what to eat to prevent acne

Looking for ways to eat healthily to prevent acne triggers? Read on to find out more about creating an anti-acne diet as part of your acne treatment in Singapore.


Adult acne is on the rise, with 15% of women complaining about breakouts. These breakouts could be triggered by many factors, especially your diet. Though there is no conclusive research on which specific foods cause acne, our skin reacts differently to different foods from person to person. Your diet can influence sebum (oil) production in the skin, hormone regulation, and inflammation, all of which can set the stage for acne. 

Continue reading to find out how to create the ideal anti-acne diet as part of your acne treatment. 

1. Don’t eat foods high on Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic index (GI) is a value used to measure the increase in blood sugar levels after consumption of food. Here are the three GI ratings:

  • Low: 55 or less
  • Medium: 56–69
  • High: 70 or above

High GI foods include refined carbohydrates and sugars, which tend to rapidly increase blood sugar levels. This spike in blood sugar levels triggers inflammation and causes the skin to produce more oil and plug the pores. Over time, this may lead to acne. 

Thus, it is crucial to ensure that your diet is not filled with high GI foods. Following a low glycemic diet also helps to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar levels, and optimize short-term weight loss. 

2. Do opt for fish and other healthy fats 

Certain types of food that contain unhealthy fat may trigger skin inflammation and acne outbreaks. Some examples include full-fat dairy, fast food, and commercial baked goods. Thus, do try to cut down on consuming such foods. Creating an anti-inflammatory diet does play a role in calming breakout-prone skin. 

Instead, opt for fish, or other healthier fats which are high in omega – 3 fatty acids. Omega – 3 is anti-inflammatory, and is great for preventing acne. Sardines, salmon, and mackerel are powerful foods that contribute to glowing skin. 

Having said that, not all fish are the same. Avoid fish that are high in omega – 6 fatty acids e.g. calamari as omega – 6 is pro-inflammatory, meaning that too much will worsen your acne. Also, avoid tilapia and farmed shrimp. These fish are usually filled with toxins and additives that will cause further skin damage. 

3. Don’t drink too much milk and other dairy products

Studies have shown that consuming dairy products increases the likelihood of acne, especially skim milk. These foods prompt the release of insulin and growth factors (IGF) in the body, which contribute to breakouts. IGF promotes acne by increasing sebum production and worsens symptoms of acne. 

If you are lactose intolerant, your acne outbreak could also be caused by lactose insensitivity. You may want to try an elimination diet, which includes avoiding dairy completely to watch how your skin reacts. By doing so, you can measure and monitor how dairy is affecting your skin.

4. Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties, playing a big part in preventing and naturally treating acne. Do consume brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, including peppers, spinach, and berries. These are high in antioxidants.

 For instance, Vitamin C restores and builds collagen in your skin, which helps prevent and heal acne scarring. Vitamin A, E, and D are also crucial for skin health. Antioxidants can also fight free radicals and oxidative stress within the body, which has a calming and therapeutic effect on acne. 

One particularly powerful antioxidant is resveratrol, which can prevent the overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. It is abundant in dark chocolate, peanuts, red wine, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, and red grapes. 

In particular, barberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich dried fruits available and have been proven to be highly effective in acne treatment. A 2012 study showed that acne sufferers who ate barberries daily for a month experienced almost a 40% reduction in facial pimples. 

5. Don’t eat too much-fried food 

Limit your intake of unhealthy saturated and trans fats. These are found in fried foods and processed baked goods. Many fried foods are high in Omega – 6, which are known to promote inflammation and contribute to acne. 

6. Do eat foods with probiotics 

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are found naturally in the digestive system, and in certain foods such as kimchi or yoghurt. They work towards reducing inflammation and are proven to reduce inflammatory acne breakouts. They contribute to having a healthy gut by killing off unhealthy bacteria, which in turn improves your skin and supports natural skin barrier function. 

Do consume a wide variety of probiotic-rich foods, as everyone’s gut microbiome is different. Other probiotic-rich foods include miso, kombucha, sauerkraut, and natto. 

For maximum benefit, you may want to consider eating foods that are rich in prebiotics too. Prebiotics are types of fibre that nurture healthy gut bacteria such as probiotics. Such foods include flaxseed, apples, oats, barley, bananas, and garlic. 


If you are prone to acne breakouts, you should be able to observe a reduction in acne after following this step by step list. The skin is our body’s largest organ, hence, it is absolutely essential to have healthy eating habits in order to improve skin health for brighter, fairer, and stronger skin. 

“Recent research has shown that good nutrition plays a role in the management of acne. I’ve seen many patients with acne, and I always advise them to eat healthily, as doing so will complement their acne treatment. Good quality nutrition provides good building blocks for skin regeneration and repair. It is a great way to supplement your acne removal treatment and achieve better control of acne breakouts.” – Dr Grace. 


Article References: 

  1. Dréno B;Pécastaings S;Corvec S;Veraldi S;Khammari A;Roques C; “Cutibacterium Acnes (Propionibacterium Acnes) and Acne Vulgaris: a Brief Look at the Latest Updates.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29894579/
  2. Dréno B;Pécastaings S;Corvec S;Veraldi S;Khammari A;Roques C; “Cutibacterium Acnes (Propionibacterium Acnes) and Acne Vulgaris: a Brief Look at the Latest Updates.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29894579/
  3. Docherty JJ;McEwen HA;Sweet TJ;Bailey E;Booth TD; “Resveratrol Inhibition of Propionibacterium Acnes.” The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17449884/
  4. RF; Fouladi. “Aqueous Extract of Dried Fruit of Berberis Vulgaris L. in Acne Vulgaris, a Clinical Trial.” Journal of Dietary Supplements, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23038982/


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