You can prevent, clear up, or eliminate acne by reducing high glycemic load foods from your diet and keeping your insulin levels low. This may sound difficult, but it's really just a complicated way of saying, "eat fewer processed and refined foods and your pimples will go away."

This Instructable will share why this works and show you how to determine what foods are potentially pimple causing.

  • original image by slopjop available here shared under a CC license.

Step 1: Why should I care, won't pimples just go away once I'm 20?

Common thinking seems to be that acne is simply a hardship of adolescence. Once you've established your independence, realized your parents are probably good people, and stopped listening to music too loud, they're supposed to go away. Perhaps pimples are just some sort of physical marking to help society isolate members during their most awkward phase of development?

Studies of various human cultures across the globe and my own experience indicate this is simply false. I'm 10 years past being a teenager, and will occasionally still get a pimple. More convincing perhaps, studies of non-westernized cultures that follow a traditional diet low in refined sugars and starches show a complete lack of acne in all age groups. Here's once such study found here. Similar reports can be found in the journals of pioneers and explorers who were among the first Europeans to contact indigenous peoples: no pimples, no acne.

  • original image by gemsling available here shared under a CC license.
<p>I had severe acne both on my face and back and after trying countless of dermatologists&rsquo; treatment options, I'd still found myself frustrated by my debilitating acne problem. I finally found a program that did a fantastic job of showing me the right way... The holistic way! After less than a month of following this natural remedy I found <a href="http://acne-natural-treatment2.weebly.com" rel="nofollow">HERE</a>.</p>
<p>My experience is anecdotal. No scientific creds at all. As a young skinny kid, I was prone to painful blind pimples, dangerous to touch because they could expand with a vengeance if interfered with. By age 28, I was still getting them. Never ate a lot, but small amounts often. Met my husband, and began THINKING about food more. A fascinating process for a liberated woman ... Began planning balanced menus, and still, the odd blind pimple. So added vitamins, and discovered that B vitamins cleared the blind spots. Later, when Mum-in Law complained of annoying blind pimples (she was in her late fifties at the time), I advised her to try a course of B vitamins. She took some yeast tabs for a week or two, and the pimples cleared up. I am now in my sixties and I still believe a balanced menu is the way to go, but I have a daily multivitamin, fish oil etc. Lay off the junk food, or only have it every now and then. Eat your greens, love your potatoes and starches but don't gorge on them. Have a balanced diet, and don't squeeze things on your face. Some of the blood vessels there drain straight to the brain.</p>
<p>Thanks for the helpful comment! What blend of B-vitamins do you use?</p>
Hi David, Thank you. In the day, I just took a multi-B - one per day. I remember talking to my doctor about it at the time, and him saying that a study had been done with students and vitamin B12, and the finding was slightly better memory, clarity etc. And vitamin B6 is good for the heart, and is available in lots of fresh foods. Folic Acid has been proved to help prevent some birth defects, and Kellogs add it to some of their breakfast cereal. Now, I just take a all round multivitamin and I make sure it contains vitamin B12 -- got to maintain my brain, you know :&gt;)
<p>substitute sugar with xylitol :)</p>
<p>Or corn cobs, or tomatoes, or grapes, or Macadamia Nuts, or Salmon blood (literally). All in all, be careful what your dogs eat :)! By the way good article, although if you could update it I would add some sources. I'm sure you could find some out there. </p>
Just don't let your pets eat it.
