’s best to get zinc from supplements (100 mg a day) or naturally from your diet. Try food that is rich in zinc such as toasted wheat germ (sprinkled on salads), veal liver, roast beef, roasted pumpkin, and dried squash or watermelon seeds.
- What are some foods that can help prevent acne?
Here is a list of types of food that can help you with your acne:
Green tea: Green tea is full of antioxidants that can protect from environmental stress. Drinking more green tea throughout the day may be a great addition to your anti-acne routine.
Fish and flaxseed: The typical Western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids, which are tied to inflammation. Eating more omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and the like, can help reduce inflammation and improve acne breakouts.
Vegetables are good for your health and can help clear up acne. Orange and red vegetables contain beta-carotene, which naturally helps normalize sebum production and reduce inflammation. Dark, leafy greens and dark-colored berries contain plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients that can further help clear your skin.
- Probiotics: A few recent studies have shown that intestinal bacteria may affect inflammation throughout the body. Probiotics can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and may help reduce acne breakouts. Great natural sources for probiotics are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, microalgae, miso soup, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, and kombucha tea.