Saving Lives by Treating Acne with Diet

Saving Lives by Treating Acne with Diet
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Over-activated TOR signaling may help explain the link between acne and subsequent risk for prostate and breast cancer.


Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Acne is an epidemic skin disease of industrialized countries, reaching prevalence rates of over 85% of teenagers. In the [U.S.], acne nowadays persists [even] after adolescence into the third decade of life in nearly half of men and women.” But it’s considered “a disease of Western civilization”—meaning, in some places, like Okinawa, it was rare or even nonexistent.

“In this regard most common acne…is not [some] ‘physiological’ phenomenon of puberty, but [may represent] a visible risk indicator…pointing to aberrant nutrient signalling promoting chronic epidemic diseases of civilisation.” This is what they mean: the dairy, junk foods, meat, and egg proteins in Western diets all conspire to raise the activity of the enzyme TOR, contributing to acne and obesity. So, using diet to suppress TOR may not only improve acne, but may prevent the march to more serious chronic TOR-driven diseases of civilization. So, the excessive TOR stimulation induced by the Standard American Diet may first just manifest as premature puberty and acne, but then may contribute to obesity and diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

A lot of this is relatively new. “[U]ntil recently [for example] only a weak association has been accepted for the role of milk and dairy products in acne [formation].” But there is now “substantial …evidence supporting the effects of milk and dairy products as enhancers of…acne aggravation.”

“Milk is not just food but appears to represent a most sophisticated [hormone-] signaling system activating” TOR, which is of critical concern, given that TOR recognized as a “fundamental driving force” for a number of diseases.

But if milk is naturally supposed to stimulate TOR, why the problem? Because we’re drinking milk from the wrong species. Cow’s milk is designed for calves. Cow infants grow nearly 40 times faster than human infants. Cow’s milk has three times more leucine, the primary activator of TOR, so it may lead to human TOR overstimulation. It’s like where they do experiments giving donkey milk to rats to see what happens. Makes no sense.

And, of course, milk is for babies. “[C]ontinued consumption of any kind of milk [after childhood,] during adolescence and adulthood” is something that never really happened naturally, and “may have long-term adverse effects on human health.”

“In this regard, [it’s kind of] frightening to realize that more than 85% of [teens in] Western countries exhibit acne.” “This implies that the majority of our…population is living with over-activated [TOR] signaling,” a major disease-causing factor, “which probably may pave the way for the development of other [more] serious diseases…” A history of acne has been associated with breast cancer risk in women, for example, and prostate cancer in men.

So, “[E]arly dietary counseling of teenage acne patients is thus a great opportunity for dermatology, which will not only help to improve acne but may reduce the long-term adverse effects of Western diet on more serious [TOR]-driven diseases…”

So, just like urologists use erectile dysfunction as an opportunity to save lives, by putting people on heart-healthy diets, dermatologists can use acne as a way to save lives, by putting people on a cancer-prevention diet.

So, how do you turn acne on and off via dietary manipulation of TOR? A “comprehensive dietary strategy” to treat acne “can only be achieved by higher consumption of vegetables and fruit[s,]” given “preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of natural plant-derived [TOR] inhibitors in the treatment of acne,” “and [the] reduction of animal-derived food.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Norman Purvis Walker via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Acne is an epidemic skin disease of industrialized countries, reaching prevalence rates of over 85% of teenagers. In the [U.S.], acne nowadays persists [even] after adolescence into the third decade of life in nearly half of men and women.” But it’s considered “a disease of Western civilization”—meaning, in some places, like Okinawa, it was rare or even nonexistent.

“In this regard most common acne…is not [some] ‘physiological’ phenomenon of puberty, but [may represent] a visible risk indicator…pointing to aberrant nutrient signalling promoting chronic epidemic diseases of civilisation.” This is what they mean: the dairy, junk foods, meat, and egg proteins in Western diets all conspire to raise the activity of the enzyme TOR, contributing to acne and obesity. So, using diet to suppress TOR may not only improve acne, but may prevent the march to more serious chronic TOR-driven diseases of civilization. So, the excessive TOR stimulation induced by the Standard American Diet may first just manifest as premature puberty and acne, but then may contribute to obesity and diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

A lot of this is relatively new. “[U]ntil recently [for example] only a weak association has been accepted for the role of milk and dairy products in acne [formation].” But there is now “substantial …evidence supporting the effects of milk and dairy products as enhancers of…acne aggravation.”

“Milk is not just food but appears to represent a most sophisticated [hormone-] signaling system activating” TOR, which is of critical concern, given that TOR recognized as a “fundamental driving force” for a number of diseases.

But if milk is naturally supposed to stimulate TOR, why the problem? Because we’re drinking milk from the wrong species. Cow’s milk is designed for calves. Cow infants grow nearly 40 times faster than human infants. Cow’s milk has three times more leucine, the primary activator of TOR, so it may lead to human TOR overstimulation. It’s like where they do experiments giving donkey milk to rats to see what happens. Makes no sense.

And, of course, milk is for babies. “[C]ontinued consumption of any kind of milk [after childhood,] during adolescence and adulthood” is something that never really happened naturally, and “may have long-term adverse effects on human health.”

“In this regard, [it’s kind of] frightening to realize that more than 85% of [teens in] Western countries exhibit acne.” “This implies that the majority of our…population is living with over-activated [TOR] signaling,” a major disease-causing factor, “which probably may pave the way for the development of other [more] serious diseases…” A history of acne has been associated with breast cancer risk in women, for example, and prostate cancer in men.

So, “[E]arly dietary counseling of teenage acne patients is thus a great opportunity for dermatology, which will not only help to improve acne but may reduce the long-term adverse effects of Western diet on more serious [TOR]-driven diseases…”

So, just like urologists use erectile dysfunction as an opportunity to save lives, by putting people on heart-healthy diets, dermatologists can use acne as a way to save lives, by putting people on a cancer-prevention diet.

So, how do you turn acne on and off via dietary manipulation of TOR? A “comprehensive dietary strategy” to treat acne “can only be achieved by higher consumption of vegetables and fruit[s,]” given “preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of natural plant-derived [TOR] inhibitors in the treatment of acne,” “and [the] reduction of animal-derived food.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Norman Purvis Walker via Wikimedia

Doctor's Note

TOR is considered the engine-of-aging enzyme detailed in Why Do We Age? and Caloric Restriction vs. Animal Protein Restriction, as well as in my previous video: Prevent Cancer from Going on TOR.

I’ve touched on this topic before in Acne & Cancer Connection, and I covered acne and dairy in:

Urologists saving the lives of men is detailed in Survival of the Firmest: Erectile Dysfunction & Death and 50 Shades of Greens

2018 Update: I recently released a few new videos on acne. Check out Does Chocolate Cause Acne? and Does Cocoa Powder Cause Acne?. There’s also Natural Treatment for Acne & Fungal Infections and Benzoyl Peroxide vs. Tea Tree Oil for Acne.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

243 responses to “Saving Lives by Treating Acne with Diet

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  1. Are there any other suspected dietary causes of acne, other than dairy/animal protein? I’ve been vegan for about six months now, and my adult acne doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

    1. I have no medical certification, but I can point you to a relevant section of one of the studies in the Dr. Greger’s Sources Cited:

      “Nutritional therapy of acne should (i) normalize total calorie intake,
      (ii) lower glycaemic load and (iii) restrict total dairy protein
      consumption, especially whey protein abuse 5,19,25,32–34. The ideal nutritional therapy of acne should favour (i) a Palaeolithic-type diet
      containing less insulinotropic grains and minimal or no dairy products
      to avoid increased IIS and androgen precursors present in dairy
      products, (ii) higher consumption of vegetables, fruits and green tea
      containing natural plant-derived mTORC1 inhibitors (epigallocatechin
      gallate, resveratrol and other natural polyphenols) 121
      and (iii) increased consumption of fish (lower insulinaemic index than
      dairy protein; source of anti-inflammatory ω-3 fatty acids) and adequate
      intake of vitamin D (see Data S1, Fig. S1).”

      Full article:

      Best of luck with everything!

    2. Quickly off the top of my head is High Fructose Corn Syrup causes acne as well. You could also have allergies to some foods. I have seen allergies and papules/pustules with over-consumption of Highly processed Soy (Soy Protein isolates).
      You should try the bean and rice diet for a couple of weeks which is boring ( beans and rice 3 meals a day) but it cleans your system out and then you can start adding foods back to your diet to see which ones are promoting your acne.
      Just a quick answer for you that may help.

            1. I believe when you switch to a healthier diet you DO experience an internal cleansing for quite a while. Internal cleansing can show up on the
              outside, as with your skin/face. You may be detoxing tons of krap you consumed for years when you were not vegan. For instance many people have pounds of (what I call cement) fecal matter stuck in their colons–look at skinny men who seem to have “beer bellies”–thats’ not beer in there. Not everything you eat comes out folks. You can try going on a juice fast for a week or longer, eating only raw food for a few weeks, or similar cleansing regimens. It make take months or a year of clean eating to get clean. In addition take a look at what you ARE consuming as a vegan. I believe consuming greasy fried foods and eating oil is not healthy and can lead to oily skin–just as consuming too much fats in nuts seeds or avocado’s. namaste’, rachel

              1. So the fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados are bad? These foods are listed in the daily dozen and I make sure to eat them every day. Should I not? I suffer from adult acne and mine is most likely hormonal, but I’m tweaking my diet in an effort. I was sure the fats from nuts and seeds and avocados and hummus were perfect fats for the body. No?

                1. Fallon, I would continue eating healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids which are in the foods you described. Eating a whole foods diet can improve your health and the overall condition of your complexion; however, it’s not a silver bullet for acne. In my 43 year struggle with acne I’ve become convinced that cystic acne is an endocrine disorder, which has little to do with diet and topical treatments. The primary culprit is hormones, hormones, hormones.

                  1. Tara,

                    In your 43 years, have you experimented with a prolonged raw vegan diet (i.e. 1-2+ years)? I can understand how stubborn and frustrating acne may be. Have you heard of Dr. Morse (see on YouTube)? Cheers.

                    1. Believe me, I’ve tried every diet out there. Here’s what breaks me out: processed foods, especially baked goods from breads to sweets to pizza. I limit dairy. High-glycemic foods (again, especially processed) can encourage breakouts so anything that spikes my blood sugar I avoid. I go easy on grains like rice and wheat. With the exception of dairy, there seems to be little to no correlation between meat consumption and my acne.
                      However, I do follow a heavily plant-based Mediterranean diet, occasionally indulging in wild salmon, local goat cheese and free-range chicken eggs.
                      This is my healthy compromise rather than a strict vegan diet which I simply can’t seem to maintain for more than about three months.

                  2. hello there!! i would like to help you with your problem with acne! i used to have severe acne, and cystic sometimes especially around the chin, which was making me so uncomfortable, and it was extremely painful sometimes. you are right assuming that your acne may be an endocrine disorder, but keep in mind that this is still caused by lifestyle and food choices as well! as a pharmacist, finding out about vegan diet and lifestyle made me wanna take it a step beyond.

                    so, you should search about endocrine disruptors. Enter ‘the real truth about health’ channel on youtube and watch some of the lectures. you will be amazed to find out how many of the stuff we use everyday can mess up your hormones!

                    for example, perfumes contain so many chemicals that mess up with hormones. Food additives, food colouring, synthetic clothing, air poluting, air-fresheners, smoking, anxiety, laundry detergents, fabric softeners! the list is endless! any cosmetic product you reach, if you check the ingredient label, have of them are endocrine disruptors and cancer-promoters! imagine how much our body struggles every time we rub it with our coconut-perfumed lotion!

                    what worked for me? i eliminated all harsh chemicals in my house! no bleach, no fabric softeners, no perfumes, no make-up, no synthetic clothes, no shower gel (just bar soaps) and stuff like that!

                    and of course its the food! i make my own hummus, i prepare my beans, i eat greens everyday and of course i consume nuts and seeds and voila! acne-free in 6 months!!

                    that is what helped me! i hope you give it a go, but first educate yourself to understand how that works, so that you find the solution that best works for you!

                    kind regards

                    1. Wow thank you much for sharing your story. It is pretty similar to what Antony William/ the Medical Medium recomends. I try to eliminate as many harmful chemicals as possible but I dont know how to handle my clothe situation. Where do you Buy your “plastic free” clothes? Do you have any recomondations?

