02/04/2022 / Beauty, Skin and Hair

Anti-acne diet: What to eat and what to avoid

Skin is an integral part of our personality and acne on it can make you feel bad. Read on to know the foods you need to eat and avoid in your anti-acne diet plan.

 Anti-acne diet: What to eat and what to avoid
Keerthana A PKeerthana A P

Keerthana A P

Food Technologist, Engineer & Research

Table of content


The dents in your skin especially in the face can feel so frustrating to have! These dents which are called acne are not serious medical conditions but can sabotage one’s self-image and confidence. Besides this, severe acne can cause serious scars too. These skin conditions can occur due to so many reasons and one of the most prominent reasons is the ‘foods.’ If you are looking to treat your acne by changing diet plans, this article is for you. We have covered the foods that you should avoid for acne and also the ones that can help you in preventing it. So, keep reading!

What is Acne?

Before diving into the role of foods in causing acne, we will give you some insights into the formation of acne. Acne looks like a dent or boils in your skin which can cause pain or discomfort. These can occur in any area of your skin but they can be commonly found in the face, neck, and shoulder areas. So, your next question should be, how do we get those? Well, that’s a deep question.

The process of acne formation goes like this – The skin has sebaceous glands (which are basically oil glands) to clear up the dead skins that are beneath the skin cells through the follicles (the place where your hair grows). Acne happens when the follicles (or pores) are clogged with sebum and dead cells due to the high production of oil in sebum, accumulation of dead skins, and even bacteria. Based on their nature, acne can be

  • Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)

  • Blackheads (open plugged pores)

  • Pimples (bumps with pus formation)

  • cystic lesions (pus-filled lumps under the skin)

Common Causes of Acne

Other than dietary and hormonal causes, it can be also caused by various other factors like,

  • Smoking

  • Poor sleep

  • Stress

  • Beauty products with high oil content

  • Medications like birth control hormones

You can manage your acne better if you control the above-mentioned risk factors. Combining an anti-acne diet with the proper lifestyle changes can give you positive results.

How does Food Contribute to Acne?

Acne can be caused by so many reasons, for example, hormones! Teenagers who are in their puberty have increased production of sebum due to the complex roles played by the hormones. Other than this, there may be dietary factors – especially the roles of high glycemic foods. These foods cause a spike in the blood sugar levels which makes the body release insulin-like growth factors. These growth factors signal the body more sebum, thereby causing acne.  

Foods to Avoid for Acne

Here is the list of the food you should avoid for fighting against acne,Here is the list of the food you should avoid for fighting against acne,

Foods to Avoid for Acne
  • High glycemic foods: White rice, breads, buns, cereals, cookies, cakes, chips and crackers.

  • Dairy Products: Milk, cream, butter, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream. 

  • Western diets: Refined grains, processed meat, high sugar drinks, candy and sweets and fried foods.

  • Omega 6 Fatty Acid Foods: Sunflower seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, tofu, peanut butter, avocado oil, eggs and safflower oil. 

  • Protein Powders: Whey proteins, Pea proteins, hemp proteins, Brown rice proteins and pumpkin seed proteins. 

6 Different Food to include in your Anti-Acne Diet Plan

For maintaining clean skin, anti-acne foods do a great deal of help. The six group of foods given below can do a great deal of help if added to your anti-acne diet plans,

Food to include in your Anti-Acne Diet Plan

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps in healing inflammations, thereby making them the best choice in avoiding acne. Other than this, they also prevent hyperpigmentation accompanied by acne. This improves the overall personality of the people and reduces the scar formations. So, adding vitamin C to foods can do wonders for your anti-acne treatment.

Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin C are, 

  • Lemons

  • Grapefruit

  • Peppers

  • Strawberries

  • Blackcurrants

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Potatoes

2. Vitamin A and E

If you need clear skin, you should never exclude these vitamins from your diet. You can include the foods rich in these vitamins or else can just take them as supplements. However, take care about the dosages when you take them in supplement forms as they can cause vitamin toxicities.

