Clear Skin Diet: 9 Foods That Help Clear Acne Naturally

Think diet doesn’t affect your skin? Think again! We are breaking down the science on the nutrition-acne connection and outlining how a clear skin diet and certain foods can help to clear acne from the inside out.

Clear Skin Diet: 9 Foods That Help Clear Acne Naturally

Think diet doesn’t affect your skin? Think again! We are breaking down the science on the nutrition-acne connection and outlining how a clear skin diet and certain foods can help to clear acne from the inside out.

The majority of the conversation around acne is focused on topical solutions. However, the reality is that so much of what is happening to our skin has to do with what is on our plate. 

That’s because the gut and skin are intricately connected. Research shows us that the health of the gut microbiome influences the skin, as do our nutrient levels, blood sugar regulation, and overall diet. 

How Diet Influences Acne

Acne is not just a topical issue, as most people assume, but rather, it’s considered an inflammatory skin disorder. Current research suggests that the primary root cause driving acne is internal chronic inflammation in the body. As such, diet is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce this inflammation where it starts. 

Here are some of the key ways diet influences acne: 

Nutrient Deficiencies

Various nutrient deficiencies have been linked with an increased risk of acne, including vitamin A, zinc, and omega-3. When we don’t consume enough of these vital nutrients, our skin is more likely to break out. Unsurprisingly, all three of these nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties. 

It is best to get you nutrients through a wide variety of foods, so we have listed our favorite sources of these skin clearing nutrients, below. 

Blood Sugar Dysregulation

Unstable blood sugar is incredibly common amongst people with acne. Multiple studies have confirmed an undeniable link between a high glycemic load diet and acne. A high glycemic load diet simply means one that contains too many refined carbohydrates and sugars - think white bread, pasta, crackers, soda, candy, baked goods, and sweets. 

In one study with 160 patients with moderate to severe acne, the majority of them had insulin resistance

In another study, with nearly 3,000 people with acne, 87% experienced a reduction in acne after just 12 weeks of switching to a low glycemic load diet (one rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fat, and that minimizes refined carbohydrates, in order to keep the blood sugar stable.) 

All of the foods on the list below have a low glycemic load, and will help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels and clear skin. 

Pro-Inflammatory Diet 

Additionally, we have to be cautious about overconsuming foods and drinks that push the body into an inflammatory state, as this may exacerbate acne. Examples include the high glycemic foods mentioned above, as well as omega-6 fatty acid-rich foods (like vegetable oils), processed meats, processed foods with emulsifiers, and alcohol

9 Foods to Clear Acne Naturally

Okay, enough about the foods that can exacerbate acne, instead, let’s focus on the skin-clearing foods you’ll want to work into your daily meals as part of a Clear Skin Diet.

1. Yellow and Orange Fruits and Veggies

Carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe, and other yellow and orange-hued fruits and vegetables are loaded with beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A – a vitamin that many acne patients are deficient in. This vitamin is crucial for clear, healthy skin, as it supports the skin cell turnover process and functions as a free radical-fighting antioxidant.

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Kale, chard, arugula, spinach, and other dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses. They are packed with beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients that are good for general skin health, including the antioxidants vitamin C and lutein. 

These greens are also rich in fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and is essential for healthy digestion. (It may be surprising, but constipation and breakouts are closely linked). Pack your plate with dark leafy greens, and you’ll support your skin and your overall health. 

3. Berries

Berries are loaded with antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage the skin, including anthocyanins. In addition to their free radical fighting benefits, anthocyanins have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. This can be especially beneficial for acne-prone skin, given the close link between inflammation and breakouts.

Anthocyanins are especially high in blueberries and blackberries, but all berries (including raspberries and strawberries) are loaded with skin-supporting antioxidants. Add berries to your salads or chia pudding, try them in a smoothie, or simply snack on them as is!

4. Seeds

There are a variety of seeds that are especially beneficial for acne-prone skin. Hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds are all packed with fiber (which is great for digestion and stabilizing blood sugar), as well as anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. We also especially love pumpkin seeds, as they are packed with zinc – an essential nutrient for clear skin. 

5. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are another great source of anti-inflammatory, acne reducing omega-3 fatty acids (specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)). Some of the best sources of these fatty acids are salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines. 

One important thing to note while at the grocery store: you’ll want to steer clear of farmed fish, and instead look for wild caught options. Farmed salmon has been shown to have higher omega-6 fatty acid content compared to wild salmon. These fatty acids are pro-inflammatory – which is exactly what you want to avoid!

6. Turmeric and Black Pepper

Turmeric is one of the most studied spices, and has been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it an ideal choice for acne-prone complexions. Whether you’re drinking a turmeric latte or adding the spice in a marinade, be sure to pair it with black pepper. It dramatically increases your body’s ability to absorb turmeric’s beneficial compounds.

7. Fermented, Probiotic-Rich Foods

Research has confirmed that people with breakouts typically have less probiotic (“good” bacteria) diversity in their gut microbiome compared to those that don’t have acne-prone skin. By eating more probiotic-rich foods, you can improve the probiotic community in your gut microbiome to help promote clearer skin. Some great fermented foods that are packed with probiotics include kimchi, sauerkraut, and traditionally fermented pickles. 

Alternatively, try a supplement like Glow Biome to ensure you are getting your daily dose of probiotics. This formula contains six clinically validated probiotic strains that have been shown to reduce breakouts and balance oil production. Alongside a clear skin diet, it’s the perfect tool for battling breakouts to promote a blemish-free complexion from within. 

8. Oysters

Oysters are the richest source of zinc - and contain various other minerals and vitamins that support a healthy body and healthy skin. They are also rich in powerful antioxidants that protect your body from oxidative stress. 

9. Liver 

Animal liver is an excellent source of Vitamin A, a nutrient necessary for clear skin. It can be found in all types of liver, such as beef, lamb, chicken, and cod. Liver is also rich in B- vitamins and minerals. 

You only need a small amount of liver, once a week or so, in order to meet your dietary requirements. It’s important not to over-consume liver. 

If eating organ meat is not your cup of tea, you may want to try a supplement instead, or make sure you’re getting adequate Vitamin A from other dietary sources. 

Making the switch to a clear skin diet can have a dramatic impact on your complexion…quicker than you’d think! 

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