                2. Hi Fallon Grogg – I’m Janelle, a Registered Dietitian, and also a Health Support Volunteer for Thanks for your question! Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados are all great dietary choices to continue with (hence why you see them on the Daily Dozen List)! When it comes to acne, the biggest contributors to raising the activity of the TORC1 enzyme, which contributes to acne, include meat, dairy, egg protein, and other processed/junk foods. Whole, plant-based foods like nuts, avocados, and seeds do not fall within this category and should not be of concern. Check out this link ( for additional tips for treating acne through diet!

            2. I’ve been vegan for three years (vegetarian for 5 years before that) and my face still breaks out almost daily. I eat more vegetables and fruit than I ever have in my lifetime and it’s the worst it’s ever been. I’m quite frustrated :(

              1. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer. Thanks for your question. Sorry to hear about the acne. That is quite frustrating. Great job on the healthy diet changes. I would really make sure there is not oil sneaking into your vegan diet anywhere. The oils we eat can be secreted onto our skin. Even “healthy” oils like olive oil which is actually not so healthy. This is all of Dr. Greger’s information on acne. There may be some more info there for you:

                You might also find this by Dr. McDougall, a colleague/mentor of Dr. Greger’s, helpful:

                If you have done all you can do with diet, there is nothing wrong with seeing a dermatologist if you haven’t. There may be other causes of your acne.

                All the best to you,

            3. Eliminate all fat/oil from your diet and it will clear. Eat a whole food diet, which means eliminating vegan store bought prepackaged foods which is loaded with sugar oil. Also stop canned food of all kinds. Try it for a month, you have nothing to lose but the acne.

            4. Amber. I suffered from adult acne until I researched on the deep web back in 2008 the reasons for my acne. I found out It was my liver the cause of my acne since I was eating enormous amounts of junk food, that is, highly processed foods, greasy diet, sugars and animal protein, including milk and dairy products, uh and alcohol… My poor liver was not functioning properly until I decided to cleanse it. As I found out, I would have to increase water intake along with lots of greens(spinach, broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage, etc) fruits and legumes and leave oils to a necessary minimum. The result: In a matter of three weeks, I began to notice less pain, less acne and no need for poisonous antibacterials. The cysts I was getting were disappearing and I was left just with small whiteheads that could come off during shower. Today I enjoy clear skin but get very little acne if I eat meats or greasy food or some alcohol. Needless to say, I have stayed somewhat vegan with occasional animal protein consumption. Now, I read that there are vegetarians that have issues with acne. The problem is that vegetarians eat a lot of greasy food that is junk too, but because they believe there is no meat in it, it is healthy. Big mistake. Go whole plant-based diet and the less processed vegetarian food you eat, the better. Cook healthy. Save money and clear not only your skin but your mind. You would be amazed by how much insight you gain by eating whole plant-based food. Stay disciplined and you will clear your skin.

      1. What if you do a beans and rice diet and see no improvement? How can you tell when you add in New foods. I tried an elimination diet before, including a raw food diet and never got clear…

    3. I read Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet just to see what the “ememy” was up to. Most of it was nonsense with claims that eating meat has nothing to do with cancer and saying that we should eat as cave men did- including artificial sweetened soft drinks and tea! But the only part I was impressed with was the evidence he presented that grains can cause acne. I believe he was actually talking about refined grains such as white flour since they’re the most commonly consumed. So, it wouldn’t hurt to eat only whole grains in some moderation. Please let me point out Bonnie, that the point isn’t to be vegan (candy bars, cola, french fries and potato chips can be vegan foods) but to avoid foods that are processed as well. That’s why Whole Food Plant Based is a better description of this healthiest diet.

    4. In the book “Wheat Belly”, Dr. William Davis states that cultures that avoid gluten (especially wheat), sugar and dairy are acne free. So, you might want to try going gluten-free for a month, as well as continue avoiding sugar and dairy.

    5. Bonnie for me there is one thing that makes my acne flare up like nothing else. I’ve tried it over and over again. Mostly because I really really would like to be able to eat them. Unfortunately my skin doesn’t seem to like potatoes. Other night shades are no problem at all. I only have to eat one meal with potatoes and 36 hours later my acne appears.

      1. I have also found that potatoes cause acne in me. What else have you found that causes your acne? I’m still tying to get rid of mine.

    6. Hi Bonnie, I know that for female adult acne, a lot of it has to do with hormones, which are tricky business. I’ve struggled since I was 20 with adult acne. I gave up trying to find a cure and just decided to be happy and accept the whole me – acne and all. However, I became vegan for ethical reasons, and it substantially cleared my acne. It took a while before I started to notice my skin improving – so long that I didn’t think the diet change would help my acne at all (again it wasn’t my reason for going vegan, just a side affect I hoped for). Anyway, it is different for everyone and to pin-point one trigger foor or whatever I think over simplifies the whole thing. For me, it helped. I eat TONNES and veggies, lots of whole grains, legumes etc. I totally limit processed foods, oils, and especially sugar ( processed that is, not from fruit which I also eat TONNES of :)). I exercise daily, I find fun and happiness daily, and I get a lot of rest. My suggestion is eat whole plant foods with minimal/no processing, exercise lots, sleep lots, and love yourself unconditionally. Your body will be happy, you will feel great inside, and if the acne clears then BONUS!

      1. I vent vegan first, then noticed surprising results of a completely cleared skin and then I found this video. I have already accepted that my skin problem can only go away with continuous medication, for which I did not have time or interest (nor did I think that the problem can be possibly reversed by any dieting). Personally, I think my new cleared skin is due to exclusion of dairy products, which I previously enjoyed in excessive amounts, particularly cheese. I am limiting also amounts of oils (but those I did not eat a lot before either), though I enjoy plenty of nuts. My food is now all plant based. Including wheat. Lots of full corn bread, which I really like. Depressing though to see that I might have had increased risk for cancer. :/

      2. Jocelyn brings up a great point with hormones. I find that stress has a negative impact on virtually every aspect of the body, which isn’t to say healthy stress like exercise or having a healthy stress response is bad, but rather chronic stress.

      3. Dear Jocelyn,
        How long did it take for you to notice improvement after becoming a (healthy) vegan? I have been a vegan for over a year now, and I only eat things that I cook myself (vegetables, legumes, grains), nothing processed, no sugar, little oil. I also exercise daily and sleep well. For some reason, my acne keeps getting worse.

        1. You should try doing an elimination diet and cut out different groups in your current diet that to see if that has an effect on it. I have found that as I grow older my body does respond to healthy foods differently. I believe that has to do with the hormonal changes and how those are affected by food. There are great natural clinics that can do a blood test that tests food response to your blood (costly but useful). I had to do that a year ago because even though I eat healthy some of the foods I was consuming like green beans, garlic and safflower among a few others were causing a negative effect with my blood. I did an elimination of those foods and my sysptems improved and I was able to add those back over time. Sometimes your body just needs a break from the same old same old. Even when it is healthy food.

    7. Not sure about dietary causes, but stress is bad for it. Sunlight helps relieve it. So outdoor exercise is helpful, and a lack of it could allow more acne.

    8. Same here with severe acne and I used to drink a lot of milk in my youth. However taking a few teaspoons of B5 vitamins everyday seem to almost completely eradicate it so long as I keep taking it. Otherwise it all comes back and I look like pizza face within weeks again.

      Does anyone know of any research indicating that acne may be caused by B5 defiency? Or that bioactive substances in dairy causes the need for excess B5 intake to keep acne away?

      1. I don’t have any cited sources on hand, but I have read that B5 plays an important role in clear skin. I’ve actually read about people taking extremely high amounts of biotin having acne problems. It’s theorized that the biotin floods out B5 so your body doesn’t end up absorbing enough B5 and alas… acne. I personally would not take any single isolated B vitamin with the exception of B12. You never know if you could be creating an imbalance. I would take a whole foods B complex vitamin instead and eat plenty of foods rich in B5 (and all the B vitamins) throughout the day.

    9. Are you still using vegetable oils, gluten foods, and frying foods? This will also prevent the elimination of old dairy in your liver and organs and interstitial spaces under your skin. An electric living food juice detox will help: fresh juices and blends.

    10. I had the same issue on a strict diet, have never consumed dairy and was off of all animal protein. I read a deficiency in pantothenic acid (b5) could be a cause. I supplemented and the issue cleared up. I think it’s worth doing the research on it! I had to take loading doses but it was really worth it.

    11. Mine started when I became vegan. Mine was caused by soy. I have to avoid soy almost completely. When I do consume it it has to be a very small amount. I have been acne free since eliminating it. I rarely even have a pimple. Maybe 3 in one year. That’s it!

    12. Stay away from peanut butter, peanuts, peanut oil, anything containing androgen hormones and iodized salt. These aggravate acne.

      1. I’ve never had a problem with peanut butter or peanuts and skin and never heard of this. Peanuts and peanut butter is very healthy.

    13. Bonnie, I am 49 and have been vegan for 9 years. My acne seems to have gotten worse. It’s very frustrating. I have tried to get answers and haven’t found any.

        1. Yes, DDDDDuane, the term “vegan” CAN include junk food. Oreo cookies, tortilla chips, and twizzlers are vegan as they do not contain animal products. However, at nutritionfacts, we like to promote the benefits of a WHOLE FOOD, plant-based diet. That means veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains eaten with no or minimal processing to get the most nutrients and keep yourself healthy. I wish you lots of health and happiness with this way of eating.

          1. Oreos aren’t actually vegan though as bone char is used to bleach the sugar in them. That’s in the U.S though, I’ve heard that in other countries bone char isn’t used to bleach the sugar in oreo cookies, I’m not sure which countries though, my impression was that Europe didn’t but again, I can’t be sure how accurate that is.

        1. Macoe, it’s been theorized that when people take high amounts of biotin supplements and experience acne, it’s because the biotin is upsetting the balance of B vitamins, namely, interfering with B5 absorption. I’ve never heard this about B12 nor have I personally experienced it. But perhaps that’s the reason it may occur with some people. Also, I wonder if it’s the type of B12? I use Garden of Life’s B12 spray as it’s organic and natural, but definitely refrigerate or the spray bottle gets a tiny bit of a mold in my experience despite keeping it clean (refrigeration completely prevents it though). I used to take B12 spray everyday until I learned it’s really only necessary to take it in a high amount once a week. However I do sometimes take a daily whole foods vegan B complex vitamin which is fine because it’s a balance of all the essential B vitamins. I tend to like to separate my B12 from meals because I figure that way it won’t compete with the other natural B vitamins in my food… not sure that it would but I feel better about it just in case.

          Have you ever tried or considered trying a B complex vitamin instead? That way your B vitamins would all be balanced and if it’s a case of not absorbing enough B5, the complex vitamin wouldn’t be a problem. Could be an interesting experiment.

          1. Hi, Julia. I don’t recommend discontinuing B12. Although the body does store this vitamin, and it can take awhile to deplete the stores, deficiency can result in permanent, irreversible neurological damage. If you think your B12 supplement may be a problem, try a different form or dosage. Dark green leafy vegetables are great for the skin, as are antioxidant fruits such as berries and kiwi. High zinc foods such as sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds may also improve acne. I hope that helps!

