The Whole30 diet for clear skin

Can avoiding “bad” foods really help acne?

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Stephanie Papanikolas
Dec 27, 2019 · 2 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

The best diet for your skin has low sugar and a low glycemic index — but is there such a thing as an anti-acne diet? Here’s what we know about dieting for acne, and whether it’s worth the sacrifice.

Foods that help clear acne — maybe

Breakouts can sometimes be triggered by eating certain foods because spikes in blood sugar influence the hormones that play a role in the skin’s oil production. These foods are low on the glycemic index, meaning they can help to stabilize blood sugar and potentially reduce hormonal acne associated with insulin production:

  • Lean meats

  • Eggs

  • Tofu

  • Most vegetables

  • Healthy grains like barley, quinoa and rolled oats

  • Certain fruits like berries, plums, peaches and cantaloupe

The Whole30 diet

Because the whole 30 diet (stylized Whole30) cuts out sugar and simple carbs, it’s a low-glycemic index diet — meaning that, if you’re experiencing hormonal acne due to diet, the Whole30 may make a difference in your skin.

What to eat on the Whole30 diet

To try the Whole30 diet, all you have to do is eat “real” food for 30 days — that means unprocessed foods with simple ingredients. Here’s what you can eat on Whole30:

  • Vegetables

  • Unprocessed meats

  • Seafood

  • Eggs

  • Nuts and seeds, but not legumes

  • Ghee

  • Coffee (just don’t add sugar or dairy)

You can also eat fruits — in moderation, since you’re trying to cut down on sugar; berries and citrus tend to be less sugary. You’ll also want to reach for plant-based oils like coconut and olive oil.

According to dermatologist and Curology founder, Dr. David Lortscher, if your skin improves on the Whole30 diet, your hormonal acne may be triggered by dairy, alcohol, processed foods, and/or refined sugar. But even though hormones play a big part in our acne, so do other factors, like clogged pores, skin inflammation, and bacteria. So skin treatments that don’t affect hormones still help hormonal acne.

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If you’re struggling with hormonal acne, I feel you — the complex way our lifestyles influence our hormones can, in turn, influence our skin, but solutions for breakouts aren’t always one-size-fits-all. That’s where custom skincare by Curology comes in. Sign up for a free month of Curology and get a custom cream prescribed to you by one of our in-house dermatology providers — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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