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Great Article On Acne-Diet Connection By Nutrition Professional

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Here is one of the most concise articles I've ever read on how to help control acne through nutrition.

The article is written by Ryan Andrews, MS in nutrition, who advocates a whole foods diet and has done research into nutrition and its role in acne. The artice is very informative and hopefully as helpful to others as it is to me.

It has taken me decades to figure out what he so concisely has written about in this article. Here it is:

Acne is a multi-factorial disease. While each case is unique, you can greatly improve your chances of clear skin by eating whole foods; lowering inflammation and stress; getting a good fatty acid balance; and cutting down the worst offenders: wheat, sugar, and dairy.

What is acne?

Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and it’s a complex ecosystem made up of several layers and components.


The skin is semi-permeable, meaning that although it’s mostly a barrier between us and our environment, some stuff can get in and out. Sweat glands and hair follicles provide openings.

Hair originates in follicles deep in the subcutaneous layer, the deepest layer below the dermis. These hair follicles are paired with sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum, an oily substance that lubricates both hair and skin. (This is why your hair gets greasy if you don’t wash it.) Human sebum is primarily composed of triglycerides (40-60%), cerides (19-26%), squalene (11-15%), and small amounts of cholesterol.

We have hair follicles and sebaceous glands all over our body, except for the palms of our hands and soles of our feet.

Acne forms when pores become congested with old skin cells, which is more likely when the skin is oily and skin cells stick together. If we also have high levels of bacteria on the skin plus systemic inflammation, we have ourselves a full fledged acne party.

Acne vulgaris is the form of acne most of us are familiar with and accounts for nearly all acne experienced.

What contributes to acne?

Thus, anything that clogs pores, and/or creates or worsens infection and inflammation, contributes. The major players in acne production are:

  • Excessive sebum (oil) production by the skin
  • Rapid division of skin cells
  • Delayed skin cell separation and death
  • Bacteria on the skin surface
  • Inflammatory response

The food we eat and our body fat cells play a role in sebum production, hormones, and inflammation. Hormonal changes likely have the greatest influence on acne (think birth control medications, anabolic steroids and puberty).

Hormonal factors Growth hormone and IGF-1

Acne during puberty is often associated more with growth hormone (GH) than with testosterone and estrogens. GH goes from the brain to the liver and triggers the release of Insulin Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 promotes skin cell growth/division, sebum production, efficacy of luteinizing hormone (LH) and the production of estrogens.

Insulin and glycemic response

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1958 described acne as “diabetes of the skin.” And as far as I’m concerned, everything from the 1950s was true.

High insulin levels and insulin resistance are associated with worse acne and more sebum (side note: more body fat can lead to more insulin resistance). Medications that lower insulin and control glucose often have the side effect of less acne.

Theory-behind-low-glycemic-diet-and-redu Theory behind low glycemic diet and reduction in acne Source: Costa A, et al. Acne and diet: truth or myth? An Bras Dermatol 2010;85:346-353.


Acne severity doesn’t seem to correlate with total androgen levels in the body. Rather, androgens play a permissive role in priming or initiating acne. An example of this would be women with PCOS or someone starting a cycle of anabolic/androgenic steroids. These folks often experience a surge of circulating androgens and IGF-1, along with lower levels of sex hormone binding proteins.

Androgens can directly influence skin cells if the cells have high levels of androgen receptors. Also, androgens can increase growth and productivity of sebaceous glands.

Consuming a lot of food promotes androgen release in the body. Animal foods and saturated fats tend to get the biggest response. Lower fat, higher fiber diets can increase levels of sex hormone binding proteins, thus lowering free levels of circulating androgens.

Inflammation & stress

Acne is a type of of inflammatory disease. With acne, inflammatory hormones and cell signals are upregulated — the skin is a hive of inflammatory activity.

Our bodies secrete cortisol in response to stress. Evidence shows that people with acne have an over-active cortisol secretion system, one that is particularly expressed in the sebaceous glands.