      1. If you are a vegan and still getting acne then try avoiding all oils and oily foods like nuts and avocado. Yes…I know these are “healthy” foods but in certain people they aggravate acne. If I eat vegan and no nuts or avocados then my skin is clear!

      1. i’m still doubting coconut oil, since it boost testosterone, and too much testosterone would cause acne. Any theory behind using coconut oil?

      2. I know a lot of people use coconut oil on their face, but it actually does clog pores however some people don’t seem to have a problem with it. I learned the hard way that it can clog pores though. I do fine with it as a body lotion. I like to use argan oil on the face or shea butter, both of which do not clog pores.

    14. One man, “Neto the raw boy” cured his severe acne by going on the 80/10/10 raw vegan diet, which is high carb, high-calorie and fruit- and leaf- based. His name on instagram is “therawboy”, he posted his before- and after- photos a while ago now but he periodically reposts them. Other people have had great success on this diet curing their acne. After all it’s the way we are designed to eat – the same as the other great apes. No other animal cooks their food.

      Also, ensure you are getting enough zinc (perhaps take quality chlorella? It’s like natures zinc supplement) and iodine. People doing the “iodine protocol” (I believe by Dr Brownstein) have also drastically improved their skin (it involves mega dosing on Lugol’s iodine and taking enough selenium in the form of methylselenocysteine. If you take iodine without selenium or vice versa it causes problems).

    15. Thank you everyone for your replies! My diet is comprised mostly of whole plant foods, but I’m going to have to experiment to find out what is causing this. Of all processed foods, I probably eat processed wheat products the most (in the form of breads and cereals) so that could be it. I’ll also have to experiment with B5 and see if that helps. Thanks again!

    16. Eating Soy is a trigger for me and shampoo/health care products with sulphates. I had acne all around my hairline and my back where my wet hair touched my skin. Derma e makes good, affordable skin care without parabens which also cause problems.

    17. A couple of years ago I developed really bad acne on my forehead during an antibiotic regimen for lyme disease. The usual treatments did nothing, and I found an extensive guide that explained how acne on different parts of your face indicates different causes related to diet, lifestyle and your internal functioning.

      In my case, the antibiotics had caused leaky gut. I had sharp pains in my intestines towards the end of the antibiotic treatment and afterwards. I began taking aloe vera juice and probiotics and my skin totally cleared up (and stomach pain ceased).

      As a kid I had skin problems, but consumed lots of dairy. I stopped consuming dairy years ago and those specific skin problems went away.

      Here is a version of the guide I had that shows how you need to treat acne depending on where it occurs most prevalently on your face:

    18. Hi Bonnie, I had serious acne through my teenage life and I continue to suffer from it. However, I have tried John Mcdougall’s Acne Diet. This basically said to completely avoid oils, and high fat foods such as soy products, avocados and nuts. Basically a low fat plant based diet. Here are the resources, it seems to be working for me so far.

      Best of luck! :)

      1. Sugar and white flour are big triggers for me. Not to be confused with natural sugars from whole foods (fruits, berries, honey, etc)! Natural sugars also do not cause insulin resistance.

    19. I still have occasional low level adult acne…I find when I take NO SUPPLEMENTS (amino acids, vitamins) my skin is 100 percent clear….B-12 supplements (in B complex) are a probable cause in most people….
      I went on a strict NO DAIRY regimen for about 6 months a few years back (paleo diet) and I still had low level breakouts…..
      Many of the amino acid supps, Hawaiian spirulina, B complex, oily fish proteins: sardines (but not high quality fish oil capsules in moderation) and ZMA caused me acne flare ups….I think avoiding sugar and grains is more important than avoiding dairy…(for myself…)….

    20. I feel your pain. Thankfully my acne has improved a lot since I was a teenager, but everyone said it would disappear by my 20s – not so much! I was hoping it would disappear as a side effect of going vegan, but no such luck yet. Did you end up finding something that worked for you?

      1. I just replied about acne to the original poster. Try eliminating all oil, which you should do anyway if you haven’t already, and eat a lower fat diet if you’re not. Search acne and Dr McDougall for his full explanation.

    21. Hi, I too have been vegan for years and struggled with acne before and after the dietary change. I do believe eating a healthy whole plant-based diet and limiting processed junk helps–but I would also try limiting nut consumption–something to do with fatty acid ratios. Look into that. Also, supplement with B5 (Pantothenic Acid). It’s supposed to help control sebum production, I believe, but you need to take a lot of it–like 4g-10g a day. Also, for me, I cut out gluten. So all that plus a topical (unfortunately) has helped me a ton! I still break out a little here and there, but nothing like how I used to. Oh, and finally–be aware of what you’re putting on your skin. Use a cosDNA website to look up ingredients. But everyone is different, this is what works for me–but I just wanted to share my process in hopes that it may help.

      Good luck!

      1. I found an organic salve with bee propolis as primary ingredient worked for me. At 67 I still get the occasional zit and the salve just works. 

    22. Most women with hormonal acne have higher levels of male hormones (androgens) which stimulate sebum production and cause acne. The best thing you can do is follow a low glycemic diet (sugar/carb spikes raise androgen levels) and combine that with anti-inflammatory foods. Fortunately, the WFPB diet follows most of these directives; however, watching grains, especially flours, wheat and white rice, could help. (These foods have a very high GL index.) Also, studies show that zinc, omega-3s, vitamin B5 and selenium are helpful for acne. Exercise and high fiber are important. Finally, natural androgen blockers like saw palmetto and spearmint tea are very effective for many women. If all these solutions fail, I would consult your dermatologist or gynecologist to see if you are a candidate for spironolactone, a highly successful androgen-blocker (with side effects, of course.) Good luck! I’m a acne sufferer too so I feel your pain!

    23. Dr McDougall says that you have to eliminate all oil from the diet. I had severe acne as a teen. And I have none now on a vegan no oil/low fat diet. If it’s rosacia acne, I just read today from DrMcDougall that that can be caused by too much B12 and that we should take very little. I was only taking 1000mcg/day. But still, out bodies aren’t meant to get that much. I’m now going to follow DrM’s advice and not take any for a long time to see if my skin clears. I never had rosacia until I started taking vitamin B12.

    24. Hi Bonnie,
      I have been struggling with acne since the age of 15. Since that age I, have had multiple types of anti-biotics, Roaccutane (I had to take Prednison because of the side effects), ointments, etc.
      When I reached the age of 30, I started questioning everything my dermatologist told me in the years before. She always told me “you have bad skin, there is no deeper explanation” and “it’s just your hormones”. I was 30 years old… I think my hormones were settled by now, since I’ve outgrown puberty for a while…
      I started reading about this topic which gave me a whole lot of new insights. After a while I decided to visit an orthomolecular doctor, who told me I had ruined the good bacteria in my gut by using all of those anti-biotics and other products. In other words: The drugs I took to make the acne go away, made it worse. The only thing the drugs were doing, was suppressing the larger problem.
      It wasn’t just the prescription meds though, it also had to do with my diet. I was a cheese addict, drank a lot of sweet soft drinks, ate meat like a T-Rex and drank about 1,5L of milk every day.
      I am glad I went to that ortho molecular doctor because it saved my life..
      I didn’t just have “bad skin”, my skin was trying to tell me something.
      Because of my lifestyle and drug-use, I almost destroyed all of the good bacteria in my gut. These bacteria help your body to clean itself.
      Because my body wasn’t able to clean itself, I was polluting it with every meal up to then. I was creating cancer and the doctor gave me a life expectancy of 40years… so I had 10 years max… Of course this scared the **** out of me.
      I quit drinking milk, I quit eating meat, I quit eating fish and other animal products (including my beloved cheese), I quit eating processed foods and I quit using the drugs, the ointments and all of the other prescription products.

      I started exercising and started living by a natural plant based diet. I lost 10 pounds in the first few months and started to feel more active and alive than before.
      But… my acne got worse, a lot worse. It was very difficult not to throw the towel and start using the drugs again to suppress the acne. This period lasted for about 7 months till it got a bit less. It went a little better each month.
      It has been 2 years and 3 months since I visited the ortho molecular doctor and changed my lifestyle. My acne is almost gone, but still there now and then.
      What I am trying to say is; don’t “throw the towel”. Don’t give up. I have been polluting my body for almost 30 years. My body had to take back its ability to cleanse itself. You can’t expect to be 100% acne-free after just 2 months when you have been polluting yourself for 30 years. Your body needs more time to heal. The only thing you can do to stimulate this process is by eating your veggies, berries, beans, nuts and fruits and have patience. Eventually you will be pimple- and more important cancer-free 
      Good luck!

      1. Stefan,
        Thank you for telling your interesting story. It is an important reminder that sometimes we won’t get a “quick fix.” Good for you, for having so much trust in this concept of a whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD) that you were willing to be so patient. I am a family doctor with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website.

        I only started learning about the benefits of a WFPBD in 2013, when I read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, and Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, and saw Dr. Greger’s video “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death”. I have been completely vegan since September of 2015.

        I am continually amazed that so many different health problems can be helped or often cured simply by eating a WFPBD: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, acne, dementia, and even several kinds of cancer — and this is just a partial list. But it all makes sense, when you understand how this diet helps the underlying disease processes of inflammation, damage by free radicals, toxic bowel flora, and exposure to industrial pollutants common in animal tissue.

        So, again, thanks for your story. I am saving it to share with other patients who are losing patience (pun intended) with diet changes.

        Dr. Jon
        Health Support Volunteer for

        1. Dear Dr. Jon,

          You are welcome! 
          In a fast society like the one we are living in, people often lack the patience to hold on and instead go for “the easy way” which will result in a quick fix. People often can’t (or won’t) see that there is a reason some things happen; I got acne, because of problems inside of my body.
          The skin is just the visual part of you “having an internal problem”. Taking the meds or drugs is like placing a bandage over an infected wound. It might help for a while, but eventually you will be better off treating the wound and giving it time to heal instead of ignoring the real problem and looking away.
          I have read “how not to die” about two months ago. The book was a total eye opener. Of course I was aware of the fact that nutrition is important, but I never imagined that the impact of a WFPBD-diet would be so big. Ever since I’ve read Dr. Gregers book, my curiosity on this subject has grown by the day. I even signed up for a study in natural nutrition starting this September. I just want to share all of that lifechanging and lifesaving information with the people around me because I am a walking/talking example of what diet can fix. So thanks for sharing those 2 new book-titles with me. Can’t wait to dive into them as well! 

    25. I would be carefully of soy.. when I cut that out it helped a lot !! A lot of estrogen promoting foods out there.. don’t want to be estrogen dominant like I was

    1. sam: You may also want to check out the following resource. I think that these talks give a much better answer for how to lose weight than calorie counting:

      “How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind” by Dr. Lisle

      The next one has to be purchased, but it is *worth it*. It is from Jeff Novick and is called Calorie Density: How To Eat More, Weigh Less, and Live Longer. It’s fascinating stuff and right in line with the videos on this website:

      The two videos together hit the same topic, but from different angles and with some different ideas. Those videos will make you feel good as well as confident that you can meet your goals.

      After you review those talks, you could then get more practical advice by trying the free program from PCRM: 21 Day Kickstart.
      Hope that helps.
      Excellent program that holds your hand, sends daily e-mails, grocery lists, meal plans, etc. And/or check out some cookbooks such as:
      Happy Herbivoir Light And Lean

      Good luck!

