Does diet affect skin and can it cause acne?

Thu 18 Feb, 2010 02:05 am
I have been interested in this topic for a long time, but every time I search for answers, I seem to be coming up with statements that completely contradict each other. Dermatologists and doctors tell me that eating unhealthy foods will not cause acne, and that a person's diet will not improve or worsen a person's skin. Yet, on Acne.org, many acne-sufferers claim that their acne has cleared up thanks to a healthy diet, one involving many fruits and vegetables, and supplements. On the website, it also says that the secret to clear skin for people who are prone to break out is to avoid all dairy, wheat, pasta, and processed sugar, as well as greasy fast foods. In the same paragraph, it says to drink at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil per day, 1 or 2 servings of cod liver oil for vitamin A, as well as take flaxseed or fish oil capsules, a serving of calcium, B complex, Zinc, beta carotene, acidobifidus, and several others I have forgotten. This, then, insists that diet affects skin majorly, does it not? Yet, in several magazines, I have read that the most common myth that is believed by everyone to no advatange is the idea that diet affects skin. Then, I heard Kramer on MadMoney mention that he broke out because he ate eggs that morning. So diet does affect skin? And last week, I received a magazine that states that, "It is not what you eat, but rather, what you don't eat, that affects your skin and acne." Yay, I finally found someplace that states that diet, or actually, the absence of a good diet, affects skin. Then the article went on to say what to avoid and what to eat for good skin.
Having attempted to prove myself either right or wrong, I put some of the suggestions I've read on the website to the test. I have acne, and I have lasted several weeks avoiding all of what it said to avoid and taking all of the supplements, plus more. It was hard, too hard to stick with, actually, but I may have seen a really small difference in my skin. Too small to put myself through the torture of avoiding so many foods though.
Once I stopped taking all vitamins and avoiding certain food catergories, I tried taking supplements that are manufactured specifically for those with acne, such as Acnepril and Murad skin supplements, and have seen possibly a slight difference too. But only slight.
I have always believed, no matter how many times I have been told the opposite, that diet has a BIG effect on skin. Now, I almost feel as if I disproved that theory, because my skin has hardly gotten better.

What do you believe: Does diet affect skin and/or help acne? Or no?
Any success stories from people who have tried to eat healthy to help their skin?
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Thu 18 Feb, 2010 05:47 am
A few things, because I suspect people are committing the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. E. g. they're saying, just because B came after A, it must have been caused by A.

Not so fast.

I think that eating a healthy diet is a good thing to do and it certainly can never hurt you. Plus drinking a lot of water, regardless of your skin condition. Partly because keeping yourself hydrated means flushing out toxins and whatnot but also because drinking a lot of water means you tend to replace sugary sodas.

Certainly if you are allergic to something you're eating (and it may be a mild allergy, so you may not even be recognizing it as an allergy, per se), and then you stop eating the irritating foodstuff, your skin can clear up. It is possible to confuse some instances of hives with acne. So that's one area where changing diet would change one's skin's quality.

Another area would be in assuring that you are getting proper nutrition. It's possible that a Vitamin B deficiency would cause some skin issues, but you'd have to be rather poorly nourished for that to happen. That's highly doubtful in a first-world country.

But otherwise, while eating right is a good thing -- and if you need to be convinced to eat right by believing it will clear up acne, then by all means use that as the reason; the reason doesn't matter, so long as the action occurs -- it's doubtful that it, per se, can change one's chances of getting acne.

BTW, wait until you're my age, and you can get both acne and dry skin. I eat a balanced diet (and have been for over 2 years) and drink a good 80 ounces of water per day yet I am sitting here with both acne and dry skin.
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Thu 18 Feb, 2010 07:26 am
All other things being equal, the qualified Doctors are probably right.
Thu 18 Feb, 2010 10:09 am
My nephew - age 21 - and grandson - age 15 - stopped drinking soda pop and their skin improved greatly. The dermatologist said the caffeine in the pop and coffee opened the pores. Stress also contributed to it. I also suggested changing the pillow case more often.

Who knows?
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Thu 18 Feb, 2010 03:00 pm
Jespah said,
just because B came after A, it must have been caused by A

True, that is a common way of thinking and may be the reason some think we get acne thanks to what we eat.

BTW, wait until you're my age, and you can get both acne and dry skin.

Oh goodness. Thanks for the encouragement. I have such a bright future ahead of me. Hah.

but thanks for the other tips and explainations... they helped greatly. Smile

Rosborne979 said,
All other things being equal, the qualified Doctors are probably right.