Thus, stress (whether physical or general life stress) plus inflammation (whether existing or prompted by stress) make acne worse.

Nutrition: What makes acne worse?

Not enough antioxidant vitamins and minerals

Low levels of vitamin C and E, zinc, selenium, and carotenoids might contribute to acne. These nutrients help fight free radicals that break down skin elastin, produce collagen, and repair skin damage. The catch here is that you usually have to get these from whole foods for them to be of any benefit.

Processed foods

Data show a mixed relationship between processed foods and acne. Eat a big meal with lots of processed food and you have lots of insulin. Lots of insulin means lots of tissue growth and androgen production, which are both contributors to acne.

Foods that are highly processed and cooked often contain compounds that promote oxidative stress and inflammation (see All About Cooking and Carcinogens). Again, oxidative stress and inflammation almost always contribute to chronic disease.


While there have been noted associations between dairy consumption and acne starting back in the 1800s, some data indicate no association.

Milk provides a mix of growth factors, hormones and nutrients specific to offspring. As rapid growth ends and the youngster can feed themselves, milk consumption is stopped (well, not in humans).

Dairy foods produce a high insulin response, increase hormone levels in the body and alter inflammation – all factors that lead to unfavorable acne outcomes.

Consuming cow’s milk can raise IGF-1 levels 10-20% in the body. IGF-1 from cow’s milk survives pasteurization and homogenization and digestion in our gut, and can enter the body as an intact hormone (cow and human IGF-1 share the same sequence).

The unfavorable associations between dairy and acne haven’t been noticed with fermented dairy products, maybe because bacteria in fermented dairy use IGF-1, leaving less for us to absorb.

Some experts theorize that whey protein in particular may encourage acne, since it’s a strong promoter of insulin. A compound called betacellulin (which can be found in dairy foods) may increase skin cell division and decrease skin cell death – leading to worse acne.


Many studies link alcohol consumption to acne.

GI dysfunction & gluten

Acne is often correlated with GI tract dysfunction.

Those with acne might be more likely to experience gastrointestinal problems like bloating and constipation.

Gut health is often diminished when chronically stressed, leading to inflammation and maybe even a leaky gut.

There may be a connection between wheat gluten and acne (as well as between gluten and other skin conditions). Consider eliminating all sources of wheat and gluten from your diet for a month and see if that helps.

Acne-cascade.png Acne cascade (notice the potential impact of dietary factors) Source: Kurokawa I, et al. New developments in our understanding of acne pathogenesis and treatment. Experimental Dermatology 2009;18:821-832.

Nutrition: What makes acne better?

Acne is a big deal. While genetics (mom seems to play a bigger role) and ethnicity contribute to acne, it appears that how we live each day matters too.

In the U.S., people spend more than $100 million on over-the-counter products to fight acne. Yet many non-Westernized populations have no acne at all.

So, you could spend a lot of money on drugs that have potentially dangerous side effects… or you could change your diet. Changing your diet is a heckuva lot cheaper and safer as a starting point.

Whole plant foods

Diets based around whole plants can lead to slightly lower IGF-1 levels and slightly higher IGF-1 binding protein levels (leaving less available IGF-1 circulating in the body). This might help reduce acne.

Calorie restriction

Less food coming into the body is associated with less sebum production.


These substances, found in foods such as soy, may inhibit androgen-forming and acne-promoting enzymes, but don’t appear to play a major role in helping acne.


There doesn’t seem to be an association between chocolate (in its most unprocessed form) and acne. Studies show that dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity and improve blood flow to the skin and skin hydration. (Some manufacturers are even capitalizing on these studies by offering chocolate in skin products. The jury’s still out on whether this works, but it sure makes you smell tasty.)