also chocolate ;)
<p>Thanks! My personal solution to my eating problem is a bit more unorthodox:</p><p>I've recently started to eat &quot;Soylent&quot; (Or Queal her ein the EU) which is powder you mix and contains everything you need. It's probably not perfect but as a middle aged man I decided I'm just too stupid to eat healthy. There is a whole science behind it and so much effort in cooking and buying that I just can't be assed. It's going to be miles better than the junk I otherwise eat. </p>
<p>Be careful not to get the green bottles. &quot;Soylent Green is people!&quot;</p>
<p>Be careful not to get the green bottles. &quot;Soylent Green is people!&quot;</p>
<p>Is Soylent green?</p>
<p>Strange how bio science and medicine don't know any of these things... Most acne is hormone driven. Most is a result of inflammation. (See- prostaglandins!) Unless it's from either a dirty face, or too much washing (usually inflammatory, again). This is why it rages in adolescence, then calms down as puberty settles in.</p><p>What you eat has zero to do with acne, unless you really trash your general health on bad food. There's many steps in digestion and distribution before any food comes near the skin from the inside. By which point it's just glucose and proteins. Standard molecules. And remember, a pimple looks months to form before you saw it, so you're confusing causation with coincidence.</p><p>Simple science. And some dermatology, which would be selling magic elixirs if food did anything either way. Looking etc the other comments, people with vitamin deficiencies were probably helped. But acne is the least of worries when your bones or kidneys could be damaged, so that is again, a general health issue.</p>
<p>Is that donald trump?</p>
<p>It's hilarious--no, ludicrous--how this maniac comes here with his assuming intuition and types out multiple responses riddled with personally idolatrized text made prominent by putting it in 'Bold'. Another &quot;Quack&quot; demanding scientific evidence who holds no science degrees himself; it's no different from all the clamoring jabronis on youtube using the term 'Physics'. </p><p>I certainly didn't suffer those two long-winded, bush league stories, but my sister and I have suffered acne all the way into our early 30's. Well, actually, not anymore because two weeks after we began Danielle Walker's diet we both saw a complete remission in our acne symptoms(not to mention all the other autoimmune problems[the whole reason we started the diet in the first place]). </p><p>Yeah...or, you could listen to Mr. Quack-me-Off as he talks to himself all day in the comment section; he sure is brilliant, isn't he?</p>
Diet does not affect acne. If you need your acne treated, see a physician.
<p>Dr. Perricone, and Dr. William Davis have both written about effects of diet on acne and other chronic illnesses. Not only is my acne gone, I have much less problems with arthritis and digestive problems.</p>
<p>References, please.</p>
<p><u>A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial</u>. <a href="http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/1/107.long">http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/1/107.long</a></p><p>Davis, W. <u>Wheat Belly</u>, Rodale Inc., NY, NY 2014 pg 176, Chapter 12 &quot;Bagel Face: Wheat's Destructive Effect on the Skin&quot; Note: The references for chapter 12 include a score of citations to the original literature.</p>
<p>Great. Thanks for the real science article. That other thing, the book, is not considered evidence. It may contain some truth but it's not vetted by the scientific community. To publish in a journal, you need a second and a third. Sorta like Robert's Rules but for writing. To publish a book you just need an editor who thinks there's an audience that will buy it.</p><p>Scientific articles can be deceiving, so I did check this out. The journal has an impact factor of 6.8 which tells us it's a real journal. </p><p>Next, I wanted to know if this article in particular is cited. This is a way of figuring out if the other scientists find it credible. It's been cited 243 times, which is good. </p><p>Sometimes papers are cited because they're crap and scientist want to point out errors. Usually not, but sometimes. So I looked at some abstracts. One was a review of acne and diet. A review is a type of summary of papers and it's a good thing to start on if you're new to a field of research, like me. This one</p><p><a href="http://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622%2809%2900967-0/abstract?cc=y=" rel="nofollow">http://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622%2809%290096...</a></p><p>says, in the abstract/summary, &quot;Compelling evidence exists that high glycemic load diets <strong>may</strong> exacerbate <br>acne. Dairy ingestion appears to be weakly associated with acne, and the<br> roles of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, zinc, vitamin A, and <br>dietary fiber remain to be elucidated. <strong>This study was limited by the <br>lack of randomized controlled trials in the literature</strong>.&quot; If you read it carefully and compare to other scientific articles, you'll see that this article is meant to point out how little is known and I think the author mostly wants to encourage others to study this particular topic.</p><p>Another review article goes over similar data and reaches similar conclusions but without the pep talk. Read it yourself. There's too much to summarize. </p><p><a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.04002.x/full" rel="nofollow">http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-...</a></p><p>However, I would like to point out that Smith is the only author who is cited for the high-glycemic-index studies. Doesn't mean she's wrong. Happens all the time. There are examples of people who were never popular but the science is eventually appreciated. There was a Nobel price given for a wrong-headed view of muscle contraction. However, there are quacks out there, too.</p><p>My conclusion is that eating better is better. Acne sucks. Research is lacking on the impact of diet but there is on-going work in a reasonably large field. Scientifically, it's not yet clear enough to be making proclamations on the interwebs.</p>