Yes, but one doctor says one thing, the other says another. In articles, it is the doctors who say it does affect skin. In magazines, according to information from doctors, it says that diets affect skin.

Sullyfish6 said,
My nephew - age 21 - and grandson - age 15 - stopped drinking soda pop and their skin improved greatly. The dermatologist said the caffeine in the pop and coffee opened the pores. Stress also contributed to it. I also suggested changing the pillow case more often.

I've heard all this. I never drink soda. And I sleep on one side of the pillow one night, the other side of the pillow the next night, then change the pillow case for the third night.
But thanks anyways.
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Wed 8 Jun, 2011 05:11 am
Giving-up sugar eliminates acne

I have had acnes when i was 28 can you beleive it? I had it on my face, arms, shoulders even just didn't go away with clearsil, clean & clear just eased it but did not get rid of it.

So what i did was just give - up sugar all my acne is gone. i can't believe it i'm not supposed to have acne when i was 28 anyway.

No sugar in my tea, coffee, herbal teas, chocolate, biscuits, confectionaries, cakes, ice cream, deserts, sweets. It's hard to notice that sugar contains in so many products.

So what's is alternative to sugar? There is honey, fruits, maple, date syrup maybe, if sugar has to be a must maybe unrefined sugar will do less harm to your body, because unrefined sugar is more close to naturality then refined white sugar which they call no vitamin, no mineral, no enzyme, no nutrients nothing but just calories useless empty calories that's all the sugar has.

Acne is unnatural, sugar is unnatural. We eat unnatural we get unnaturalites.
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Mon 1 Aug, 2011 10:44 am
This is a subject that I can relate to! I have struggled with adult acne since I was in my 20s. Before that, I got the typical teenage acne (stray pimples here and there), but not the obnoxious cystic acne and painful, long-lasting pimples that I started to get later. It seemed like there was never, ever, a day that I wasn't ashamed of some unsightly blemish that had crept its way onto my face. I got so tired of constantly trying to cover them up when I went out in public, which only made them worse.

Yes, I do think diet can play a part in controlling or even elminating acne, but
there are other factors that help, too.

I am in my mid-40s now, and still deal with adult acne - but I have finally almost eliminated it. That being said, I have tried just about everything out there for the past 20-25 years except for Accutane and a few other hardcore products that seemed to be potentially dangerous. I will also say that it's hard to know whether it's the fact that I'm approaching menopause (not there yet) that has finally helped to clear up my face or the fact that I have finally discovered what works for me. Either way, I'm going to continue to do what seems to be working for me. This being said, though, my mother had cystic acne well into her early 60s.

Some of these things might seem redundant to you or things that you've heard before over and over, but I'm sharing what I'm doing right now. I hope that it is helpful to you and anyone else and welcome any other insight on this topic.

I will also say that I believe that people like you and me have definitely inherited our predisposition to acne. What this basically means is that while diet and other lifestyle factors can definitely help improve our acne, the neighbor next door could be breaking all of the rules we have to follow and still have perfect, blemish-free skin. For someone like that, their skin is going to be great regardless of what they do. It's not fair, but unfortunately it's just the way it is. On a positive note, we might possibly end up healthier in the long run because of all the healthy lifestyle changes we've had to make to help clear up our skin. They may or may not be doing these things, but whether they do or don't it doesn't seem to make a difference.

For people like us, there are definitely certain factors that make a difference in improving our skin, but what works for me may not work as well for you. I am not a doctor or especially knowledgeable about skin, but after doing tons of online research and trying things out for myself I am definitely more informed than I used to be.

The biggest factors contributing to acne seem to be hormones & sebum clogging pores.

1. Drink lots of water. Even if it doesn't help clear your acne, it is good for your body to be flushed out. It helped me to flush out a few pounds of junk weight, as well. The first few days I started drinking lots of water I was heavier on the scale, but by day 3 or so, the scale consistently started reading lower. Drinking all of that water may help flush out the extra fats that could potentially contribute to acne.

2. Consistently swipe your face throughout the day with Oxy Max pads. They have a 2% salycylic acid formula that seems to help keep the pores unclogged. Right now, in the dead heat of a humid summer, when I am exercising a lot, I swipe my face with these pads several times a day (sometimes 6-8 times). Buy these things in bulk! Keep your hands away from your face, and swipe with these pads after you've been talking on the phone.

3. For some reason the cheap hotel soap or lye soap works well on my skin for facial cleansing, better than other products that are designed for acne. I found this soap that you can buy at Cracker Barrel called Grandma's Lye Soap. I don't know why it works, but it does. My best friend, who also struggles with acne, found that Head & Shoulder shampoo (regular formula) works well as a facial cleanser for acne-prone skin, as well. I've been using it lately and I'm not breaking out more.

