Is Treating Acne with Diet Possible? Yes! And not just with diet changes, there are many other simple natural options to help too!
Thank you to Jill, from Real Food Forager, who has written a guest post today on a topic that I know many of you are wondering about. Below she talks about treating acne with diet.
First a note from me (Kelly):
Remember I'm not a doctor or anywhere close, this is just what I would do, after tons of research, if we were dealing with acne here. I want to give you HOPE! The suggestions below help people clear up issues with acne all of the time, it really is possible.
Did you know that for acne, docs will put you on any of the following…
- Antibiotics (Gut and immune system BUSTERS!)
- Oral contraceptives or other hormonal drugs (FERTILITY BUSTERS, CANCER CAUSERS & HORMONAL HAVOC even years later, read more here: Dangers of the Birth Control Pill) — by the way, docs also put girls on the pill for painful periods, and there's a natural remedy for that too…
- Steroids (NASTY side effects and long term health issues)
- Drugs like Accutane or others (can cause MAJOR mental health issues even years later and other scary side effects — it’s more common than is reported!)
Besides the info below from Jill on treating acne with changes in the diet, here's what else I recommend… Especially for kids who may not be willing to clean up their diet, as frustrating as that is!
Keep in mind as you read below: I know there's a lot here. I didn't want to overwhelm you, but at the same time wanted everything together here in one place so you can see how many natural options you have for treating acne! I suggest you read through and find a combined approach using the suggestions below that resonate with you. Everyone's situation and skin types are different, but basically you want to hit it from the inside AND the outside. Start with whatever you think is a good fit, but be willing to use some trial and error and switch things up with other options later as needed. You may have fast results with the below suggestions, but it could take time and patience as well.
1. First the outside: I'll show you the Beautycounter skincare products that help with facial or back acne (Beautycounter skincare and makeup is SO much safer than what you'll find at the store and much better for your health!):
- This charcoal cleansing bar detoxifies and absorbs impurities from the skin without drying it out.
- This mens care line has toner pads to balance the ph of the skin and calm inflammation, and a cleanser that sloughs away dead skin cells and unclogs pores.
- This charcoal mask is also great for blemish-prone skin, it purifies and balances, absorbs excess oil, and draws out impurities.
- This acne spot treatment is a MUST for keeping on-hand for random blemishes that show up. Also here's their all-over acne treatment called Countercontrol to clear existing blemishes and prevent future breakouts, and the matte toner to control excess oil and minimize the appearance of pores. NOTE that the Countercontrol line is mostly for those with more oily skin…
- For those with acne who do NOT have oily skin, this post has newer info about a drug normally used for acne, but Beautycounter has a much safer option! It's a line called Countertime and it's generally better for those who have acne without oily skin. (It's also the line for mature skin to prevent wrinkles or reduce fine lines. I don't have acne, but use these products for anti-aging!)
- To cover blemishes this makeup is safer and works too: Skin Twin Foundation, Creamy Concealer, and this beauty blender helps apply them both for a natural look. (See my video about these here!)
- Overnight Resurfacing Peel (for nighttime) and Vitamin C Serum (for daytime) are great for helping to fade acne scars, for uneven skin tone, redness, and more–and see the drastic before and after pics below when these products are used! (Sensitive skin? Start slow with a small amount in an inconspicous area.)
2. Now for healing from the inside: Along with the below diet suggestions, I'd also suggest you get these homeopathic remedies for more support and healing longterm: Hepar sulphuris calcareum 200C and Arsenicum album 200C — one dose of each (3-4 pills), taken together, every other day. Read more about how to take homeopathic remedies here. Homeopathy roots out health issues from the inside. ***Also note that the diet suggestions below talk about inflammatory foods to avoid and that's important at first, but later you can also heal food sensitivites with homeopathy so you don't have to avoid those foods forever! (The probiotics below can also help root out food sensitivities.)
3. More healing from the inside:
- Cod liver oil is an anti-inflammatory, and good to be taking daily anyway for overall health and especially for anyone who struggles with moodiness or anxiety, or hormonal issues. That brand is one of the best because it not only has the important omega-3 fats, but it also has vitamin A & D! Get a discount at that link with the code: KOP. (More here on healing anxiety naturally.)
- Take this gut-strengthening, immunity-boosting superfood: Colostrum! <– Buy some there (be sure to click “join us” instead of “shop now” to get the best price). Or watch this video on the health benefits for more info. Slip the powder into any recipes you can, like smoothies, homemade ice cream, or anything really. Some just eat the powder off a spoon as Paola talks about in the video (start with a small amount and work up to a Tablespoon or so 2x/day or more–remember it's just food so more won't hurt). I use the powder in recipes AND take the colostrum pills, just so I'm sure to get some in every day in case I'm not cooking/baking that day or forget to add it to recipes.
- More GUT healing: Watch the following video about the importance of this spore-based probiotic for healing your gut and clearing up acne (also important for those with anxiety). Here's the video, Stop Acne Outbreaks with NO Side Effects:
(Get a discount on this probiotic for acne with the code: KOP.)
Note that the dose is one daily, but you may need to slowly work up to 2/day or even more for a while until your skin clears.
Now here's Jill with more on the best diet to help clear up acne…
Conventional medicine does not address the common-sense knowledge that diet can affect acne, in spite of current published research showing just that.
The usual and customary comment from a medical doctor about acne, is that “…there is no scientific evidence that diet plays a role…” That answer, coming from a health care professional with “expertise,” leads to the inevitable prescription for topical medicines, or the stronger Accutane or antibiotics.
All of these treatments are dangerous.
