Clear Acne: Abandon Traditional Wisdom

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Dermatologists often claim that diet does not affect acne. While this claim is primarily based on one poorly conducted study, it still continues to mislead thousands of pimple-plagued individuals.

By throwing out this conventional wisdom in favor of the results of more sophisticated research, you can clear acne for good.

This article will discuss:

The Original Study

In 1969, Fulton et al performed a landmark study that claimed diet doesn’t effect acne.

The process:

  1. Researchers gave 65 teenage acne sufferers specially manufactured candy bars.
  2. One group received candy bars that contained high amounts of chocolate, and the control group received candy bars that contained high amounts of vegetable oils.
  3. Dermatologists observed both groups for a 30-day period and found the chocolate group did not exhibit more acne than the “control” group.

This study, however, was significantly flawed. The researchers did not account for the teenagers’ diets before and during the study. Also, the teens already had acne, so the study did not actually show what causes acne.

Most importantly, the sugar content, fat content, and glycemic index (GI) of the chocolate bars and the placebo bars barely differed.

More recently, properly conducted, extensive research has shown that poor diet causes inflammation and free radical damage, a destructive combination for skin.

Inflammation and Free Radical Damage

Inflammation causes cell damage and is worsened when free radicals attack and break down a cell’s ability to function. Free radicals are unstable molecules with a missing electron. They attempt to stabilize by taking an electron from a nearby molecule, setting off a chain reaction as each successive, unstable molecule attempts to stabilize itself. The final result is weakened cell structure that damages the body and skin.

Inflammation brought on by toxins, infections, or sunburn perpetuates further damage from free radicals and can cause a chain reaction in which a burst of free radicals attack the cell plasma membrane, which resulting in the production of more free radicals.

Because acne is a primarily inflammatory reaction, increased inflammation perpetuates the appearance of acne.

To prevent this cycle, avoid pro-inflammatory foods and build your diet around anti-inflammatory foods.

Proper Diet

Foods to avoid and why:

  • Simple sugars. They blood sugar spikes, which cause inflammation.
  • High-fat meats: They contain chemicals such as nitrites, which are associated with inflammation and chronic disease.
  • Fast food: It contains lots of oil, which decreases blood flow to organs.
  • Dairy products: They contain a fatty acid called arachidonic acid, an excess of which can worsen inflammation.

Protein is essential to cellular repair. Instead of high-fat meats and dairy, choose high quality proteins, such as:

  • Fish and shellfish
  • Poultry
  • Tofu
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

These high quality proteins also contain essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation, heal dry skin, and prohibit the body from producing inflammatory compounds.

The glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates according to how they cause blood glucose levels. Lower GI carbohydrates cause smaller fluctuations of blood glucose and insulin levels. Large quantities of insulin signals the body to store fat and increases inflammation.

Instead, choose low-glycemic carbohydrates like:

  • Colorful fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Water is also essential to the fight against inflammation because dehydration makes the body more susceptible to aging. Drink 8-10 glasses of pure spring water every day. In addition, drinking antioxidant-rich beverages such as green and black tea helps combat free radical damage and inflammation.

Forget outdated advice, and move toward a future of clearer skin by treating teenage and adult acne with a proper, anti-inflammatory diet.

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71 Comments • Please comment below


  1. The Food pyramid was divided into basic foods at the base, including milk,
    cheese, margarine, bread, cereals and potatoes; a large section of supplemental vegetables and fruit; and an apex of supplemental meat, fish and eggs.
    The Guide Food Pyramid was the model for healthy eating
    The Food Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and at the same
    time the right Food pyramid of calories to maintain healthy weight

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  3. I have been suffering from severe acne for years and would love to find a solution to my skin problems and deep scarring.
    I would be so grateful for the opportunity to test your products!

  4. I have recently started to use Perricone products and feel enthused, however at 48 years old, not only am I dealing with the signs of aging but I’m having a very unwelcome case of acne. I recognize that during the next few years I will be experiencing some pendulus swings in my hormones but I’m not prepared to fight these two battles simultaneously. I could really use some advice on how to handle these dramatically dissimilar problems that are traditionally treated with completely different approaches. I am extremely frustrated. Thank you.

  5. I have two kids and the acne has gotten bad. There is no product I have tried has really help so I would love to try this and I will be very honest.If I don’t like something, I will say so!

