Problem: Acne is caused by food allergies and food intolerance. There is a lack of information available on this topic to educate people who are desperately looking for answers.

Solution: Provide useful information, including my personal success story, as well as hundreds of first hand testimonials from around the web. Keep all of this in one place as a repository of helpful information.

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CYSTIC ACNE CURED with Low Carbohydrate, Plant Based Diet

Scroll to the bottom for hundreds of success stories.

Background: 20+ years dealing with many different types of acne on many different parts of the body. This Includes severe cystic acne on chest, back, legs, and face. Over 1000 scars.

About this article: Finding the ROOT CAUSE of severe cystic acne.

Who is this for: Anyone who has been searching for a solution to severe acne for a long time and are willing to make dietary changes to improve their health. Someone who is about to take prescribed medication to treat acne may want to TRY DIET CHANGE FIRST to avoid possible side effects. This is a long term solution to alleviate the pain of serious acne suffering.

What to expect: Patience is key. Some types of acne disappear within A FEW DAYS, and others can take six months to fully disappear. This includes the deeper recessed bumps that have been there for years and eventually do go away (and when they do it seems like a miracle). Don't expect to be eating fast food or restaurant take out. Unfortunately this is not a half-way approach where cutting back on only some of these foods will help. The more of these acne causing foods that are eliminated, the better.

Trial period: Minimum six months. Your body is constantly creating new cells and it can take seven years to completely rebuild the human body. What you consume (eat, drink) determines what your cells use for food in this rebuilding process and also determines their effectiveness at managing the various processes in your body.

A Five Star Solution to Recovery

For those suffering with severe acne right now, here is a five star approach:

1) Plant based (vegan) diet
- Avoid meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. Avoid milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, etc.
- Many processed foods contain eggs or dairy, so cooking meals from scratch is recommended. It is important to read food labels for ingredients.

2) Low carb (keto), no refined sugar diet
- Cut out all high glycemic foods including bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, beans, corn, fruit, beer, chips, cakes, cookies, muffins, berries, sugar.
- Avoid soda pop and fruit juice because they always contain a high amount of sugar.

3) Vanity mirrors / photographs
- If your acne is really bad and is causing depression or anxiety, it helps to avoid looking at the problem in the mirror. Avoid photographs.

4) Mind and body
- Try not to touch your face or other affected parts of your body. This tactile feedback is similar to looking in the mirror and leads to anxiety and itchiness. Use a mild FRAGRANCE FREE soap to wash in the shower. Do not use a wash cloth or other abrasive that can irritate the skin.

5) Mind over matter
- While your body is healing itself with the new diet, it helps to think about the problem as little as possible. That's why avoiding mirrors and reflections is recommended. Try to visualize yourself with clear, soft skin. Remember: If you don't mind, it don't matter.

Other Notes:
- FIND AN ALTERNATIVE to harsh chemical shampoo and conditioner.
- Wash your hair with a FRAGRANCE FREE UNSCENTED mild soap.
- Look at the ingredients of your soap and shaving cream. Avoid any with 'parfum', 'perfume', or 'fragrance'.
- Avoid greasy topical lotions such as baby oil, petroleum jelly, or heavy moisturizers that can clog pores.
- If you have dry skin, use a very light application of azulene oil, which also helps to prevent acne and razor bumps after shaving.
- If you have hard water, consider getting a water softener. Hard water can irritate skin and dry it out.
- Towel pat dry after washing to avoid rubbing your skin.
- Wash your sheets, pillow cases, and towels regularly to reduce oily build-up.
- Walk outside for an hour every day to get vitamin D from the sun. Natural sunshine is very helpful for healing acne.

A Seven Day Meal Plan to Get You Started

This meal plan was put together to achieve the following:

1) Includes as much protein, healthy fat, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as possible.
2) Total food cost averages around $10 per day ($300 / month).
3) Adheres to all of the restrictions stated above to qualify as vegan - keto friendly.
4) Meals are delicious and wholesome. Quick and easy to prepare (< 30 minutes).
Note: Grocery store shopping and cooking are necessary. Try to find 'certified organic' to avoid pesticides. Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking but always on low-medium heat. Includes vitamin B12 and omega 3's from flax seeds.