<p>Thanks for the tutorial on how to use the literature. I referenced the Davis book so that anyone with an interest could find the 20 or more articles from the original literature that Davis cites. </p><p>I have a rather low opinion of much of what is available through PubMed. I'm not alone:</p><p>&quot;It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of <em style="">The New England Journal of Medicine</em>.&quot; Marcia Angell, MD </p><p>&quot;The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.&quot; Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the <em>Lancet</em></p><p>At this point in time, I think reporting this sort of personal experience is every bit as valid as one more observational study based on diet surveys. When the suggestion is as harmless as this, I don't think there is a need to wait for the science to be settled in order to make a suggestion that might help someone.</p>
<p>Science is a process. The results are not necessarily correct on the first try or in the first decade, or the first 20 references. There are fundamental shortcomings of science. However, the alternative are worse. </p><p>Let's examine some of these allegations. </p><p><strong>Small sample size</strong> --- most people base their knowledge on a sample size of 1 so small is better than that.</p><p><strong>Tiny effects</strong> --- this is certainly not limited to or fundamental to science. Advertisements and hobbiests are all the time trying to emphasize minor differences. The human mind is prone to this, IMHO.</p><p><strong>Flagrant conflicts of interest </strong>--- This is a problem with companies paying for scientific studies and influencing the results. Not the fault of the scientific method. If anything it's our fault for not funding the NIH very well. I think we could spend more on investigator-initiated biomedical research. Book authors (including the one above) are a great example of a conflict of interest---they're getting paid based on copies sold. Scientific papers, on the other hand, are expensive to publish and the authors bear that cost. So many dollars per page, per figure, more for color illustrations, etc. </p><p><strong>Obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance</strong> --- This I have to completely disagree with. NIH funding is constantly getting re-directed toward diseases that celeberties have or whatever is popular in the media. Those doing the research are almost hand-to-mouth when it comes to funding. Of course they pursue the topics that are popular BECAUSE NOTHING ELSE IS FUNDED! </p><p>Also, the statements about <strong>clinical research</strong> are potentially misleading. Clinical research refers to the kind of research that physicians do (usually). Academic research is a broader category and tends to be in greater depth, more &quot;basic&quot; (as opposed to applied), and generally I would say the bar is higher. To illustrate, case reports are frequently published in clinical journals. It is a weak form of evidence that carries little weight on its own but can be amassed into important findings. Such a publication in an academic journal would not be tolerated.</p><p>So, in conclusion, I'll just say that science is all we have. We are all different when it comes to culture, language, beliefs, worldview, and faith. If all we can agree on is objective repeatable phenomena, that would be a good start. </p>
The evidence is against you. Provide a reference for your claim.
Well, generally, the person who states a link exists is usually the one who should prove it. It is incredibly difficult to prove a lack of difference. <br/><br/>However, I will refine my statement. There is no evidence in the medical literature that there is a link between diet and acne. There are few studies, but the ones that have been done don't prove an effect. I did a quick search and limited it to pubmed articles available for free.<br/><br/>Here is a review article:<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/22/1/62">http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/22/1/62</a><br/><br/>Here is another article. Even though this study is flawed and very small, it shows no link between diet and acne (but it does show a link between weight and acne):<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/86/1/107">http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/86/1/107</a><br/><br/>Considering insulin's role in acne is interesting, but it is only a hypothesis, and not a very well supported one. The authors of one article cite polycystic ovary syndrome as an example of a disease with high insulin and acne. However, there are other diseases with high insulin which are not associated with acne. I seriously doubt insulin elevation causes acne, it is probably something else. PCOS patients for example are usually obese. <br/><br/>I respect your enthusiasm and intellect, but you are on the wrong track with this article. Please be careful when you give people medical advice unless you are a trained and licensed physician.<br/>
Yeah!!!!! Pills!!!!! That's the solution, lots and lots of chemicals!!!! Treat the symptoms, not cure the patient. Money, money, money.... (Pardon my contempt, but I'm frustrated with chemical solutions to environmental and biological problems. But I don't blame you at all. You're only perpetuating what you were taught and In my opinion, that's all doctors seem to do these days; prescribe. Thanks for hopefully understanding.)
<p>I must ring in on this one. I love pills. In particular, Antihistamines. They're wonderful. There are days which I feel I have the flu and feel miserable. I take one little tiny anti-histamine and (forward 15 minutes) BAM. I feel just fine. All due to the magic of pills. For those which don't have ailments, great. Pills are magnificent. I could regale you with other stories of headaches and ibuprofen, but I think you get the point. Pills have made my life better. Thank you Big Pharma! I love you!</p>
If you go on Mercola.com and search acne, you will find a lot of articles about it and how grains affect acne. That's my source. Dr. Mercola is a reputable natural health physician. <br><br>I've had bad acne my whole life, and when I eliminated grains (pastas, cereals, breads, etc.) and refined sugars out of my diet, my face began to clear up drastically. <br><br>It completely makes sense. Grains cause your insulin to rise, which promotes testosterone, which then produces sebum on the face, allowing bacteria to multiply. The result is acne.<br><br>It may not work for some people, but it definitely works for me. I've also seen it work with many other people.<br><br>To add on this further: I decided to test if I ate grains for a few days, would my face break out? It did. <br><br>It's RIDICULOUS that you think it's okay to go to a physician for this. They're just going to pump you full of harmful antibiotics or even worse, Accutane. Diet plays a HUGE role in how your skin looks, especially regarding acne.