  6. Now that I’m in my *gasp* forties – the name of the game is slowing down the aging process as best I can. I’ve noticed more blotchiness and dark spots appearing and would love to test products to even out my skin tone.

  7. I am 61 years old and I still get breakouts. I cant seem to get rid of the blackheads on my nose no matter what I do. Of course I get those breakouts on my face at times and just hate it. I would love to be able to rid these things for good. Please help!!!!!!!

  8. You were my mom’s dermatologist 10+ years ago and she still raves about you. But she NEVER put SPF on us kids, not even at the beach… She sprayed tanning oil all over her body!
    Anyway…I am 21 year old new mom & wife. My face is full of freckles, blotches, pore congestion, fine crows feet and smile lines. I read your book “The Perricone Promise” when I was 13. I have moisturized with SPF every day since your book taught me the science behind skincare. I didn’t understand it all, but I was a vegetarian then so I was excited about the diet you gifted readers with. Now I’m 99% vegan taking in antioxidants and fatty acids in food and supplement form. I’m trying to eat fish whenever I can though…. I have tried so hard to like salmon and at your advice I’m going to try and order Wild Alaskan from Vital Choice.
    I’d like to be a tester because I’ve tried a friends Citrus wash and loved it, plus I have your ceramic skin smoother (you gave it as a party favor for University of New Haven gymnasium dedication gala). I am dying to try more of your products in the near future but saving for a house has kept me conservative. I trust your products and I hope I find the one that will clear my blackheads or fill my fine wrinkles.
    You’re awesome.

  9. I never had acne until I hit my forties. And now I have some that reoccur in the same place. Can these problem spots be cleared up for good?

  10. As a teenage i never had pimples my skin was clear, it was perfect. but, as a adult not true for about 4 years my skin has been in a constant state of break out. I’ve tried everything, i worked in a health food store so i tried working with my diet and special cream but, nothing works help I’m 23 i hate my face

  11. Is it better than Pro active? It seems It worked great at first then less and less as a time wore on.

  12. I have always had problems with acne and I find certain products to work better than other to resolve the dryness, and or bouts of acne, so I would love to try your products and give feedback.

    I always have a balanced diet, so for me, the acne shouldn’t stem too much from the simple sugars and fast food described above. I love to take care of my skin, because as a younger woman, I know that what I do now will affect how my skin is later.

  13. i’ll soon be turning 50 and can see some lines in my face already, would love to try something to firm up my skin.

  14. When my son went to the dermatologist several months ago, the doctor did not really mention much about the diet as we do eat chocolate but our diet for the most part we thought was pretty healthy for an average family. The doctor prescribed both a cream and pills to take. He still has an acne problem and he really hates to take the capsules or should I say any kind of medicine that isn’t chewable even though he’s 14. I am looking for a different avenue to take to clear up his acne which doesn’t include creams that don’t work or pills that he doesn’t want to take.

  15. I would love to be a tester!!! I am always looking for great products to use. Thank you for taking the time to even consider me!!!

  16. I have read great things about Perricone products in magazines but I’ve never tried any of the products. I’m a 41 year old woman who would love to try something to bring my skin back to life..and lighten some sun spots!

  17. I would love to be able to test products, especially ones that are for acne as I am 42 and still battle with severe forms of acne. Thank you.

  18. What would Dr Perricone suggest as a body wash for spot prone back?

  19. Since I am in my teenage years, I inevitably experience acne problems. I have used your products in the past and I must say that they are excellent. I would be more than happy to test more of these products for you!

  20. Dear Dr. Perricone,

    I’m about to turn 35 but I appear to me 45. My skin is in desperate need of help. I’ve tried many different treatments and none have lasted or provided me with the result I’d hope for. Now that I’m turning 35, I’m starting to feel a sense of urgency. I need help finding which products are right for me. Being able to join the product testing panel would be very beneficial. I would be able to test products and give my honest and in-depth opinion about the results I’d receive. Not only that but from the success stories I’ve heard from other users, I’d be one more to add to the very long list. Thank you , for considering me.

  21. I can cover up the gray with hair color I haven’t found a product that truly takes away the signs of aging or stress. I have tried expensive products and some are better than others just haven’t found one I love. I have not tried any of the Perricone products and am kicking myself now…wondering why I have not! I would really love to have a chance to try something…anything

    Thank you and hope to test soon