4. If you are a female, don't wear liquid or powder foundation unless you absolutely HAVE to. Save it for the times when you will be in the public eye a lot. Otherwise, you will find yourself breaking out often. I have been going naked on my face for 2 years now when I am not working or around alot of other people. At first I didn't like how splotchy my face seemed to look, but remarkably, my skin starts to look better over time without any makeup at all, even with the larger pores that I have. If you feel that you can do it, I would recommend trying to go bare as much as you can get away with, even when you go out in public. Use the other makeup like lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, etc. to your advantage. When I do have to wear makeup, Cover Girl's Oil Control liquid makeup formula works best, and I put it on lightly so it doesn't cake. Many women swear by the mineral powder makeup - what I have tried does not keep me from breaking out. I will start breaking out eventually if I continue to wear it. Maybe I haven't tried the best brands.

5. I take Glucomannan supplements. They absorb extra fats/toxins in your body. I take them about an hour before I eat. They have helped me lose weight and seem to clear up my skin.

6. I take Vitamin C supplements. They are the only vitamins that I take. I have heard that you can't overdose on them, because your body flushes out what it doesn't need. I take 1000-3000 mg a day when I remember. Vitamin C is a natural healer.

7. I drink spearmint tea - two bags a day. Drinking this made a very noticeable improvement in my skin. If you google spearmint tea you will see that not only does it help with acne, it helps regulate hormonal cycles and can help with pcos. It can even help with excess facial hair. I have read where it didn't work for others, but it definitely works for me.

8. Raw apple cider vinegar (with the "mother"). Sounds disgusting! If you plug your nose and drink a Tbsp. mixed into a cup of water you can usually manage to down it. Supposedly, raw apple cider vinegar cures a lot of ailments and helps with a lot of issues. It is supposed to help make your skin clearer. Besides drinking it (it cleanses out your digestive system) you can use it as a toner for your skin and use it as a hair rinse. It even helps with bad breath! When I have nasty breath first thing in the morning I drink a cup of water w/ the vinegar and a while later my breath feels much fresher. Right after I drink it I feel like I smell a bit like a salad w/ Italian dressing, though.

9. Get enough sleep. This one is huge. I am living proof that when I get less than 6 hours of skin, my skins completely suffers. As early as later that day I can feel the big underground cysts start to form under my skin. If you can't get enough sleep one night do your very best to get a nap later in the day. Sleep just might be one of the most important things you can do for your skin if you're acne-prone.

10. Stay away from sugar and refined carbs. I used to think I was "allergic" to chocolate, because my mother said that she was and she had hormonal cystic acne all the way into her early 60s (unbelievable, isnt' it?). She was convinced that every time she ate chocolate she broke out and it seemed that way for me, too, but I finally learned that chocolate was not the culprit.
The fact is, when I eat lots of (or even a little) junky sweets it takes a toll on my skin and I gain weight. Yet I can eat quite a bit of dark chocolate (used to only like milk chocolate but I have learned to love dark chocolate the best) and I don't break out from it - ever!

11. Eat as many foods as possible that have high amounts of fiber. The glucomannan (mentioned above) helps tremendously, too. Eat as many raw vegetables and fruits as you can stomach. I swear, it seems like if I eat a whole bunch of raw veggies one day, the next day my skin seems to look much clearer and more radiant. You can also take psyllium husk capsules or powder if you are not allergic to psyllium. The fiber from the veggies and whole grains and psyllium, etc. help to clean out your intestinal tract and seem to help clear up my face, too.

12. Get exercise. The act of sweating, helps release the toxins and oils from our skin. Just make sure that you are wiping off that excess sweat as much as possible with acne pads or good soap; because otherwise, you will break out badly. It has happened to me more times than I want to admit.

13. I use a mix of essential oils - one equal part lemon, tea tree and lavendar in a formula that I apply directly to my skin. I never would've guessed that "oils" would help clear up my skin, but they seem to have helped.

14. Eating nuts and fish and other foods with Omega 3 fatty acids. Eating these good fatty foods seems to help draw out the bad fats and release them. I hate fish so I either take fish/flax oil capsules or eat a lot of walnuts/almonds, etc.

15. I have been applying accu-pressure to myself as well as trying out reflexology techniques. I don't know if they're helping my acne, but they are definitely helping to make me more relaxed and that brings me to the last thing I'll bring up - anxiety and stress. That definitely can bring on more pimples. When I've had a fight with my husband, a few days later extra pimples start forming. I have had to learn to chill out as much as possible and engage in as many relaxation techniques as I have time for. A glass of red wine doesn't hurt either.

