top of page

Acne-Prone Skin - 10 Foods to Include in Your Diet To Reduce Breakouts

Updated: Mar 11

Research suggests that what you eat plays a big part in your skin health.

But what foods are good for your acne-prone skin?

In this article, I will take a closer look at why diet is essential to consider when it comes to acne and 10 foods to include in your diet to reduce breakouts.

The History of Diet and Acne

The link between diet and acne has always caused controversy.

Literature examining diet and acne over the past 100 years is mixed, although nutritional therapy as a potential treatment for acne is not new.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, conventional acne treatments included diet as part of their healing protocols [1].

Throughout history, much of the focus was on foods to avoid as a treatment for acne. In the 1920s, MacKee and his team of dermatologists advised: “avoiding candy, pastry, soda water, ice cream, chocolate, rich foods, fried foods, cocoa and gravy as a bare minimum plus or minus tea, coffee, alcohol and spices” [2].

In the 1930s, a dermatologist called Goodman advised avoiding starchy foods, bread rolls, noodles, spaghetti, potatoes, oily nuts, chop suey, chow mein, and waffles. Goodman favoured the following foods to be a suitable acne cure: cooked and raw fruit, farina, rice, wheat, oatmeal, green vegetables, boiled or broiled meat and poultry, clear soup, vegetable soup, and an abundance of water [3].

MacKee also highlighted the importance of digestion and a daily bowel movement with acne prevention and stated that “if there is indigestion or intestinal troubles, the alimentary canal must be attacked”[4]. Today we continue to discuss the link between skin and digestion, and you can read more about it here in my article ‘Acne and Gut Health - The Link Between Digestion and Your Skin’.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the diet-acne connection became less favourable, and this trend continued for several decades to come. This change in approach coincided with the discovery of medicinal-based treatments, such as topical retinoids and antibiotics.

However, over the last decade, research has led dermatologists and dieticians to reflect on this connection significantly. It is now more challenging to ignore compelling evidence of a close association between diet and acne, with nutritional therapy becoming of interest in acne treatment.