Acne is a common and complex skin disease that affects all of us. According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, we spend over $3 billion on skin treatments each year.

While expensive skin care creams and trips to the dermatologist can be effective, you can actually keep your skin healthy and looking clear with some slight changes to your diet.

1. Eat more brightly colored fruits and veggies.

Christin Urso

Fruits and vegetables rich in color like beets, purple cabbage and sweet potatoes are all high in antioxidants. “If you don’t have enough antioxidant vitamins and minerals it could cause breakouts,” says Emily Ferencik, SUNY New Paltz nutritionist. Grab a fruit or veggie with a pop of color to help repair skin damage and prevent acne.

2. Eat more oily foods like salmon and tuna.

Andrea Baysa

Acne is an inflammatory condition. To prevent flare-ups, we need to eat anti-inflammatory foods like salmon or tuna. “Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to lower inflammation,” Jennifer Pena-Trabucco, a licensed medical aesthetician at Essence MediSpa in Highland, NY, says.

3. Munch on seeds and nuts.

Kirby Barth

Pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashews and almonds all contain high levels of zinc. “Zinc kills acne causing bacteria and helps to heal wounds and scars,” Ferencik says. “Almonds are also packed with vitamin E, which may protect the skin from sun damage.”

4. Eat more complex carbs.

Amy Yi

Ferencik says you should eat foods that balance your blood sugar. When blood sugar is high, insulin is released. When you have high insulin levels, it can cause worsen acne. Complex carbs like whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, and beans are all lower on the glycemic index, which releases glucose more slowly and steadily to keep your blood sugar balanced.

5. Drink lots of water.

Danielle Gervais

Although this seems like a no-brainer, water plays an important role for your liver. The liver flushes toxins out of the body and if your liver is not able to detoxify your bloodstream adequately, toxins must find another route of excretion: the skin. “Try adding lemon to your water for an extra detox boost,” Ferencik suggests.

6. Eat less dairy.

Aakanksha Joshi

Milk and dairy products have hormones and nutrients that aggravate breakouts and clog your pores, according to a study in the journal Acta Dermatovenerologica Croatica (ADC). They also produce a high insulin response and alter inflammation, which are main factors that contribute to acne. Some of us love eating various cheeses and drinking milk, but dairy has no benefits for your skin.

Try limiting dairy in your diet for a week, and you can see a difference.

7. Put down those processed foods.

Amy Yi
We all know potato chips and pizza are hard to give up. But “simple sugars and starches in processed foods will unbalance your blood sugar and cause acne,” Ferencik says. Processed foods also contain compounds that promote stress and inflammation, which will lead to acne flare-ups.