    2. In my experience, not worrying about calories at all but instead eating an extremely healthy WFPB diet and regularly exercising causes weight to come off naturally. Plus, this way you don’t slow your metabolism so once you lose the weight, you don’t need to continue calorie counting to keep it off. I would personally try out worrying about health and fitness only and not thinking about weight if possible, then see if you lose it naturally in the process. You may be surprised.
      Another thing I noticed after being on a WFPB diet is the longer I was eating this way, the better my system worked and the more I could eat. My metabolism has never been faster. I also don’t eat gluten as I have sensitivities to it and from what I’ve read, a lot of people do and those sensitivities can prevent weight loss.
      This is just my experience.

      1. Another great thing about focusing on health and fitness (which go hand in hand) and not focusing on weight is that when you’re not actually depriving yourself (granted you have to eat WFPB but you can make AMAZING recipes with this diet… I found even pasta was fine for me, but I used quinoa and/or lentil pasta, Ancient Harvest is really good) you don’t end up binging on junk food. And when you don’t lose 10 lbs after 1 day of working out, you don’t get all depressed and feel like giving up.

  2. I have been a vegan for 3 years and still have a very bad hormonal acne. I eat only whole foods (with exception for pasta and soy milk)

      1. Yep, been there done that. I had cystic acne, even though I was eating a very healthy vegan diet. While I know many will not agree, I ended up on Accutane at the age of 38 because absolutely nothing seemed to get it under control. The last cyst on my chin before Accutane was 7/8 inch across of red, swollen pain – and that was only one cyst. I was desperate beyond words for relief, especially when my very young child said it made me look like a monster.

        I don’t know if years of SAD simply messed up my body and a healthy diet couldn’t overcome the acne genes I inherited, but I completely understand everyone saying diet simply isn’t doing it. My sister, who had beautiful skin as a teen, broke out in horrific, horrid cystic acne when she was pregnant, so it was very much hormone-related since her diet didn’t change. She ended up on Accutane after birth, and still has numerous scars.

        1. It took me over 45 years, and it happened quite by accident, but I eventually found the root cause of all my acne, drum roll…….

          TABLE SALT!

          Who would have believed that? I’ve always loved salty food and put far too much salt over my meals. Anyway, I was away in some remote location for a couple of weeks and there was no salt available (much to my frustration at the time). During this break ALL my acne started to disappear..

          It was still a while after that before I made the connection, but I got there in the end. I’ve since tried this theory out by reintroducing salt to meals, and within about 3 days new acne starts to reappear.

          All those years of suffering with sore, spotty, unsightly skin makes me sad, but then I’m just grateful that I found the cause and was able to put an end to this once and for all.

          I hope this message will help some other poor sufferer.

          BTW, love the site, and the priceless information that’s posted, and continues to get published here.


          1. Salt has lots of fecal bacteria from sea gulls in it. If you put the salt in a 400 oven for 5 minutes, it will kill the bacteria. Since salt is addictive, and really does bad things to our cells (better to eat celery or dulse leaves, the latter of which gives us all of the minerals and trace minerals we need to stay well), when we think we need it, our body is just telling us that this food is dead, devoid of the electricity we need to feed our heart muscles and brain cells.

            1. I’d like to see some legitimate research that shows fecal bacteria, specifically from sea gulls, in table salt. That just sounds completely ridiculous to me.

      2. I use to have really bad hormonal acne until I cut out wheat, dairy and started drinking lemon water every morning. For the first time in 15 years I am acne free!!

          1. She said that she STARTED drinking lemon water and that it helped. Some people have allergies to wheat and sensitivities to gluten, so while it may be fine for some, others may not do well on it.

    1. My 16 year old son is essentially vegan (only very occasionally eats dairy while out of the house). He eats a lot of fruits and veggies. Unfortunately, he still has acne. I wish it was as simple as just eating a nutritious whole foods plant-based diet.

      1. Conniemm, it could very well be the dairy he’s consuming outside of the house or at least that is likely contributing to the problem. Veganism is not a diet so your son isn’t essentially vegan, what you mean to say is he’s mostly plant based.

    2. Read “The Starch Solution” by Doctor John McDougall . Do not consume any oils, not even olive oil. Do not eat fake meats, vegan butter, junk food. Give your body some time to adjust and voilà!

        1. I have. Hormonal acne since I was 20. Whole food vegan diet (similar to Dr. McDougall diet) was the only thing that helped (though it wasn’t why I went vegan). Cut processed foods, especially sugar, completely out. Cut out fats except those naturally occurring in foods like avocados and nuts. Also, exercise and rest. Limit/cut out alcohol. These are the things that have helped me.

      1. I’d see if you have an actual allergy first, otherwise you will be paying out the nose for GF foods without any benefit. Acne isn’t and never will be as simple as cutting out one food and having a cure. It is much more complex than that. In my opinion, it is lifestyle changes that make a difference. I’ve already posted this three times but whole plant foods (grains too!), exercise, rest, limit alcohol, and enjoy life. And what is there to lose? Worst case scenario, you are eating healthier, you’ve changed your life to a more wholesome healthy one – and who can complain about that!

    3. I’ve struggled with acne all my life and I’m in my 40’s now. I eat whole foods now (have cut out the processed foods) and no milk, no meat, etc. I also drink lots of water. I’ve found that nuts (any kind) make my acne flare up. You may have to eliminate some foods and then see what happens when you re introduce them. I still eat nuts now and then, even though I know what will happen. I just accept it and move on.

    4. I am glad to see so many people overcoming acne! I completely agree that there can be several causes for acne, although
      dairy is often the most common one. Here is another cause linked to acne, the lack of Omega 3 fatty acids:

      Edith, if this does not relate to you, if you consume flax seeds daily and you do not overeat on coconuts, nuts and nut butters) you can get tested for allergies or food intolerance. You can also see your hormonal status via saliva hormone test (examines saliva samples over a 24-hour period). These tests can perhaps help you find a cause for your acne.

    5. My hormones are messed up from the diethylstibesterol (DES the OB gave Mom during pregnancy. It was pushed by the unscrupulous drug companies while they buried evidence of what it could do to infants from ~1945-1972. I am so sensitive to phytoestrogens that I do not tolerate soy or flax. I am not alone. My acne is much better now I am off them and I am 66. If only I had known….

  3. I think milk is useful if your goal is physical strength, not longevity. To quote Mark Rippetoe, author of popular book Starting Strength, “experience shows that people who drink lots of milk during their novice phase get bigger and stronger than people who don’t”. He claims it is common for a teenager to gain up to 60 pounds over the course a one year of consistent hard barbell training and drinking a gallon of whole milk every day. And those extra pounds, presumably mostly muscle, will certainly help to win at sports like football or hockey, even if sprouting a few zits is a side effect.

    Although I certainly value my muscular strength and strength train regularly and intensely, my priority is longevity. I have drastically reduced my consumption of meat, whole eggs, and dairy and have noticed a significant drop in my cholesterol for doing so. I intend to completely drop dairy and swap fish for a DHA supplement and be full vegan from September through November and see how it affects my athletic performance and blood work.

    1. In regards to Rippletoe’s advice, one could make the same claim for anabolic steroids in injectable or pill form. Doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea…

      Sounds like you have a good plan. Lots of inspiring vegan athletes and bodybuilders out there.

    2. If “physical strength” to you means brittle bones and higher hip fracture rates, increased risk of various cancers, obesity, high blood sugar levels, etc… interesting interpretation of “strength” though.
      I’m sorry but anyone saying “get bigger and stronger” sounds ridiculous and childish. The propaganda in that is bursting through the seams.
      If there is one thing the world should be able to agree on by now is that “bigger” most definitely does not necessarily mean stronger. On the contrary. Dairy does NOT promote the “bigness” one might want to attain. It does however help in gaining unneeded fat. Athletes aren’t adopting plant based diets more and more for no reason–despite what the desperate milk commercials are trying to convey.

      I see this is an older comment, I hope your plant based diet went well for you and you’re still on it! But veganism isn’t a diet, it’s a way of living compassionately and justly and not using or participating in any exploitation of animals by what is possible and practical (no leather, products tested on animals, elephant rides, etc.). But maybe by now you are a vegan :)

  4. This makes me think about something I observed in a rural Chinese village where my wife grew up. The kids there don’t have any skin blemishes in general; no acne. But in the large provincial capital nearby, I see lots of acne (or skin problems in general) amongst younsters.

    The primary difference in relation to this video: The country villages don’t have cows, and very little (if any) cows milk or other dairy. Anything dairy would have to be bought in the city and transported out to the village.

    Whereas in the city, lots of grocery outlets (WalMart is a big one) have lots of dairy for sale; a product of more western-style food available in Chinese cities.

    I’d wondered in the past why the difference; but before seeing this video, I hadn’t thought about the milk.

    1. i’m originally from southeast Asia, where acne is very rare. The worst teenagers got were occasional pimples. I don’t know whether this is due to melanin-rich skin, a lot of sunshine, or the diet:
      carbohydrates-mostly rice (wheat products are an occasional treat.)
      fats-coconut oil and coconut milk
      proteins-fish, nuts, beans, vegetables (eggs: occasional; meat (mostly chicken):only at parties and celebrations; milk products-occasional ice cream or yogurt)

      1. The area my wife is from is in Southern China, Guangxi Province, bordering Vietnam and Beibu Gulf.

        Since we often traveled between the village and the city, and also had country kids come to the city with us for a few days, it was easy to catch the difference between the country kids and city kids’ complexions.

        I used to think maybe it was the country providing a better environment for developing stable immune systems (i.e. the city kids having too sterile an environment).

        But this last video makes a lot of since; especially because I know dairy isn’t a traditional part of Chinese diet; especially on the farm.

  5. I got acne when I went vegan frutarian, went cooked vegan and did not stop, now eating seafood and I get only in my pre mestrual days. I really wish what to do about my skin….

    1. Your body is probably going thru detox and pushing all the toxic stuff to the surface of your skin. You should go back to plant based since eating seafood is extremely contaminated and cruel. In the meantime try a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid.

    2. veganism isn’t a diet, it’s about living compassionately and justly. If you’re eating plant based for personal health reasons, you are not a vegan but a plant based eater. I hope you consider going vegan for the animals and earth and inevitably your own health.

  6. The picture looks like HP Lovecraft with acne.

    Yeah I definitely get less acne since I became vegan. But I also stopped being a teenager around the same time. I still seem to get the same amount of blackheads, but whatevs.

  7. Thank you for this post. Sure wish it had come out a decade and a half ago, when our children were dealing with it. We tried all sorts of things to no avail.

    1. Ha, me too! I am so curious to see what I would have looked like as a teenager if my mom hadn’t made me drink that glass of milk every night with dinner. Instead I went through 3 rounds of accutane and 15 years later still have acne. :-(

  8. For everyone commenting here that they still have acne despite eating whole foods plant based:

    This is what cured my adult acne. Vegan, WFPB, low sugar, low fat, all the froufrou “natural” cures, blah blah blah didn’t cure it for me. Your diet might be perfect, but if your pores are full of dead skin cells and bacteria, it’s not going to make any difference.

    If you have not tried the following, try it for a couple months. Most cases should respond favorably.

    Get a salicylic acid product e.g. toner, gel, etc
    pH must be no higher than ~3.8
    No alcohol, coloring agents, or fragrances
    No ingredients that cause “tingling” or “cooling” e.g. menthol, citrus, etc

    If you’ve tried salicylic acid before, but it did not fit the criteria mentioned above, give it another try. Most products on the market are not at the correct pH (so you’re not actually getting the acid), and/or contain alcohol or other substances that actively irritate the lining of the pore and are as a result, counterproductive. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant which removes dead skin cells from inside the pores. Over time, pores that are kept consistently clear produce less sebum. Both factors make the pores less hospitable to bacteria.

