5

votes

Does the paleo diet prevent the occurance of acne?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Anybody have any success in this regard? If so, was it just facial, or shoulder as well? Can I toss out my Clearasil? Should I sell my shares of Reckitt Benckiser Group plc?

29518a2572c5fe3a851170a9b1c315f3

on August 29, 2011
at 05:57 PM

Do you eat carbs from tubers? sweet poato? How much carbs do u eat a day?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 04, 2011
at 01:36 AM

Yeah for me, strict paleo didn't help much. But excluding all nit shades and eggs has been helping a great deal. Autoimmune protocol from Wolf's book inspired me.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on July 03, 2011
at 12:46 PM

Sounds like a gut flora issue. I'm on the same boat. If Art Ayers is right, it can be corrected.

6e01c5e248d6a30bb7cb07d536aaf5b6

(193)

on May 06, 2011
at 02:36 AM

i've been wondering the same thing myself, i think paleo + avoiding nightshades/egg whites might be the best combo, maybe adding in some colostrum powder to fix the leaky gut. also lookout for allergies to paleo approved foods like citrus or eggs.

461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on January 14, 2011
at 01:12 AM

I've been fully Paleo for 14 months, and still have acne symptoms. what am i doing wrong? i'm cutting out fruit now too, don't eat nuts, no dairy, no grains, feel like i'm barely eating anything and still have symptoms. occassional glass of wine and black coffee... any ideas?

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 13, 2010
at 03:02 PM

Was using ProActive occasionally (Gunthy Renker stock?)... My birth control gave me horrible cystic acne but now it's finally gone...

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 13, 2010
at 02:58 PM

Casein can act like gluten in terms of inflammation. Cordain has written about it. There are some casein-free whey protein products available out there.

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on May 29, 2010
at 08:13 AM

Good to know that dairy is ok, at least for some.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on April 01, 2010
at 06:05 AM

Coconut milk you say ? I will try it. I just hope it won't aggravate my acne although it shouldn't since "milk" is only a problem 'cause of diary.

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177

(623)

on March 31, 2010
at 09:45 PM

One serving of the Whole Foods coconut milk has 12g of fat and the can has 6 servings. Thats 72 grams of yummy fat for $1.49. Pretty good deal

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177

(623)

on March 31, 2010
at 09:43 PM

Drink coconut milk. Its how I get a big portion of my fat content. Whole Foods has 100% coconut milk for about $1.49 a can and most Asian markets have coconut milk. Trader Joes has a lite version that of course is not as good but its only a $1 a can.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 31, 2010
at 06:47 PM

@Ryan: I cook with lard, I used butter along my vegetables and my stake and my tuna and just by itself. I don't know how I will replace the fat content of it since I'm quite low on that end.

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177

(623)

on March 31, 2010
at 04:54 PM

Butter is dairy. Butter isn't truly Paleo, it is a "gray area" product. Try cooking with animal fat such as duck, coconut oil or ghee (dairy without any of the dairy qualities).

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 18, 2010
at 02:50 AM

Seth Roberts has blogged a lot about acne and diet here: http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 18, 2010
at 02:50 AM

Seth Roberts has blogged a lot about acne and diet here:

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 17, 2010
at 03:42 PM

I can testify to this too, I occasionally use whey if desperate for protein, but too much of it e.g. a few days straight and I instantly get small rashes on my legs. I recall various people asserting that whey is 'good for immunity'... this might well be connected: either it's causing rashes because of a better immune response (good, like detox reactions or vitamin D3); because of artifically elevating immune response (probably bad, like echinacea?); or it's producing an immune response because it's an allergen (like wheat).

78b9161a401f16b9611fe4e639b0b856

(200)

on February 17, 2010
at 09:58 AM

I've also found dairy to be a killer for breakouts - discovered that last year via the Nutrition Diva even before I got into paleo. ^_^

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 17, 2010
at 02:58 AM

Very interesting.

