The Paleo Diet & Acne Treatment

The paleo diet has come a long way, literally. Still, many people have turned from skeptics to believers because of the overwhelming health benefits of the paleo diet. While it seems odd to say our ancestors had it right with their diet, you cannot argue with the results the primal diet produces. The paleo diet ensures guaranteed weight control, more energy, amazing physique, and the best part is you have great foods to chose from, so pesky hunger problems are not an issue. We also know that the primal diet can help ward of illnesses by keeping your bodies immune system healthy as can be. The benefits of the paleo diet, still, do not stop there. Remarkably, the paleo diet also includes most of the food, and drinks that help control our skin care issues. Acne problems are something that over 17 million people in the United States are suffering with. If you are following the paleo diet, there is a great chance that you are eating acne fightings foods.

The Paleo Diet focuses a diet that is rich in herbs, meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits. To determine which foods are best to treat acne at it’s source, lets first check to see what the root cause is. Acne appears on our bodies, more particularly on the face, when dust, dirt, and large amounts of oil collect in our pores. Some food, including fried and high in sugar content can lead to acne. Now it is important to understand that this is an indirect correlation. That is, foods that trigger poor health, and can add to your stress or weight, ensure your body to produce more oil. Then in turn, that excessive amount of oil is going to contribute to poor skin health. With proper diet and exercise an acne breakout should virtually never happen. You are what you eat! The paleo diet incorporates all of the healthy vitamins and minerals in different foods that contribute to great skin health. Lets take a look at some different foods that benefit our skin, and see if if they match up with the Primal diet.

Lets start with some herbs. Herbs have some of the strongest antioxidants you can find, and it is no secret why humans have been using herbs as natural remedies for centuries. Basil for instance is a great source for iron, calcium, and vitamin C. Basil is a very natural way to help boost immune system proficiency, and also adds to ever meal as a fresh, zesty spice. Another great herb is Burdock Root. Burdock root is high in B vitamins and it is naturally an antibiotic that has cleansing abilities. Great for your skin, and body! Some other herbs that are great for skin health are mint, oregano, dandelion, and cilantro.

Once you have your spices picked out, try using some fresh cut vegetables. It is no secret that vegetables are healthy. In almost all diet plans you are able to eat limitless vegetables, and the primal diet encourages many different sorts of vegetables. Vegetables have many different bodily cleansing benefits. Most greens are naturally a diuretic, and clean out your system of free radicals that can contribute to poor health, and leave you prone to breakouts.

Nuts are the perfect snack. They are a big part of the paleo diet, and offer the perfect crunchy delight you are looking for. Almond, walnuts, peanuts, and cashews are all an excellent source of protein. Brazil nuts are particularly good for controlling acne. Brazil nuts are rich in calcium, zinc, iron, and a single nut provides enough of your daily need for selenium.

The right fruits can offer some amazing health benefits. Some argue that fruits also can contain large amount of carbohydrates, which is true. However, they are not the carbs you will find in crackers, chips, or some breads that contain complex carbohydrates. Fruits also provide much more nutrients than “filler” snacks you find in the chip isle. Fruits like apples help to cleanse the liver and bowels making them great as a detoxifying fruit. Fruits naturally help promote smooth digestion and help to clear out poor waste, that can lead to sickness, and skin problems.

Now for the main course, fish and meats offer wonderful health benefits. Unlike pastas, or potatoes, meats and fish offer delicious filling items, without all of the extra carbs that do nothing for your health. They also help your body because they are rich in nutrients. Fish in particular have healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These helps to promote a healthy heart, and keep your cardiovascular system on the right beat, excuse my pun. A healthy heart leads to a better immune system and less stress on your body. A malfunctioning immune system can lead to anxiety, and poor ability to fight off infections. These are some of the biggest contributors to acne. As for meat, it may have more to offer than you think. Meat essentially contains the building blocks for our muscles. Meat supplies the proteins and amino acids that our bodies thrive on. Although they do contain fats, the fat is not like complex carbohydrate structures like some other main courses, particular starchy pastas, or noodles. Meat supplies key ingredients for our health which help fight illness, fatigue, weight issues. However meat to date does not have any direct correlation between consumption and acne treatment.

