When dealing with teenagers, I inevitably get asked what foods help for acne. But there is no diet to get rid of acne in a week.
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that is not exactly what your pre-teen or teen wants to have to deal with. The occasional pimple here and there is perhaps a given rite of passage but daily struggles with acne can be a source of emotional stress that impacts your child’s self-esteem.
The good news is that a lot can be done with the right foods in their diet and the food that causes acne out of their diet. Check out my blog on the 4 worst foods for acne.
Our skin is a reflection of our internal environment and pimples and acne can have a number of drivers related to hormones, digestion and detoxification. The foods to eat for clear skin can therefore support greater balance and give the body the nutrients it needs for clearer skin.
But… before we go through the best foods, let’s talk about water.
What can I drink to get rid of pimples?
Adequate hydration is essential to keep on top of acne. The best drink is water.
The skin is one place our body likes to use as a detoxification zone. Meeting the recommended daily fluid intake supports the removal of toxins from the body preventing them from wreaking havoc and contributing to inflammation. Couple this with daily movement and exercise and you have a winner for clearer skin.
Now, let’s look at what foods to include.
What foods help for acne: Zinc-rich foods
Zinc is at the top of the list for acne-sufferers.
Zinc is very much essential for supporting the health and repair of our skin but it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve when it comes to acne.
Acne is associated with an increase in sebum and keratin in the pores which can cause blockages and then the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples or cysts.
Zinc not only helps reduce this over-production of sebum and keratin but also helps battle the inflammation that turns those whiteheads into the more inflamed red pimples and cysts.
Zinc has also been shown to keep on top of a bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) commonly found to accelerate inflammation in acne.
Zinc is also very beneficial in keeping hormones in check. As kids move into puberty, surges in different hormones can contribute to acne. Zinc helps balance these out and clear them from the body before they can complicate skin health.
The richest source of zinc is oysters. Next in line would be lean red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and darker cuts of poultry such as turkey or chicken thigh. Then you can choose from a variety of plant-based sources including legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, seeds such as pepitas, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds, and nuts such as cashews, almonds and pine nuts.
What foods help for acne: Vitamin C and other antioxidant-rich foods
Vitamin C is a major antioxidant and is also an important part of skin repair. Antioxidants are essential in keeping on top of a process called ‘oxidative damage’ that if left unchecked leads to inflammation. Think of vitamin C and antioxidants as putting out any little fire starters.
Vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Kiwis, lemons and oranges
- Papaya, lychees and guava
- Strawberries, acerola cherries and Kakadu plums
- Red and yellow capsicums and chili peppers
- Kale, mustard spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, parsley
- Sauerkraut and kimchi
Antioxidant-rich foods are abundant in colourful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and other plant foods.
What foods help for acne: Seafood and oily fish
Think sardines, herring, anchovies, oysters, mussels, and salmon.
Seafood and oily fish will provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and are also rich in minerals, such as selenium and zinc, which are essential for skin health.
You are very much the fat you eat and when there is a greater abundance of healthy omega 3 fats in the diet, your body is able to keep whiteheads from becoming inflamed or pimples getting worse and not healing quickly.
Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to keep the hormone insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) down. This is one of the main drivers of acne as it contributes to increased sebum and keratin inside skin pores responsible for whiteheads and blackheads.
What foods help for acne: Chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds and walnuts
These are your plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids. While they do not contain as much as seafood does, they can be included as a part of a varied diet and can make some good contributions for those who do not have a taste for fish and seafood.
Best snacks for acne
Protein and good fats at each meal and snack helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent IGF-1 from getting out of hand. The key is at every meal including snacks. You may just find that your child’s mood will improve as well! Bonus!!
Quality protein can be from lean meats, eggs, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, lentils, yoghurt, and wholegrains such as quinoa, buckwheat, oats, and millet.
Good fats can be found in avocado, eggs, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, nut butters, yoghurt, grass-fed butter, and olive oil.
If you haven’t already guessed, but all of these suggestions are very much align with a Mediterranean diet which has been shown to beneficial in tackling acne.
So, here you have a few things you can take on board now to help your child to clearer skin.
What foods to avoid for clear skin?
There are some foods to avoid as well, to keep skin looking it best, read about the foods that can cause acne.
Some kids are more susceptible to acne than others and may take a little extra support to improve things. If you would like some extra guidance and support, book in today so we can put an individualised plan together for your child.