Fermenting For Acne

by NIKKI POPE, December 20, 2020

There's an old saying that goes "You are what you eat". As is the case of acne, what you eat can cause breakouts – or minimize them. Here, you'll learn about fermented foods – the delicious and healthy fares that may help you achieve clear, healthy skin.

What are Fermented Foods?

As the name suggests, this type of food has undergone fermentation. In this process, microorganisms break down substances such as sugars into other materials such as organic acids or gases. Through fermentation, such foods get to have a certain taste, smell, and appearance. 

The most common examples of fermented food are yogurt & cultured milk, tempeh, miso, natto, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented fish, and fermented sausage.

In the US, widely-available fermented foods include bread, cheese, yogurt, sour cream olives, and beer.

Why Fermented Foods Are Good For You

Although vegetables, fruits, dairy, and other foods are good enough by themselves, fermenting them can further improve their health benefits. That's because they often have (or are inoculated with) probiotics, which many people know as the 'good bacteria'.

True to its' name, probiotics provide several benefits to the body. The most common strains, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can help create a good gut environment. Add to that, they can also help improve your immunity. 

The benefits of probiotics are made possible by the vitamins and other compounds they are able to produce in the gut. These substances help improve nerve function, immunity, and blood health, among many other things. 

Fermented Foods For Acne

Are you guilty of eating fatty, unhealthy junk food regularly? Well then, this may be the reason behind your breakouts. Consuming these foods can upset your gut microbiome, which is the community of microorganisms in your digestive tract. 

When this happens, toxins are released into your bloodstream, which triggers inflammation throughout the body. This event ends up triggering breakouts – as well as other skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema. 

To keep your gut (and your skin) healthy, you need to keep your gut microbiome balanced. The best way to do that, of course, is to eat probiotic-rich fermented foods. They help prevent a leaky gut, wherein toxins escape to the bloodstream and cause pimples, among many other skin conditions. 

More than just improving your gut and skin, probiotics can bring about other benefits too. According to the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, it may also help minimize the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. 

What are the Best Fermented Foods For Acne? 

While there are many fermented foods available in the market, there are some that do better with providing the probiotics that you need. 

Take the case of yogurt and cheese, which are both fermented dairy products. Yogurt is deemed to be the better source because it contains more 'live and active' cultures of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii at about 100 million cells per gram – compared to cheese. 

Here are some other fermented foods that come with the most number of beneficial live microbes: 

  • Kimchi – L. sakei
  • Sauerkraut – Lactic acid bacteria 
  • Olives – Lactobacillus 
  • Pickles – P. cerevisae
  • Buttermilk – Lactococcus
  • Fermented Milk – S. thermophilus, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. casei, B. lactis
  • Kefir – Lactobacillus, Lactococcus 

When buying a product from the market, make sure it has the words 'naturally fermented' or 'unpasteurized' (especially in sauerkraut) on the label. If you don't find these statements, do check the bottle for bubbles – this means there are live microorganisms in the jar. By being vigilant with what you buy, you can avoid fermented foods that don't have probiotics, such as pickles that are only fermented with vinegar.






Fermenting Your Own Food

Similar to preparing your homecooked meals, it's best if you ferment your own food. That's because processed fermented foods usually undergo pasteurization. While it can extend the food's shelf life by killing harmful microorganisms, it also gets to kill the good bacteria in the food.

Contrary to popular beliefs, fermenting foods at home is very easy to do too. Here are some quick recipes you ought to try: 


This delicious entree, which can last you a couple of months, only requires salt, caraway seeds, and cabbage. Just throw all these ingredients in a jar and ferment them for 3 to 10 days. 


This traditional Korean recipe only requires cabbage, green onions, carrots, radishes, ginger, garlic, dried chilies, and sea salt. 

Add these sliced ingredients to a jar, and put in some more water (as needed) to keep the veggies submerged in liquid. Ferment at room temperature for 3 days before placing it in the fridge.


Indeed, you can make yogurt even if you don't have a machine. All you need is a quart of whole milk and ¼ cup of plain whole milk yogurt. To make your homemade yogurt, heat the milk in a saucepan and add the yogurt. Place the mixture in a jar and leave it be for 10 to 12 hours. To make it tangier, leave it for an additional 3 to 5 hours. 

Remember: if you don't have time to ferment your own foods, you can always buy products from the supermarket. As mentioned, you need to be vigilant and opt for products with the 'naturally fermented' or 'unpasteurized' labels on them.

How to Eat Fermented Foods that Banish Acne

As fermented foods are an acquired taste, it's best to start small. Not only will this help you adjust your palate, but it can also help minimize the unpleasant effects of gas or bloating (this goes away in a few days though). For example, you can start with a tablespoon of sauerkraut this day, gradually increasing the amounts as you get more accustomed to the taste – and its digestive effects.


Fermented foods are fares rich in probiotics, the good bacteria that promote gut and skin health. It may help reduce acne by keeping the gut microbiome balanced, thereby preventing the escape of toxins that can trigger breakouts. 

The best fermented foods for acne are the ones with live and active cultures, such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and fermented milk, to name a few.