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Posted on / Noelle Cesario, L.E., C.L.T.

Acne Diet Plan: What to Consume & Avoid to Improve Your Acne

There has been a long standing correlation between dietary intake and acne breakouts. Read on for a thorough list of food and supplements that may be causing your acne and recommendations for improving your diet to boost your body's ability to fight these acne causing ingredients.

Always consult with your doctor before taking any medications, supplements, or making dietary changes.

Food & Supplements Affecting Acne

We are not asking you to eliminate foods or food groups completely; instead we suggest you cut back and moderate some food types. Some people even have trigger foods, such as citrus, but this is not across the board.

Below are common acne-causing foods:

  • Iodized Salt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Whey or Soy Protein Shakes / Bars 
  • Soy
  • Seafood, Shellfish (e.g. cod; scallops)
  • Peanuts & Peanut Butter
  • Peanut Oil, Corn Oil & Canola Oil
  • Spirulina, Chlorella, Blue-Green Algae
  • Kelp, Miso Soup, Seaweed & Seaweed Supplements
  • Vitamins with iodides; iodine; kelp; potassium iodide (also avoid biotin)
  • Foods high in Androgens

Some acceptable substitutes you can use in place: 

  • Sea Salt & Un-iodized Salt in place of Iodized Salt
  • Almond Milk & Coconut Milk in place of Cows Milk
  • Nut Cheese in place of Dairy Cheese
  • Pea Protein, Egg White Powder, Hemp Protein in place of Whey or Soy
  • Fresh Water Fish in place of Seafood 
  • Almond Butter in place of Peanut Butter
  • Olive Oil & Coconut Oil in place of the Peanut, Corn & Canola Oils

Foods Affecting Skin Inflammation

Trans fats are known to increase inflammation which can exacerbate and be a cause of acne. Here is a list of foods to try and avoid:

  • Cakes, pies and cookies
  • Biscuits  
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Margarine (stick and tub) 
  • Crackers 
  • Microwave popcorn 
  • Cream-filled candies 
  • Doughnuts 
  • Overheated fats – baked foods/ fried at high temperatures 
  • Excess Sugar 
  • Omega-6 oils (most vegetable oils) and not enough Omega-3s
  • Known Food sensitivities (examples – fruit, gluten)

Fortunately, there are supplements that can aid in cystic acne prevention and inflammation of the skin! For example:  

  • Zinc Monomethionine: This form of zinc is the most bio-available form that acts directly as an anti-inflammatory. Many people with acne have low levels of zinc in their body. Supplementing with zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of cysts and inflamed lesions. It has also been shown to be beneficial for helping improve many of the dermatological symptoms in women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). 
  • Omega 3 Fish Oils: Fish oil is a great anti-inflammatory and helps to alter sebum production (only if it’s molecularly distilled or pharmaceutical grade). Unfortunately, many fish oil supplements are oxidized which actually creates more inflammation. So, only take it if you are sure about your source.

The Importance of Gut Health

With an imbalanced gut microbiome your body will be more susceptible to inflammation and acne-causing bacteria. Consider adding a probiotic to your daily supplement regimen. Probiotics are good bacteria that colonize the digestive tract and even the skin. They can especially help people who have been on long-term antibiotics (both oral and topical). These good bacteria compete with the pathogenic bacteria and can help improve the incidence of breakouts.


Check Your Antioxidant Intake 

The acne-prone are generally lower in antioxidants than the general population. We recommend getting your  antioxidants from fresh food sources. The recommended dietary allowances are:  

  • Vitamin A: 700 mcg for women; 900 mcg for men  
  • Vitamin C: 75 mcg for women; 90 mg for men  
  • Vitamin E: 15 mg  
  • Zinc: 30 mg  
  • N-Acetylcysteine: 1000 to 1500 mg  
  • Selenium (antioxidant assistant): 55 mcg  

Diet can drastically change how acne-prone your skin is! To help you make the best decisions for your skin type, schedule a complimentary consultation with our licensed Aesthetician, Noelle Cesario. Noelle works closely with our Functional Dietitian, Dana Bosselmann, to address your whole health needs and to maximize your skincare results. 

Maintaining healthy, beautiful skin shouldn't be stressful. Keep your skin hydrated with our SkinFit Membership.

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