Are Diet and Acne Related?

Acne is a frustrating condition that affects millions of people around the world. Scientists have been trying to discover the exact cause of acne for years and to find ways the condition can be avoided. It is commonly suspected that the food a person eats is related to the development of acne and other skin conditions.


Drinking more water can diminish breakouts in people who are dehydrated because the skin is one of the body’s outlets for getting rid of toxins. Drinking water also helps the skin stay moisturized, and skin that is hydrated and full of moisture is less likely to produce excessive oil that clogs pores. Mixing half a teaspoon of lemon juice into a glass of water helps the body flush out even more toxins that cause acne and other skin conditions. Drinking 8 cups of water per day or more is beneficial to the body in many ways. A healthy body is necessary for healthy, acne free skin.

Protein and Carbohydrates

A study conducted by researchers in Australia found that the acne of young men that ate lean protein and whole grains was significantly reduced, compared to a control group that ate a typical American diet. The study suggests that hormone levels are higher in people who eat processed foods. Eating a diet that contains many refined carbohydrates and sugars causes the blood sugar to spike and insulin production to increase. Hormones such as insulin and androgens control the level of oil production in the skin. High levels of these hormones have been linked to an increase in the production of pore clogging oil.

Many doctors are reluctant to link diet and acne because adequate research hasn’t yet proven this link to be true. There are no specific foods that appear to cause acne, even though some people believe that chocolate is a main factor. It is very unlikely that acne can be completely eliminated through dietary changes, but it appears that acne symptoms are less severe in patients who eat a low glycemic diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Acne Fighting Foods

Some people suggest that eating certain foods is beneficial to the prevention and treatment of acne. Some of the foods listed are;

— Green tea– Green tea is full of an anti-inflammatory chemical that is called catechins. This chemical helps to prevent fine lines and combat free radicals that cause acne and other skin ailments.

— Watermelon– Some people rub their skin with a watermelon rind because it is an effective exfoliant. It is also full of water, which hydrates the skin and encourages the disposal of harmful toxins.

— Lemon juice– A natural bleaching agent, lemon juice can be used to fade scars and sunspots. It is also acidic and can be used to exfoliate dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin.

— Yogurt– Yogurt is a natural bacteria that is great for balancing the amount of bacteria in the body or on the skin. It can be eaten or applied to the facial skin like a mask. It should be washed off with cold water for best results.

— Whole wheat– Whole wheat products such as breads and cereals are a good source of dietary selenium, which promotes healthy skin and may even help the skin to avoid sun damage. Dietary selenium is also found in fish, Brazil nuts, meat and eggs.

Milk and Other Allergens

According to information gathered in The Growing Up Today Study, about 80% of the participants who reported drinking milk also reported having acne, regardless of the milk’s fat content. Researchers are not clear on why milk drinkers reported more acne flare ups, but they have some ideas.

It has been suggested that the hormone levels in milk are responsible for the increased prevalence of acne. Milk producing animals are often fed a diet rich in hormones because the hormones increase the animal’s milk production. Whey proteins that are often added to milk may also play a role in the formation of acne.

Another suggestion is that milk is a food that many people are allergic to and the acne is part of the body’s allergic response. More research is necessary before a link between food allergies and acne can be proven.

Dietary Changes

Eating a healthy diet will probably not totally get rid of acne, but many sufferers may see a significant decrease in their acne symptoms by eating a healthy diet that contains little processed foods. Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods benefit the body in many ways, even if acne production remains unchanged.

There are many treatment options available for acne and patients should visit their doctor to create a treatment plan as soon as possible to minimize long term effects such as scarring.