When your skin is prone to pimples and blackheads, you can turn to cleaners and exfoliants, but that may not necessarily do the trick. You may still have to deal with embarrassing break outs. But, a lot of people are able to get their acne under control by changing their diets.
What Does Science Have to Say?
Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated again and again the link between specific food and acne. The general rules can be summarized as:
- Avoid low-fat dairy options, if you eat dairy.
- Foods with a high glycemic index, like starchy and sugary ones should be avoided. They cause blood sugars to rise rapidly.
- Consume as many colorful produce and plants as you can.
The Dangers of Foods with a High Glycemic Index
The most consistent scientific findings have to do with high glycemic foods and their relationship to acne. Diets with a lot of white bread, pasta, sugar, white rice, pasta, and other simple carbohydrates are a problem. Also, beware refined and highly processed carbohydrates, which cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Although the exact link between these foods and acne hasn’t been pinpointed, researchers do think the hormones released when you consume high glycemic foods exacerbates acne. Cutting back on these foods has been shown to clear up skin and keep it healthy.
The Dangers of Low-Fat Dairy
Although there is some evidence that all dairy can cause acne, it is the low-fat varieties that have shown the strongest causal relationship. This could also be related to hormones. A lot of dairy contains growth factors, and these can cause acne. The supposition is that levels of these hormones increase when the fat is reduced. If you are going to have some yogurt or cheese, pick the full fat varieties.
Look for Foods with High Water Content
You should be drinking a ton of water already because it is important to the functioning of your body and the health of your skin. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing. To really get the hydration that you need, look for foods that have a lot of water in them as well. Studies have shown that water-rich foods can hydrate your body two times more effectively than water. Keep an eye out for the following:
- Cucumber—96 percent water
- Lettuce—96 percent water
- Zucchini—95 percent water
- Radish—95 percent water
- Celery—95 percent water
- Tomato—94 percent water
- Green cabbage—93 percent water
- Watermelon—92 percent water
- Strawberries—92 percent water
- Grapefruit—91 percent water
- Cantaloupe—90 percent water
- Pineapple—87 percent water
- Oranges—87 percent water
- Raspberries—87 percent water
Look for Foods That Are High in Magnesium
Sadly, 50-80 percent of people aren’t getting the recommended daily allowance of magnesium— 400 milligrams for men and 310 milligrams for women. Most get just enough to keep the body going. Magnesium works hard to balance out the hormones that cause breakouts, which makes it excellent for maintaining clear, healthy skin.
It also improves sleep. When your sleep is bad, the inflammation on your face increases, you have worse insulin resistance (meaning foods with a high glycemic index are more likely to cause pimples), and it weaken your immune system, undermining its ability to fight off the bacteria that causes unhealthy skin.
Look for the following magnesium-rich items:
- 1 cup spinach—157 milligrams (40% DV)
- 1 cup chard—154 milligrams (38% DV)
- 1 square dark chocolate—95 milligrams (24% DV)
- 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds—92 milligrams (23% DV)
- 1 ounce almonds—80 milligrams (20% DV)
- ½ cup black beans—60 milligrams (15% DV)
- 1 medium avocado—58 milligrams (15% DV)
- ½ cup figs—50 milligrams (13% DV)
- 1 cup yogurt or kefir—50 milligrams (13% DV)
- 1 medium banana—32 milligrams (8% DV)
Look for Foods with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One of the biggest contributors to acne severity is inflammation. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, according to research. This means that any breakouts you have to deal with won’t be as red. When you eat pro-inflammatory foods, they make your immune system go crazy. This can mean that every clogged pore your immune system stumbles over will become swollen and inflamed. People believe foods that are rich in these fatty acids can give skin a natural glow.
There are no recommended daily allowances of omega-3 fatty acids, so speak with a doctor to get an accurate guideline for a person of your size and gender. Then, look for the following foods.
- Flaxseed oil—12059 mg
- Seeds, flaxseed—8543 mg
- Fish oil, salmon—7828 mg
- Seeds, chia seeds, dried—7164 mg
- Agutuk, fish with shortening (Alaskan ice cream) (Alaska Native)—6851 mg
- Oil, bearded seal (Oogruk) (Alaska Native)—6353 mg
- Fish oil, menhaden—6236 mg
- Fish, caviar, black and red, granular—5388 mg
- Fish oil, sardine—5341 mg
- Fish oil, cod liver—4375 mg
Bio: Mary Seaburg is a writer and nutrition expert who is working to help people eat well. Her current project is helping people in treating meth addiction and letting them know the advantages of food on overcoming addiction.