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23 Answers

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4
6b73f0c4b971e2dde7147920e329fe7f

(2041)

on February 16, 2010
at 11:56 PM

I can personally speak to the success of this. The entire reason I began paleo was because of a bad outbreak of cystic acne after spending a month in China. There were divers sorts of tempting wheat buns and vegetable fats that I did not know better than to eat. While the Traditional Chinese doctor I went to gave no good advice, (somehow the Chinese have come up with the same old wives' tales that they have in the West) the Chinese idea of treating food as medicine inspired me to do some of my own research that brought me to paleo.

Without digressing further, I believe that a ketogenic diet low in PUFA, balanced omega 3:6, low in glutens/lectins was critical in clearing my skin. I have not used soap, detergents, surfactants, or anything else for at least a year.

461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on January 14, 2011
at 01:12 AM

I've been fully Paleo for 14 months, and still have acne symptoms. what am i doing wrong? i'm cutting out fruit now too, don't eat nuts, no dairy, no grains, feel like i'm barely eating anything and still have symptoms. occassional glass of wine and black coffee... any ideas?

6e01c5e248d6a30bb7cb07d536aaf5b6

(193)

on May 06, 2011
at 02:36 AM

i've been wondering the same thing myself, i think paleo + avoiding nightshades/egg whites might be the best combo, maybe adding in some colostrum powder to fix the leaky gut. also lookout for allergies to paleo approved foods like citrus or eggs.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 04, 2011
at 01:36 AM

Yeah for me, strict paleo didn't help much. But excluding all nit shades and eggs has been helping a great deal. Autoimmune protocol from Wolf's book inspired me.

4
Cc93847bfa820f0f2da654060b401fa5

(746)

on February 18, 2010
at 04:38 AM

Low inflammation paleo food helped me. Very rarely get any shoulder acne now.

Put HFCS in my mouth and I can pretty much guarantee myself acne in two days. Happens if I binge eat with a decent amount of fruit involved too, but not nearly as bad.

3
61f4f65bb54c2a34c37f94259be2a488

on March 01, 2010
at 04:42 AM

Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization

BACKGROUND: In westernized societies, acne vulgaris is a nearly universal skin disease afflicting 79% to 95% of the adolescent population. In men and women older than 25 years, 40% to 54% have some degree of facial acne, and clinical facial acne persists into middle age in 12% of women and 3% of men. Epidemiological evidence suggests that acne incidence rates are considerably lower in nonwesternized societies. Herein we report the prevalence of acne in 2 nonwesternized populations: the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Ach?? hunter-gatherers of Paraguay. Additionally, we analyze how elements in nonwesternized environments may influence the development of acne.

OBSERVATIONS: Of 1200 Kitavan subjects examined (including 300 aged 15-25 years), no case of acne (grade 1 with multiple comedones or grades 2-4) was observed. Of 115 Ach?? subjects examined (including 15 aged 15-25 years) over 843 days, no case of active acne (grades 1-4) was observed.

CONCLUSIONS: The astonishing difference in acne incidence rates between nonwesternized and fully modernized societies cannot be solely attributed to genetic differences among populations but likely results from differing environmental factors. Identification of these factors may be useful in the treatment of acne in Western populations.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472346

I haven't read the study, but apparently it also includes the detail that when members of these populations are exposed to a western/modern diet the exhibit all the traditional symptoms of acne.

3
13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on February 17, 2010
at 01:17 AM

My skin has improved a lot on a low carb version of Paleo (very little fruit), but any dairy other than ghee will cause break-outs. My shoulders are a lot better, but my chest will still break out with dairy.

78b9161a401f16b9611fe4e639b0b856

(200)

on February 17, 2010
at 09:58 AM

I've also found dairy to be a killer for breakouts - discovered that last year via the Nutrition Diva even before I got into paleo. ^_^

3
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on February 16, 2010
at 08:41 PM

Dr. Loren Cordain has a book called, "The Dietary Cure for Acne", though based on some of his literature, I don't think even he knows exactly why the paleo diet prevents acne. I guess they are still trying to nail down the exact physiological mechanism involved.