    Get a benzoyl peroxide product (2.5 to 5%; 10% may cause excessive irritation) to kill bacteria. Keep in mind this step will not work very well if the pores are not first cleared with a chemical exfoliant. Physical exfoliants are not in any way the same, and will often cause irritation.

    Honestly if anyone wants to know exact products I use, I’m happy to share. Unsolicited, I hesitate for fear of sounding like an infomercial.

    Acne sucks! Best of luck to everyone.

      1. Hi Hopeful,

        [and hi moderators, I promise this isn’t a commercial, just hoping to help others through my experiences :) ]

        The two main products would be a 2% salicylic acid toner, and a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide from paula’s choice. I have accumulated various other salicylic and glycolic acid products, with higher percentages that are more like weekly treatments. All work great and I love them, but you really only need a basic SA and BP to start out with. Prices are around what I’d call mid to higher “walmart” level pricing. Along the lines of neutrogena or olay. The ones I use daily tend to last 9-10 months, and the weekly type treatments seem to last indefinitely.

        Even if you don’t get those, I still highly recommend the “advice” portion of the paulas choice website, with lots of articles about acne (with actual peer-reviewed lit sources) as well as the beautypedia section, which has reviews of products from almost all major skincare lines, so you can check out the products you’re currently using. Or get recommendations for products you can find in a drugstore or big box store if for some reason you don’t want to order things or live in a different country etc.

        A good article to start with:

        One thing I learned from one of the informational articles was that buying face washes with active ingredients is kind of a waste, since they don’t penetrate or stay on the skin. So I use a cerave foaming face wash, which is very gentle but also removes makeup very well. I can even use it on my eyes for mascara and concealer and it works well with no stinging. I tried some of the paula’s choice cleansers, but since they don’t really contain any “active ingredients”, it didn’t seem worth the cost or hassle. The cerave kind is available at walmart and about half the price of the paulas choice ones, and twice as big so you don’t have to be buying/ordering face wash all the time. I also use cerave am/pm face lotions from walmart. The paulas choice ones are again very good, but again not worth the cost to me, since it’s just lotion and not really a “treatment”. Both the cerave lotions and face wash get good reviews on beautypedia. The lotions absorb very well and are not greasy.

        Another big thing I took away from the educational materials was the idea that you *cannot* spot treat acne, or you’ll find yourself chasing pimples all over your face. I don’t know why but that concept really had an impact on me. I had to use the SA and BP daily, all over the face, in more of a preventive manner, for about 1.5 months until my skin had really turned a corner. Fyi, it did make my skin a bit red and flaky at first, but my acne had gotten bad enough that I didn’t even care! I felt so unattractive, and was just so downtrodden at the time. Looking back it’s quite sad. However now my skin is *never* flaky even in winter (due to the regular chemical exfoliation), which is a revelation.

        It’s now clear and has been for a couple years. Since I was a teenager I have always wore full coverage makeup; even without active breakouts I hated my skin. For the first time in my teenage/adult life now, I actually like my skin. I can get away with undereye concealer and tinted moisturizer now which I *never* would have imagined possible a couple years ago :)

        Best of luck to you. I’m *hopeful* that this was helpful. :) Any other questions I’m happy to share.

        1. b00mer: Speaking for me personally, I found this posting to be very appropriate. Also, speaking for me personally, I am grateful you took the time to post all these details. Very helpful!

  9. What about Goat yogurt and kefir (organic, antibiotic and hormones free) with good bacterias. We need some good bacteria, right?
    What about butter?

    1. Laura: Yogurt and kefir are just concentrated dairy with some probiotics/bacteria. We know that dairy is not good for us. Here is more information on dairy:

      re: “We need some good bacteria, right?” You can get good bacteria from healthier sources than dairy. The following is a quote from one of Dr. Greger’s videos that I think is pretty helpful:

      “Unless one has suffered a major disruption of gut flora by antibiotics, or an intestinal infection—unless one is symptomatic—with like diarrhea or bloating, I would suggest focusing on feeding the good bacteria we already have, by eating so-called prebiotics, such as fiber. After all, as we saw before, who knows what you’re getting when you buy probiotics, they may not even even be alive by the time you buy them. They have to survive the journey down to the large intestine. Altogether, these points suggest that the advantages of prebiotics—found in plant foods–outweigh those of probiotics. And by eating raw fruits and vegetables we may be getting both. Fruits and vegetables are covered with millions of lactic acid bacteria, some of which are the same type used as probiotics. So when studies show eating more fruits and vegetables boosts immunity, prebiotics and probiotics may be playing a role.”

      I seem to remember that Dr. Greger has a whole video or even series on the topic of prebiotics, but I couldn’t find it/them. Maybe you will have better luck.

      re: “butter”
      Butter has lots of saturated fat:
      And don’t forget the cholesterol. Yikes. And butter is an oil/just fat/empty calories. Fat has twice the calories of sugar, making those empty calories all the more problematic. Bottom line: You do not need any oil/butter in your diet, and you are better off without it. For more information on fat, check out Jeff Novick’s talk/DVD: From Oil To Nuts.

      Hope that helps.

    2. All animal milk has natural hormones in it that will promote acne, even if they’re “organic” with not added hormones or antibiotics. Also, these things do not actually contain good bacteria as they must first be pasteurized, so they add live and active culture… essentially you’re just consuming a bunch of hormones with a probiotic supplement in them. Better of just taking a dairy free probiotic and/or eating fermented plant foods.
      I’m sure you can get some raw yogurts somewhere… I’ve never actually seen it, but it can be extremely dangerous.
      You can actually drink water kefir. There’s also vegan products with probiotics added to them and vegan probiotics.

      Consider also the fact that when you take a mother’s milk, you’re taking from both the mother and her baby who isn’t getting the milk because you are, and the babies are not only separated from their mothers but the ones who aren’t bred to be exploited in the same way their mothers are, are sent to horrific isolation and slaughter. The ones who are saved for later use are also isolated from their mothers. Dairy from any animals is responsible for some of the most horrific cruelty of all time.

  10. This is very strange, for over a year, I like for breakfast one egg per day, I do not drink milk and dairy products, I do not eat meat (except fish once a month), I do not consume refined carbohydrates on a regular basis – rarely, my consumption of alcoholic drink is 02 glasses of wine or sake a month and I have ACNE, and I’m thirty-five years old.

    1. Don’t confuse the condition “perioral dermatitis” for acne. Perioral Dermatitis occurs between the ages of 15 and 40 years usually in female which can be aggravated by potent topical (fluorinated) steroid creams. The etiology is unknown. Treatment usually consists of topical metronidazole or antibiotics. It is important to work with your physician(s) as it is important to have the correct diagnosis as there are several conditions which present similarly. Good luck.

        1. Just using the one diagnosis as an example to help make the point that it is important to have the correct diagnosis. As a Family Medicine physician I tended to treat the more common skin conditions. For conditions that didn’t respond or had an unusual presentation I referred to a dermatologist for diagnosis and any further evaluation (e.g. hormonal issues). Sounds like you have a good handle on the diagnosis… good luck with treating it.

  11. After viewing all Plant Positive’s videos, it’s a little weird to see Cordain and Boyd Eaton cited in this site… but just a little… ;-) …

  12. Hi Doctor. Three burning questions:

    1. Should I immunize my 5 year old? We didn’t do it yet, and are not sure what the smartest move is?

    2. Are supplements worth taking? And if so, would B-12, D, and a multi be the way to go?

    3. If I go 100% vegan, what is the best protein source to eat?

    Thank you!

    1. Immunization is generally a good idea if you don’t like the idea of your child contracting and possibly dying from diseases such as diptheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, hepatitis, rotavirus, polio, etc, or if you don’t like the idea of contributing to the chances of other not-yet vaccinated children contracting and possibly dying from these diseases.

      Dr. Greger’s “Optimum Nutrition Recommendations” here:

      Your best protein source is simply, food: vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds. If you eat enough calories from those food groups, it is mathematically impossible for you to get less than your recommended daily amount of protein. In addition, every plant food in the world is a complete protein, meaning they contain all 8 essential amino acids, so there is no need to worry about specific combinations. Try eating plant-based and tracking your food in a nutrition diary like cronometer (it’s free), and you will see this is true.

    2. Jason: As usual, b00mer gave an excellent reply. I just wanted to supplement the information on protein. b00mer’s response was a good summary, but if you are new to the information, it might help to have some more details.

      The following resources were a GREAT in helping me to feel comfortable about what I was eating concerning the topic of protein. I highly recommend both of them. By the time you are through with these resources, you should feel very comfortable about how easy it is to meet protein needs and that there is no need to eat a special “protein source.”
      (check out December 2003 for McDougall’s site, “A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment”. Also maybe April 2007, “When Friends Ask: Where do you get your protein?”)

      Note that any diet takes some careful planning in order to be healthy and that kids have some different calorie needs percentage-wise compared to adults. Here is a good source for feeding vegan kids. It starts out with infants, but hits older kids further down. It is a good idea to absorb some of the earlier points regardless of how old your kid is.

      Hope that helps!

  13. I am not a medical professional, but I have experience in this area. My adult daughter suffered with red, painful, cystic acne for many years. She tried various acne products with no success. While researching cystic acne, I stumbled upon a discussion much like this one. The individuals posting had discovered that Aspartame was causing their acne. They were encouraging readers to eliminate Aspartame from their diet entirely. My daughter tried it, and it worked. No more debilitating cystic acne. She has an occasional blemish from time to time as most of us do, but her cystic acne nightmare has been over for a couple of years now. Please know that this is not an overnight fix. It was months before my daughter felt confident that her cystic acne was not going to return. Aspartame is in so many food items. You must be vigilant if you are going to try this. Read labels carefully. You will be eliminating diet colas, most gum, mints, etc. Whole Foods Market sells gum and mints without Aspartame, thank goodness. I hope this helps!

  14. I have been vegetarian my entire life, vegan for the last 10 years, and plant-based/low-oil for over a year. At first, the acne got better when I changed to lower consumption of oil but got worse again a few months later. Would additionally being gluten free help the acne?

  15. I love the information in this video but if it could be presented in a way that was interesting to teens and pre-teens it might help to get the message to the targeted audience. I’m afraid my kids will roll their eyes if I send this to them.

    1. Absolutely. This video was so annoying that I could hardly get though it, much less ask a teen to watch it. It would have been better as a short article.

    2. I don’t have teenagers… But looking back I DO wish someone had told me about this when I was a teenager. I would have loved to find a cure for my acne back then. Of course, parents are the ones in control at least at home – so keep dairy out of your house so they at least have access it less often.

  16. I was vegan for a year and had the WORST acne of my life. I developed severe pain in my stomach and became hypoglycemic even though I was consuming healthy hemp protein in shakes and all other protein rich vegan possibilities out there. It’s only when I went off of it and focused more on my vitamin counts that it started to improve. There is no one method cure for anyone and this information is frustrating for someone who has never dranken any milk products since childhood to see. I agree, lucky are those who cut out milk, cut out the corn syrup and shizam! their skin is perfect! but for others, there is something else going on. I believe mine is linked to stress and not being as in my body as it could be. I also found it I was SEVERELY deficient in vitamin c. Its incredibly how this has helped. IF you find viegan isn’t working for you – do not stick with it. I thrive on antibiotic, hormone free beef. Everyone needs more of something. and ps. if you have IBS chances are your stomach needs an enzyme to help you absorb the minerals in your food. You could be eating great, but not absorbing ANY of it and that’s what leads to a deficiency causing acne. Get allergy testing, but also get your vitamin levels checked. And- listen to your health. Vegan diet was not right for me, and no, the acne was not a “detox”.

    1. It’s offensive for you to be on a vegan site, telling people not to be vegan. If a vegan did the equivalent on a necrotarian site they would be accused of forcing their views down people’s throats.