Foods that are rich in Vitamin A and E includes,

  • Goose meat

  • Atlantic Salmon

  • Red sweet pepper

  • Brazil nuts

  • Lobsters

  • Cod liver oil

  • Lamb liver

3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are great anti-inflammatory foods that can be a great supplement for your anti-acne diet. Fatty fishes are usually great sources of these fatty acids.

Some of sources of omega 3 fatty acids include, 

  • Salmon

  • Mackerel

  • Herring

  • Sardines

  • Chia seed

  • Flaxseeds

4. Low glycemic foods

Low glycemic foods are excellent to add to your anti-acne diet since they maintain constant blood sugar levels. This reduces the oil production and hence your pores wouldn’t be blocked off. These low glycemic foods can be complex carbohydrates like whole grains or legumes.

Some of the low-glycemic foods include, 

  • Green vegetables

  • Kidney beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Lentils

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Barley

  • Bulgar

5. Fresh fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants which makes them the best choices for the addition in an anti-acne diet. Antioxidants have the ability to repair our body cells, so adding them in the foods can help us in avoiding acne.

Some of the best fruits and vegetables to add are, 

  • Mango

  • Mamey Sapote

  • Avocado

  • Blackberries

  • Kiwifruits

  • Cranberries

  • Turnip greens

  • Spinach

  • Asparagus

6. Zinc

Zinc is the only mineral that can do a great deal of help in preventing acne. It can reduce sebum production and help you in fighting against acne. You can take zinc as an oral supplement or topical treatment, but everything should be done under the physician’s directions.

Some of the natural sources of zinc include,

  • Shellfish

  • Legumes

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Potatoes

  • Green beans

  • Kale

Tips for clear skin

Along with adding anti-acne foods to your diet, you should also develop healthy skin habits. Here are 7 effective tips for maintaining your healthy clear skin,

  • Wash your face regularly so that you can remove the excess oils and sweat.

  • Use a moisturiser that suits your skin type,

  • Stay hydrated by taking at least 8 glasses of water.

  • Limit your makeup as they can play a role in clogging follicles.

  • Avoid frequently touching your face as they can transfer bacteria.

  • Do exercises to release your stress.

  • Maintain a healthy balanced diet by reducing the intake of the above-mentioned foods.

Take-home Points

  • Acne is a skin condition wherein bumps and dents occur in the skin due to sebum and dead cells blocking the skin pores.

  • Acne is caused by cigarettes, medications, stress, and poor besides hormonal and dietary factors.

  • Foods that are rich sources of omega 6 fatty acids and refined carbohydrates including dairy products should be kept away to avoid acne.

  • Your Anti-acne diet plan  can be enriched with foods that are good sources of vitamins and zinc besides adding fresh fruits and vegetables. 

FAQ on Anti-acne diet, foods to avoid for acne

1. What is the diet for acne-free skin?

Ans. A clean diet is the only way to clean skin. Lessen the processed foods, refined sugars, and fast foods from your diet while having wholesome healthy diets.

2. Is oily skin more prone to acne?

Ans. Yes! Oily skin is more prone to acne than dry skin but you can avoid acne by following proper food habits.

3. Do junk foods cause acne?

Ans. Junk foods usually raise blood sugar levels and increase sebum production, thereby causing acne.

4. Which foods boost skin health?

Ans. Foods that are rich in vitamins like A, E, and C are generally good for maintaining good skin health.

5. Are there any drinks for acne-free skin?

Ans. Herbal teas like spearmint tea, lemon tea, green tea, and lemongrass tea can greatly help in avoiding acne.

6. Is there any diet to get rid of acne in a week?

Ans. You need medical help if you need to get rid of acne very soon as the recovery usually takes time.

7. What are some anti-acne foods?

Ans. Diets that are excellent sources of vitamin A, C, and E, fresh fruits and vegetables along with omega 3 fatty acids are great anti-acne foods. 

8. Can these foods help with the teenage acne diet?

Ans. Teenagers have acne-prone skin due to hormonal factors. The foods that are mentioned above can also help teenagers in preventing acne.


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