Omega-3 fats

Skin levels of fatty acids might play a role in the development of acne. Furthermore, the pro-inflammatory Western diet (with lots of omega-6 fats) tends to negatively influence acne. Balancing fat intake and ensuring enough omega-3s seems to be important for overall skin health. 1 gram of EPA from a supplement (check your fish oil to see how much EPA is in it) might be useful for acne treatment.

GI health

As mentioned above, poor GI health is strongly correlated with acne. Whole foods, soluble and insoluble fibre, omega-3 fats, coconut, and Brassica vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, etc.) can have a beneficial influence on gut health, in part by improving gut motility. (See diagram below.) Fibre can also bind to and excrete excess hormones that contribute to acne.

Consider eliminating wheat, dairy, and sugar for a month to see if this helps. All of these things worsen GI tract problems, and acne is strongly connected to gluten enteropathy.


This might be of particular interest to anyone who has been using antibiotics for acne. Our gut is home to countless bacteria and if gut health is out of whack, this might have a negative influence on acne. Getting enough of these from foods and/or supplements can help to restore gut health and may reduce acne.

Skin cells have also been found to act as immune cells that signal an over-active immune system. Inflamed skin means inflamed body, and probably inflamed gut.

Gut-brain-acne-interaction.png Gut-brain-acne interaction Source: Bowe WP & Logan AC. Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathogens 2011;3:1.


Many spices (e.g.cinnamon, ginger, turmeric) and fresh herbs (e.g. basil, oregano, garlic) are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and immune-boosting. Spices such as cinnamon can also help to regulate insulin.

Green tea

Green tea can suppress enzymes and androgens involved in acne formation. It’s also anti-inflammatory.


These nuts might help with blood/skin fatty acid status, and control blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats can be anti-microbial.

Dark green & purple vegetables/fruits

These contain acne fighting anti-oxidants and minerals that extinguish inflammation. They may also inhibit androgen-forming and acne-promoting enzymes.

Free-range organic (or pastured) eggs

Hens that receive nutritious feed (or even better, free-ranging pasture that includes bugs and other small animals) produce more nutrient-dense eggs (including beneficial vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids) that may help to deter acne.


These may lower IGF-1 in the body.


Found in grapes, red wine, peanuts and mulberries.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Supplementation with pantothenic acid (500-1000 mg daily should be sufficient) can be quite effective, and a far safer alternative to commercial prescription medications such as oral contraceptives and retinoids.

Zinc & selenium

6% of all zinc found in our bodies is in our skin. Selenium is a potent antioxidant. It’s best to get these in food format.

High-zinc foods include seafood, wild game, red meat, and nuts. High-selenium foods include nuts (Brazil nuts in particular), fish, poultry, meat, and wild game.

Who doesn’t get acne?

Observing cultural shifts in diet can also clue us into what foods might be associated with acne.

Acne doesn’t seem to appear in non-Westernized populations eating traditional diets. This includes Inuit, Okinawa islanders, Ache hunter-gatherers, Kitavan islanders, and rural villages in Kenya, Zambia and Bantu.

Staple foods among cultures where acne is nearly absent include:

  • tubers (e.g. taro, yam)
  • fruit
  • fish, seafood, and marine mammals
  • coconut
  • vegetables
  • wild game
  • groundnuts and tree nuts
  • traditionally prepared (fermented or ash-treated) non-wheat grains such as millet, barley, maize (corn), or rice
  • beneficial fungi, molds, and lichen

They don’t eat processed foods, sugars, flours or processed wheat, processed oils, nor much dairy. They also get plenty of vitamin D from being outside, and/or consuming the livers of marine animals.

Summary and recommendations

Acne is complex, and each person is unique. However, there are common factors in cultures that don’t suffer from acne. Use these ideas as your starting point and our recommendations.

