How Food Feeds Acne

Written by our guest blogger Liam Kavanagh Puknys.

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and one of the most essential. Healthy skin has a number of functions including keeping out bacteria and viruses, but perhaps the most pressing reasons to have healthy skin for many of us are social. Having clear, elastic skin gives you a fresh, healthy appearance that is attractive to you and others around you. While companies market countless, and often toxic, skin products that claim to smooth and clear your skin, one of the most natural and effective ways you can improve your skin health is by changing your diet.


There are a number of food groups that can get in the way of healthy skin, particularly if you are prone to acne. The “big three” are soy (its phytoestrogens cause hormonal imbalance), dairy (has inflammatory hormones, can glue together dead skin cells), and peanuts (high in omega 6 fatty acids that trigger inflammation). There are other, less problematic foods to watch out for as well. These include:


  • Added Sugar (coconut palm sugar is better)
  • Grains
  • Eggs
  • Alcohol and Vinegar (except apple cider vinegar)
  • Nuts and Seeds (except for chia and coconut, which technically isn’t a nut at all)
  • Legumes (such as lentils, peas, and beans)
  • Nightshades (such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers)


Those are a lot of foods to avoid! While cutting out dairy, soy, and peanuts from your diets may be reasonable (though I can’t even do that), cutting out every food listed above is virtually impossible. You should experiment and see what is most important for your skin. Some people may find certain ingredients more problematic than others. For me, it’s dairy and sugar. For my sister, soy and sugar are the biggest problems.


When you think about your diet, you may find that it is heavy in one of these foods listed. If you are having problems with your skin, consider cutting down on that food and see if it helps. Maybe substitute lettuce and butternut squash for peas and peppers as your fiber source or substitute an apple for a sugary treat.


While eliminating everything that could cause acne from your diet may be unfeasible, you can make small changes in how you eat that could greatly improve your skin health and appearance. A final tip that works really well — if you are having a flare-up, ice your face for 10 minutes morning and night to calm the inflammation. It also is a great demonstration how “anti-inflammatory” intervention can yield dramatic results, which may help inspire you to keep those inflammatory foods out of your diet.


Source Note: There are many conflicting theories on what is good for your skin. Dr. James Fulton is the physician who has done the most research on acne, and so his work is my principle source for this blog post. My family has used skinSalvation (no affiliation) for several years now, which bases its treatments on Dr. James Fulton’s work as detailed in his book Acne RX. The results have been impressive.


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