Treating Acne with Diet

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects up to 50 million Americans each year, making it the most common skin condition in the United States. Costs for treating acne and the lost productivity from medical care in 2013 totaled over $1.2 billion. While it’s not a fatal disorder, acne does have some serious implications that can harm your physical and emotional health and undermine your wellbeing.

The food you put into your body has a direct effect on your acne, but it’s not just about pizza and greasy foods. Let’s take a look at how you can treat your acne with diet.

The glycemic index measures the effects of carbohydrates on your blood sugar. High-glycemic foods inevitably lead to an increase in insulin, which can contribute to breakouts by causing hormonal imbalances. Low-glycemic foods include whole grain bread, legumes, dairy, and most fruits and vegetables (which also have the benefit of various healthful vitamins and nutrients).

Inflammation plays a huge role in the formation of acne. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response and results in swelling of tissue, which contributes to clogged pores and the general pain and discomfort that accompany acne. Anti-inflammatory foods actively counteract this through various mechanisms and include green leafy vegetables, blueberries, and walnuts. Salmon and other fatty fish are especially helpful as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly potent anti-inflammatories.

Zinc is naturally a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory mineral. You can use topical forms, but dietary zinc and supplementation may be more effective. Foods rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, garlic, and spinach.

Vitamin A contributes to healthy vision, organ function, and skin. In terms of acne, vitamin A promotes cell turnover, essentially allowing your body to easily slough away dead skin cells and excess oil to prevent them from clogging your pores. Concentrated forms of vitamin A are available in a variety of topical treatments (most commonly retinol), but you can easily get vitamin A from carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes.