How to Modify Your Diet to Help Prevent Adult Acne and Skin Aging

Written by Stephanie Sutton, M.D. –

In a recent cross-sectional study in France, adult acne was significantly associated with consumption of fatty foods, sugary foods, sugary drinks, and milk. The intake of carbohydrates and saturated fatty acids were significantly associated with adult acne. This study was observational and relied on self-reports, however it provides more insight to the link between diet and acne. Acne is caused by many factors, but diet may be one of those factors. Our diet is something that we can modify. This is an area of dermatology and nutrition overlap that is frequently being researched and updated.

A healthy diet with a low glycemic load has many overall health benefits, and therefore is a low-risk way to modify one of your risk factors for acne. Glycemic load takes into account how quickly a food makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much carbohydrate per serving is in the food. A high glycemic load diet affects Insulin Growth Fator-1 (IFG-1) and insulin which lead to an increase in inflammation which can promote acne. Other inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and perioral dermatitis can also be affected by diet.

Some studies have shown that skim milk products actually have a higher link to acne than whole milk products. This could be due to the fact that fat delays absorption and therefore fat-free skim milk could lead to a higher spike in blood sugars. Buying organic milk products to avoid intake of growth hormones given to cows could also help limit milk’s affect on acne. Getting adequate vitamin D and calcium is important (and often done through milk products), so finding a balance in your diet is key!

A recent Dutch study looked at the association between diet and facial wrinkles in older patients. The study showed that better adherence to a healthy diet was significantly associated with fewer wrinkles among women (but not men). A more fruit-forward diet led to less wrinkles than a diet higher in animal meat and fats. A healthy diet in their study consisted of daily vegetables, fruit, whole-grain products, nuts, and one serving of fish per week. It had little to no dairy, alcohol, red meat, cooking fats, and sugar. Unhealthy foods can lead to oxidative stress, inflammation, and glycation which can lead to wrinkle formation. Many fruits and vegetable nutrients have antioxidative effects and stimulate collagen production as well as DNA repair.

If you are experiencing acne or you want to prevent or treat aging skin, schedule an appointment at Sutton Dermatology + Aesthetics.

Stephanie Sutton, MD, is a contributing author to the Sutton Dermatology Blog. Stephanie Sutton is a psychiatrist and she focuses on wellness.

Splete, H. “High-fat, high sugar diet may be contributors to adult acne.” MDedge Dermatology News. P 35. July 2020
Talakoub, L; Wesley, N. “Your diet may be aging you.” MDedge Dermatology News. P 26. July 2020


South Clinic
7100 Stephanie Lane
Lincoln, NE 68516

Dermatology Clinic HOURS
Mon: 8am - 5pm
Tues: 8am - 5pm
Wed: 8am - 4:30pm
Thurs: 8am - 5:00pm
Fri: 8am - 3:00pm

Aesthetics Center
Mon: 8am - 5pm
Tues: 8am - 5:30pm
Wed: 8am - 6pm
Thurs: 8am - 5pm
Fri: 8am - 3pm

North Clinic
5000 N. 26th Street
Lincoln, NE 68521

Mon: 8am - 3:30pm
Tues: 8am - 4pm
Wed: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Thurs: 8am - 2:30pm
Fri: 8am - 3pm

L Street Clinic
6900 L Street
Lincoln, NE 68510

Mon: Closed
Tues: Closed
Wed: 8am - 4pm
Thurs: 8am - 4:30pm
Fri: 8am - 3pm

Sutton Logo
Sutton Logo
ASDS and SCF Logos
Notice of Non-Discrimination: (English) (Español) (Tiếng Việt)