<p>your comments about increasing insulin are foolish. Since blood glucose and insulin work to cancel each other out, there is zero change in free insulin. Further, your argument is disqualified by the fact that type 1 diabetics get acne too. Empirical evidence is not proof without qualifying data to support it. It is akin to the ideology that fire is in wood and it only burns when you let it out.</p>
Did you even read the article you sent? They throw out dietary factors not because they don't work, but because they are judged to be too hard for teenagers:<br/><br/><em>But, perhaps, of more immediate practical significance, is the fact that the therapeutic institution of such a non-western diet is unlikely to be acceptable to adolescents with acne. The dietary restrictions which Western adolescents with acne employ in managing their condition are trivial compared to the differences between their diets and those of hunter-gatherers.</em><br/><br/>Further, there have been more recent studies that show a link between acne and diet:<br/><br/>- Adebamowo CA,Spiegelman D,Danby FW,et al.,&#8220;High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne&#8221;,J Am Acad Dermatol (2005);52(2):pp.207&#8211;214. <br/>- Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, Berkey CS, et al.,&#8220;Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls&#8221;, Dermatol Online J (2006);12(4):p.1. <br/>- Smith R,Mann N,Braue A,Varigos G,&#8220;Low glycemic load,high protein diet lessens facial acne severity&#8221;,Asia Pac J Clin Nutr (2005);14 Suppl:p.S97. <br/>- Smith R,Mann N,Braue A,Varigos G,&#8220;The effect of a low glycemic load,high protein diet on hormonal markers of acne&#8221;,Asia Pac J Clin Nutr(2005);14 Suppl:p.S43. <br/><br/>Try to remember &quot;do no harm.&quot; The choice should be obvious between broad spectrum antibiotics and skin-drying medications with known (and potentially unknown) side-effects vs. reducing one's intake of refined and processed foods. <br/>
Yes, I did read the article, did you? Here is the key sentence to the second article I quoted: <em>&quot;Because the participants in the LGL group lost weight, we cannot preclude a role for the change in BMI in the overall treatment effect. When we statistically adjusted the data for changes in BMI, the effect of the LGL diet on total lesion counts and HOMA-IR was lost.&quot;</em><br/><br/>If you want me to read those articles you posted, you are going to have to post the links to the entire article, I don't have access to those journals. <br/><br/>There is certainly no evidence that &quot;refined and processed foods&quot; have anything to do with acne. <br/><br/><em>&quot;The choice should be obvious between broad spectrum antibiotics and skin-drying medications with known (and potentially unknown) side-effects vs. reducing one's intake of refined and processed foods.&quot;</em><br/><br/>I agree with you there, the obvious choice is antibiotics. <br/><br/>So, how many people have you effectively treated for acne?<br/><br/>
&lt;sigh&gt;<br/><br/>There's lots of... needless hostility here. <br/><br/>The bottom line is that with certain foods, your body produces different hormones. Some of these hormones have been proven to be linked to Acne. Thus, an adjustment in diet will obviously alter these hormones, possibly helping Acne.<br/><br/>Whether or not antibiotics work better or worse is of no circumstance in this instructable, as it is simply Eric Wilhelm (Founder and most-important guy on instructables) trying to help people that have Acne trouble by offering them what is, if not an alternative, a supplement. <br/><br/>While he may not have directly treated anyones skin (<strong>that</strong> comment was <strong>not</strong> necessary), he did put in the time and effort to impart his knowledge and experience with acne to those who are looking for it.<br/><br/>Now, I'm pretty sure neither of you meant for that squabble to happen, and I don't by any means want to continue it. So please, just think about what happened, and re-join us as another awesome member of instructables. K?<br/><br/>
<p>what you are saying is that certain foods cause different hormones to be produced at different ages, since acne typically starts at puberty. Yet medically speaking, there is no such evidence to support this. were it the case it would be a universal situation with every single teen who consumes them. This, again, is not the case, instead, it leads back to genetics and environment above all, for causes. Making false claims does not make INSTRUCTABLES a respected source of information, and as such this ible SHOULD be removed since the majority of medical resources discount the authors claims</p>
<p>I don't see hostility, just debate. It's healthy.</p><p>You say &quot;The bottom line is that with certain foods, your body produces different<br> hormones. Some of these hormones have been proven to be linked to Acne.<br> Thus, an adjustment in diet will obviously alter these hormones, <br>possibly helping Acne.&quot; </p><p>Can you back up any of that? Name one hormone that changes in response to a specific common food. Which hormones have been linked acne? Do you have any training that would lead us to find this opinion credible, perhaps an MD or PhD in a relevant field? I don't mean to attack the person but you're implying expertise and we don't know you from Adam.</p>
<p>Nice. Thanks for posting.</p>
I've got vitamins I take that reduce my acne by a ton. they aren't medication, mind you. just good old fashioned vitamins.
