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Worst Foods for Acne

When your skin breaks out, it’s only natural to wonder what caused it in the first place so you can avoid these outcomes in the future. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to pinpoint what causes acne in any given situation, as there are so many contributing factors to this obnoxious yet common condition, including genes and lifestyle choices. Regardless, it’s safe to assume the things we eat would have some potential impact on our skin. Indeed, researchers have found a correlation between diet and acne, though, as usual, there is plenty of variation to be found from one person to the next. That said, taken as a whole, certain types of food are more likely to make you break out than others. Here are some of the worst foods for acne.

What Are the Worst Foods for Acne

High Glycemic Foods

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition, so it follows that foods that cause an inflammatory response contribute to and/or worsen acne outbreaks. High glycemic foods (which contain high levels of sugar and carbohydrates), for instance, increase blood sugar levels, leading to inflammation. To make matters worse, high glycemic foods also boost sebum production, the oily substance produced by sebaceous glands that can clog pores and cause acne. Some common foods that fall into this category include french fries, white bread, white rice, pastries, and potato chips. Essentially, any food that contains a lot of sugar and/or refined carbs/grains is a culprit.

Processed Meats

Fast food consumption is often linked to acne not only because of the high sugar and carb content found in these foods, but also due to the processed meats. Heavily processed meat products are more likely to contain hormones and antibiotics that can be difficult to digest and throw one’s own hormone levels out of balance. This ultimately causes bodily stress, which can bring about breakouts. On top of that, the amino acid known as leucine (which can be found in beef, chicken, and some other meats) can increase sebum production, much like high glycemic foods.

Dairy Products

If you follow the field of nutritional science, you know that experts constantly argue about the merits and drawbacks of milk and other dairy products. Regardless of these potential costs and benefits, those with acne prone skin (especially adolescents) have been shown to experience more frequent and severe acne outbreaks when regularly consuming milk and ice cream. Though the research here is ongoing, some researchers believe the connection lies in one’s insulin levels, which are often increased by dairy consumption, exacerbating acne as a result. It’s also possible that the amino acids found in cow’s milk may contribute to and aggravate acne in some people.


Chocolate is so often brought up in discussions of diet and acne that many people now think the connection is merely a myth. While the research here is inconclusive (and mainly centered on males), there may still be some link between this sweet treat and breakouts. For instance, one study has shown that chocolate consumption raised the immune system’s reactivity to bacteria known for causing acne. Without more conclusive data, however, the century-old stigma of chocolate and acne remains a mystery.

Are Any Foods Good for Acne?

Seeing that so many popular, delicious foods may trigger and worsen acne can be disheartening, and you might wonder which foods won’t produce this unwanted response. Fortunately, you still have plenty of great options if you’re concerned about breaking out. In fact, some foods can even benefit your skin and control your acne. For instance, many fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in various vitamins and antioxidants that can rejuvenate your skin. Likewise, foods high in fiber can help your body control its blood sugar levels and therefore mitigate breakouts. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, avocados, and more can reduce inflammation. You can also try adding oysters to your diet as they contain zinc, a nutrient that can kill acne-causing bacteria and also lower inflammation.

These are just a handful of examples of food you might try to keep acne at bay and boost your overall health. As important as maintaining a steady, healthy diet is, though, you may require certain acne treatments to get a better handle on your breakouts, regardless of the foods you’re eating or avoiding. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are happy to give you more advice regarding acne and the foods you eat as well as acne treatment options for your skin type.

To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.

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