These Are the Best (and Worst) Foods for Adult Breakouts

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Is there anything more annoying than having acne as a grownup? I mean, honestly. We have to put up with so much other nonsense, we should all be guaranteed clear skin. Pimples should end after puberty, it’s only fair! But, as most of us know, they do not. Adult acne happens to the best of us, and unlike when we’re teenagers, we can’t blame it ALL on hormones. Some of it is our own damn fault. Take, for instance, the foods you eat. Your diet can definitely contribute to adult breakouts. So if you want to put an end to those gross little blemishes, here are the best (and worst) foods you can be eating.

Best foods for adult breakouts!

Gonna be honest, they’re boring healthy foods. SHOCKER. What we put in our bodies matters, who knew?! When you eat well, you feel good, look good, and hey, your skin cooperates. You want to eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and E, healthy fats, and omega-3s.

Look for foods that are low on the glycemic index, like 100% whole grains. One study found that people on a low glycemic diet saw a significant improvement in their skin after 12 weeks. Whole grain breads, fruit, oatmeal, and veggies are good options.

Foods that are rich in vitamin A and E are also great for your skin, like kale, melon, sweet potato, seeds, and spinach. For a boost of important omega-3s, eat more salmon, walnuts, or chia seeds. Green tea has powerful antioxidants that may help fight inflammation and clear up your skin.

And finally, probiotics aren’t just for your gut health! One study has shown that people who eat foods rich in probiotics have a different bacterial makeup in their skin follicles. Eating foods like kimchi (which is delicious) may help your body cultivate that good bacteria that helps keep your skin clear. Pickles and sauerkraut also work!

And these are the worst foods for adult breakouts.

In a way, adult breakouts are your face’s way of telling you to stop eating like a goddamn teenager, which is ironic. It should surprise absolutely no one that the foods that aren’t great for our overall health are ALSO not great for our skin. Processed vegetable oils, refined carbs, and some dairy can all contribute to the minefield of zits on your chin.

Dairy is a problem for a lot of people, but research seems to suggest that skim milk in particular is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to adult breakouts. The science isn’t cut and dry, but there seems to be an association between acne and skim milk, possibly due in part to the hormones and growth factors in the milk.

Processed, refined foods are all-around bad for you, but if you’re having some skin trouble, start by cutting these out first. Refined carbs like white bread, chips, and pastries raise your blood sugar and trigger an insulin response, which could then trigger your skin to wig the hell out. Also, snacks that are high in sugar stimulate hormone production and inflammation, which causes your glands to excrete excess oil … sometimes on your face. Speaking of oil, processed vegetable oils are high on omega-6s, and not high enough in omega-3s. When we consume too much of the former and not enough of the latter, it triggers an inflammatory response in our body. Acne is, essentially, inflammation. So you do the math.

Good skin care is important, and it starts with what you put into your body! If your ID says 37 but your acne says 17, take a look at what you’re eating.

(Image: iStock/Sasha_Suzi)