Most people with acne attempt to treat their irritated skin with external face washes, soaps, lotions and treatments. Yet, according to a number of natural health authors, the best way to treat acne is by changing your diet and getting rid of acne-causing ingredients such as fried foods.
"A healthful diet rich in natural whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans is the first recommendation for treating acne," writes Michael T. Murray in Natural Alternatives to Drugs. "Foods containing trans-fatty acids, such as milk, milk products, margarine, shortening and other synthetically hydrogenated vegetable oils, as well as fried foods, must be avoided."
According to some, the prevalence of acne in the United States is built into the typical American diet. Americans tend to eat fried foods in large quantities, usually cooked in the most harmful of fats and oils. Not all fats are bad, but the fats that typical Americans eat make them more prone to develop acne and skin problems than those living in other countries, according to Acne Can Be Cured author Dr. Gustave H. Hoehn.
"The common ingredient found in the native diets of Italians, Koreans, Japanese and Eskimos is thin oils – olive oils, fish oils, peanut and vegetable oils – while we Americans eat heavier fats, which are found in milk, cheese and ice cream as well as in bacon, ham and pork, and lard used in many fried foods." Hoehn also points out that Italians living in Italy – not those residing in the United States – have "beautiful" complexions, largely because they consume diets rich in healthy oils and low in unhealthy fats. The same goes for native Koreans, Japanese and Eskimos. However, when these people move to America, they – along with their descendants – develop acne just like Americans.
Acne cannot really be treated using creams and soaps because the root of the condition lies beneath the skin. According to Dr. Gary Null in Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, pimples are caused by "bacteria and other irritants embedded underneath the skin's oil glands and hair follicles. It is generally a result of improper hygiene and poor diet, i.e., excessive amounts of processed, fatty and fried foods, as well as dairy, meat and sugar."
Drinking excessive amounts of coffee and soda – especially cola – also contributes to acne. Since some of the heaviest soda drinkers in the United States are teenagers, who simultaneously are being affected by hormones, they tend to have the most prevalent skin problems. "Acne, a common problem in teenagers, results from a combination of hormone stimulation, production of irritating fatty acids by certain bacteria, stress and poor diet," writes Dr. Elson M. Haas in Staying Healthy With Nutrition. Since acne is caused by overproduction of oil beneath the skin, Haas recommends drinking more water, eliminating fried foods and hydrogenated fats from the diet and getting extra vitamin A and zinc to reduce acne breakouts.
Acne isn't the only skin problem that improves with a healthy diet. Richard Mabey, author of The New Age Herbalist, asserts that eczema and dry, flaky skin can also be healed through healthful foods and supplements. "[Eczema can] be caused by nutritional deficiencies and the skin will quickly return to normal once the deficiency is made good," writes Mabey. "Vitamins A, B, C and E are all necessary for healthy skin." Mabey also recommends cold-pressed vegetable oils like sunflower oil and safflower oil, as well as fruits, vegetables, carrot juice and kelp. Things to avoid include fried foods, junk foods, alcohol, sugary foods and drinks and artificial coloring and flavoring.
But skin isn't the only organ that benefits from eliminating fried foods from the diet. Healthy hair also depends on the amounts of greasy, fried foods consumed. Joseph B. Marion, author of Anti-Aging Manual, recommends avoiding fried foods, butter, shellfish, nuts, chocolate, iodized salt and alcohol in order to have healthy hair. Similarly, Alternative Cures author Bill Gottlieb writes that lowering the amounts of fried food and saturated fat in the diet will treat one's hair internally, which in turn makes it healthy on the outside.
So for healthy skin and hair, stop eating fried, fatty foods. Instead, turn to a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy oils and grains.
The experts speak on fried foods, skin and hair:
The experts speak on fried foods and skin health
Eruptions on the surface of the skin usually indicate an acidic condition in the blood. This comes from eating too much meat, fried food, sweets, and white flour products, as well as drinking a lot of coffee, colas, and soft drinks. Watermelon juice flushes a lot of this acid from the system and renews the blood. When this happens the skin starts looking and feeling better.
Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Juices by John Heinerman, page 268
Fat foods result in sluggish digestion, cloudy thinking, and blemishes. A diet high in fried foods, butter, cheese, nuts, or tahini congests the Wood element (the liver and gallbladder organ systems), making it harder for the body to clear wastes.
Asian Health Secrets by Letha Hadady DAc, page 291
The Chinese believe that acne is tied to inefficient and incomplete digestion, which results in toxic metabolites that show up on the skin. A skin-healthy diet emphasizes raw and lightly cooked vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables that contain valuable trace minerals and are rich in fiber. Fresh green vegetables are essential. Also include in your diet lean protein sources and complex carbohydrates, such as rice, whole-grain bread, potatoes, and legumes (legumes may be omitted if they cause a digestive problem). These fiber-rich foods help ensure a clean gastrointestinal tract, which is especially important in the management of acne. Eat three healthy meals daily to provide important nutrients and to decrease your appetite for sugary or greasy fried foods.