Accutane has many side effects including depression, suicidal thoughts, inflammatory bowel disease, birth defects if given to a pregnant woman, to mention just a few. In fact, it is so dangerous to pregnancy and the fetus, there has recently been a new protocol introduced in order to make sure pregnant women do not use the drug. Is it a good idea to give a teenager, whose self esteem may be a bit fragile to begin with (especially if he or she has acne) a drug that may cause depression or suicidal thoughts? The other medical alternative, antibiotics, are just as dangerous. As a clinician, I have met quite a few people who have told me they thought their inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s/colitis) was caused by the antibiotics they were given for years as a teenager to treat acne. Taking antibiotics kills not only the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria in the bowel. In taking these medications chronically, the flora in the bowel becomes unbalanced and this opens the door to overgrowth of pathogens including bacteria, fungi, viruses and yeast (Candida), that come with their own host of problems. In my opinion, neither treatment is a good option.
In the Natural Health world, acne is known as “diabetes of the skin”.
Insulin and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) is released when simple sugars and carbohydrates are eaten. Elevated insulin levels (as in diabetes) lead to an excess of male hormones, which cause pores in the skin to secrete sebum, a greasy substance that attracts acne-promoting bacteria (propionibacterium acne). Additionally, IGF-1 promotes the multiplication of skin cells known as keratinocytes, a process associated with acne. Scientific studies have shown a link between insulin and IGF-1 and acne. Furthermore, it has been found that when IGF-1 is used to treat certain illnesses, this increases male hormones, and this increases the incidence of acne. Clearly, there is a link between levels of insulin, IGF-1 and acne.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars causes chronically elevated levels of insulin and IGF-1.
Not only is this bad for general health and emotional well being and increases the risk of diabetes, it is bad for the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body. When the diet is full of junk foods with chemical additives, which most refined carbohydrate products have, the body has to find ways to detoxify and remove the enormous amount of waste products that accumulate. The skin is a major outlet, as it has the greatest surface area. The skin reflects the health of the gut. If the mucous membrane lining of the intestinal tract (the gut) is not completely healthy (as may occur when the diet is full of unnatural chemicals and sugars that feed pathogenic bacteria) there is a greater incidence of many health problems, including acne.
Not surprisingly, acne is a disease of western civilization.
Studies have shown that the condition is virtually nonexistent in traditional societies, where refined carbohydrates and sugar are rarely eaten. For instance, one study that looked at acne cases in the islanders of Papua New Guinea and the hunter-gatherers of Paraguay, found no cases of acne in either group. The findings, make a strong case for the significant role of environmental factors, such as diet, in the incidence of acne. I’m sure that if Dr. Weston A. Price (a dentist who traveled the world in the 1930′s studying and documenting traditional cultures and in particular their excellent health and excellent teeth) had been a dermatologist, and had looked at the skin of the traditional cultures he studied, he would have found acne to be non-existent in the cultures that were not exposed to “…the displacing foods of modern commerce…”, i.e. all the processed foods available. In those days there were five processed foods; canned vegetables, vegetable oils, condensed milk, refined four and refined sugar. Compare that to what we have today – go into a supermarket and try to find the real food!
For teens, the solution is to cut back on or cut out entirely, simple refined sugars and carbohydrate/grain products.
This means bakery, cereals and packaged products as well as corn since it is a grain. With the epidemic levels of gluten intolerance and celiac disease in our society today, this solution is much more appropriate for enhancing health than offering dangerous drugs. But the diet should be cleaned up in other ways as well. Adding probiotic foods and probiotic supplements are also indicated to restore the beneficial micro flora to the gut. Moreover, eating the correct fats (and avoiding oxidized vegetable oils and trans fats) is also necessary for this condition. Additionally, gradually switching over to a real foods diet is important if you want to solve this problem through natural methods.
While changing the diet may be difficult for a teenager, it must be even worse suffering with a face full of acne.
With support from parents, teens can change their eating habits for the better. Let us know if you’ve had good success curing acne with diet!
Scroll through here to find more that might help:
- Be sure to see this post for more on healing your gut health, which is so important with skin issues!
- A commenter below said that she did the Whole-30 Diet for a month (no sugar, no dairy, no grains) and her acne totally cleared up!
- I just received this comment that I wanted to share here about acne: “I took in a young man into my home after he had been kicked out of his house. He had terrible, terrible acne when he got here. Within weeks I had his skin looking like a baby's behind! First off, real food helped, of course. But I also supplemented him with B-5, B-6 and Vitamin C. Now, there are some B complex pills that will have that combo, but what you want to do is buy these supplements separately. Take them with your breakfast and lunch, and if you don't have adrenal issues or insomnia, you can take them with dinner, too (otherwise they can be a bit too energizing on your body and interfere with sleep). These are water soluble vitamins, so you can't OD on them. B-5 helps control excess oil in our skin, B-6 is healing to the skin and vitamin C helps fight off infection. I worked for a dermatologist for 8 years and saw all sorts of tricks for acne, but never did I see anything clean up acne the way those three vitamins have. Especially in so little time!“
- If you've tried the above without results, just a reminder to check out this post with newer info I just learned about a drug normally used for acne, only this is a safer option!
- Often this goes along with gut issues: How to fight depression and anxiety naturally
Dr. Jill Tieman is a Clinical Nutritionist and Chiropractor practicing in Suffolk County, New York. She specializes in SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). She is also the co-Chapter Leader of the Great South Bay Chapter of the Weston Price Foundation. As a supporter of WAPF, she is enthusiastic about teaching people how to use real, wholesome foods to reinvigorate their health.
At the 2010 WAPF Conference, she heard Kelly & others on the social media bloggers' panel and was inspired to use this great platform to spread the word about traditional food. She realized that blogging is an efficient way to reach many people who are interested in improving their health. She created her own real food blog, found at www.realfoodforager.com.