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Does plant-based diet help with acne?

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Eating healthy offers a number of benefits from hair growth to skin care. Consuming greasy and nutritional lacking food can severely affect your exterior appearance and natural glow.

Does plant-based diet help with acne? Yes, a plant based diet can help reduce the onset of acne. 

Certain animal products and dairy products are known culprits increasing the occurrence of acne in both youth and adults. Switching to a plant based diet, or effectively removing unhealthy food from your diet, might help reduce acne of all types.

A plant based diet can be free from animal products like animal meats, fats, and dairy. These items have been linked to acne in a number of ways by causing excess oil production from consuming the amino acid leucine, which is found to stimulate skin oil that might lead to acne. 

There have been a number of scientific studies showing that dairy consumption can make existing acne worse. The prevailing science is inconclusive to the exact link between dairy and acne, but many researchers find a high correlation between the two. 

If you are suffering from acne, taking the steps to eliminate dairy or animal products from your diet may work to improve your acne. If it does, you may have found a link in your own body.

Talk with a dermatologist and dietitian or physician to see if a plant based diet, or eliminating animal products from your diet, will help reduce your acne.

This article seeks to explore whether or not a plant based diet will help reduce acne. Answered below are frequently asked questions about the benefits of a plant based diet to treat acne.  

Is acne a sign of poor health?

Maybe, but we can’t say for sure that acne is a sign of poor health, but we can say that we don’t like it! 

Most people, ourselves included, have struggled with bouts of acne in the past and know how difficult it can be to manage. We think diet plays a central role in the health of our skin, and that a plant based diet may help manage acne more effectively.

Acne is a sign of unhealthy skin, but we are not sure we’d say it’s a clear sign of poor health. If acne is a symptom of a bigger issue, we’d like to treat both the symptom and the underlying issue too. 

Of course, we recommend you see your dermatologist and dietician to get their opinion, but we have a few idea about how your diet can also play a pivotal role. 

Studies have shown that dairy products, like milk, have been linked to increases in acne [1]. This means that consuming milk can prolong the occurrence of acne or intensify it. 

While we haven’t seen much compelling evidence to the exact link, we have seen studies correlate the two in a not uncertain way. Try eliminating all dairy products from your diet to see if that improves your condition. 

Acne can also be caused by hormone imbalances in your body. There are many studies that have looked at the correlation of animal products, meats, and fats with hormone levels in the body, and have found that excess consumption of leucine can cause your skin to create more oils that might cause smaller acne around your skin [2].

We have not read definitive evidence linking animal products to production of acne, but we personally have felt we had better skin and less outbreaks when consuming more vegetables. 

One way we think you can find out if animal products have a link to your acne is by eliminating all animal foods with a plant based diet for a few weeks and slowing reintroducing them. If you find the elimination has helped, you have one more data point in your personal journey and can try to incorporate that in your diet. 

Does food cause cystic acne?

Yes, we believe certain foods can cause cystic acne. There has been recent research suggesting a link between your diet and cystic acne. 

The research tried to study the link between a Western diet and the prevalence of acne, but even the researchers admit there are a number of factors involved to make a definitive statement. Their research suggested there might be a link between glycemic load and cystic acne [3, 4, 5]. 

Here are some thoughts we took away from reading that and other research:

Higher levels of insulin have been linked to androgen hormone production and may lead to excess cell or sebum. Insulin levels are directly linked to the glycemic load or the total amount of sugar in your blood. 

This basically means that a person with higher insulin levels may be more likely to have bouts of acne.

Consuming refined sugars like those in sodas, white starchy breads, sweetened cereals, or other white flours may be detrimental to acne. These foods have been known to cause other health issues and recent research suggests the total glycemic load may directly affect cystic acne. 

Minimizing the amount of refined sugars you eat, or better yet, completely eliminating them from your diet may help reduce acne.

Dairy products have been known to exacerbate acne by either prolonging the occurrence or intensifying the amount of acne produced. Though the current research is not very scientifically compelling, we think it is evident enough to try eliminating dairy from your diet to see if it improves the condition. 

Dairy may not be a definitive cause of acne for everybody, but it seems to have some effect that is worth examining.

Reducing the total amount of inflammation in your body might also help reduce the severity of acne. A few studies have found inflammation to be linked to the total length or intensity of acne. 

Inflammation is a natural process that can be very healing for your body, however too much inflammation is not a good thing. 

Try increasing the total amount of Omega-3s you eat by adding avocados or other healthy plant based fats to help the body control inflammation. 

Can a plant diet clear up acne?

A plant based diet may help clear up acne, although there has not been definitive evidence to scientifically say yes. 

Diet appears to be a contributing, so reducing dairy products and highly refined foods that cause excess inflammation and sebum production may be helpful in clearing up acne.

A plant based diet can help ensure your body has the right amount of vitamins and minerals it needs to ward of inflammation and irritation. It can also help your body keep insulin levels in check and reduce your blood sugars. 

Green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peas, and lettuce, staples in our own plant based dietare all low glycemic foods. These help reduce the total amount of blood sugar and help regular insulin as high glycemic loads have been linked to acne. 

Eating plant-based diet ingredients such as spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, and sweet potatoes, are rich in vitamins and minerals to help healthy skin. Eating plant-based fats such as flaxseeds and walnuts are rich in Omega-3, which helps reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants

Inflammation is thought to prolong acne, so treat the irritant with healthy plant based foods.

How can plant-based diet help with acne?

A plant based diet will help your acne by removing foods known to be directly linked to acne and by providing your body with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

Certain animal products, like dairy, have been linked to acne buildup, and eliminating dairy can help reduce the total occurrence. Additionally, high glycemic loads have been linked to acne while a plant based diet can help your body regulate insulin and effectively lower your total glycemic load.

We have not yet seen compelling evidence on a direct link between diet and acne. There have been a number of studies, but most of the researchers readily admit that there are many factors that could influence acne aside from diet. 

Two indirect links to acne we find compelling are the the total glycemic load, or blood sugar, and the amount of dairy intake. To help reduce glycemic load, we recommend you reduce the total amount of sugary foods and refined starches. 

We also recommend you swap dairy items to milk alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk

Does plant based diet help with acne

Helping Acne with Plant Based Diet: Conclusion

We believe there is a link between diet and acne and have found some supporting scientific evidence. Though research points to no direct link, they readily admit that many facets go into the causation of acne, diet being one of them.

Current belief is that people with higher blood sugar, or glycemic load, may be more prone to acne. Other research suggests a link between consuming dairy and prolonged acne. 

A plant based diet can help alleviate some of these symptoms by eliminating dairy and reducing the amount of high glycemic foods. Furthermore, plant foods are high in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can treat inflammation and irritations.

Plant based diets are not proven to cure acne, but they may eliminate some potential causes like dairy. Furthermore, it is important to eat wholesome and nutritious foods, so stay away from plant based junk foods that are loaded with heavily processed ingredients.

For best results, consult a dermatologist and dietitian to see what type of diet will be best to treat your acne.

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