2
Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

on March 09, 2010
at 10:38 AM

I don't know any of the science behind it, but I can attest that since beginning eating Paleo only a month ago, the acne that my husband had on his back ever since I met him (attractive, I know) is clearing up. And we still eat some dairy.

2
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on February 16, 2010
at 07:14 PM

It's important to note that some peopple might experience skin problems during the initial transition from SAD to paleo while the body detoxes and normalizes.

1
C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

on April 05, 2011
at 08:11 PM

Diet certainly helps SOME people with acne. But it also doesn't do anything for many others. I have direct personal experience with three cases, though not strictly following a paleo diet.

I was misdiagnosed with Celiac Disease and I went on a gluten-free diet for a year. No improvement with my acne (face, back, some on chest and arms). I was also vegetarian for a few months - no improvement.

Then I ate a lot of meat, carbs and whey protein for a muscle building program, for about a month. No change in acne (it actually improved a bit). My acne only went worse while I was taking Country Life zinc picolinate, but not when taking Karuna zinc picolinate (equivalent doses, but Karuna has copper).

I'm 30, Caucasian, body fat around 20%.

My girlfriend has this almost flawless skin, and she can eat whatever she wants (plenty of dairy, carbs, cookies, sweets, fruit etc.). She does eat these items on an everyday basis, yet she never breaks out. She's 22, Caucasian, body fat around 30%.

It's obvious that diet has different effects on different people, and there should be some sort of test (skin sample? DNA?) that tells you what you should not eat, in order to reduce acne.

1
84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 31, 2010
at 10:11 AM

Two days ago I used lots (250g in two days) of butter and all hell broke loose on my face :(

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177

(623)

on March 31, 2010
at 09:43 PM

Drink coconut milk. Its how I get a big portion of my fat content. Whole Foods has 100% coconut milk for about $1.49 a can and most Asian markets have coconut milk. Trader Joes has a lite version that of course is not as good but its only a $1 a can.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 31, 2010
at 06:47 PM

@Ryan: I cook with lard, I used butter along my vegetables and my stake and my tuna and just by itself. I don't know how I will replace the fat content of it since I'm quite low on that end.

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177

(623)

on March 31, 2010
at 04:54 PM

Butter is dairy. Butter isn't truly Paleo, it is a "gray area" product. Try cooking with animal fat such as duck, coconut oil or ghee (dairy without any of the dairy qualities).

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on April 01, 2010
at 06:05 AM

Coconut milk you say ? I will try it. I just hope it won't aggravate my acne although it shouldn't since "milk" is only a problem 'cause of diary.

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177

(623)

on March 31, 2010
at 09:45 PM

One serving of the Whole Foods coconut milk has 12g of fat and the can has 6 servings. Thats 72 grams of yummy fat for $1.49. Pretty good deal

1
35a8b223ae5d863f17a8c9e3a8eed5eb

(571)

on March 09, 2010
at 02:18 PM

Paleo (PaNu) for me helped me a lot with my acne on my back and i don't get spots on my face anymore. I eat dairy almost every day: Butter, Ghee, Cheese, Yoghurt, a tsp homogenized milk in my coffee

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on May 29, 2010
at 08:13 AM

Good to know that dairy is ok, at least for some.

1
61f4f65bb54c2a34c37f94259be2a488

on March 01, 2010
at 04:44 AM

Another:

Abstract: Acne is a common dermatologic condition that affects many individuals in different decades of life. The specifi c role of diet in the development of acne has been a topic of debate for many decades, but this controversy has come to the forefront in recent years with new studies indicating the potential role of diet, contradicting historical studies. This article reviews past and more recent data regarding the link between diet and acne, commenting on areas where new investigations many help to elucidate the true contribution of diet to the pathogenesis of acne.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/579326_1

1
9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on March 01, 2010
at 02:08 AM

Yes, avoiding sugar and grains keeps my skin clear. If I go on a carb binge, it will eventually show up on my face. I first understood the relationship between diet and complexion when I was staying with a family overseas. Breakfast everyday was sweet tea with milk and bread with butter and jam. We never got much meat with our meals. My chin broke out with the ugliest rash, which thereafter would recur whenever my diet was too sugar-heavy.

