This is far and away the most complex and difficult-to-fix topic. Your best bet is to start with extremes and slowly work various food groups back into your diet. Figuring out what foods cause acne can be extremely difficult because often it is one or more foods in conjunction that either help or hurt acne. Other factors such as time of day, how well you sleep, how and when you exercise will create additional variables that make it difficult to determine which dietary factors are of greatest importance. If you have a question about your diet or a particular food, email it to us or post it in the forums section, and we’ll analyze it and report back to you.
These guidelines are in order of importance, in our experience and opinion:
- Eliminate gluten from your diet. This includes virtually all flour, bread, etc.
- Eliminate as much sugar as possible from your diet. Especially consider eliminating all processed and refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and the like. In general, try to cut back on fruits and other carbs. If you do eat carbs, try to eat them in the bright light, before 2 pm. In the past several years, several studies have linked high sugar diets to acne. Another theory is that eating fruit at night, when your melatonin levels are elevated, can cause carb malabsorption, preventing your body from properly absorbing zinc and other nutrients it needs to sleep properly.
- Eliminate nuts from your diet, including peanuts, which are a legume.
- Eliminate soy from your diet.
- The only oils that should enter your body are extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil. Do not eat anything cooked in vegetable oil, soy oil, or any other kind of oil. When eating at restaurants, be particularly careful to research the type of oil they cook with.
- Eliminate dairy. Eggs are fine. Studies link milk to acne. It is unknown if this is because of the sugar in dairy, or another factor. If you do eat dairy, try to do it in the daylight, before 2 pm.
- Eat cooked tomatoes in olive oil. This boosts lycopene levels, which reduces your skins sebum (oil) production. Eating tomatoes is good but won’t give you as much lycopene. Drinking tomato juice works as well.
- Eat lots of carrots. This gives you carotenoids, which the body uses to produce as much Vitamin A as it wants/needs.
- Eat broccoli and as many other green vegetables as possible. These nutrient rich foods are anti-inflammatory and very helpful to your body’s fight against acne.
- Eat a low glycemic load diet. Glycemic load is different (although related) to glycemic index. Visit nutritiondata.com to get the glycemic load facts on foods you eat. Studies link high glycemic load diets to acne
- Eat pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds in the evening. This will give your brain the fuel (tryptophan) it needs to produce a proper melatonin surge.
- Experiment with a Paleo diet.
- Lots of water is good, but cut it off in the early evening. You don’t want to have to wake up to go to the bathroom and disrupt your sleep cycle
- Meat is good for acne, especially in the evening. Meat provides your body with zinc and tryptophan. Meats such as Boar’s Head that have less hormones and preservatives are probably better.
- Try to eat salmon or other deepwater wish 3+ times/week.
- Read about the foods you regularly eat. Nutritiondata.com has helpful information on everything under the sun. The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to make decisions on any given day
- Don’t eat kelp, and watch your iodine consumption. Be careful with your salt intake. Sea salt is fine, but avoid iodized salt in large doses.