How to Heal Acne Through Diet and Supplements

Acne is undoubtedly a big nuisance for most people at some stage in their life. Research tells us that about 80% of people will have acne at some point in life, most commonly, but not solely, between the ages of 11 to the age of 30. [1]

The causes of acne vulgaris are many: hormones, bacteria, genetics, stress, and skin cell abnormalities. It’s usually a combination of some of these factors rather than just one cause. [2] 

Treating acne is traditionally performed with medication. Still, lifestyle changes can be an even better line of treatment, as this often addresses the causes behind the acne. In fact, the association between diet and acne can no longer be dismissed.

In this article, I will reveal how diet and supplements can help you heal from acne. If you are unable to treat your acne using these methods wholly, they will undoubtedly help control and reduce the condition. 

The Perfect Diet for Treating Acne:

A Diet With Little Blood Sugar Fluctuations

1. The first dietary change that you need to do to control acne is to follow a diet that doesn’t cause blood sugar fluctuations. Research has shown us that sugary foods which cause blood sugar levels to high rise are connected to increased acne problems. [3]

On the other hand, studies show that people who eat less sugary foods or no added sugar foods have much less acne. [4] Often, people suggest avoiding chocolate and wine or other alcoholic drinks to reduce acne. Still, the theme behind this is the high sugar content and the high glycemic index of these foods.

This is particularly evident in western world countries where sugary foods are commonly consumed, while acne is much less common in countries following more traditional diets. [5]

A Diet With Low/No Dairy Products

2. When trying to heal from acne, it’s also vital to stop consuming dairy products. Scientists have already shown that consuming dairy products in any amount can increase your risk of acne development. [6] Furthermore, milk and other dairy products cause the production of hormones like IGF-1, which is known to be a significant cause of acne.

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

3. The best way of treating acne when it comes to diet seems to be eating anti-inflammatory foods. [7] Following an anti-inflammatory diet means eating omega-3 rich foods, colorful anti-oxidant rich vegetables, fruits, and foods high in Vitamin C.  

It’s best to stick to whole-foods while avoiding processed foods.

Here are foods I suggest you eat to significantly lower your symptoms:

Vegetables: especially sweet potato, zucchini, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli, spinach, beets, butternut squash.

Legumes: especially black beans, all lentils, and chickpeas.

Fruits: especially grapefruit, apples, cherries, all berries, peaches, avocados.

Protein-rich grains: especially quinoa, black “forbidden” rice, and buckwheat.

Nuts and seeds.

Dairy substitutes:  especially cashew, almond, and coconut milk.

Oils:  including olive oil and coconut oil.

Beverages: sparkling water, lemon in water, herbal teas, and other unsweetened drinks. But also not beverages with chemical sugar substitutes.

Supplements That Help with Acne

On top of a healthy diet, certain supplements can also help with acne. 

1. Vitamin D is shown to have strong anti-inflammatory attributes, making Vitamin D supplements the right choice in acne treatment. [8]

2. Zinc is responsible for maintaining skin health, and studies have shown that zinc supplements can help with acne. [9] But do not overdo zinc supplements. I recommend supplementing maximum once or twice a week.

3. Plant-based omega-3 supplements are excellent anti-inflammation promoting supplements. These, along with curcumin, are a unique pair.

4. I also recommend vitamin A supplements for vegans who are prone to breakout. Some people may have a hidden gene mutation that does not allow for sufficient vitamin A conversion from beta-carotene found in vegetables. And when not consuming meat, this may lead to a vitamin A deficiency.

Other supplements have shown promising results in treating acne, but more research is needed to give any conclusive results.

The Bottom Line

A healthy diet rich in whole natural foods with anti-inflammatory properties, can significantly reduce your symptoms and potentially heal acne entirely. There is no need to take contraception pills to reduce acne. By changing your diet and adding the supplements mentioned above, the results will be long-lasting and much better in the long run.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References:

  • [1] Lynn DD, Umari T, Dunnick CA, Dellavalle RP. The epidemiology of acne vulgaris in late adolescence. Adolesc Health Med Ther. 2016;7:13–25. Published 2016 Jan 19. doi:10.2147/AHMT.S55832
  • [2] Rostami Mogaddam M, Safavi Ardabili N, Maleki N, Soflaee M. Correlation between the severity and type of acne lesions with serum zinc levels in patients with acne vulgaris. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:474108. doi: 10.1155/2014/474108
  • [3] Kucharska A, Szmur?o A, Si?ska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016;33(2):81–86. doi:10.5114/ada.2016.59146
  • [4] Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, Mäkeläinen H, Varigos GA. The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: a randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Aug;57(2):247-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2007.01.046
  • [5] Melnik BC. Diet in acne: further evidence for the role of nutrient signalling in acne pathogenesis. Acta Derm Venereol. 2012 May;92(3):228-31. doi: 10.2340/00015555-1358
  • [6] Juhl CR, Bergholdt HKM, Miller IM, Jemec GBE, Kanters JK, Ellervik C. Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Nutrients. 2018;10(8):1049. Published 2018 Aug 9. doi:10.3390/nu10081049
  • [7] Tanghetti EA. The role of inflammation in the pathology of acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013;6(9):27–35.
  • [8] Stewart TJ, Bazergy C. Hormonal and dietary factors in acne vulgaris versus controls. Dermatoendocrinol. 2018;10(1):e1442160. Published 2018 Feb 22. doi:10.1080/19381980.2018.1442160
  • [9] Bae YS, Hill ND, Bibi Y, Dreiher J, Cohen AD. Innovative uses for zinc in dermatology. Dermatol Clin. 2010 Jul;28(3):587-97. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2010.03.006