1
7f8d633c32b75ad7f9f148ceb6283866

(315)

on February 17, 2010
at 12:54 PM

HG diet + no nuts == no acne for me. If I introduce nuts (specifically pecans/almonds), I break out immediately. I seem to do ok with macadamias. It might be a omega 6 thing rather than the nuts...not sure.

1
7431586c21bca496c5a7ec7bd0ca4d6e

(974)

on February 17, 2010
at 02:55 AM

The answer is yes. I learned about it from Loren Cordain's "Dietary Cure for Acne". I did however have a reoccurance of acne when I ate a bunch of dried fruit. So be cautious about eating lots of fruit as that will spike blood sugar and cause breakouts.

1
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on February 16, 2010
at 09:16 PM

While not strictly paleo, if you supplement your diet with whey powder or other dairy proteins to build muscle, you may worsen your acne.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 17, 2010
at 02:58 AM

Very interesting.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 17, 2010
at 03:42 PM

I can testify to this too, I occasionally use whey if desperate for protein, but too much of it e.g. a few days straight and I instantly get small rashes on my legs. I recall various people asserting that whey is 'good for immunity'... this might well be connected: either it's causing rashes because of a better immune response (good, like detox reactions or vitamin D3); because of artifically elevating immune response (probably bad, like echinacea?); or it's producing an immune response because it's an allergen (like wheat).

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 13, 2010
at 02:58 PM

Casein can act like gluten in terms of inflammation. Cordain has written about it. There are some casein-free whey protein products available out there.

1
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 16, 2010
at 06:24 PM

If Ayers is right, then paleo probably would through reducing inflammation. I've certainly found that eating a better diet generally (even pre-paleo) improved skin generally. Vitamin K2 is supposed to be dramatically and instantly positive for skin, but I don't know whether that would apply directly to acne. A brief look on wikipedia also suggests that paleo would be beneficial via offering more micronutrients (A+E), lower carbohydrate and no dairy.

In general I'd certainly expect paleo to help acne and skin trouble, but if you have some antecedent cause of massive inflammation that won't go away (such as extreme hormonal inbalance during adolescence) then you might well be stuck with the symptoms.

0
Ee7c5b7b9d4cd48d61dc259e6966a725

(90)

on July 04, 2011
at 07:15 AM

I think there must be a wide variety of different contributing factors for acne. It's so interesting to read about all the cases above.

My husband's acne cleared completely and almost instantly on a low-moderate carb, lacto paleo diet. He still drinks milk, probably no more than a cup a day though. I have never seen his face clear like it is now, and we have been together for years (are in our early 30s).

Interestingly, if he drinks more than a few serves of alcohol, the acne returns for around two days, then clears completely.

I have rosacea, a form of it that looks very much like acne. Since going paleo, I have seen good improvement (enough for others to comment), but not complete remission. I also use dairy, although a 3 week stint with none didn't have any noticeable effect on my skin. I attribute the improvement in rosacea to reduced inflammation. I've found Dr Ayers' blog very interesting and hope to try out a lot of his suggestions.

Getting back to dairy, I would be very interested to hear from anyone (eg in NZ or Australia) who has access to A2 milk and could comment on the effect on acne/rosacea. I am wondering if it is the casein in milk or something else that tends to cause/aggravate acne.

0
06325b762f78a2b8aaa977161cca4a1f

(539)

on July 04, 2011
at 12:39 AM

My most reliable method for clear skin is laying out in the sun daily. I also saw benefit from eliminating grains and sugar and from going totally no-poo. Proper hydration, lots of sleep and lots of good fat have also contributed. I would ditch the clearisal and look into oil cleansing method or no-poo (hair and body) for sure.