One more thing! I try to remember to change my pillowcase as often as possible. The oils collect on the pillowcase, and can help clog up your pores again. Buy 3-4 spares and change them out every 1-4 nights, if possible. I don't always remember to do this, but it is nice to sleep on a super-clean pillowcase anyway.
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Fri 15 Mar, 2013 02:43 am
With my own experience, My skin is also prone to acne because i have a very oily skin type. But my healthy diet, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, daily exercise and I always moisturize my face twice daily. Now I'm happy with the condition of my face though it's still oily but pimples are gone. Smile
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Stephanie Ingram
Thu 21 Mar, 2013 01:44 am
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Mon 6 May, 2013 06:37 am
As I know till now there are no scientific studies which can prove that what you consume in your daily diet causes acne to develop. Science has proven that eating pizza frequently does not result in acne.What does cause acne is natural oil produced by sebaceous glands in the skin. This oil has nothing in common with the kind of oil in which food is prepared.

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Mon 13 May, 2013 02:54 am
Hello Friends,

Certain foods cause blood glucose to rise rapidly, triggering a boost in insulin and resulting in inflammation on a cellular level, says Badreshia-Bansal. Excess levels of insulin in the bloodstream trigger a hormonal cascade and endocrine response that can lead to the growth of pore-clogging cells, as well as overactive oil gland activity.
A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed a low-glycemic diet, which included more whole grains, beans, and vegetables, and limited white pasta, rice, bread, and sugar, had fewer breakouts.

Thanks and Regards,
Milon Jones
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Tue 28 Jan, 2014 12:48 pm
This is so hard to say for sure because we should never confuse correlation for causation! My skin is very healthy and glowing but when I have a vacation and eat bad my skin breaks out...this could be change of regular routine, water I'm using, or less exercise. I'm not entirely sure there's significant data on it.

Personally--and not widely supported by medical professionals--I believe it does. Greasy foods my not directly cause acne from being IN you but you have that grease/fat/sugar by your face and on your hands. Ever notice you feel greasy if you eat out?
Healthy choices make for overall healthier bodies and our skin/hair is a reflection of our health. Drinking your full servings of water every day (half body weight in lbs=ounces u should drink) makes your skin hydrated and prevents wrinkles/dryness and gives you a glowing complexion. Fiber from fruits and protein from nuts (think almonds not peanuts) help your skins overall elasticity, oil control, and does seem to help acne.
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Terrie Dawson
Fri 31 Jan, 2014 01:12 am
ya Diet affect skin...
Wed 19 Feb, 2014 02:05 am
@Terrie Dawson,
Hi Terrie,

what is the affect to skin if we do diet ?
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Fri 28 Feb, 2014 05:27 am
The only thing that is known medically to affect acne, is caffeine. Caffeine, which is high in soda's and chocolate (which young people tend to eat and drink alot of), has been known to affect the skin.
Fri 28 Feb, 2014 05:40 am
nazia08 wrote:

The only thing that is known medically to affect acne, is caffeine. Caffeine, which is high in soda's and chocolate (which young people tend to eat and drink alot of), has been known to affect the skin.

You clearly must have failed biology 101.
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Mon 16 Feb, 2015 12:40 am
@Terrie Dawson,
I think Yes. You’ve heard it before and maybe you believe it because when you eat a lot of junk foods, you may see the results show up on your skin in the form of pimples.Or that drinking plenty of water will help your skin look healthier, maybe even smooth out a few wrinkles.
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Fri 6 Mar, 2015 08:34 am
Yes, eating foods that contain a sufficiently large amount of cholesterol, as well as excessive consumption of sweets can cause excessive secretion of sebum which in turn causes the development of acne.
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Sun 8 Mar, 2015 05:25 am
I read somewhere:
Doctors thought for years that diet does not affect acne. But recent scientific studies have shown that diet is very important, because what we eat can affect hormones that contribute to the production of skin oils, excessive cell division, and inflammation of the skin causes acne.
Dietary factors improving acne, which have been extensively studied, are dairy products, which raise the doses of sugar in the blood. They are more factors affecting the hormones, especially IGF-1 hormone that plays a key role in the development of acne. These foods also affect the cause of the inflammation of the skin, and increase the frequency and severity of acne.

I hope that I have helped you.
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Mon 9 Mar, 2015 01:42 am
Yes of course! A study in the American Journal of Nutrition suggests you may have fewer breakouts if you 'add more whole grains, beans, and veggies and cut back on pasta, white rice, white bread, and sugar'.
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