Acne Healing Foods

The most important part of being healthy are your food choices. What you eat shows up in your skin and can help, or hurt, your acne.

In addition to acupuncture for acne, I encourage all my patients to consider their food choices as part of a holistic treatment for acne.

Rather than following fads that say you must eat this or you must never eat that, eating a healthy diet can help reduce acne and break the cycle. And the great thing is that it is simple to do.

Eat Low Glycemic Index foods:

The glycemic index of foods has to do with how we process carbohydrates. High glycemic foods are full of simple carbohydrates and sugars which are quickly converted to glucose. The glucose is rapidly absorbed into the blood resulting in a spike in insulin (the hormone responsible for processing glucose). Insulin spikes are an important factor in the cause of acne.[1]

Meals that have simple carbohydrates and sugars cause the body to have a spike in insulin.  These are called high glycemic index foods.Diets rich in vegetables, fruit, dietary fiber, and healthy fats and proteins are considered to be low glycemic diets. Low glycemic load diets can be helpful for reducing acne [2]

Because of the dietary fiber in low glycemic index foods, the carbohydrates are digested slower and converted to glucose.   One recent study found that those that eat a Mediterranean diet are less likely to have acne.[3]

The Mediterranean diet is rich in nutritious food.  It does not have specific guidelines but rather emphasizes eating

  • a wide variety of plant foods such as leafy vegetables as well as beans
  • olive oil as the main source of fat
  • moderate amount of dairy products (for acne reducing dairy is very important)
  • Includes healthy proteins such as fish and poultry
  • Reduced amounts of red meat
  • Fresh fruit daily.(4)

Eat Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are a fatty acid that is anti inflammatory and should be a part of any healthy diet.  Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids have been found to be beneficial to acne.[5] Omega 3 fatty acids are a great fat for your skin and can be found in foods like fish (particularly in salmon and sardines) as well as walnuts.    Hemp seeds also have Omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in

  • Fish , particularly salmon and sardines
  • Walnuts
  • Flax seed
  • Hemp seed

Avoid Skim Milk and Whey Protein

Milk, specifically skim milk, may be related to worsened acne. And reducing milk and dairy products has been correlated with improved acne[6,7]

For all you bodybuilders and athletes out there, whey protein has been implicated in acne. Switching to plant based protein such as hemp seed or pea protein can help.[9]

But on the other hand, fermented dairy products such as yogurt (watch out for hidden sugar) and kefir may be helpful against helpful against acne.[8]

Avoid

  • skim milk products
  • Whey protein

Eat

  • Fermented dairy products without a lot of sugar

Avoid Sugary foods

Eating refined sugar, simple carbohydrates, and dairy products lead to dampness, which, in Chinese medicine, then causes acne.

Clear foods to avoid are sweets, candies, cookies, and ice cream.  But it is important to recognize that sugar is often hidden in processed foods and even many breads and other baked goods.

Avoid drinks with sugar such as sodas, sweet teas, lemonade, and alcoholic beverages such as beer.

Avoid foods that contain sugar such as

  • Sweets and candies
  • Ice cream
  • Sodas
  • Sweet tea, ice tea, and lemonade
Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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