The Primal Diet also has a lot to do with what liquids you are putting into your body. Water of course is essential, and always your best option. Water with lemon is a great alternative if you are feeling a little bit bored with just plain water. Drinks like soda, or other drinks high in sugar are absolutely horrible for your health, and skin complexion. This includes most forms koolaids, processed fruit juices, and even bottled green tea. However, green tea can be very beneficial if you are buying the right brands, or you are brewing it at home. Another healthy option is fruit smoothies!

So lets see which foods are included in the proven primal diet, that also offer acne fighting abilities.

Primal Foods and Acne Treatment

Food In The Primal Diet Fight Acne
Herbs X X
Vegatables X X
Nuts X X
Fruits X X
Fish X X
Meats X
Whole Grains X
Water X X
Natural Green Tea X X


The paleo diet has a wide range of healthy hearty food options. Most of these food options are known to carry vitamins and minerals that help to fight acne. One minor difference is that whole grains are continually given credit to help fight acne. They offer key minerals that are vital to skin regeneration. Although too many whole grains result in weight gain, and weight gain leads to stress, and added oil production. Carbs should be kept to a minimum when fighting acne and staying healthy.

Together the paleo diet and a little bit of knowledge can help you fight skin conditions, including acne. With a great diet, and the right knowledge you can have a healthy happy life, and a clear face too! Fighting acne is just another reason that the paleo diet is so beneficial for us. Our ancestors really did have it right!

Do you eat a paleo diet? Did it help you treat your acne?

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  1. says

    Paleo Diet completely cleared up my skin! I am living proof. I used to break out all along my chin and on my shoulders and now–NOT A SINGLE BLEMISH! Great post!

  2. StacyLynne says

    I never put the 2 and 2 together that this summer the lack of acne was due to my change in eating. 2 weeks ago at a seminar with Mike Molloy he pointed it out and I had the AH HA moment. Prior to the change and being sick of being 45 with acne, I went to a dermatologist. Against my better judgement I let him talk me into oral prescription and everything health wise went down hill from there. I had to stop taking the pills. Now I’m free and clear thanks to my new lifestyle.

    • says

      That’s crazy that you had acne at age 45! Adult acne is much more present in today’s world and it has everything to do with our lifestyle. Diet is the first priority but one that is dialed in one must move as much as possible and then get sleep, sunlight and manage stress!

  3. Pam S. says

    My skin actually got worse when I switched to Primal. It made no sense to me because just as you’ve pointed out, I’ve read that an anti-inflammatory diet was only supposed to improve the skin.
    This change in my life brought out rosacea for the first time, my skin is now flushed most of the time and I have various red bumps.

    I have no way of knowing if it was the diet change alone (as in something I’m eating now that I didn’t use to consume as much) or if the diet change is causing a change in my gut flora or possibly hormones.
    I went Primal in May and it was the worst in the first month. It seems to be slowly getting better, but my skin is far from perfect. I hope it will just be a matter of time before it gets back to normal.

    • says

      Acne is a way of your body releasing toxins. When one detoxes is very possible that he or she will breakout. Then, over time, that person’s acne will go away. As far as the timing goes – everyone is different. I encourage you to continue to be patient. If your acne is improving then you are on the right track. I am not 100% clear either.

      Keep in mind that its not just your diet. Dial that in but then simply move a lot. Sunlight, sleep and managing stress all play a HUGE role in how clear and shiny your skin is!

  4. says

    Yep, my face totally cleared up eating paleo. Now, if I go off paleo for whatever reason, I fight blemish after blemish. A few zits are a small price to pay for a gourmet meal in a restaurant that kindly declines your request for substitutions, in my opinion.

    • says

      This seems to happen to me as well. If I eat non paleo food then I’ll get a whitehead here and there. Dairy seems to be a big no no for me.

  5. says

    I had acne well into my 20’s, and used oral antibiotics as well as numerous topical creams in an attempt to combat it, though I would still break out on a fairly regular basis. I switched to paleo when I was 24, and my skin cleared up. I decided to experiment and stopped using all of the medicine prescribed by my dermatologist, and still, no breakouts! My skin is now clear, and even if sometimes I get really sweaty during a CrossFit WOD and do not wash my face right away, istill not a pimple in sight. If I eat dairy, however, that is another story . . .

    • says

      I was on antibiotics for about 2 years and used topical creams too. It sucked and my dermatologist knows nothing about nutrition… surprise! Yes, dairy is a huge contributor for dairy!