  • They eat whole, unprocessed foods. All their nutrients come from these foods. They don’t supplement.
  • They get outside and get sunlight (or, again, consume vitamin D in organ meats).
  • They often eat fermented foods — foods that are high in beneficial probiotics for gut health.
  • Except for the Inuit, they eat a lot of unprocessed and/or traditionally prepared plant foods, such as fresh or fermented vegetables and fruits, and grains that are soaked/sprouted/fermented.
  • They often eat many fresh herbs and spices, as well as beneficial fungi.
  • They eat a good balance of unprocessed fats.
    • They eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, wild game, and even insects and snails. They don’t consume a lot of omega-6s from vegetable or seed oils.
    • They eat traditionally prepared ground nuts (e.g. peanuts) and tree nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds).
  • They don’t consume much dairy; if they do, it’s fermented and/or pastured.
  • They eat as much as possible of any animals consumed: dark and white meat, organ meats, connective tissues, etc.

The value of self-experimentation

If you struggle with acne, keep a food diary. Look for connections between foods and breakouts — and don’t forget that it might take a day or more for foods to stimulate breakouts.

One good experiment is to try doing without wheat, dairy, and sugar for a month to see if it helps. These foods have the strongest associations with acne. Substitute tubers, fruit, and beans/legumes for carbohydrate instead. If that seems like too much, try just one thing at a time.

Other factoids

During times of hormonal fluctuation (like puberty) excess sebum production likely occurs to protect hair follicle growth.

Our skin is replaced every 28 to 45 days. Sebaceous glands have receptors for neuropeptides, like endorphins.

Histamines and anti-histamines may influence sebaceous gland function.

Environmental pollutants

Environmental pollutants might bump up IGF-1 levels. Pollution — which includes smoking — also increases oxidation. Smoking can also influence acetylcholine, and acetylcholine can influence sebaceous gland activity.

Natural topical treatments

The plant extracts from Azadirachta indica (Neem), Sphaeranthus indicus (Hindi), Hemidesmus indicus (Sarsaparilla), Rubia cordifolia (Common Madder) and Curcuma longa (Turmeric) seem to be anti-inflammatory and might suppress bacteria on the skin that promote acne. Same with topical tea tree oil.

If you’re looking for a cheap vitamin A cream, try egg yolk. Dab it on your skin and leave it for 10 minutes or even overnight. (Just remember to wash it off eventually.)

Chamomile and peppermint tea can soothe skin irritation. Make a strong solution of chamomile and peppermint, swish your face in it, and let it sit for a while on the skin. Plain oatmeal will also calm skin down. (Again, wash it off eventually unless you’re auditioning for a zombie movie.)

Fruit acids and enzymes can give you a natural “glycolic peel”. Next time you throw fruit in your Supershake, wipe your face with the pineapple or squished orange rinds. Seriously. Plain yogurt also works as a topical probiotic and exfoliating acid.


Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

Ferreri D. Preventing acne with diet. Disease Proof. July 12th, 2011.

Abulnaja KO. Oxidant/antioxidant status in obese adolescent females with acne vulgaris. Indian J Dermatol 2009;54:36-40.

Short RW, et al. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study to evaluate the effect of exercise-induced sweat on truncal acne. Pediatric Dermatology 2008;25:126-128.

Berra B & Rizzo AM. Glycemic index, glycemic load: New evidence for a link with acne. J Am Coll Nutr 2009;28:450S-454S.

Cordain L. Dietary implications for the development of acne: A shifting paradigm. US dermatology review 2006;1-5.

Danby FW. Nutrition and acne. Clinics in Dermatology 2010;28:598-604.

Dubrow TJ & Adderly BD. The Acne Cure. Rodale. 2003.

Logan AC & Treloar V. The Clear Skin Diet. Cumberland House Publishing. 2007.

Bowe WP, et al. Diet and acne. J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63:124-141.

Cordain L. Implications for the role of diet in acne. Semin Cutan Med Surg 2005;24:84-91.

Costa A, et al. Acne and diet: truth or myth? An Bras Dermatol 2010;85:346-353.

Davidovici BB & Wolf R. The role of diet in acne: facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology 2010;28:12-16.

