Best Foods To Eat And Avoid For Stress And Acne


Everyone has a different stress threshold depending on their fitness levels, relationships and whether they are well rested.

The automatic response of fight or flight is rarely needing in modern life, however, stress can accumulate when energy preparing someone for this is not consumed.

It can leave people drained of energy, exhausted, suffering from burnout or even having a nervous breakdown.

Foods that can help:

  • Opt for foods with a low to moderate glycemic index (GI) to maintain an even blood glucose level as stresses raises this
  • These include most fruit and vegetables, such as sweet potato, carrots, peas, oranges, apples and berries

Foods to avoid:

  • Eat foods with a medium-GI in moderation. These include dried fruit, porridge oats, brown rice and bananas
  • Avoid foods with a high-GI or combine them with lower GI-foods to balance out blood glucose levels
  • Ditch caffeine as this can act on the adrenal glands, leading to increased levels of circulating stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Try and have one cup of coffee a day, and maximum three cups of tea, ideally herbal
  • Women should drink no more than two-to-three units of alcohol a day and men three-to-four. Have at least two alcohol-free days a week

Extra tips:

  • Try stress-relieving activities to avoid emotionally over eating
  • Regular exercise, including yoga, can neutralise stress hormones
  • Keeping a diary can help identify how you cope with stress triggers


There is no conclusive evidence that acne is caused by a poor diet, however, it can worsen symptoms.

Nutrition influences the effect of hormones, the ‘stickiness’ of skin cells and the degree of inflammation that occurs, all of which can lead to pimples.

Foods that can help:

  • Opt for low-GI foods that do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels
  • Fruits and vegetables, oily fish and dark chocolate (with at least 72 per cent cocoa) all contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants that may help

Food to avoid:

  • Cut back on sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods. These promote the release of insulin, which leads to an increase in skin cell generation
  • Switch to goat’s milk. Cow’s milk contains more sugar, growth factors and hormones
  • Avoid processed foods, such as vegetable oils, as well as promote inflammation
  • Reduce your red-meat intake as it contains hormone-like substances that can cause acne

Extra tips:

  • Look for water-based cosmetics and skin-care products labelled as ‘noncomedogenic’
  • Do not pick spots
  • Persevere with treatments as they can take up to eight weeks or more to take effect

Source: Eat Well Stay Well book, by UK-based General Practitioner, Dr Sarah Brewer.

Image: BBC Good Food



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