What you need to know about diet and acne.

acne Dec 03, 2020

Acne is a skin condition characterised by inflammation of the skin, rashes, and lesions.


It typically occurs on parts of the body that produce oil, like the face, back and neck. Adolescents are the general sufferers, but this is now extending into adulthood. If acne is severe, it can lead to permanent scarring of the skin, as well as emotional distress.


So, what causes acne?

  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Hormonal fluctuations. This specifically relates to teenagers, pregnant woman, premenopausal women and those using birth control.
  • Diet. Evidence shows that dairy-containing or fatty foods may increase the risk of acne.


In terms of diet, acne is most associated with dairy-containing foods. This is because there is an amino acid called leucine, which is found in dairy-rich foods and can trigger acne. Leucine is also excellent for muscle building and is generally found in protein powders, specifically whey-based protein powders. Hence, why we see acne in a lot of teenage boys. As dietitians, we are certainly not against dairy foods, as they are an excellent source of protein and calcium. However, if you do suffer from acne it is something to be mindful of.


There is also evidence to suggest that acne can be triggered by a diet high in fatty foods.  If you suffer from acne be mindful of deep-fried foods, baked goods or foods containing trans-fats.  This evidence DOES NOT extend to a diet high in healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil, avocado or nuts.


Are there any food-related treatment options for acne?

  1. For moderate-severe acne, an anti-inflammatory diet may be recommended. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which supports reductions in inflammation. However, it is recommended to discuss the commencement of this diet with a qualified dietitian. This is because not everybody will react the same way, due to individual variants. A dietitian can also conduct a comprehensive analysis to determine specific trends between food and acne flare-ups.
  2. If dairy is determined to be a food trigger, it is essential to select foods fortified with calcium. This is to support bone density and reduce the risk of chronic disease like osteoporosis.
  3. Lastly, there is some research into the use of green tea to reduce symptoms of acne.


In conclusion, diet can play a role in the development of acne. It is important to consult a dietitian regarding nutritional pathways to assist with acne reduction, whilst also supporting a wholesome and nutritionally complete diet.  Book a consult with the CQ Nutrition dietetics team for further information and support. 

Here is a link to book in with one of our expert dietitians at any of our locations https://www.cqnutrition.com.au/booking/ 

Want an online consultation? Book in on my calendar and in comments write online: https://bit.ly/AnnieROK 

Written by Annabel Johnston, BAppSc&MDietPrac




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