Shen Y, et al. Prevalence of acne vulgaris in Chinese adolescents and adults: A community-based study of 17,345 subjects in six cities. Acta Derm Venereol 2011 Jun 28 Epub.

Melnik BC. Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program 2011;67:131-145.

Cordain L, et al. Acne vulgaris a disease of western civilization. Arch Dermatol 2002;138:1584-1590.

Ghodsi SZ, et al. Prevalence, severity, and severity risk factors of acne in high school pupils: A community based study. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2009;129:2136-2141.

Adebamowo CA, et al. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. J Am Acad Dermatol 2008;58:787-793.

Kurokawa I, et al. New developments in our understanding of acne pathogenesis and treatment. Experimental Dermatology 2009;18:821-832.

Bowe WP & Logan AC. Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathogens 2011;3:1.

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I don't agree with the "skin diabetes" label at all. How do you explain us people who have eat a genuinely healthy restrictive diet (no dairy, gluten, soy ect.) and see virtually zero improvement in our acne?

I've had body and facial acne since I was eleven years old, by the time I was 15 it become so severe and I started developing cysts that would leave divots in my skin and now at 24 my acne is still present. Since I was 13 I have been on "special acne diets" for months, even years! and unfortunately they did nothing to help my acne, not even did it reduce inflammation.

Nobody knows what causes acne, but we do know genetics play a pretty large part. Some people vehemently claim to have food or life style triggers and swear by a certain diet regimen to keep them clear, others have no specific "triggers" and really never improve with anything.

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I have to agree with bubbles, this article is just speculation that don't apply in real world. The only valid point in this article is the calorie restriction, if you don't eat nothing you will cure acne and oily skin, because you cease all the body functions, rofl.

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Dolan Duck: Yeah I agree. Who are these people that permanently stay clear with just a healthy diet? I wonder if they even have acne and not something else. I see tons of posts on here like "changed by diet! no dairy, no gluten, vitamin d and codliver oil supplements= clear" ... it's like WTF?

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Exactly, those people have had just some occasional pimples every now and then who magically got clear with just vitamin D etc. And those diet women who say you can be clear with just diet are over 50 or 60 years old in this forum so yeah their acne wouldn't be so bad anymore and their lifestyle would be really calm and caloric intake so low that yeah.. I have seen many people in this forum who have said that they have severe acne and then they post their pic and behold, it's just some occasional one or two pimples.

So the point is if you are over 50 years old and the only activities you do are knitting and walking in the park and eat about 1000 calories per day, the "diet" could "cure" your "acne".

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Dolan: Diet has cleared me and I had bad acne from hormone imbalances (pcos). I'm also only 22.

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All of those things cause acne. one factor can affect your acne more or less than others, but they are still factors.

Avoiding soy, gluten & dairy wouldn't have cleared me either, although I don't really know about the soy as I've never consumed much. Those things make no noticeable difference to me.

However avoiding the food that I am intolerant to stopped my severe cystic acne. And years later, after I grasped the truth about the harmful affects of high glycemic impacting diets, I quit drinking sugar & started replacing refined carbs with real, whole nutrient dense foods and my oily skin & acne cleared in a little over a month. I don't consider my diet restrictive. I consider it good.

And Dolan, my acne was still quite bad and my skin oily. And it returns if I don't follow my diet. Ive even recently been testing some less common citrus to see if i can tolerate them like kumquats & various lemon crosses. and i now have cysts. And I am not 50 or 60, but my father still had acne when he died in his mid 60s.

I am also much more active than that. I sprint, do some resistance training and am an urban farmer. In other words, I do the kinds of activity that is healthy and that our body systems evolved to fuel. I don't do unnatural, inflammatory, damaging workouts that require processed junk like shakes & bars and so much food it could feed 5 people.

If avoiding completely soy, gluten & dairy for several months didn't help, and you have no digestion issues, then add them back in, but in very limited amounts. They aren't good for you. And test other foods for intolerance, eat mostly real, whole nutrient dense foods, and avoid any high glycemic impacting habits.

