Acne & Cystic Acne: Diet

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

Can the foods we eat be related to acne outbreaks?

Ask any teen-ager if they think foods can cause an acne outbreak and I’m pretty sure they will mention chocolate. Well, in addition to chocolate, greasy foods, sugary foods and drinks, as well as highly processed, refined foods are all suspected of contributing to acne outbreaks.

Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates tend to cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is known to increase incidents of acne. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation may help decrease acne outbreaks.

Processed Foods

In case you’re wondering, these would qualify as unhealthy carbohydrates.

Examples of highly processed, refined carbohydrates include white bread, corn flakes, puffed rice, potato chips, French fries, white rice, doughnuts, cakes, pies, and pastries. Examples of foods high in sugar include sodas, fruit drinks, fruit juice, candy, ice cream and milkshakes.

Many processed foods are chemically manufactured using refined ingredients, artificial additives, and high levels of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. They are foods engineered to appeal to our natural affinity for sweet, salty and fat, resulting in overconsumption.

Processed foods often contain preservatives, colorants, and chemically created flavors and textures. Because processed foods have been engineered to appeal to our taste buds, they are extremely rewarding and can become highly addictive. They often contain refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and are low in fiber and nutrients. 


Scientific evidence is clear: eating a diet of whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables has been proven to promote health, prevent disease and even reverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

As mentioned in Part Two of this series, dermatologists prescribe medication extremely high in Vitamin A as one of the most effective treatments for cystic acne. Since it is a proven fact that diet affects health, why not add more foods that are high in Vitamin A to your diet to help combat acne? 

Dietary Examples

The following are examples of some of the foods considered high in Vitamin A. If you eat fish, a good choice is fatty fish like wild salmon, Atlantic herring, mussels, anchovies, sardines, sword fish, albacore, Atlantic mackerel, trout, Alaska pollock. 

If you eat meat, a good choice is to eat liver. All types liver, (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, etc.) are high in Vitamin A because Vitamin A is stored in the liver. Cod liver oil and fish pills and capsules are also high in both Vitamin A and Vitamin D. 

Fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Examples of vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin A are: sweet potatoes, carrots, black-eyed peas, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet red peppers, mangos, cantaloupe, apricots, tomatoes and tomato juice. 

Fruits and vegetables that are red and orange have the highest levels of Vitamin A, but it’s important to eat green leafy vegetables, too. Put the colors of the rainbow on your plate and you will be sure to become well-nourished. 

The Great Meat Debate

Contrary to popular belief, in addition to carbohydrates, whole grains, seeds, legumes, fresh vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and fruits all contain protein. It is possible to get all the nutrients and proteins we need for a healthy diet without ever eating meat, poultry, or fish.

When we do eat meat, poultry and fish it is important to only eat the ones that have been raised humanely and without anti-biotics and hormones. Farmed fish is often raised in a way that is harmful to the environment. Farmed fish also can have hormones and anti-biotics.  Try to always buy sustainably fished, wild-caught fish whenever possible. 

Dietary Fiber

Eating a diet high in fresh vegetables, leafy greens, and fresh fruit is important because these are the foods that contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and enzymes that are critical for good health.

Acne seems to be a part of growing up and almost all teen-agers suffer with acne in some degree or another. However, being careful to avoid foods known to contribute to acne outbreaks along with eating a healthy, well-balanced diet could go a long way toward lessening or even eliminating acne outbreaks.

To Be Continued…the Cure!

Keep on the lookout for Part Four, the final part of this series. We will examine some popular and natural topical treatments for controlling acne outbreaks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s