Sticking to a clean, acne-safe diet can make a big difference, both in preventing and healing acne. If you’re looking for ways to improve your diet to clear your skin, here are ten diet tips that are likely to have a big impact on your complexion and prevent acne. These are changes you can make right away, but remember to give yourself at least a month to reap the benefits.
1. Say no to sugar… in all its sneaky forms.
Sugar is now considered public enemy number one in the health and diet industry, but did you know that it is equally harmful to your skin? Researchers have uncovered a correlation between eating sugary foods and acne breakouts. Foods that spike blood sugar also increase hormones, which then trigger oil production and lead to acne. One such study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You have to be vigilant about checking ingredients, because sugar has a way of sneaking its way even into foods that don’t have a sweet flavor. If you need help quitting sugar, I recommend checking out the 21 Day Sugar Detox Diet
2. Avoid rancid inflammatory fats.
Staying away from certain kinds of oils can greatly reduce overall systemic inflammation, including irritated skin and breakouts. Overly processed vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, soybean, corn and peanut are usually best avoided, and are especially bad for one who is struggling with skin trouble. These oils can quickly become rancid when they’re exposed to pressure, heat, and light, which 99% of those on the market are susceptible to. Even if you can find less processed versions, you NEVER want to cook and especially fry with these oils. Vegetable fats are loaded with polyunsaturated fats (think omega 6’s), which most Americans have an abundance of in their diet. This leads to an imbalance (and possibly deficiency) of omega 3 fats, which further contributes to the inflammatory process. If you’re currently not avoiding trans fats, do your entire body a favor and get these out of your diet immediately. They are manmade chemical fats found in things like fast food, margarine, commercial baked goods, snacks and convenient processed foods. There is a great resource to get your fat facts straight here!
3. Watch for food sensitivities.
Certain food sensitivities can also trigger acne; in fact, breakouts are one of the most common symptoms of a food sensitivity. Common culprits include gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley and oats, if not labeled “gluten free”), dairy, soy, and eggs, although any food is fair game. If you think your acne might be linked to your diet, try eliminating these food groups one at a time and see if your skin improves after a few months. The Virgin Diet is a great book that can help you identify problematic foods via an elimination diet.
4. Kick dairy to the curb.
Researchers who looked at data from the Nurses’ Health Study found a positive association between acne and milk intake. Don’t think switching to skim will get you off the hook; they found that all types of cow’s milk can wreak havoc on your complexion. In addition, dairy products often contain other ingredients that cause or aggravate acne such as whey, casein, and sugar. In fact, fat-free products are even worse as these foods usually contain more sugar contributing to more inflammation, blood sugar instability and hormone disruption.
5. Focus on water intake and quality.
Whoever told you there is no cheap fix to prevent acne failed to consider the importance of water. Water flushes toxins out of your body and keeps your skin hydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of it. I recommend dividing your body weight in half and consuming that many ounces of water every day. If you consume diuretics such as alcohol, caffeinated beverages, juice, or soda, you’ll need to balance each cup of diuretic out with an additional 1 1/2 cups of water. Food that is rich in water content such as produce or bone broth counts as well. Not all water is your friend; if you have hard water at home, get a filter to avoid sneaky chemicals and fluoride in the tap. If you want to be extra cautious, get a whole house filter or shower filter to clean not only your drinking water, but your shower water as well. Your skin is your largest organ, so exposing your entire body to your water supply will increase your likelihood of absorbing toxins.
6. Make gelatin a staple.
An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but if it’s the dermatologist you’re hoping to avoid, turn to bone broth every day instead. That’s because gelatin is a skincare superstar filled with nutrients that help reduce redness, calm inflammation, and boost collagen production so your skin can heal. This superfood is finally getting the recognition it deserves, featured in Elle magazine! Get the recipe here.
7. Tread cautiously with coconut.
Coconut might be all the rage these days when it comes to food products, but it’s actually causing rage of a different kind for some people’s skin. Coconut oil is a highly comedogenic skincare ingredient, and it turns out its pore-clogging abilities are even affecting some people just from eating it. If you’ve noticed more breakouts in conjunction with the latest coconut oil fad, try eliminating these products from your diet to see if your skin improves.
8. Go gluten-free.
Gluten-free foods are everywhere these days, and you don’t need a diagnosis of Celiac disease to get on board. According to gluten specialist, Dr. Tom O’Bryan, 7 out of 10 people have a sensitivity to gluten whether they know it or not. It’s also worth noting that for every person who has gluten sensitivity with gut dysfunction symptoms, there are 8 that don’t. As with any food sensitivity, we cannot assume that it will only affect us in one way. Most think of gluten as a “gut issue,” but this is not necessarily so. Food sensitivities can manifest in different ways for different people. A surprising number of people are sensitive to gluten, and it’s been identified as one of the top offenders when it comes to acne, so it might be worth considering eliminating it if you have stubborn breakouts. Wheat Belly is an awesome book that goes into how and why wheat and gluten can wreck havoc on your entire system. Need some gluten (and other food sensitivity) free, but still yummy recipes? This is my go-to cookbook that doubles as a great resource for low sugar option recipes!
9. Incorporate fermented foods.
Fermented foods are getting a lot of attention for their amazing digestive health benefits, and they are also great at helping prevent acne. Foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and kefir can help optimize your gut bacteria, which can get your complexion back in balance. Plus, it’s actually kind of fun and quite easy to make your own. So go ahead and turn your kitchen into a science experiment.
10. Reduce alcohol intake.
If your acne has you reaching for the bottle, you’re only going to end up giving yourself even more reasons to drink in the long run. Drinking alcohol regularly can suppress your immune system and congest your liver, inhibiting your body’s ability to convert and flush toxins, which is especially important when you’re dealing with acne!
There is a clear and strong relationship between diet and acne. Taking a holistic approach and cleaning up your diet first and foremost will give you a great foundation to clear your complexion and prevent acne naturally!