      It was your protein obsession that caused the problems. Protein shakes are not a whole food and the body struggles to process excess protein anyway. Plus it is obvious from your severe vitamin C deficiency that you were not consuming a normal diet. How on earth can a “vegan” get a vitamin C deficiency? By subsisting on protein


      Finally, if it was “stress” that caused your acne, a plant based diet would have helped, since cortisol levels directly correlate with the amount of animal produce one has just consumed.

      1. Hi Meh, I can tell by your name that you’re high on life. Glad veganism has turned you into such a delightful person. Just to clarify for you, I respect the vegan diet a whole lot. Two of my favourite people in the whole world (make that three) are vegan and absolutely thrive.

        I unfortunately, did not last year. I had severe anxiety attacks, had to take naps on all work breaks and broke out terribly plus had stomach pain.

        No, I was not a stupid idiot who consumed protein shakes full of soy and garbage. I am an organic fruits and veggies gal who even saught the support of a naturalpath to assist me and ensure I was still getting adequate vitamins. She found out I was unable to produce adequate stomach acid myself equating to a body that is too alkeline.

        A vegan diet.. is also alkeline, and as you can imagine lacking acid to digest things and not having acidic food.. can mean for me, in my unique situation, that I was not absorbing anything from my food.

        You can bet I was on a high quality multi vitamin, taking my flax oil and pumping myself full of fresh kale, papaya, bananas, apples, alternative grains, pineapples, strawberries… I am very contientious about what I put in my body.

        Only this year did another doctor discover how severely deficient my vitamin C was. I want you to understand that those of us who are predisposed to digestive challenges (my brother has crohn’s and a few of my relatives passed away due to stomach related issues which lead to severe malnutrition and depression yielding suicide…) that we do not absorb things properly from our food.

        I want OTHERS here, who usually seek a vegan diet to help heal themselves from some ailment, to be aware that if they do not find healing from veganism, they may also be lacking in stomach acid and as a result, a very important vitamin.

        I took vitamin c tablets before.. but now I take them with other carrier vitamins as well as with a digestive enzyme.

        Please don’t judge me. It has been a hard, long, painful road for me. I fully support the vegan diet but I can tell you that it did absolutely nothing for me.

        I am hopeful that one day, as I get stronger and stronger (vitamin c helps me get better EVERY day it is amazing), that I may be able to cut back on meat again.

        For now, I have several servings a week of antiobiotic, hormone, blablalba, free meat.

        I am so happy that you rock the vegan diet. I wish I did. It just didn’t work and I don’t want others to be discouraged. We’re all built differently, do what works best for you.

        Go ahead and google acne on vegan diet. There are multiple people who find themselves in this situation. I believe these people struggle to absorb the vegan food options as well as those who thrive on this diet.

        I also did raw vegan for a few months and I can tell you I DEFINITELY should have absorbed enough vitamin c. It’s sad to discover that all the good you’ve been putting in your body has failed to be absorbed. That your body is full of chemicals because you lacked the vitamin c to oxidize your body like a normal person would.

        I’ve cleansed so many times and done so much for myself but this little imbalance truly set me off.

        Keep rocking this amazing diet that has helped you so much. I will continue to listen to my body as well and am glad everyone clearly here, is equally striving to do the same.

        No judgement. Just love. Encouragement. and peace.

      2. Meh, we try to keep this a safe place for everyone to share so please refrain from insulting other commenter’s experiences.

  17. My 25 year old daughter has been having terrible bouts of acne on her face and back. She has been strictly vegan for 2+ years now. In her teens, she only had an occasional breakout. It has been getting worse, yet she eats no dairy/animal products. I changed my diet as well but get a little confused and doubtful when I hear your claims.

  18. If you struggle with acne the best help I know to get clear is to see and esthetician who specializes in acne. They are very successful with clearing acne, they will spend the time consulting with you, are there to support you and they do not promote using any drugs.

  19. Food doesn’t cause Acne. I know a bunch of Vegetarians/Vegens who only eat Salad and Fruits and vegetable and there face is still loaded with cysts and acne. Just follow a regimen of cleansing, treatment and moisturizer.

  20. I think there is also a genetic predisposition with acne. My brother and I had the same diet growing up except I was not drinking milk (I hated the taste) and I am still the one that got the worst acne problems, he had nearly nothing on his face! I had to take accutane to get rid off it and 2 years after the treatment the acne came back (not as much as before but still). So I think there is different factors. One of them I think is hormonal (I see it at every cycle) and given that our environement it crippled with endocrine disruptors I think it could also be a factor to explore.

  21. When I was young, I never drank any milk at all (as a baby, I had a milk allergy, so even as a baby I just got soy milk). Also, I barely consumed meat as a kid (maybe once or twice a week), although I was a sugar addict. Until this day (27 yrs of age) I still have acne, and it’s definitely not related to the consumption of milk in my case.

  22. While I agree that a chronic excess(!) of animal protein may increase the risk of certain cancers via IGF-1/mTOR signaling (the evidence for acne is much less compelling IMO. There are many vegans struggling with acne), I think it is irrepsonsible to talk about “saving lifes” by avoiding dairy from the limit perspective of cancer prevention. There is mounting evidence that in sum regular dairy consumption saves more lives than dairy avoidance, as a marginally increased risk of certain cancers is by far outweighted by the CVD- and diabetes-protective effects of dairy (particularly low-fat and fermented dairy products). Here are only the most recent studies showing significant protective effects of regular dairy consumption

    1) In CVD

    2) In metabolic syndrome / type II diabetes

  23. My adult acne went away when I quit eating chocolate. Every time I eat even a small bite or two my face will break out. I love dark chocolate but it doesn’t like me!

  24. I have been vegan for 18 months now, and have lost 63 pounds very easily, but it wasn’t until I started testing for all the foods that I was allergic/sensitive to was I able to cure my acne.
    I am 55 years old, and have acne since I was 10 – and it turned out that the culprit was RICE!! Yes, plain old rice. Once I cut that out of my diet, my indigestion was cured, along with my acne.
    Although everyone is different, it might be worth while to use muscle testing to see what you should steer clear of.
    Good luck

  25. I also suffered heavily from acne until about 2 years ago I turned into vegan (I’ve been a vegeterian for 10+ years). The moment I excluded all kinds of dairy, my face started to clear and now it is still clear. I have small scars from before but I don’t have inflamed skin any more. That was a huge progress and happened without me even knowing that dairy is the main cause of my troubles. :-)

  26. Many people underscore the importance of proper diet and nutrition in skin care. Hence, they resort to the use of topical treatment to their skin problems, mainly acne. The information in this video clearly highlights the importance of one’s diet in the treatment of acne and I am sure that this principle is also applicable to other dermatological issues.

  27. I went WFPB about 1.5 years ago, and am experiencing pretty bad acne. I RARELY consume oils, no nuts, I eat a tablespoon of flaxseeds everyday, no processed foods, lots of brown rice, potatoes (white and sweet), lots of veggies and moderate fruit intake. STILL getting acne. SOOO frustrating because I am eating so clean and yet I look like I eat greasy dairy-laden foods. Does not make any sense to me. I am getting my iodine levels checked to see if I am iodine deficient. I also was over-supplementing with b12. I went to a doctor 2 years ago (about the time when I was considering going vegan), and she told me to supplement with b12. She didn’t tell me how much, so I went on amazon and bought the highest rated b12 (which was methocobalamine 5000 mcg) the required dosage for b12 supplementation (according to Dr. Greger) is around 250 mcg a day! So needless to say, I was over-supplementing on b12. I have heard that if you over supplement on b12, you can get acne flareups. I have been off b12 for about two weeks, and haven’t seen a big change, but it might take a while to get back to normal. I want to continue on this lifestyle; however, I feel that I have more issues on this lifestyle than the SAD diet (it really pains me to say that). I don’t know what to do.

  28. Is there any good research about emu oil? The promoters of it list all kinds of great benefits like clearing up acne, reducing cholesterol, healing scars, etc. Is it healthy for you like they say, or is it another animal protein to be careful of?

    1. Anna: I haven’t heard of people trying to eat just emu oil before, but thought I would point out that if it is an oil, then it is pure (animal) fat, not protein. (I assume that was just a typo on your part.) To the point though is: I have not seen any compelling evidence that any oil is good for us, with the *possible* exception of pure DHA/EPA, which would be derived from algae. You wouldn’t get that from emu bodies I don’t think.

      I hope someone is able to answer your question about the research. I don’t know that part. I just thought I would share my 2 cents in case there isn’t any research out there, and only the hype. Good luck.

    1. The only things I use on my face are Ivory soap and virgin coconut oil. Makeup is mineral. What a difference! I do not use the oil in my diet, just on my skin.

  29. I will like to see more videos on acne. I went plant based 3,5 years ago and still struggle with acne. Im tired of it… I dont do oils, only whole seeds, very low fat and still… Any suggestions?

  30. How can I unpuzzle this: adult acne, almost 5 years of whole foods low fat vegan diet, regularly active, meditate, drink lots of water, don’t smoke or drink alcohol, no oils, no table salt, himalayan or sea salt rarely- once a month maybe, eat a variety of foods and eat greens heavily, periodically track my food on and I get all my nutrients; acne doesn’t improve. I keep it under ‘control’ with benzoyl peroxide from, but it doesn’t entirely clear my skin, and it dries it heavily, too. I stopped using any chemicals on my face for a year after I was already vegan (raw vegan at the time), but my face just exploded with breakouts that kept getting worse. It was so physically painful and itchy, I’d scratch it in my sleep, not to mention the emotional struggles, so I went back to BP. Dr. Greger, do you have any suggestions please?

  31. Something strange happened to me. I never had acne between 10-17 years old.. now that I’m 18 and vegan 2 years ago with a healthy diet (no oil, whole foods), I’m having problems with acne. What could it be?

  32. Hi!
    I’m vegan (3,5 years) and still struggling with acne. I watched your videos on
    acne and looks like IGF-1 triggers
    mTORC1 signaling that produce acne
    Since im already vegan (low fat whole plant based) I started to do more
    research on my own. In this video Dr. greger says that Leucine activates more
    mTORC1 than other amino acids and animal products have the most dietary amounts
    of this partirular amino acid (
    Could it be that I need to bring Leucine intake even lower?, for example,
    reducing beans that, in the plant kindom, are the ones with the highest levels
    of Leucine? And increase ursolic acid from fruits and spices? Ursolic acid
    inhibits leucine-stimulated mTOR activation
    (, found in apples, basil,
    bilberries, cranberries, elder flower, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, oregano,
    thyme, hawthorn, and prunes. Could this be the solution for plant eaters that
    still suffer acne problems? What about Glycemic load and insulin production? Thank
    you for responding!

  33. I havent drank cows milk or dairy since 2013 and also i am a plantbased vegan no oil and some days i just eat oatmeal fruit veg and rice. I dont drink any alcohol and i have low stress and sleep well. Why am i covered in painful acne?! :( help please

  34. I think the problem is a bit more complicated than that. So yes, after I quit dairy 2.5 years ago, my acne situation got better, skin clearer. However, it has not fully disappeared. Few weeks ago I had a massive spots breakout. My jaw line, neck, top of my back. Which means: hormonal acne. I have been diagnosed with PCOS years ago, so I had a blood test done to check my hormones – two were within higher range limit (typical for PCOS), the rest was in the middle or on the lower end. Nothing out of ordinary and yet so many spots. What helped? Well, primrose oil. I also learnt my overall cholesterol is too low and I suspect not enough fats was causing so much mess on my face.

