When it comes to clearing acne, our skin needs all the help it can get. One of the best ways of helping it is through the food we eat. Of course there are still people who say that diet and acne are not connected. My personal favourite (which annoys me of course ) is “There are no scientific studies that prove that acne and diet are connected”. If you’re out of your teens and still struggling with acne, let me tell you the quickest way to clear and acne free skin is through diet. Even if you do not have acne, adding the below foods to your diet can make your skin glow and look so much better. Do try it out and let me know. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Now, I’m not telling you to overhaul your diet and start eating a diet completely different to what you can get around you. Just a few changes and additions and you’re good to go. Trying to overhaul your diet completely is a battle that is lost from the beginning. If you eat rice, like I do, on a daily basis and you ask me to quit rice, I know instinctively that I cannot do it. I might say I can, but I am human and I love food, plus I was brought up eating rice.
So here are the best foods you can add to your diet so that your acne starts healing. I’ll include recipes and how you can include it in your diet.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
These are a powerhouse as they contains loads of antioxidants that are beneficial for your skin. Antioxidants speed up your skins repair system and they prevent further damage. This makes them a great addition to your diet. You can add baby spinach leaves to your salad. You can make a green smoothie with mixed greens. Leafy greens include spinach, fenugreek leaves, amaranth leaves, kale, collard greens, beet greens or any green leafy vegetable you get local to you.
Here is a basic recipe you can make using spinach, fenugreek leaves or any leafy green. Or even a mix of them.
- 1 Onion (chopped fine)
- 1/2 tomato (chopped fine)
- 4-5 handfuls of greens – spinach or any of your choice (washed well and chopped)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil ( any vegetable oil will do also)
- 1 teaspoon grated coconut (optional)
- salt to taste
Add all the above ingredients to a except salt and coconut to a vessel. Put this vessel on the stove and set the heat to low. Put the lid on and let it cook for 4-5 minutes. Then open the lid. The leaves would have wilted. If not, put the lid back on again and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes more. Open the lid and add salt to taste and coconut if required. Coconut is needed mostly if you are Indian and want to eat it with rice and dal (lentils). Skip the coconut to serve with steak or grilled chicken.
2. Chia Seeds
These seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and they are also high in antioxidants. They help fight inflammation in your body and also help with dry skin.
Below is a breakfast recipe using chia seeds.
- 1 cup almond milk, coconut or any milk of your choice
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
Soak the chia seeds in the milk and leave it overnight covered in the refrigerator. Next morning the chia seeds would have absorbed the milk. Add toppings like fresh fruits, cocoa powder and sweeten with honey or maple syrup for an amazing kick start to your day.
To have good skin your body should be healthy. This means good digestive health as well. Skin prone to acne has shown to improve with a daily dose of probiotics. Source
Probiotics are in yoghurt, home made pickles, fermented foods like idly dosa, home made curd, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and buttermilk.
The deep colour of berries is due to an antioxidant which protects the damage to your skin by free radicals. Add a handful of any locally available berries to your daily diet.
Here’s how you can include chia seeds and berries into a breakfast smoothie.
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 1 banana
- 3/4 to 1 cup milk, yogurt, almond or soy milk
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Blend all in a blender and enjoy.
5. Green Tea
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants. It is also good for regulating your insulin levels which in turn reduces the sebum or oil your skin makes, which in turns leads to less acne. All these factors make green tea an excellent agent to fight inflammation in your skin. Now green tea is not exactly everyone’s cup of tea! To make it more palatable add freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice to it. Have it cold if you don’t like it hot. Just make the tea and let it cool. Or add ice cubes to the hot tea to cool it.
To calm your face you can dab your face gently with the used green tea bag.
6. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits contain loads of Vitamin C which is great for your skin. I wrote an article here about how Vitamin C helps acne. Adding these to your daily diet will help reduce the life cycle of your acne and also keep it at day. Vitamin C calms your immune system which in turn prevent your body from harming your skin. Vitamin C also helps reduce the redness on your skin due to acne.
Many years back I used to watch Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows. She once described avocado as a moisturiser that you can eat. She said it moisturises your skin from within. That’s a pretty good description for the avocado. Avocados are full of healthy fats that are fantastic for your skin. Add them to your salads, on toast or enjoy them just on their own.
Here’s a salad you can make with avocados
- 1/2 Avocado
- 1 small cucumber
- 1/2 each of green and red peppers
- 1 cup kidney or any beans (cooked and drained)
- 1/2 tomato
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- juice of one lemon
Mix all the veggies in a bowl. All the olive oil and lemon juice to a small bowl and add salt and pepper to it. Mix it well. Add to the veggies. You can get creative and add apples, oranges, spinach and lettuce to the salad as well. This is a very versatile recipe. It can be modified a lot.
I used to always notice that my skin looked much better when I had a cold. It always confused me until I realised I drank ginger tea when I had a cold. Along with a lot of turmeric in lot water. Ginger has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Whatever it does to help your cold and sniffles away, it does similar things to help your acne heal as well.
Ginger can be added to stir fries, added to tea or it can be added to your green smoothie. I used to grind half a kilo of ginger and strain the mix using a sieve. The juice that comes out of it can be stored in a clean glass bottle for up to a month. This juice can be added to green smoothies.
Like ginger, turmeric also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It works great added to your food and also applied topically to your skin. You can add turmeric to your scrambled eggs and also to your soup. A teaspoon of turmeric stirred into a pot of soup adds a very earthy flavour to it.
So here they are – some of the best foods to clear acne. Be creative and mix 2-3 of them up in one dish. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you do experiment and it tastes good, mention it in the comments below. Below are just some examples.
- Spinach, avocado and citrus fruits can be added to your salad.
- A green smoothie can be made with spinach, mint, avocado, ginger juice, turmeric and green tea
- The breakfast smoothie above has chia seeds and berries. Add yogurt too.
- Green tea can be had with citrus fruit juice ( lemon juice or orange juice )
- Turmeric, ginger juice and lemon juice can be added to green tea
- You can grind spinach and add it to plain yogurt with salt and garlic powder. This can be used as a dip.