Diet to Improve Acne

Today, we're going to teach you how to plan a proper diet for the treatment of acne, which will reduce the formation of pimples and inflammation.
Diet to Improve Acne
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 24 June, 2023

Acne is a dermatological disease that occurs with the formation and inflammation of pimples in the superficial areas of the skin, especially during adolescence. It’s attributed to a hormonal disorder and has a transitory nature. However, its severity can be reduced through diet. To discover more about the right diet to improve acne, keep reading the following article.

It should be taken into account that some foods have been shown to be able to limit the formation of sebum at the skin level, which prevents the formation of pimples on the skin. However, sometimes this isn’t enough, and resorting to the use of antibiotics is necessary due to the presence of infections.

Anti-inflammatory diet to improve acne

As we’ve discussed, it’s possible to plan a diet with an anti-inflammatory nature to reduce the severity of acne in terms of inflammation and infection. The keys are as follows.

Eat quality fats

The acne diet includes healthy fats, such as olive oil.
Olive oil is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. Its benefits not only cover acne, but it also helps the cardiovascular system.

Lipids are essential macronutrients in the diet. However, not all have the same quality. Those of the cis type are positive for health, highlighting among them the unsaturated fats of the omega 3 series.

These are able to help modulate inflammation, also improving health. This is evidenced by a study published in the journal International Immunology.

However, when cis fatty acids are subjected to high temperatures, a transformation occurs in the spatial configuration of their molecules. They transform into a trans type. These are harmful to the body, as they manage to promote inflammatory mechanisms, according to research published in the journal Progress in Lipids Research.

To ensure the consumption of quality fat, the presence of fresh foods in the diet must be promoted, reducing the intake of industrial ultra-processed products. It must also be ensured that the cooking methods aren’t too thermally aggressive. It’s always best to choose the skillet, oven, steam, or cook with water.

In this way, the contribution of cis-type saturated and unsaturated fats will be increased, so that inflammatory processes will be controlled. This will help to avoid an overexpression of acne that can complicate the development of the disease.

It should be borne in mind that there’s some evidence that the fatty acids of the omega-6 series could aggravate the problem of acne. For this reason, it’s best to maintain an omega 3: omega 6 ratio as balanced as possible, to avoid the overexpression of the disease.

It’s advisable to ensure the consumption of oily fish and extra virgin olive oil, reducing the intake of other vegetable oils, margarine, or some nuts.

Provide vitamin C

Pimples caused by acne can leave marks temporarily or permanently. Normally, they generate a series of wounds, especially if they’re manipulated. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ensure the presence of foods in the diet that stimulate collagen synthesis.

This protein is the most abundant in the human body, as it’s part of almost all tissues. Its production is endogenous, but it can be increased by the presence of certain nutrients in large quantities, such as vitamin C. This is evidenced by research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

To improve the intake of vitamin C, it is necessary to introduce foods such as citrus fruits, tubers, strawberries, kiwis, and spinach… all of them contribute to meeting the daily requirements of the substance, which also ensures better health in the medium term.

Another micronutrient that has also shown positive properties in terms of wound regeneration is vitamin A. This can be found in the form of beta-carotene in many red foods, such as carrots, tomatoes, peppers…

Even animal products such as dairy or liver have a significant concentration of the element.

Moderate consumption of protein supplements

According to a study published in the journal Health Promotion Perspectives, there may be an association between the consumption of whey protein supplements and the development of more aggressive acne.

Evidence to confirm these suspicions is lacking, but in those adolescents with a tendency to have dermatological problems, it could be beneficial to moderate the intake of these products.

On the other hand, it should be noted that there’s no research to ensure that protein consumption in general is linked to an increased risk of developing acne. Most of the studies speak of this phenomenon when supplementing with whey protein, although the sample is always made up of adolescents who do bodybuilding.

In this case, there’s a significant level of bias. On the one hand, we’re talking about adolescents with higher testosterone production due to resistance exercise. On the other hand, it’s possible that some of them use anabolic substances. Among the side effects of these is usually acne.