    I am also trying to figure out if bread has anything to do with it. I don’t want to live on a gluten-free diet, but I will be experimenting with bread and spots by keeping a diary…

    Oh, and have I said that? I’ve been vegan for a year now (plus 1,5 years on a dairy free diet)

      1. In my case healthy fat helped. Now I only struggle with acne on my neck, near a jaw line, which usually is caused by hormones if I was to believe the Internet :)

        1. I’ve cut out all added fat except I still use some flaxseed and have tofu occasionally. I’m thinking I may possibly need to cut down on those as well. Cutting out added fat has also helped me lose a few pounds (about 6-7 so far.)

        2. Hi Olka, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. I’m certainly glad that healthy fat has helped with your acne. If you’re looking to minimize the acne even more, or possibly eliminate it, try eating more of a plant-based foods and reducing animal food intake like Dr. Greger mentions in the video. Cow’s milk and dairy consumption have been found to be significantly correlated with acne levels in Americans. Many plant-based countries never even experience acne, so we can use them as a model to try to base our actions for best health!

          1. May I suggest you read my comment where I say I have been dairy free for 3.5 yrs now and vegan for almost 2? It’s a 3rd comment above yours.

            1. My apologies. I did not see that comment. My next thought would be to decrease the amounts of processed vegans foods and replace them as much as possible with whole plant foods. Remember that a vegan diet does not necessarily mean a healthy diet. Also, I have not ever heard of anybody having too low of cholesterol. What were your levels at?

              1. Cody,

                You can indeed have suppressed levels of cholesterol. We seem to be seeing some autistics and those taking some medications experiencing low levels of <160. mg/dl. ( There is no lack of published correlation with depression and other mental disorders, due to insufficient cholesterol to fuel the necessary hormones downstream. Remember DHEA, estrogens,testosterone and progesterone and others are cholesterol dependent.

                One of the issues to consider, whenever we choose a diet, is to always focus on the least processed , freshest option to optimize the nutritional value. Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger

  35. Hi! I am vegan with lots of raw vegan food in every meal. I need help with my acne, sometimes is better, sometimes not. I have other problem, is my dandruff. About my acne, I have this since 12-13 years old (I have now 28 years), I left for a long time oils (olive oil, coconut very little, mostly for external use), junk food, processed food, lots of cooked food, and yet I can not remove this acne. I need help, I do not know how to be my diet in order to completely eliminate acne.

  36. I was already following a whole foods plant-based diet such as Dr. Greger recommends when I developed a terrible case of perioral dermatitis. It was brought on after I had a severe allergic reaction (cause unknown). I had hives all over my face and body, and my face was swollen up and misshapen like a cartoon witch. I also got impetigo on top of the hives. I have had perioral dermatitis for the past 2 years since then. Often steroids are implicated as a cause of POD, but I did not take any for my allergic reaction, nor any since then. I have tried literally every recommended cure for POD, except for a “high protein candida diet” and antibiotics. Nothing has really helped. Any research out there about POD?

  37. Has anyone noticed a link between soy in their diet – specifically only soymilk and tofu/tempeh – NOT soy in processed foods and acne? I recently switched to a plant based diet and my skin has flared up. I’m trying to figure out if it’s something to do with my diet. Thanks!

  38. There are many factors left out of the equation here. The presence of hormones (such as rBST) in US cows milk, the fact that almost all milk is pasteurized, and fermentation. In older times, people would consume ‘clotted milk’, which simply was raw cow milk left at room temperature for a few hours. There is no rBST in Canadian milk. However, many Canadian cheeses now contain US milk protein concentrates and those cheeses do cause more acne. How is the acne situation in European countries such as France, where a higher percentage of cheeses are made with raw milk? Knowing that cheeses made with non pasteurized milk are resistant to contamination by the listeria bacteria. Fermentation helps too, like with homemade kefir, which contains more than 80 different probiotic bacteria and yeast strains, vs commercial kefir which usually contains 3 or 4 bacterial strains. There is a difference in acne between people who drink non-fermented, non rBST, pasteurized milk and those who eat non rBST fermented milk such as homemade kefir, even if it is pasteurized.

  39. Hello friends,
    Aside from diet, I believe other ways acne is spread include:
    – bacteria infected makeup brushes, application pads, powders and creams (wash with soap and water weekly)
    – the use of ‘cladogenic’ makeups that clog pores, or makeup that is not properly washed off before sleeping (use soap, water and rag, use mineral makeups or no touch systems such as an airbush makeup system.)
    – skin oil-laden pillow covers and bed sheets (wash sheets every 2 weeks or as needed)
    – touching bacteria infected surfaces, then touching your face / body. (public door handles, nobs, chairs, desks, debit card machines, money; Dont touch your face if you haven’t washed your hands.)
    – glasses that haven’t been cleaned.

    I suggest using rubbing alcohol to sterilize makeup (apply, mix, let evaporate. Do not use rubbing alcohol on your skin.)

    Bleach or use a cleaning wipe on surfaces such as counters, sinks, and all handles.

  40. Hi, I’m curious to know if you’ve stumbled across any research on Roseacea and diet? I ran a search on the site and did not see any links. Thank you!

    1. Check out Jamie Dunson on Instagram. She’s currently curing her acne rosacea by following a high-fruit raw diet + herbal tincture protocol. See her before/after photos–the results are incredible, i.e., the proof is in the pudding!

      @jamieisrawvegan |

      I’m surprised I haven’t seen anybody mention this–may I recommend searching “Dr. Morse” and “acne” on YouTube. Acne may be attributed to lymphatic stagnation, which is due primarily to weak-functioning kidneys (hence, skin is also nicknamed the “third-kidney.” If your kidneys cannot properly process lymphatic waste, guess where it’s going to come out of? Your skin!). I myself am following this protocol with positive results in curing acne when nothing else worked. I hope this helps some poor suffering soul… Cheers!

  41. Hello Dr. Greger, I have a question about acne. I have had acne for as long as I can remember. I went vegan three years ago and it seemed to improve when I did but never went fully away and the type that has stayed seems to be hormonal cystic acne. I only get it along my jawline, chin and beside my nose, under my one eye. It always comes back in the same place. I’ve done a lot of research because in the past nothing topical worked and actually that’s the reason I went vegan in the first place because it’s so obvious the correlation between diet and health problems. I try my best to eat only whole foods. I’m living in the carribean right now so organic and fresh produce is limited and expensive but I drink lots of tea and water, cook with brown rice, or pasta, beans, any veggies I can get my hands on but often just limited to onions, garlic, frozen spinach and maybe some peppers, spices, oatmeal, bananas and sometimes seeds. I limit alcohol, I don’t eat or cook with oil, I do yoga daily, I don’t really have any stress and I try my best to be as healthy as I can but still my acne stays. I did in the past use drugs and drink a lot and smoke. I’ve quit all that now. Sometimes I have issues sleeping. it starts under the skin and develops and It’s not the type of acne you can pop (not that you are supposed to do that anyways, and I don’t). I haven’t been to a doctor because I don’t have the money and I’m not able to get to one out here so I just did my own research and it seems to be an excess of androgens, which possibly could have been increased when I took the morning after pill last December and being on birth control pill in the past. I don’t take any birth control any more because of the hormones and haven’t for years but I have taken the morning after pill a few times. I won’t take the morning after pill ever again. But anyways, I started taking this supplement DIM because it can apparently help with hormone issues and I wanted to get your feedback on the supplement. It seems to be making a slight improvement so far but it’s hard to tell because I’ve only been taking it just over a week now. I know that whole foods are better but I don’t have access to the amount of whole foods as I would like at the moment but even when I did back in Canada my acne didn’t go away. I was eating tons of greens, smoothies, whole grains, beans, basically everything on your daily dozen list, and even though i felt amazing and my skin quality improved the acne was still around. Can you please let me know what you think of the supplement or if you have any other recommendations or input on the subject. I’m getting desperate now because I want to cure my acne that natural way. I have your book and I am about half way through it. I love it! Tons of great stuff but I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of this. Thank you so much in advance.

  42. I have been vegan for 3 years, raw for the first year. The other 2 years I have been average with my food mostly plant based some junk food but for the pastest 2 months I have been eating really clean no junk, for two years I have had acne and I have tried everything. A friend told me that it could be from soy consumption… is this true?

  43. I have been vegetarian for 22 year, now I am 39. I eat very healthy just because I like it that way, I have never enjoyed junk food but once in a while a eat french fries, pizza or veggie burger…however I have been having problems with acne since I was 18 and for some reason the mayority of vegetarian or vegan people that I have known have acne. They are thin, they are healthy but they have acne, why?

  44. I’ve had severe cystic acne for 5 years or so (I’m currently 18) and it gets so inflamed and painful that I think something seriously might be up. Within the past 5 or 6 months I’ve gone completely vegan in the hopes that I’d cut out all the animal products that are shown to cause acne. Only problem is my acne hasn’t been getting better. I still have large painful bumps and boils that start off deep beneath the skin and after a few days they get to the surface and the skin becomes really soft and malleable (I can like push my finger into it and it opens into my hand). When they open they are composed of really dark thick blood and pus. Sorry for the graphic, but I’m so scared that something is really wrong, I get these on my face, back, chest, neck, groin, arms, basically any where I get hair. Every doctor I’ve gone to see wants me to do Accutane, but there has to be another way.
    I weight train twice a week and eat tons of vegetables and fruit, and try to drink as much water as I can. Is there something I’m doing wrong or could be doing better?
    Sorry for the length, but my self esteem is really suffering and I seem to be having a flare up and I have no idea what I am doing wrong. I’m trying to listen to my body and I see this as a sign that something is up. Does any one have any ideas? I’d really love to hear back from Dr. Greger. Thanks.

    1. Jeremy: I am sorry to hear what you are going through. I just can’t imagine how hard that must be. I’m forwarding your post onto our medical moderators. We have so many questions on this site, I can’t promise an answer, but I hope that you will get one.
      If a reply does not happen in a few days, consider doing the same post on the most recent video-of-the-day. We have some extremely knowledgeable community members who may have some ideas for you and they are more likely to see your post if you post on a new page.
      Best of luck to you.

    2. Hi Jeremy – Thanks for your question. Have you seen all of Dr. Greger’s videos on acne? If not, you can find them here: Acne. In general, following a whole-food, plant-based diet should help improve acne issues. It sounds like you’ve already done a great job incorporating many wonderful healthy lifestyle factors into your daily routine. However, it’s best to follow-up with your dermatologist if you’re not seeing the results you’d like with just diet alone. If you’re uncomfortable with Accutane, I encourage you to talk to you doctors about other options or medications that could maybe help (oral medications, topical creams, over the counter treatments, antibiotics if an infection is present, etc). You also might be interested in seeing a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need while following a plant-based diet. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Wishing you all the best!

  45. Okey doctor Gregor, I’ve eaten a whole foods plant based diet with fruits and vegetables with no added oil and limited excess sugar and salt, and absolutely no animal products for almost 4 months, but still have acne. What gives?

    1. Noah,

      First good work on the perseverance with the diet. May I suggest that you consider supplements, including the use of zinc in addition to a regimented cleansing of the areas with acne ? Before you start the zinc you might want to check if your body needs supplementation by using a zinc load test :… If your acne continues, I would suggest that you have a checkup and ask your physician if your running a high blood sugar or inflammation. Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

  46. I’m vegan, gluten free, soy free–I really don’t eat any processed foods. I eat whole foods, mostly fresh organic plants. I limit my sugar intake, no processed sugar–I do eat raw fruit though. I still break out. So what gives? I’m careful about what I put on my skin too. I can’t seem to win here. I supplement. No B12 though.

  47. So I have been vegan for 3 years and I have never had acne until about a year ago. Now I have painfull cystic acne on my chin mostly and I don’t understand why? I heard that it could be a hormonal imbalance? How can I fix this as a vegan? Also I stoped drinking alcohol about a year ago could this have something to do with it?

