6 Powerful Ways to Eliminate Acne…With Food

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By Jeff Taraday

Do you suffer from acne, no matter how many different creams, prescription pills and facials you’ve tried? Acne affects over 85% of teenagers and nearly half of men and women in their 30’s in the U.S. While it’s certainly an unsightly and uncomfortable nuisance, acne can affect more than just the appearance of your skin – it can lower self-esteem and affect your overall quality of life, sometimes even leading to depression and anxiety. Oddly enough, acne is nearly non-existent in some other countries, such as Okinawa – but why, and what can you do about it?

The cause of acne seems to be closely related to our toxic Standard American Diet. It’s time to break free from the cycle of battling breakouts and win the war against acne once and for all! While everyone’s skin is different, certain dietary changes can make all the difference. 

Here are 6 tried and true ways to naturally stop acne in its tracks.

1. Cut out Dairy Products and Cut Down on Animal Protein

Dairy is most strongly associated with acne out of anything in the Standard American Diet, most likely because of the growth hormone, Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), naturally found in milk, which has been shown to have a significant effect on acne promotion. Consumption of animal protein also raises IGF-1 levels. Cutting out cheese, replacing your milk and yogurt with non-dairy varieties and lowering your animal protein intake might be the most effective thing you could do to cure your acne and improve your overall appearance.

2. Avoid Refined and Processed Foods

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Foods containing refined carbohydrates (cookies, cakes, pies, etc.) raise insulin levels, which increases inflammation and yep, IGF-1 levels in the body. Oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are common in processed foods, can have a major effect on increasing oil production on your skin. Stick to whole and minimally processed foods that only contain whole sources of carbohydrates and no extracted oils. Your skin (and the rest of your body) will thank you.

3. Focus on Nutrient Density

Levels of zinc, vitamin E and carotenoids are much higher in people with clear skin and increasing the levels of these micronutrients in people with acne has been shown to be effective. Rather than resorting to multivitamins, which might not be absorbed properly, ensure high levels of these acne-fighting nutrients by consuming a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and seeds and making them the centerpiece of your diet. In particular, red grapes, fennel, artichokes, garlic, alfalfa sprouts and broccoli fight skin inflammation and provide substantial amounts of beneficial acne-fighting nutrients. 

4. Opt for Whole Food Fats (in limited amounts)

Do you constantly have oily skin? It turns out that excessive consumption of extracted oils might make it worse (especially refined vegetable oils with high levels of omega-6, as I mentioned above). If you’ve eliminated all of the above foods, eat tons of fruits and veggies, yet still deal with acne, lowering the fat content of your diet may make a huge difference.

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5. Drink Warm Water With Lemon Daily 

Starting your day with a morning ritual of a glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice has a powerful detoxifying effect on the body, is a rich source of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C and helps to balance your body’s pH levels, all of which are powerful weapons in the fight against acne. Lemon juice and honey, applied topically, are also effective at eliminating blackheads. 

6. If All Else Fails, Try Eliminating Gluten

Out of all these recommendations, eliminating gluten might be the most controversial, but the fact of the matter is that many people have gluten sensitivities. Cutting out processed food and opting for whole and sprouted grain products might be enough to eliminate gluten’s negative effects on your skin. If you’ve already tried everything else on this page, going totally gluten free might be the solution to your skin problems. It’s definitely worth a shot!

I know it sounds like a lot of dietary changes just to get rid of acne, but the good news is that in addition to killing acne, the recommendations above will also help you lose weight, increase energy and drastically lower your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Stop wasting money on countless expensive skin lotions and facials and kick acne to the curb with a completely holistic approach, using food as medicine.


Jeff Taraday

Jeff Taraday

Certified Health Coach and Nutritional Education Trainer at The Plant Eater
Jeff Taraday is a reformed junk food addict, barbecue junkie, and beer-swilling frat guy who discovered the power of a whole foods, plant-based diet in in 2010. Switching to a plant-based diet has helped him lose over 40 pounds, clear up his mind, and transform him into a fitness and exercise junkie and a plant-based nutrition advocate.

Jeff is a certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a Nutritional Education Trainer through the Nutritional Education Institute. He has also completed a certification in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. He is the author of the blog The Plant Eater, and coaches individuals and families how to easily and deliciously incorporate nutrient-dense, plant-centric meals into their daily lives. He currently works as a wellness coach for a corporate wellness consulting firm to improve the lives of the employee populations of companies around the country.

He is also a member of the board of Groceryships, a non-profit that provides grocery scholarships, nutritional education, and emotional support to low-income families in South Los Angeles, California.

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Jeff Taraday


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