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Foods that cause + help acne

skin health Oct 12, 2022

You hear it all the time, certain foods cause acne, maybe you even experienced it yourself. A weekend of fast food and drinks leads to Monday morning break out.

One of the main reasons we break out is the food that we eat. A bad diet can generate free radicals, which cause oxidative stress in the cells and release substances that cause pimples and premature aging of the skin.

Foods to avoid for clear skin

Quick note though, not everyone has reactions to these foods only if you have acne prone skin, oily skin, poor gut health or even just a lack of a proper skincare routine.

Sugar - Ah the dreaded or beloved sugar depending on your point of view. Regardless of your feelings towards sugar, it’s not great for our skin.

Refined sugars, like sodas, fruit juices, honey are packed full of refined carbs. They are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, spiking our blood sugar levels. It’s this increase that introduces excessive sugar into your cells causing acne breakouts.

Dairy Products - We are all familiar that dairy is the culprit to acne break outs, however do we really understand why?

 In hopes to produce more milk, cows are often administered bovine growth hormones. Because of these hormones the milk is high in Insulin-like Growth Factors that lead to acne.

Chocolate - Research suggest chocolate may contribute to inflammation in the skin which leads to inflammatory acne such as red papules and pustules known as acne causing bacteria. This type of acne easily spreads covering large areas of the skin.

Whey Protein Powder - Whey protein rich in proteins and amino acids such as glutamine and leucine, often consumed by male athletes and bodybuilders. Consumption of whey protein accelerates skin cell growth and rising insulin levels. This raise in insulin levels can often lead to acne break outs

Refined Grains - Breads, pasta and cereals are all high glycemic index foods and are known to raise insulin levels. Insulin is responsible for androgen hormones more active leading to increased sebum production, clogging pores that lead to acne break outs.

Seed oils -  known as the “hateful eight” industrial seed oils and should be avoided. They are Canola, Corn, Cottonseed Soy, Sunflower, Safflower, Grapeseed, and Rice bran. These oils are commonly found fats in packaged and fast foods and are highly inflammatory.

It’s not all bad news, here is a list of foods to incorporate into your daily diet to help keep acne at bay.

Foods that are low on the glycemic index, (those that don’t spike insulin) like complex carbohydrates  can minimize acne breakouts.

Fermented foods - Healthy bacteria forms as food ferments and is extremely beneficial giving our bodies strength, vitality and glowing skin. Not only can this healthy bacteria lead to healthy clear skin, it slows premature aging and brightens the skin.

Cruciferous vegetables -  Veggies loaded with vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants does the skin good!

Everyday cruciferous vegetables include: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnips

Interesting enough these veggies can actually help control hormonal acne. They contain a compound call Diindolylmethane (DIM) detoxes the liver of any excessive estrogen and blocks the male hormones that cause acne.

Fiber - is directly linked to gut health and in return improves our skin health. Here’s how it works:

  • Fiber reduces fat absorption in the intestines, preventing oily skin.
  • Fiber rich foods are provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids reducing inflammation caused by acne.
  • Improving gut microbiota that aids our digestive system, eliminating waste and toxins.

Probiotics - Available both for internal and external use, probiotics are effective in calming inflammation in the body and skin. Calms internal and external inflammation, restores skin barrier function, and offers protection from harmful environmental particles.

So if you are not a fan of fermented foods, oral probiotics are your best bet.

Turmeric - well known for it's antibacterial properties, contains curcumin, a potent antioxidant that is known to reduce inflammation.

There are easy ways to incorporate it into your daily life.

  • Cook with turmeric to enface the flavour of food.
  • Turmeric tea
  • Turmeric supplement

Zinc - commonly used in an oral supplement or as a topical cream however there are many foods packed full of zinc: Chickpeas, beans, seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, meat and shellfish are good sources of zinc.

Zinc can decrease oil in the skin and inflammation in the body that can lead to acne.


Are you in Moncton? Take this opportunity to have a professional natural skin rejuvenation treatment with our medical aesthetician at EASTND.


MONCTON at 1.506.830.8333 or email at [email protected] 

Karen, Medical Aesthetician

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