What type of vitamins if i may ask?
<p>you cite claims that can readily be disclaimed by ethnicity and genetics as opposed to diet. The fact is hormonal change and hygiene are the two singular biggest issues that affect acne followed by other conditions such as skin oils and sebum production which both can be overcome by ritualistic hygiene practices. Even external environment has been found to be of more effect than diet, as the affects of clogged pores are well known and clinically proven where as diet has never had any verifiable link made.</p>
I can show you Proof. My husband has suffered from acne since he was a teenager. His mother was always buying junk food ( pop tarts, sugary cereals, marshmallows, etc.) These all play into the way your skin looks. He was still eating this type of food well into adulthood. We both wanted to know why he was still having breakouts. FOOD! If you don't recognize the ingredient (soliumlactillatootiefrutti-whatever), your body won't either. He went from eating regular beef you can buy cheaply in the tubes, chicken with hormones, fruit loops, soda, EVEN GOING OUT TO EAT..Now his diet consists of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, natural chicken and beef, everything has to be natural, and if anything minimally processed. If the ingredients were not made natural or have preservatives in them he couldn't eat them. A true test was done and we both have seen a MAJOR improvement in the condition of his skin. He went from having cystic breakouts and constant PAINFUL acne all over his body, to having almost NONE. So for you to say that diet has no effect on acne, you must not have the issues these other people do. if you suck down Mountain dew ( Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, blah blah) you're obviously going to see reactions in your body. <br> <br>Anyways, Thank you for posting this instructable. I am so glad someone ut there realizes that the junk we put in our bodies everyday actually do make an impact and if you want to have clear happy skin, you need to eat a clean, healthy diet. <br> <br>again, THANK YOU! ( I might just need to post something on this subject myself to PROVE my own case. &lt;3 )
<p>This is an interesting anecdote but it's not data in the proper sense. The diet changes you described are unlikely to be the only thing that changed in his life so you can hardly conclude diet is the cause. </p>
<p>You are correct. The truth is acne is a function of hormones, genetics, oil production and hygiene. it has been proven diet is in consequential </p>
<p>Diet, in the sense of it's affect on your microbiome has a great effect on acne.</p>
What do you recommend for athletes who need a lot of energy but want to avoid all that starch?
<p>I recommend Volek and Phinney:</p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983490716/ref=rdr_ext_tmb">http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983490716/ref=rdr_ext_tmb</a></p>
<p>nothing carbs are needed for energy remove then and you start burning off muscle mass. You have been reading information from someone who doesn't know dietary requirements and claims they do. But you have brought up a good point. Do you know WHY Jocks suffer less Acne than others? SWEAT. their facial pores are literally being cleansed from the inside out. Saunas also do the same thing. However most places that have saunas don't allow minors to use them for liability issues, so those that would benefit most cant use them.</p>
Hmm, as far as I understand it is bacteria on the skin that cuse zits. Aswer? Wash you face twice a day, make the zits go away. Anyway, nice instructible.
I started doing that, but my face got so dried out my face was hurting.
<p>I'm sorry Jimmy, but I cant resist, Please forgive me for this insidious comment:</p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/jimmydean" rel="nofollow">jimmydean</a> <br></p><p><br></p><div>I started doing that, but my face got so dried out my face was hurting.</div><p>Me: then stop looking in the mirror!<br> My immediate family and I suffer from this twisted relationship based on sarcasm. We express our care for each other with insults like this, multiple times of the day. When the day is going great or something is going bad, we will text each other fishing for a quip. your comment fell in perfectly. <br>Have a great day and hang in there, insults are no longer simply insults. they have also become compliments!</p>
Keeping your face clean does have some effect, but pimples are actually caused by sebum (an oily skin secretion) that , as this <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pimple">wikipedia article</a>wikipedia article mentions. I've personally experienced much more effect from lowering processed foods and sugars from my diet than from washing my face more than during my daily shower. If you have an overly oily skin this might be useful, but affecting the glands that cause the stuff that fills the pimple would seem more useful either way.<br/>

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Bio: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through ... More »
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