(Can anyone else quote? I can't. And I notice no one else did here.

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No, no one can quote. I'm going tomorrow to take four vials of blood for MRT food sensitivity test! Next week I will get the results, the test cost 777 USD and it's the best test you can do for food sensivities. It tests 120 different foods and 30 different substances. And it shows exactly what kind of reaction the food gives, good or bad, there's no guesswork like doing the regular IgG test. I'm so excited!

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Dolan --- Actually people in their 50's and 60's can have horrible acne. Not many people suffer this late in life but it does happen and I was one of those people. I suffered with severe acne my whole adult life and still would be if it weren't for the meds and diet I am on. Last time I was taken off all meds and still eating healthy which was 5 years ago, I broke out in horrible cysts...and I was 55. Only when I was put back onto the regime below and further tweeked my diet to only whole foods and no oils did my skin clear up. I am a marathon walker at age 62, work and am very active. I look much much younger than my age due to relatively good eating my whole life, no alcohol, no tobacco, and otherwise clean living. Please don't make comments about what older people do or don't do based on ignorance. Acne can happen at any age. The reason I continue to post here is I have done much research and have suffered for so long myself that I want to share info so that others might be able to make changes that will help. There wasn't the wealth of info back when I was we struggled on with our acne. But there is no excuse now for ignorance and new information is being gleaned every day about the etiology of acne and what can be done better to control it.

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CVD, my main point was that older people usually consumes way less calories, has less hormonal activity and has less stress versus younger people. All of these points give advantage to older people to have clearer skin. I didn't say that you can't have acne if you are over 50.

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CVD: THe etiology of acne is unknown, it has no true cause and will never be cured because it's essentially apart of the human condition. Just accept it as a part of yourself and your own genetic fabric.

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God. I so wish I could directly quote.

Dolan, whatever. We are still acne prone. And control it via diet.

Bubbles, we do know what causes acne including many of the genetic traits that make one prone to getting acne. And you can just accept it and do nothing. Those of us that know better will control it via a healthy diet & lifestyle. And a the same time prevent/control most of the other self-inflicted lifestyle diseases this sickly culture suffers from.

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Alternavista: My acne has never been controlled via healthly eating or lifestyle I have an incredibly stubborn strain that I have lived with for close to 15 years.

I have done every therapy under the sun! Natural, dietary, spiritual, conventional and nothing has ever made a difference. I have done all I can do at this point and at this age I'm choosing to reach a point of acceptance that my acne is a part of me and that's that.

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I know how horrible cystic acne can be :( Have you tried bcp or spiro? What about elimination diets or allergy testing? It seems like quite a few people here who had cystic acne had some sort of allergy. Also, do you run everything you put on your face through cosdna? I recently found out my skin clogs from basically everything I put on it. I've been using and oil with an emulsifier to cleanse lately, and the last of my acne has almost disappeared (and I used to think my horrible clogs were hormonal...).

Sorry if you've tried all of that and none of it is helpful. I used to have cysts too before accutane, and then 2 years after they started coming back. The above helped me. Maybe one of those things will help you.

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Paigems: Yes, I have tried all those things and more since my acne began (since I was 11). I have never improved with any therapy. Accutane failed for me 3 times. I have gone through the entire gamut of treatment.

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When I was on accutane my oily skin stopped completely after three days and acne was gone week later. When I was done eating accutane the oily skin returned and along with acne.

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You are weird one Robertitoo, you post everywhere a couple sentence posts, flame and you are clear with your diet and still continue to flame this forum. Why would someone who is clear of acne and healthy be still on this forum really angry and trying to piss off people, something is not right with that picture.

