Diet for blemished skin: what kind of food and nutrients can help

This article has been reviewed by:
Alexandra Beck


Besides hormonal fluctuations, stress, nicotine and the wrong skin care, a wrong diet can be a significant reason for blemished skin. The basic prerequisite for healthy and beautiful skin is a varied diet. This includes sufficient proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and a variety of micro- and macronutrients.

In the following article you will learn more about foods that can be responsible for blemished skin as well as foods including nutrients that are particularly good for the skin.

If you want to learn about other reasons that can lead to blemished skin, please click here.

What kind of food can be responsible for blemished skin?

food you should avoid for impure skin infographic

Pizza, Chips, Burger und andere Fast Food Gerichte

The glycemic index shows how much the blood glucose level rises after eating certain foods. If the food has a high glycemic index, the insulin level in the body increases rapidly. The high insulin level results in the release of the androgen testosterone. Testosterone promotes an overproduction of sebum and thus clogs the pores. This leads to blemished skin such as blackheads and pimples.

(If you want to learn more about androgens, anti-androgens and their connection to blemished skin, check out this post).

Foods that are high-glycemic:

  • White sugar and sugary foods
  • White bread
  • Potatoes, corn, white rice
  • Bananas, grapes
  • Beer, soft drinks
  • Milk chocolate

Milchkanne und Milchglas auf einem Holztisch

20% of Germans have a milk intolerance (lactose intolerance). If milk and dairy products continue to be consumed despite the lactose intolerance, the intestine is stressed in the long term. This stress on the intestine can have a negative effect on the skin.

But as studies have shown, it is not only lactose intolerance that leads to blemished skin when milk is consumed. Milk contains amino acids that activate growth hormones in the blood – such as insulin – mTor and IGF-1. These growth hormones initiate processes in the body that block the transcription factor Forkhead Box Protein O1 (FOXO1). Thus, a deficiency of FOXO1 occurs. When FOXO1 is no longer present, acne or skin blemishes develop. This phenomenon has been known in dermatology for a long time.

If you want to avoid cow’s milk, there are a number of plant-based milks available. For example, you can use oat or soy milk for coffee and rice or almond milk for cereal.

The right diet for blemished skin: Which foods and nutrients promote an improvement in the skin's appearance?

nutrients that have a positive effect on the skin infographic

Verschiedene Hülsenfrüchte in Säcken

Dietary fibers are vegetable fibers and swelling agents. They keep blood sugar levels stable and thus prevent too much insulin from being released. This in turn has positive effects on the skin. Fiber is therefore an essential ingredient for the right diet for blemished skin.

Foods high in fiber:

  • Legumes (soybeans, beans, lentils, chickpeas).
  • Whole grain products (whole grain pasta, whole grain bread).
  • Green vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, fennel), carrots
  • Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, dates)

Verschiedene Nüsse und Beeren auf einem Holzbrett

Behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and poor diet result in oxidative stress. This creates free radicals that promote inflammation and thus contribute to blemished skin and pimples. This is where antioxidants come into play. They can work against the harmful free radicals and stop inflammation in the body. Antioxidants are flavonoids, carotenoids, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. In principle, almost every fruit and vegetable contains a composition of antioxidants, but there are some that have a particularly high concentration.



These foods contain flavonoids:

  • Eggplants
  • Blueberries

These foods contain vitamin C:

  • Black currants
  • Rose hips
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers

Diese Lebensmittel enthalten Vitamin E:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Nuts, seeds, kernels

Other strong anti-inflammatory foods:

  • Garlic and onions
  • Ginger and turmeric

Verschiedene Lebensmittel die Vitamin A ethalten auf einem Holzbrett

Pimples are known to be caused by clogged pores, resulting from excessive sebum production. Vitamin A can be used to counteract the production of sebum. Since vitamin A is toxic in high doses, you should talk to your family doctor about the right dosage. Vitamin A (also called retinol) is only found in animal foods. If you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, retinol can be replaced by its precursor, beta-carotene. Vitamin A can only be released by zinc. Therefore, it is important not to have a zinc deficiency in case of blemished skin.

Foods that contain retinol:

  • Liver
  • Butter

Foods that contain beta-carotene:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Apricots

Verschiedene Lebensmittel die Zink enthalten

Zinc has an anti-inflammatory effect on our skin. In addition, zinc inhibits the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotesterone (DHT). Thus, sebum production is reduced and pimples can be counteracted.

Foods that contain zinc:

  • Liver
  • Lentils
  • Yellow peas
  • White beans
  • Garlic
  • Nuts
  • Salmon
  • Mushrooms

Verschiedene Lebensmittel die Omega 3 enthalten

Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that are good for the body and therefore important for a complete supply of the skin and for our immune system. Only when the immune system works properly can inflammation and pimples be avoided. Omega 3 fatty acids can neutralize unsaturated fatty acids and thus stop the triggers for inflammation.

Foods that contain omega 3:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Eggs
  • Linseed oil
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seed

Y-linolenic acid belongs to the omega-6 fatty acids. It creates a balance in the natural skin lipid layer and thus ensures healthy, smooth skin. The best source of this omega-6 fatty acid is evening primrose oil.

Verschiedene Lebensmittel die Chrom enthalten

Chromium helps regulate sugar levels in the blood by increasing the effectiveness of insulin. If the blood sugar level is too high, the body secretes more androgens (such as testosterone). This, in turn, can lead to pimples by increasing sebum production.

These foods contain chromium:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Cocoa powder
  • Tomatoes, peppers, onions
  • Lentils
  • Brazil nuts
  • Eggs
  • Grapes

yours alkmene logo

These articles might also interest you:

Backne – When pimples on the back become acne

Learn how to best deal with pimples on your back and what to look out for if you have acne on your back.

verified by:
Cosmetician Alexandra Beck


Blemished skin and pimples after stopping the pill

You have stopped taking the pill and have problems with blemished skin and pimples? Find out here how blemishes and pimples develop after stopping the pill and how you can treat them.

verified by:
Cosmetician Alexandra Beck


Blemished Skin and the Gut: The Gut as a Cause of Oily Skin and Acne

Even if the gut and the skin have little in common at first glance, the health of the gut can be reflected in the skin. A damaged gut can lead to oily skin and acne. What you can do about it, we reveal here.


Causes of impure skin

Struggling with recurring blemishes and tired of treating the symptoms? Learn more about the causes of blemished skin here and find sustainable beautiful, clear skin.

verified by:
Cosmetician Alexandra Beck


Diet for blemished skin: what kind of food and nutrients can help

In this article you will learn which foods are responsible for blemished skin and which foods help to improve blemished skin.

verified by:
Cosmetician Alexandra Beck


Does tea tree oil help against pimples?

In this article you learn what pimples are, how they are formed and how tea tree oil can help against them.

verified by:
Cosmetician Alexandra Beck