Do Certain Foods Trigger Acne?
What you eat can affect your skin, reports WebMD. Some foods may cause acne, for instance, while others may keep your skin smooth and healthy, according to doctors who have expertise in both dermatology and nutrition.
While little research has shown a connection between particular foods and skin health, says Dr. Cheryl Karcher, of Sadick Dermatology, “the skin is a reflection of your total body health.” Therefore, a nutritious diet should not only keep your insides healthy, but your outward appearance and skin looking good as well.
Studies from several decades ago “proved” that what you eat doesn’t cause acne, and this thinking became a widely held belief in medicine, says Valori Treloar, MD. However, in recent years, research has caused doctors to reevaluate this thinking.
For instance, a 2007 study found that teenage boys and young men with acne who ate a diet that included foods with a low glycemic load saw more improvement in their acne than those who ate a diet heavy in carbohydrates.
Low glycemic foods, which have less of an impact on blood sugar levels, include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Treloar recommends eating lots of vegetables—10 fist-sized servings a day. Pick a broad range of colors, which provides you with a variety of antioxidants that fight free-radical damage and inflammation.
There are also some who think consuming dairy can trigger acne. While there’s no proven link, Karcher says she has patients who said their acne got better when they stopped dairy.
“You can have a totally healthy diet without dairy. If a patient feels that is a possible problem, there’s nothing wrong with trying it as long as they’re followed by someone to make sure they’re getting a balanced diet,” says Karcher.
Balancing fats may also improve your skin. Fatty acids in food can support or dampen inflammation, and too much inflammation in your body can show up on your skin, says Treloar.
Treloar recommends using less vegetable oil and eating more fish rich in omega-3s, such as salmon and mackerel.
Learn more about acne treatment options.