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i'm getting off the diet "boat", i tried everything. i wasn't particularely aware of high GI meals but looking back i never ate that in my 3-4years of diet. these past few months didnt got me much further with anti-GI no bread, etc. indeed i earned 50-60% improvement from these years (but 0% for whiteheads), but it's not worth it for me (i found brevoxyl, and it cleared my face in days). my back is still pretty bad, but i'll live..

i started again eating a bit of bread(whole, homemade), and rice (whole again), a bit of honey(i have my own bees), a tiny bit of animal fat, and indeed i'm losing that 60% improvement but ..i put my trust in the hands of Man (i don't think all these are bad for health). i never really liked what those nutritionists (which i believe are far from the truth) insinuated: "pro natura", "choose nature" etc. some nutritionists even slip saying "we have all we need in the nature" like "god put a healing nutrition right before our eyes". actually some go further and say that the bible specifically tells us what to eat and we "fools" don't obey and that's why we don't live 120 healthy years.

even paleo diets have this underlying philosophy.

well.. i choose the human spirit, (although it needs "churchmen" that actually research medicine and not just rush to the money earned by being a doctor, these people makes us chose these avatars lol) i would gladly eat those lab-grown burgers, with no need of killing any animals etc.

hope our spirituality will grow past its teenage years one day.

anyway i'll keep an eye on the hormone affecting behavior and maybe scan some organs, who knows what adrenals or liver could be suffering from i don't know..

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Yeah and cavemen didn't have cellphones or internet, why the hell those hypocrite paleo and christian people use those?! (LOL) I will see what that food sensitivity test says and follow it but I will start using BP today because my skin is so bad right now, I never in a million years though that my skin would get so bad like it's now, because I stopped eating dairy. It's like I'm having that super bad teenage acne that I had 16 years ago!

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I've gone through major ups and downs like that, Dolan, where I way can my acne be as bad or worse than what it was when I was a teenager! I too tried EVERYTHING, Bubbles,...all the meds and regimes available throughout the decades I have had acne and I was never clear...except when on accutane or ultra strength antibiotics. I also had times, Dan, where I gave up on diet because it wasn't clearing up my acne on its own and even with meds it didn't seem to help all that much.

Then years ago when my old derm took me off everything and despite my very good diet I broke out in cystic acne that was horrible...just like had happened everytime before when I went off meds or just did an all natural regime or whatever. It was horrific at my age to have this happen once again. I read with envy how others had gotten clear with relatively small tweeks of their diet or taking this med or that...always something relatively simple to put into action. I got depressed thinking I just have to accept that my whole adult life has been affected and will be affected by this terrible inflammed infected cystic acne that can't be hidden, hurts, and makes me feel like I want to hide away somewhere.

Then I switched derms...and actually went back to the derm who put me on accutane in my early 30's (2 times). I had gotten clear on the accutane and thought I was cured. Moved away and the acne came back a year or so later...less amount but still cystic. This derm recognized me from all those years ago (remember I am 62 now) and he looked at my skin...took out magnifying glasses and looked closer. He immediately put me on the regime below. This is a regime he developed for very resistant acne...acne that sort of responds to meds but never clears up and acne that persists despite age, etc. This regime addresses eneough components of acne that it helps skin to heal and function better.

If you are reading this and have resistant acne and have tried everything like I had then you may want to consider this. The key element of the regime is that no one piece of it alone will clear up has to be done as a package. Some people post on here that they have tried everything...and they have...but in pieces. Now I do have to clarify that my derm's regime stopped the cystic acne...never have had even one cyst yet (yeah!!!)...but it did not get rid of tiny whiteheads (only had a couple at a time)...nor did it completely get rid of the teeny tiny pimple I might get every month or so. My derm counts my progress as success because the way my skin was looking after on this regime was light years from how it was before and it looked like basically normal skin...maybe skin of an adult who occasionally gets a teeny blemish.

I guess I could've lived with that but I am rather a perfectionist and could see no reason why I couldn't have really clear I could rely on to stay clear. I come from a research background and could see no reason why if this regime had gotten my skin almost clear and my diet had gotten my skin almost free of inflammation that there wasn't something else missing...some piece of the puzzle I had missed.

