What you eat and drink on a regular basis can greatly impact the clarity of your skin. Skin creams and skin care products may be able to provide some temporary relief, but if you struggle with adult acne there’s more to the picture.

Acne vulgaris is a common disease found predominantly in developed nations, and has increased in prevalence over the last century, especially in women. Is it our food, our lifestyles, or perhaps both?

Based on evidenced-based research, these are my top five recommendations to help alleviate inflammation and support skin regeneration.

1. Eat a low glycemic load diet.

Eating a low GL diet versus a high GL diet has been shown to have a strong inverse relationship with acne. Researchers have found that a low GL diet can help reduce acne-promoting hormones in the blood and reduce skin oil production. In addition, many study participants saw additional benefits of the low GI diet including weight loss.

Nutrition Tip: Swap out the refined grain products for whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat, and oats. Also leave the peel on your favorite fruits and vegetables.

2. Eliminate cow’s milk.

Although there has been insufficient evidence to suggest restricting dairy altogether, there is a possible association between milk consumption and increased acne. Fermented milk products on the other hand, have been found to reduce acne lesions and inflammation.

Nutrition Tip: Eliminate milk, but continue to enjoy organic fermented milk products such as plain yogurt and kefir.

image3. Eat foods rich in zinc.

Zinc is a very important mineral for overall health and well-being as it is part of hundreds of enzymatic reactions within our body. Zinc in particular is very important for skin health, and diets high in this mineral may help alleviate acne.

Nutrition Tip: Besides meats, and especially oysters, zinc is found in sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and lentils. Make sure to sprout your nuts and beans for optimal zinc absorption.

4. Eat foods rich in vitamin A.

Vitamin A is required for optimal cell growth and regeneration, and can greatly impact the health of our skin. It also plays a vital role as an antioxidant, offering anti-inflammatory activity that can help balance skin inflammation. Beta-carotene is the vitamin A pigment found in many fruits and vegetables, while retinoic acid is found in animal meats.

Nutrition Tip: Red, orange or yellow fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, as well as animal meats are rich in vitamin A.

5. Support your microbiome.

It is becoming more and more apparent that our gut flora needs to be nourished to support our health an overall well-being. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy microbiome, which research suggests is crucial for clear, healthy skin.

Nutrition Tip: Regularly enjoy foods rich in probiotics such as plain yogurt, kefir, fermented sauerkraut, or even kombucha. Further support your gut flora by eating foods rich in prebiotics (such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and oats), which provide energy to friendly bacteria. Also, aim to get eight hours of sleep per night and find some time to breathe.