Smart Medicine For Healthier Living by Janet Zand LAc OMD Allan N Spreen MD CNC James B LaValle RPh ND, page 83
This common complaint—commonly referred to as pimples—is caused by bacteria and other irritants embedded underneath the skin's oil glands and hair follicles. It is generally a result of improper hygiene and poor diet, i.e., excessive amounts of processed, fatty, and fried foods, as well as dairy, meat, and sugar.
Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 323
Angry-looking red pimples filled with a yellowish discharge are a sign of excess pitta dosha, says Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.A.Sc, director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (For more information about the Ayurvedic doshas, see "All about Vata, Pitta and Kapha" on page 28.) To control acne, he suggests adopting a diet that includes plenty of bland foods such as oatmeal, applesauce and basmati rice and eliminates fried foods, spicy foods and citrus fruits.
New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine, page 166
Other foods that block the healing of psoriasis, says Dr. Pagano, are shellfish, junk foods such as soda or potato chips, fried foods, alcohol, pickled and smoked foods, and processed foods with coconut oil or palm oil. He also recommends avoiding excess sweets such as sodas, candy, pastries, and pies.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 529
Eczema can also be caused by nutritional deficiencies and the skin will quickly return to normal once the deficiency is made good. Infantile or children's eczema may, for instance, be due to lack of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), present in breast milk but absent in cow's milk. Always consult your doctor on skin ailments in babies or children. Including cold-pressed vegetable oils such as sunflower and safflower in the diet will also help. Vitamins A, B, C, and E are all necessary for healthy skin. Drink carrot juice every day for a good dose of betacarotene, a precursor of Vitamin A. A supplement of Vitamin B6 can sometimes heal dry flaky skin. Eating kelp will also help to provide necessary trace elements and minerals. If you suffer from eczema, avoid fried food, alcohol, junk foods, and foods and drinks which contain sugar, artificial colouring and flavouring. Eat instead a wholefood diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.
The New Age Herbalist by Richard Mabey, page 232
A healthful diet rich in natural whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans is the first recommendation for treating acne. …Foods containing trans-fatty acids, such as milk, milk products, margarine, shortening, and other synthetically hydrogenated vegetable oils, as well as fried foods, must be avoided.
Natural Alternatives To Drugs by Michael T Murray ND, page 43
Gustave H. Hoehn, M.D., author of Acne Can Be Cured, does not agree. "Diet is the answer to the acne problem," Hoehn says. The common ingredient found in the native diets of Italians, Koreans, Japanese, and Eskimos is thin oils—olive oils, fish oils, peanut and vegetable oils—while we Americans eat heavier fats, which are found in milk, cheese, and ice cream as well as in bacon, ham and pork, and lard used in many fried foods. He points out that Italians, in their native country, have beautiful complexions, as do Koreans, Japanese, and Eskimos. But when these peoples move to the United States, their descendants develop acne like other Americans.
Homeopathic Medicine At Home by Maesimund B Panos MD and Jane Heimlich, page 194
Eat right. Help clear your skin by eliminating fried foods and foods with added sugar and artificial color and flavoring from your diet.
Natural Health Secrets by Glenn W Geelhoed MD Jean Barilla MS, page 240
Acne, a common problem in teenagers, results from a combination of hormone stimulation, production of irritating fatty acids by certain bacteria, stress, and poor diet. Acne vulgaris (the medical name) is tied to an overproduction of the oil in the sebaceous glands of the skin. More water intake, eliminating fried foods and hydrogenated fats from the diet, and taking extra vitamin A and zinc will often reduce acne outbreaks.
Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M Haas MD, page 749
To control acne, the diet should consist mainly of fresh vegetables and fruit. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar, fried foods and animal fats, including cheese and butter, but do include cold-pressed vegetable oils. Chocolate, sweets, crisps, and other junk foods, are also likely to make the skin worse.
The New Age Herbalist by Richard Mabey, page 230
Avoid alcohol, sodas, chocolate, fried foods, and refined sugar. Each of these contributes to an acidic internal environment, which may foster the development of acne.
Smart Medicine For Healthier Living by Janet Zand LAc OMD Allan N Spreen MD CNC James B LaValle RPh ND, page 83
"To decrease the oil production from your scalp and reduce the oiliness of your hair, I think you should lower the amount of fried food and saturated fat in your diet," says Janssen. Then, once you're treating your oily hair internally, she believes that the best external way to reduce oil is with a natural rinse.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 467