How Does Food Influence Acne Prone Skin?

There are a lot of things that contribute to whether or not someone has acne prone skin. Things like hormonal imbalances and the types of foods we eat can all impact the acne that shows up on our faces. While food may not be a huge influence on clinical acne cases, it can do more harm than good if we intake too much of a bad thing. Our skin is a window to what’s happening inside of our bodies. If you struggle with acne-prone skin it could likely be in response to the types of foods we eat. Often times a prescription for clinical acne doesn’t target the underlying issue that’s causing the problem in the first place, as I discuss in my book. Obviously only a doctor can diagnose any health issues you may be having, but below I’ve highlighted a couple of foods to watch out for. I recommend taking a few weeks to really look into how your body reacts to these foods, that way you can get a better understanding of what your body can or cannot intake.

Sugar and Acne Prone Skin

When I talk about how sugar is bad for acne prone skin, I’m not talking about natural sugars from things like fruit, which are healthy for the body in moderation. Processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup and sugars found in things like cereal or mass produced juices are harmful in many ways. One of those ways is in how it impacts acne production in our skin. If your skin is prone to acne, no matter your age, it’s probably a good idea to cut sugar out of your diet for the most part. The reason for this is that sugar holds no real nutritional value. The body breaks down sugar into glucose and causes an insulin spike in the body, which has been linked to acne production.

Simple Carbohydrates

We have all heard about the negative effects that simple carbohydrates have on our bodies. Like sugar, simple carbohydrates immediately get broken down into glucose by the body. Again, an increase in glucose in the bloodstream can cause an insulin spike, which we now know contributes to acne prone skin. But what are simple carbs? Things like white bread, sodas and highly processed foods are considered simple carbohydrates.


Another food category that can often cause negative side effects after consumption is dairy. I often tell people about the negative effects that dairy products have on our bodies in many different ways. Dairy is considered an inflammatory food and can cause bloating and other inflammation if eaten regularly. Since it comes from a lactating mammal, dairy contains hormones that can impact our bodies hormonal balance, which is one of the big root causes behind acne. For those with acne prone skin, I recommend trying to cut dairy out of your diet for at least 14 days to see how it responds to this change. If you find that your skin clears up or quits producing acne after giving up dairy, this could be the problem!

Good Foods for Acne Prone Skin

If the thought of cutting out the three aforementioned food categories to help acne prone skin seems daunting, fear not! There are a lot of great alternatives to dairy, simple carbohydrates and sugar that our bodies won’t have a negative response to. Alternative milk products such as nut or oat milks are great alternatives to dairy milk. There are also non-dairy cheeses available at most grocery stores. Sugar alternatives such as Stevia are natural and won’t cause an insulin spike in the body. Stevia is available in many forms and comes from a natural plant.

You can also get your sugar fix by eating more fruits, but be wary of eating too much as it will have similar negative effects in the same ways that processed sugars have. I recommend eating eating a balanced diet with a focus on more nutrient-rich vegetables, healthy fats (such as from fish, olives, avocados, and nuts/seeds) and fiber rich legumes (beans and peas). Check out my video below for more information on what foods are good and bad for acne prone skin!

To learn more about the root causes behind your acne and what you can do about it, take my skin quiz. You’re likely an Olivia skin type, but take the quiz to find out! This is just scratching the surface on foods to avoid or include to address acne. You’ll learn more in my bestselling book Clean Skin From Within, which you can find on Amazon, or get a free copy here (just pay S&H).

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