Include culinary spices to improve acne

We can’t talk about an anti-inflammatory diet to prevent or treat acne without referring to the consumption of culinary spices. These products not only serve to improve the organoleptic characteristics of the preparations, but they’re also capable of providing a large amount of phytonutrients with beneficial potential for health.

Among all of them, turmeric stands out. According to a study published in the journal Drug Design , the curcumin present in its interior is capable of modulating inflammatory processes. It also manages to neutralize the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation in the tissues, which is associated with a better state of health.

However, there are many other culinary spices that can and should be introduced into the diet on a regular basis. Pepper, curry, and ginger are good examples. Each of them has specific characteristics and an action potential on certain physiological parameters of the body.

Moderate dairy intake

The acne diet includes avoiding excess dairy.
Despite the obvious health benefits of dairy, it’s advisable to control its consumption in patients with moderate or severe acne.

Dairy products are high-quality and nutritionally dense foods. They contain nutrients such as protein and calcium. However, an overconsumption of them during adolescence could increase the severity of acne, as stated by research published in the International Journal of Dermatology.

This is due to the fact that these foods promote the expression of a physiological factor associated with an increase in sebum synthesis at the skin level. In any case, this doesn’t mean that its presence in the diet should be restricted. Simply that it’s not very advisable to consume more than 2 servings a day.

Consume probiotics

Finally, it’s worth noting the possibility of including a probiotic supplement in the diet for reducing the severity of acne. The most recent research has managed to show that influencing the microbiota of the epidermis can improve its health, reducing the diseases that are generated around it.

Not only is it necessary to modify or improve the profile of the external microbiota, but also that found in the intestine. The secretion of a series of anti-inflammatory compounds, such as butyrate, depends on it. These are decisive when it comes to maintaining good health and preventing the promotion of inflammatory processes.

In addition, by including probiotics in the diet, the incidence of bacterial infections or infections caused by microorganisms can be reduced. These tend to complicate acne, making it more severe, and requiring treatment with antibiotics.

When these infections become recurrent, it’s common to experience a sensation of swelling, burning, and pain in the affected areas, affecting the quality of life and well-being of the person who suffers it.

Examples of diet to improve acne

We’re now going to exemplify the aforementioned, placing a series of valid menus for the treatment of acne and the reduction of pimples externally.

Diet breakfasts for acne

  • Oatmeal
  • Green tea with toast with virgin olive oil and tuna.
  • Oat pancakes with red berries


  • Grilled salmon with cooked potato and peppers
  • Baked chicken stilts with sweet potato and cauliflower
  • Sauteed turkey and curried vegetables
  • Legume salad with tuna


  • Grilled turkey with salad
  • Hake with cooked potatoes and carrots
  • Beans with boiled egg and crushed tomato
  • Red bean stir fry with spinach and chicken

Keep in mind that with these dishes, you’ll not only be able to reduce the presence of acne, but you’ll also experience a positive change in body composition and an improvement in your health. After all, consuming fresh food has many advantages in the medium term.

Coming up with a diet to improve acne

Through diet alone, it will be very difficult to eradicate acne, but it’s possible to reduce its severity, as well as the inflammation of pimples. If you put into practice all the advice we have given you, you could experience a significant improvement.

Now, in the event that the situation doesn’t develop favorably, it may be necessary to go to the doctor. Sometimes, there’s persistent bacterial inflammation that must be treated with antibiotics for it to resolve properly. Otherwise, it’ll take longer for the acne to clear up.

Lastly, keep in mind that you need to limit your intake of whey protein supplements. If you need an extra supply of these nutrients to promote muscle development or recovery, it’s best to consult with a nutritionist to assess other options.

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  • Valenzuela CA, Baker EJ, Miles EA, Calder PC. Eighteen‑carbon trans fatty acids and inflammation in the context of atherosclerosis. Prog Lipid Res. 2019 Oct;76:101009. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2019.101009. Epub 2019 Nov 2. PMID: 31669459.
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