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5 Foods for Clearer Skin

Green smoothie being poured into glass, part of an acne diet

We often get caught up just treating the external, but our skin is a reflection of internal health. Recurrent breakouts are best remedied by addressing the root of imbalance—with the right skincare and nutrition. Here, Los Angeles-based holistic nutritionist Kristin Dahl, founder of The Women’s Wellness Collective, shares the acne diet approach she uses with her own clients. In addition to the more obvious tactics (drink lots of water, cut back on sugar), she recommends incorporating more of these 5 key nutrients.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants have myriad benefits for skin, but research indicates that people with acne tend to have lower natural levels of them. Supplementing with vitamin E and vitamin A, two potent antioxidants, has been shown to help clear skin. 
Find them in: collard greens, kale, butternut squash, sunflower seeds, avocados, and almonds.

Essential fatty acids

Healthy fats—specifically omega 3—have healing, anti-inflammatory properties. They also play an important role in regulating hormones, balancing the excess sebum that leads to clogged pores. 
Find them in: olive oil, wild caught fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), chia seeds, and ground flaxseed.

Zinc

A micronutrient that’s essential to skin health, zinc has been shown in studies to lower inflammation and eliminate acne-causing bacteria. As with antioxidants, acne patients are often deficient in the mineral, and getting more of it can reduce breakouts. 
Find it in: organic pasture-raised chicken, lentils, cashews, quinoa, and garbanzo beans.

Probiotics

The health of your gut and your skin is interconnected. And supporting your gut microflora—which reduces inflammation and keeps harmful bacteria in check—has been shown to improve acne
Find them in: coconut water, kefir, kimchi, miso, and tempeh.

Anti-inflammatory herbs

Certain traditional herbal remedies can help clear blemishes by regulating blood sugar, and aiding with digestion and detoxification. 
Find them in: burdock root and tulsi teas, and milk thistle tinctures.