  6. Sandra says

    I haven’t had acne in years, apart from the odd blemish, and my second week into Primal my face and neck broke out like crazy. I’ve been eating less milk but more cheese and eggs than before, but dairy has never bothered my body. I’ve also been getting more exercise. I’ve been managing it with Proactiv but if this keeps up, I’m dropping this diet and going back to delicious carbs. It’s ridiculous to be 23 and get zits! My skin looks terrible now.

    • says

      Sandra – I break out with cheese. Why not go 100% strict for 30 days? Allow yourself some fruit and potatoes but ditch all grains, legumes and dairy. Are you getting sunlight? Sleep? Are you stressed? While nutrition certainly is the biggest factor, it’s not the be all and end all.

  7. says

    I have vacillated with acne throughout the years but have found over the past several months it has gotten worse. I’m 38 years old. I’m starting to wonder if I might have PCOS…which my understanding is due to inconsistent blood sugar levels…which in turn spikes your insulin levels which is linked to acne–due to inflammation. I have played around with low carb diets in the past but have always added a grain here and a grain there…..greek yogurt here and whey protein there…..I did all of this because I am really into fitness and feel I need the carbs. I also have IBS and so going full on paleo scares me because I do not do well with a very high meat diet…..but I guess I could just eat more on the veggie side. I’m willing to give this a shot…. a few questions though:

    Are these things allowed::
    coconut flour or coconut products
    sweet potatoes
    Winter squashes like kabocha/pumpkin/delicata/butternut

    Would appreciate some feedback on this.
    Thanks for the great article

    • says

      I’d LOVE to give you some feedback as I know a lot about acne myself!

      Don’t go super low carb. Don’t eat a meat heavy diet. Eat animal products daily but eat plant foods daily too. Skip all dairy except for butter unless you are certain it makes you break out. All coconut products are awesome. Coconut flour is OK – I avoid it just because I don’t bake at all. Eat sweet potatoes – as many as you want – perfect for post workout. Winter squashes are awesome too.

      Low carb is a tool and does not work for everyone. With that being said, if you eat Paleo, are not afraid of fat and love meat then you are going to be lowER carb then the rest of the population.

      Does this help? Feel free to ask me any more questions! You can email me too.

  8. Maria says

    I’m really intrigued by this Paleo Diet. I used to break out now and again as a teenager, but nothing too horrible and I enjoyed my nice skin. But now I’m 30, and the past few years I’ve had worse and worse skin with multiple oily breakouts along my jaw (was told by my doctor that it’s hormones) and chin, chest, back, forehead. On and off all month (worse around my “monthly”) and it is driving me crazy. I have sensitive skin, so any topical prescriptions the doctor has given me, has had horrible effects on my skin (drying, redness, peeling…. I turned into a human lizard). After 2+ years on an antibiotic, I went off of them and once again started breaking out. NOW I’m on antibiotics AGAIN, and I really, really wish there was something else I could do to get rid of my gross face. I’m young, healthy (I work out and stay fit) and I don’t want to live my whole adult life with “pizza face”. It just looks and feels so unhealthy and effects my confidence levels.

    Now, I have not tried the Paleo Diet yet. I feel kind of dumb saying I want to try a “diet” when I’m fit just the way I am. But SOMETHING is not right in the way my skin is. I can’t take it anymore and want to try eating the foods and avoiding the foods the Paleo Diet suggests. I’m excited, skeptical, unsure… but I think it’s worth a try.

  9. Ryan says

    Ive been using proactive for so long now and it just doesn’t do the job, and im not really a diet guy but I want to get rid of this acne BADD! I love pasta but its gonna have to go;(. Any way if you could send me a complete list of all the foods I can eat and all the foods that I cant eat to my email i would really appreciate it. Any thing that will even slightly cause acne i would like to know too. Thanks:)

  10. mimij says

    Acne at 45? Yes. Many, many, many people have acne at 45. They are just controlling it with products like I do. I am excited to try paleo

  11. Liz says

    I’ve been on the paleo diet for almost 3 weeks and I have terrible oily skin and my acne isn’t even looking better. I get it everywhere, I’ve been pretty strict with this diet so far. Do you think my skin will clear up soon?

    • says

      What do you mean by “strict”? Are you avoiding all grains, legumes and dairy without any exceptions? How is your sleep? Are you active? Walking a lot? Do you have lots of stress or are you managing this effectively? Nutrition plays a role but it’s not the only factor. And Paleo is a great eating template but it’s not at all the be all, end all. And it takes much longer than 3 weeks to heal yourself from acne.