We know a significant cause acne is environmental since Inuit populations had no acne before the introduction of Western culture. Likewise, acne is much more common among people living in wealthy countries than the same ethnicities living in the rural areas of their poor origin countries Kucharska.
From Kucharska and Spencer:
- Dairy consumption (esp. skim milk) positively correlates with acne (see also Adebamowo).
- Cocoa does not cause acne, but eating chocolate does - probably because of other ingredients in chocolate.
- A diet's glycemic index correlates with acne and a trial found switching to a low glycemic load improved skin. Another study found eating high fiber cereal also improved skin.
- There exist some chemical pathways that suggest eating Omega-3 should reduce acne and a promising correlation has been observed.
- Studies have found that Vitamin A, Vitamin E, selenium, and zinc intake improved skin condition. Iodine can make it worse.
- Vitamin D looks like it probably improves acne Lim.
See also Simonart and Fiedler.
Kucharska, A., Szmurło, A., & Sińska, B. (2016). Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii, 33(2), 81. https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fada.2016.59146
Spencer, E. H., Ferdowsian, H. R., & Barnard, N. D. (2009). Diet and acne: a review of the evidence. International journal of dermatology, 48(4), 339-347. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.04002.x
Lim, S. K., Ha, J. M., Lee, Y. H., Lee, Y., Seo, Y. J., Kim, C. D., ... & Im, M. (2016). Comparison of vitamin D levels in patients with and without acne: a case-control study combined with a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One, 11(8), e0161162.
Adebamowo, C. A., Spiegelman, D., Berkey, C. S., Danby, F. W., Rockett, H. H., Colditz, G. A., ... & Holmes, M. D. (2008). Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 58(5), 787-793. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2007.08.049
Simonart, T. (2012). Acne and whey protein supplementation among bodybuilders. Dermatology, 225(3), 256-258. https://doi.org/10.1159/000345102
Fiedler, F., Stangl, G. I., Fiedler, E., & Taube, K. M. (2017). Acne and nutrition: a systematic review. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 97(1), 7-9. https://doi.org/10.2340/00015555-2450