I Break Out Every Day? Why My Diet Isn’t Working?

By Seppo | Diet


Every now and then I see a question where some acne patient laments their lack of success despite following healthy diet. Understandably the person is confused. They’ve been told how diet causes acne and they follow the diet that should get them clear to the tee. And yet results are wanting.

I wanted to address this topic because I see it often and it can be very harmful to the person. The diet itself often causes some stress, and the lack of results may you feel like a failure (i.e. why don’t I get results when others are so successful? What’s wrong with me?).

I think there are 3 reasons for this: just plain bad advice, ignoring other important acne causes, and possibly the diet itself. In this post I’ll talk about these in more detail and hopefully restore some sanity to the situation.


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About the Author

Seppo Puusa, a.k.a. AcneEinstein shares rational advice about natural and alternative acne treatments. Read more about me and my acne struggles at the page.

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(12) comments

Laura June 25, 2012

Hey Seppo, thanks so much for writing this blog. I really like the fact that you look to scientific studies to find out where all these myths and truths come from. You’re very right about people overlooking the role genetics can play, it was very much a “Eureka!” moment for me when I started reading this and then everything else started making more sense to me about why I am prone to acne. It sucks of course, but I feel like I understand so much more now.

Keep up the good work!

    Seppo Puusa June 29, 2012

    Laura, thanks for the kind words. And glad to hear I’ve been able to help you a bit. Acne indeed is a bit of a mystery and I think understanding the science behind all of this helps us to deal with it better.

Kendra Perry June 25, 2012

Great post Seppo! I feel like I have been in this position before, actually for a long time. I was eating healthy for years but my skin was so bad. Such a frustrating place to be in. But it turns out, I needed to heal my gut. Healthy foods alone sometimes won’t do the trick if you an imbalance.
You really have to be a sort of acne detective!!

    Seppo Puusa June 29, 2012

    Kendra, glad to see you here :) Acne indeed is a bit of a mystery. With so many possible causes you need to do some detective work to get to the bottom of it. But working together we should be able to beat this monster.

Dan July 28, 2012

Such a shame i found this website when i had gone through the different diet phads. I was so convinced that diet was pretty much the sole cause… and i went through so much unnecessary hardship for nothing. Fortunately though, i stumbled over the gut link a while back and i think things are looking up. (It’s scary to think that i could of missed it so easily) Although, i’ve been in this situation many times before, thinking i was at end just to be hit with another flaming hurdle.
Nice website btw

    Seppo July 28, 2012

    Dan, I’ve been there also. I remember how frustrating and depressing it was to be perfect with your diet and still wake up with new pimples. Natural healing ways have a lot to offer, but you have to be skeptical with the information. There’s just too much bad information floating around the web.

Lesley September 30, 2012

Hi Seppo!
I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic and informative website you’ve created, and what a huge help it’s been to me since I discovered it a few days ago.
I suffered from moderate acne throughout my teens and early 20’s. Whilst pregnant (age 24), and for 3yrs after having my son, my skin completely cleared and I was only experiencing a few spots at a time.
I thought I’d finally ‘grown out’ of it. This year I have been suffering from recurrent bouts of cystitis, something I’ve always been prone to, although never so frequently, and had to take repeated courses of antibiotics to treat it (2mths ago having to take a three day course, three times in that month). Over the course of the last month or so, my skin has irrupted into severe cystic acne, all over my cheeks and jawline.
In my distress, I turned to the internet looking for a link with acne and antibiotics, or anything that would explain and ultimately offer a cure for my skin. As you have described, I eventually stumbled upon the massive amount of (pretty sketchy and loosely backed up) ‘evidence’ claiming that the cause of my acne was candida. It seemed to fit in exactly with my story – long term use of the contraceptive pill/then having a copper IUD fitted (there’s loads of buzz about this being responsible for an overproduction of yeast in the body) /repeated courses of antibiotics. I was all ready to embark on the candida diet, spend loads of cash I don’t have on candida recipe books and probiotics, in an attempt to ‘starve’ the bad bacteria from my body. Thing is, I knew this information was sketchy. I could tell it was unscientific and backed up with no real medical evidence. Only, the links to antibiotics/contraceptives made sense to me, and if it’s not down to these factors causing an over production of yeast in the body, then why are there so many others like me with the same symptoms and concerns? (Plus, I love alternative health approach bandwagon, ha).
Your website has brought me the balance I really needed, and served as a wake-up call and reminder of the things I already suspected, but was too desperate to consider properly. Thank you.
But, where do I go from here? With the help of your well researched and sensible approach to the info out there, I’ve decided to follow a healthy, low GI diet, cutting down on any processed foods, sugars and refined cabs. I’m going to give the green tea a serous go too. I’m also getting the copper IUD out. Then, just hope for the best, I suppose.
I wanted to know what your thoughts are on probiotic supplements please? Do you think it would be beneficial to take them, or a waste of money? My health food store has a Biocare Bio-Acidophilus Forte, that you take for 7 days, recommended after using antibiotics. I’m just not sure.

Apologies for the lengthy and drawn-out post. I also realise you’re not a Dr. or someone who has the cure. I’m just feeling quite desperate and also extremely low with the the situation with my skin at the moment. I just need some level headed advice.
Thank you.

    Seppo October 3, 2012

    Sorry about my late reply Lesley. Was travelling with my wife over the weekend and then got sick for a few days.

    You described the problem with alt-med and natural health sites very well. Their theories make superficial sense (when you don’t have in-depth info on the topic) and they usually contain a grain of truth. The problem is knowing where the facts end and fiction begins.

    In this case, what they describe about Candida is true. And medical literature supports it. I’m not against local Candida infections causing acne (as I talked in the Candida post). I do object to making Candida a systemic issue when there’s little to no evidence supporting their crazy theories (and endless supplements).

    I wrote about probiotics in the gut healing guide post. Please check that out for detailed answer.

    In short, yes probiotics can (and probably will) help. The problem is that studies have shown that benefits from probiotics are strain-specific. So one strain might help while another one is completely useless. And how do you know which ones to buy? That’s the real problem. We don’t have enough data yet to really say which strains will help and which are useless. Also, most manufaturers don’t list individual strains in their labels.

    That said, the benefitial strains usually come from the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium families.

    So you have to understand that taking probiotics will be a hit and miss game. That’s one reason I recommend eating a wide variety of fermented foods. They are simple to make at home, and quite fun too (at least for me). At the moment I make my own yogurt and sauer kraut at home.

    The other things you described sound very sensible. You should get good results with that approach.

Adel-Alexander Aldilemi September 6, 2013

I’ve been thinking about this post a bit and why people break out despite their diet… Maybe it’s not their diet after all? I mean I’ve realised that.. I can actually eat a lot of sweets and such with my skin still remaning under control but if I get stressed out and such it breaks out rather quick.. So.. Maybe that’s why they still break out? Due to the other reasons why people get acne?

    Seppo September 7, 2013

    That was sort of my point with this article. So many people have been mind-fucked by alt-med and natural healing ‘information’ they believe they have to stick to this super-healthy diet and freak out the second they stray away even a bit.

Tracey Merritt July 27, 2014

Can your gut be affected after antibiotics, high stress, etc. that makes your skin react to foods that used to not make you get acne? Can healing the gut help the body not respond to carbs, fats, sugars with acne?

    Seppo Puusa July 27, 2014

    Yes to both. Antibiotics and stress, especially stress, can have a big effect on gut health. Gut healing can reduce the negative effect some foods have on your skin.

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