0
Medium avatar

on July 03, 2011
at 09:08 PM

For me it was the near-elimination of dairy that got rid of it. My skin went nuts after my first pregnancy, was very oily, inflamed, sensitive, you name it. I broke out all the time and felt like a greaseball even in the winter. It improved somewhat after I went paleo, but didn't disappear until I stopped dairy. I used to eat tons of cheese like Swiss, American, jack, cheddar, milk in cereal (pre-paleo), then half-and-half in coffee. Those things seem to affect me the worst. Butter and cream are fine. Greek yogurt, feta and mozzarella are fine in moderation (I'm talking a little bit once or twice a month). My skin is still combination, I get oily in the T-zone, but I don't break out anymore.

0
67460907f9d818f56e1ef4c846317386

on July 03, 2011
at 05:53 PM

Absolutely it works for acne, it started helping with me as soon as I went paleo. However, the biggest breakthrough was when I started including vitamin K2 in my diet via uncooked grassfed butter. My skin literally went perfect the next day. So eat paleo and make sure to include grassfed butter, free range eggs, organ meat and probably a daily high vitamin butter oil supplement in your diet. I would be very surprised if this didn't immediately rid you of acne on your whole body, it worked for me.

0
2c8c421cf0e0c462654c7dc37f8b9711

(2729)

on July 03, 2011
at 11:16 AM

I was looking through old pictures of myself last night and wow, my skin used to be AWFUL! The pictures where it was the worst were when I was a vegan. Now that I'm paleo (no grains, legumes, sugar, dairy, fruit, or nuts), I rarely get a pimple. If I cheat and eat dairy, a few do crop up, but they're definitely not as bad as they were!

0
C72f049c7c443c346862daf364946b78

on July 03, 2011
at 07:01 AM

Hi, just wanted to throw my anecdotal story in. Went Paleo (Robb Wolf style, 99% compliance) 4 months ago and saw a significant improvement within days of going fruit free Paleo. Unfortunately it started coming back again (mostly just face and a little bit of sholders) when I hit the 3 month mark and got kind of loose with the fruit and agave I guess. I also started getting mystery sick from things around that time. I think I've got some sort of malabsorption problem and am getting tested for Fructose Malabsorption on Friday. I'm also a complete lactard and can't even sniff the butter without my guts gurgling. So, with the FructMal hypothesis in mind and lots of sketchy info about eating for FructMal I found FODMAP. The commonality there is IBS which I have symptoms of when I eat off Paleo, or eat any fruit. Oops?! Did I just scarf that apple? Bad Leah!

Turns out cutting out all FODMAPs has been awesome though it keeps my diet ridiculously simple. A side benefit is that I've only gotten 2 pimples since I started eating FODMAP free a month ago. Only 2 and they were pretty small! It was pretty obvious to me that it was related to some garlic I'd chosen to ingest and a yuck-nasty fried dough thing at Cafe du Monde when I was on vacay. Can't tell you why taking out FODMAP has worked so well for my skin, but it is awesome. And it actually isn't that bad anymore food wise. I've started re-introducing foods that are regular Paleo, but mostly they just make me feel icky wicked and then I get a zit the next afternoon. What I'm trying to say here is that my face was showing me that something was wrong with what I was eating like it's a notice board. It was saying in pimple language across my jawline and shoulders that "You have inflamation still. You must stop eating onions and garlic for gods sakes!" Well, it probably didn't say all that but you get the point. I had to do what amounts to an elimination diet to get the proper foundation set to then re-introduce foods and see how my body responds.

Hope you all have good luck turning off the notice board.
~Leah

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on July 03, 2011
at 12:46 PM

Sounds like a gut flora issue. I'm on the same boat. If Art Ayers is right, it can be corrected.

0
14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

on February 18, 2010
at 06:57 AM

Sugar was the difference for me. Going on a Cordain diet with lots of fruit cut down on my acne, but I still had it. Going on a PaNu diet without sweet fruit pretty much eliminated it.

29518a2572c5fe3a851170a9b1c315f3

on August 29, 2011
at 05:57 PM

Do you eat carbs from tubers? sweet poato? How much carbs do u eat a day?

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