I didn't want to do anything more with my meds because I appreciated they were at very low dosages that could be maintained longterm without harm...and I didn't want to up the microdermabrasions because at once a month they were maneagable financially and in how my skin responded (fantastically).

So the only thing left to really research and tweek was diet. I was skeptical since I have always eaten extremely healthy compared to others. In my 20's - 30's I was a vegetarian and eating whole grains (but I still ate dairy --- lots of it and drank wine). In my 40's I experimented for short periods on avoiding dairy because I saw a connection to acne and in my early 50's I stopped alcohol because I noted it increased inflammation. But I only avoided these things for a couple of months or so..saw just a little change so gave up on the diet changes. Then in my mid-50's I started having gut issues. Nothing seemed to digest well and my acne was going berserk. I was sent to specialists, got formal allergy testing, was put on a special diet, etc. Still breaking out but gut was getting better.

So I decided to really study the whole nutrition thing and acne. Have read tons of research and books. Came to some conclusions that interestingly stemmed from my interest in primitive cultures. And much like others discovered before me, these cultures have low rates of disease common in western culture and diet is a driving force behind this.

So putting all this info together (along with recognizing the damage to my skin which had resulted in some rosacea and consequently an even greater sensitivity to certain foods) I came up with a diet similar to these cultures but with a few twists that reflect my skin's damaged state. The diet is no solvent processed oils, only a teensy amount of natural oil (EVOO), no dairy, little flour (addresses any gluten or other wheat inflammation issues), no alcohol, no caffeine, no yeast or fermented foods (this is a tweek due to the rosacea...actually primitive cultures do eat fermented whole foods), no sugar, and only wild fish and game in tiny amounts and only free range eggs and only whole foods. As I've shared a million times already in other posts, what finally caused real clearing was avoiding oils and foods made with them. This was the key thing I had never tried before...and really concentrating on following the diet faithfully for a long time. Within two weeks of avoiding oils my skin looked different. My derm remarked on this and was very interested to hear about my addition of the primitive diet.

My microdermabrasion clinicians have been nothing but amazed since they work in the derm's office and have seen the progression of my skin from the first week of the new meds regime when my skin was still when the meds kicked in and the cysts went when I followed the allergy diet and things cleared a bit when I added the primitive diet approach and my skin was less now when I stopped the oils last August and my skin within one month went from having clogged pores and a whitehead here and there and a teeny pimple every month or so to clear...really clear.

Now I only get a whitehead if I mess up and eat oily foods (usually when traveling) but it is only one or two and they go away in a day or so. If I totally mess up and eat bread along with oily foods then bingo...I get a teeny pimple. But it clears up in a day or so.

But if I stay on the diet I stay clear. This is extremely interesting to me. Next on my agenda is to wean off the oral meds as much as possible. I have endured an extremely resistant case of acne so it may be that my particular body needs a more complicated regime to stay that includes some meds. But my fervent hope is that I can wean down to just the topicals and following my diet.

Another thing I have to say. This diet has really made a HUGE difference in my energy and how I look. It has revitalized me. My body seems to be thanking me over and over with good digestion, clear skin, great energy and good mood. So something must be right.

Long long post but I hope it might help those who have tried everything and are giving up. Don't. Keep trying but be more like a scientist...keep notes (don't rely on memory), research, keep an open mind, experiment, document results, review your notes. This will result in a refined approach. My derm took the time to review my whole file which was very thick after all the years of treatment...he was the only derm to really do this. He responded immediately with let's experiment here with what works for adult resistent acne....not just one thing at a time. He developed a regime suited to my skin, temperment (don't like too complicated washing routines, etc.), etc. He did not just slap the usual acne regime on me...he emphasized the need to do a regime that had several components to it for it to work and this included monthly microdermabrasion to really open pores and help heal my ravaged skin. It worked but what really finally did the trick was diet. That's why I am so fervent about sharing this.

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