  48. Hello Dr Gregar and team!
    This is going to be a pretty long winded message but I’ve run out of ideas/methods and would really love your help!
    I have had very bad acne since the age of about 14 up until now at 22, it’s all over my face except for my nose and I can’t remember what having clear skin actually looks like.
    I was diagnosed with PCOS at 19 and figured the acne might be related to that. Since discoverinf medication did nothing for me I turned to diet and I’ve tried the following methods for a few months at a time:
    – No dairy
    – no sugar
    – no gluten
    – 80/20 fruit diet
    – 60 day veggie juice diet
    – vitamin D3 (2000iu daily)
    – barberries (2 teaspoons daily)
    – hormone balancing vitamins (vitex etc)
    – paleo diet
    – taking zinc, omega 3,6,9 and selium daily

    Those are the biggest changes I can remember making and yet still no clear skin! I also have extremely oily skin so the vitamin D helps with the sebum but doesn’t completely eradicate it.. the only time my skin was at its “best” was when I was juicing, I didnt get many new pimples but the existing ones just sort of sat there and never cleared despite nothing but pure veg juice for 60 days :(

    I’m at a loss of where to go next- I’m still 100% confident that diet is the key but I am becoming very disheartened in the lack of results… is it the PCOS that is causing my everlasting acne or do you think it could be something else? I have looked at face mapping but again hormonal acne is usually on the chin/jaw but I have it literally all over my face running out of theories!

    Any tips/advice or recommendations would be very much appreciated – I know it sounds a bit lame but I genuinley can’t wait for the day I can wash my face/take make up off in front of people, because I have felt hideous since the age of 14! :(

    1. Hi Saffron,
      I am one of the medical moderators here :) Sorry to hear your frustration and struggles with acne.

      The diet recommended here is a whole-food plant-based diet. I would recommend that as a base, that is a diet consisting only of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables and legumes, in amounts similar to Dr Greger’s daily dozen. Keep the added fats (nuts, seeds, avocados) to a minimum/eliminate to help with oily skin. A few months may not be long enough to see a difference, so I recommend sticking with it rather than changing.

      Also have a look at what is in your environment. Many acne products are too strong and only exacerbate the problem. Try and use very natural products on your skin, such as bicarb soda, witch hazel, oatmeal, and tea tree oil, rather than commercial products.

      Have a look at these links too-

  49. Hi,

    I’m 32 and have been an on/off vegan all my life. When I’m not vegan and following a Paleo-ish diet I have no pimples. When I’m vegan; I get pimples. Is it the zinc? If so whats the best source of vegan zinc? Thanks!

  50. Hello Lara, I’m a family physician with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. It would help to have more details about your diet. What do you mean by a “Paleo-ish” diet? And when you are eating vegan, does that mean absolutely no dairy products whatsoever? (Because dairy is known to be a major culprit in causing acne): See these videos by Dr. G:
    Harvard Nurses Study and relation of dairy to acne
    The Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk

    Also, when eating vegan, how much oil do you consume? Because even the “healthier” oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, etc., are still 100% fat even though they contain no saturated fat and no trans fat.

    1. Hi Dr Sheline, Thanks for the reply. When I was following the Paleo diet I still ate lentils which I believe is not considered Paleo. When following a vegan diet I don’t have dairy. I did consider oil, as it was only recently I learnt that, but considering I had the same amount of oils (mainly coconut and olive) on both diets it made me a little confused.

  51. Dr Greger, I’ve just finished reading your book How Not To Die and I found it very helpful! I’m 20, and none of the diseases in your book have affected me, however after reading your book I felt like I could pinpoint reasons why members of my family may promote certain diseases (eg. diabetes, lung cancer). I have been practicing a vegan diet for two months but after reading HNTD I am especially focussed on unprocessed whole foods. I’ve watched your videos on acne, but none of them talk about hormonal issues? I struggle with acne and don’t consume dairy at all. Are there certain foods that are good for treating hormonal acne? In general, are there foods that can promote ideal hormones?

  52. Hi,

    This video is very informative when it comes to treating acne. That is why it is important to know what we are eating because this affects our health and skin. I always make sure to eat healthy foods that would not cause any acne.

  53. So now being plant based for about 6 months now and experiencing much better health, my blood pressure is now normal, no longer prediabetic, and my cholesterol dropped 75 points! But I still have a problem that plagues me and that is ACNE. I am now into my 40’s and this is still a problem for me even though I don’t eat a junky vegan diet including anything with sugar and now am on a elimination diet in which I have removed fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and soy but these are all the nutrients you need to prevent disease so I hope I can re-introduce those foods back into my diet at some point. I am finally starting to realize that now that I since don’t eat animal products and eat whole foods, my acne problem is most likely related to some IGF-1 or insulin sensitivity and eliminating high glycemic index and high glycemic load foods. Along with mTORc-1, diet induced IGF-1 IS the major cause of the acne epidemic.

    So to the staff at, please dig into some research regarding the connection between a hyperglycemic diet and the acne epidemic in the Western world. Here is a article to get us started:

  54. Is there any school of thought that says that acne can be caused by not having enough calories? i eat a plant based diet. I break it every so often but not often enough or with enough junk at once ever to really cause problems i dont think. I struggle to get enough calories and so i wonder if any symptoms i have that would usually be attributed to a poor diet may in fact be because of the calories instead.

  55. Thanks for your question.

    I believe in a plant based diet, high intake of processed foods with an uneven ratio of omega-6:omega-3 intake could potentially exacerbate symptoms. However, high glycemic foods (eg. products with added sugar) can definitely be a nutritional factor that aggravates acne (see here).

    Hope this answer helps.

    1. Hi Rob,

      I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your question.

      It’s great to hear that you avoid meat or dairy. Hopefully that has helped improve the acne. However, cutting out processed foods (added sugars, salt, oils, and refined grains) can help further. Also, be sure to make sure you are eating a diet centered around fresh fruits and vegetables. Stress reduction can also play a role.

      I hope that helps and wish you all the best.

  56. I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in getting any cosmetic dermatology surgery done of any kind. If you opt to go for, dermatologist in Vancouver BC you are in the safe hands. Dr. Sutton will help you get the best, most healthy version of your skin without changing your natural beauty.

  57. Dear Dr. Greger,

    I am posting my question about allergies here, as I was not sure where to post it exactly.

    First of all I would like to thank you for your contribution to human and non-human health. Our small PBWF Whatsapp group, which we started half a year ago and which has about 12 members on four continents, often uses your videos and articles as a reference, and we are very grateful for that.

    A big about myself: I was born in 1965 and became a vegetarian in 1997, primarily for philosophical (animal rights) and environmental reasons. Since May 2017 I have became fully vegan, mostly because I wanted to avoid becoming a diabetic like my mother or someone with a heart problem like some of my friends and colleagues; since May my LDL has gone down from 158 to 86, my waist circumference decreased from 99 to 76cm, I lost 15kg (from 93kg to 78kg), I have more energy and have improved my fitness level by about 50% (I am an amateur triathlete and trail runner).

    I am contacting you with a question about allergies. I personally don’t really believe that a human body is intrinsically allergic to certain foods, as long as those foods are natural and healthy. What I do believe is that people have allergies because they put their bodies through a certain level of stress (through food, work, relationships or their physical environment) to such an extent that the immune system cannot cope with the LATENT dislike of the body of a particular kind of food.

    I was wondering if there is published research on this issue. I am asking this because the spouse of my colleague at work has started to make the switch to PBWF with my help, after she was told by her doctor that she was entering the prediabetes zone, and is asking whether this will also help with her food allergies and the itching of her skin.

    Thank you in advance for your feedback.

    Kind regards.

    Siegfried Verheijke

  58. Eating a plant-based diet does not make a person suddenly able to eat foods they were previously allergic to. For instance, if your friend is allergic to peanuts, going plant-based won’t make her able to eat peanuts without having an allergic reaction. However, if your friend does not actually have true food allergies and is instead experiencing an IGG-mediated immune response to commonly eaten foods (eggs, dairy, shellfish, nuts, corn, wheat), eliminating those foods from the diet can resolve any health issues she was experiencing as a result of having this type of immune response.

    Dr. Jamie Koonce

  59. Hi,

    I’ve wanted to reach out to you: I’ve had a look at, as well as your company’s general online presence. Would you be open to discussing a few things where I think we can make a huge difference?

    Most particularly, I think we can drive a lot more targeted traffic, as well as converting the site visits into sales.
    If increasing visitors/sales by 15%-180% is something that interests you, just respond here so I can have my teammates get in touch at your phone number . At the very least, I promise, we’ll show you a few things you might have overlooked.

    All the best,

    Adriana H.

  60. In terms of acne, what moisturizer’s are the best for day-to-day use? I’ve been using almond oil because I didn’t like using Cetaphil. It’s almost summer and I feel like the almond oil is too much on my face when it’s humid. Any suggestions? I don’t want to use any lotions with harsh chemicals and have naturally oily and sensitive skin as it is.

  61. Dr. Greger,
    Please direct me to more information! My 19 year old is very strict about Whole Food Plant Based and has gained weight and her acne is much worse than ever!! We are following all the rules and advice. She exercises. Washes twice a day. Eats all the recommended foods and everything is worse, nothing better!!! Three years!! Nothing better! Please help! She is so much a believer in this and will not go back. What could be going wrong?

  62. It can be distressing, LB, when your 19 son?/daughter? has acne and is trying so hard to eat recommended foods. Could it be be some oil or other aggravating foods are sneaking in ? A food diary might be helpful. Also has he/she consulted a dermatologist to determine other potential causes of the acne? Obviously trying to rule out all potential acne causes is important (I’d recommend a review of basic acne causes to review with dermatologist (This link might be helpful to making sure all considerations are reviewed: Dr. Greger has other videos on acne you may also want to review. Check out this summary on acne ad all the associated acne videos for more help:

  63. I follow a whole food plant based diet and have avoided all animal products for a year. I avoid all refined sugar and processed food with the exception of an all natural pea protein powder, whole grain bread and tofu. Before going vegan, I had no acne whatsoever, since going vegan, i have a number of pimples, blemishes and red spots and it appears to only be getting worse. I eat the same things pretty much everyday. for breakfast: oatmeal with pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seed, a brazil nut and hemp seeds. I have a berry and banana smoothie after i workout with a scoop of the pea protein along with some turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon. I have avocado and tofu toast with sliced bell peppers for a snack. I have black beans or chickpeas and kidney beans with veggies such as sweet potato, carrots, peas, corn, broccoli for lunch. and for dinner i have lentils with kale and mushrooms. Before I was vegan I was eating red meat at every meal and drinking a gallon of milk a week. I do not understand how I have acne now and I didn’t back then. Do you know what could be a contributing factor?? As soon as i changed my diet I got acne almost straight away so i can only presume it is a result of the diet change

  64. You’ll have to experiment. You might trying switching to a 100% whole food plant based diet which you’re not eating right now. Bread, pea protein powder, tofu and smoothies are all processed foods. Eat the steamed wheat, not the bread. Eat peas, not the powder. Eat soybeans, not tofu. Eat bananas and berries, not the smoothie. Also, you might try cutting out all the nuts and seeds for a while to see if any of those are trigger foods. Nuts and seeds tend to have a lot of oil in them that can contribute to acne. Once you do these things, if your acne clears up, you can add back one component and try that for a few weeks to see if the acne comes back. You should also appoint with a dermatologist that is familiar with the literature in support of plant based nutrition as there are other factors that can be causing your symptoms…and you may not have acne.

  65. I wonder if anyone can post a study linking any of these similar findings to rosacea/acne rosacea, to help advise patients on a “rosacea healthy” diet? It is often one of the most challenging conditions to treat with topical approaches.

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