Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. But regardless of how common it is, a small acne flare up or a severe, persistent outbreak can affect your mood and ruin your confidence.

There are several ways to treat acne, including prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) skincare creams and lotions. But the old adage, “You are what you eat,” may also play a role in how clear your skin is - or isn't.

Food is more than just fuel for the body. A diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains and nuts delivers vital nutrients to every organ, including the largest one: your skin. And while there is no definitive, scientific proof, there is research suggesting a diet rich with those foods may also lead to clearer skin.

A June 2020 investigation published in JAMA Dermatology, found that “consumption of milk, sugary beverages, and fatty and sugary products” were associated with acne in adults. The study had 24,452 participants complete at least three dietary records. The result found a “significant association between current acne and the consumption of fatty and sugary product.” Nevertheless, the investigation concluded that “further large-scale studies are warranted.” Another study published in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, found that while “the impact of diet on the course of acne vulgaris is still a very controversial subject, it can no longer be overlooked.”

“Although the link between dairy intake is less convincing than that between a high glycemic diet and acne, both deserve consideration when providing any dietary advice,” researchers wrote. The study concludes that while more research is needed, the connection should “be no longer a dermatologic dogma to state that any association between diet and acne is a myth.”

Eating well and staying hydrated will also give your skin a healthy glow, but there are other rewards to eating well too. A healthy diet can help your body reach peak performance and energize your immune system to stave off illness. To get started, here are a few easy dietary modifications that may help your skin look clearer:

Limit sugar and salt consumption as much as possible. Along with some studies suggesting that sugar may contribute to acne, sugar and salt can trigger weight gain and increase the risk of diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Ditch fried and processed foods. Processed and fried foods can trigger acne in some people. The foods contain unhealthy fats and empty calories that have no nutritional value, so if you want clearer skin and a healthier body, avoid them.

Choose foods with antioxidants. Many foods, including brightly colored fruits and vegetables, are loaded with antioxidants which may help fight free radicals and oxidative stress, thought to increase inflammation in the body. Foods with the highest levels of antioxidants include colorful berries, eggs and seafood.

If you’re living with acne and are looking for ways to clear up your skin and keep it clear, why not try some diet changes along with any treatments your doctor advises.

Acne affects 50 million people in the U.S. every year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Pixabay