Sunday) Vegan taco's. Onion, textured vegetable protein (TVP), taco seasoning, tomato paste. Served on lettuce leaf shells or low carb taco shells.

Monday) 15 Minute Stir Fry. Sauteed tofu, bok choy, ginger, and garlic. Serve with bean sprouts and gluten free (wheat free) soy sauce.

Tuesday) Plant based meatballs fried on medium heat with olive oil. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper. Serve with eggplant spaghetti.

Wednesday) Grilled tofu with grilled eggplant. Fry with a bit of oil and add spices.

Thursday) Hearty soup. Broccoli, kale, spinach, onion, garlic, vegetable stock.

Friday) Vegetarian curry. Tofu, broccoli, carrot, onion, coconut milk, red or green curry paste.

Saturday) Plant based sausages served with a vegetable medley stir-fry. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and cremini mushrooms.

Holiday Feast) Tofurky, low carb stuffing, baked cauliflower, carrots, brussel sprouts, plant based gravy. Leafy green salad with vegan bacon.

Everyday Breakfast) Protein shake with unsweetened almond milk and milled flax seeds. Vegan keto cookies.

Everyday Snacks) Celery sticks with peanut butter or almond butter. Cucumber slices with salt and pepper. Grilled tofu and vegetables. Salads, spinach, kale, lettuce, and greens. Carrot sticks. Almond-cashew milk with protein. Plant based, low carb protein shakes. Any type of mixed nuts or seeds including peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.

Birthday Cakes, Muffins, Cookies) If you get cravings for sweet baked goods, you can make them using keto - vegan ingredients. The trick is to use almond flour or coconut flour, flax seed eggs, and stevia or monkfruit as a sweetener. This simply replaces the high carb foods with low carb alternatives.

Gluten Free) Avoid products containing 'wheat' to remain gluten free. Gluten insensitivity can have a big impact on acne and skin health. This is relatively easy once on a keto diet, because most gluten containing foods are already eliminated.

Flax Seeds) Milled flax seeds are great for many reasons. Include them in your diet as much as possible. Flax seeds contain a number of vitamins and nutrients which are difficult to find elsewhere. Research on flax seeds indicates it has the capability of balancing hormones in the human body. So if your acne gets worse from hormonal changes, eating milled flax seed can help. It has been used for thousands of years and is considered a very valuable medicinal resource.


How An Elimination Diet Works

Removing food groups from your diet one at a time, waiting six months, observing results. The following is a timeline of my elimination diet and the effects that we're observed on my overall health. The following diets we're attempted to find the root cause of my cystic acne. It turns out each of these food types was linked to a different type of acne or skin problem.

Keto, Low Carb, Low GI Diet: January 2021 -> Present. This was an amazing experience because my friction acne went away, which was the only type of acne I had after switching to a vegan diet. This is the kind of acne that would appear from something rubbing on your skin like a hat or helmet, or from shaving. By the summer of 2021, the remaining acne on my thighs (from rubbing together) is finally gone and my scars are fading.

Vegan, Plant Based Diet: January 2017 -> Present. This was the stage where the most noticeable improvements took place. All of my back acne and other body acne went away within the first six months on this diet. This was really a miraculous time because there were a few deep, recessed bumps that I thought would never go away finally exploded one last time never to be heard from again. These bumps had been there for years and would occasionally flare up. Unfortunately I had switched to eating more carbs and still had 'friction acne' on my thighs.

Basic Vegetarian Diet: January 2016 -> January 2017. There are two times when I attempted a strict vegetarian diet. The problem was that although I was eating plant based protein, I continued to consume dairy and eggs.

No Refined Sugar: 2014 -> Present. There is a noticeable improvement in the amount of small - medium sized whitehead type acne. Completely eliminating sugar is difficult because it is found in almost all packaged and processed foods.

No Dairy: 2 years originally. Again 2017 -> Present. No cheese, milk, cream, butter, or yogurt, etc. This is a integral part of the vegan diet. Substitutes for these are easy to find such as almond, soy, or cashew milk. This diet helps to greatly reduce one or more kinds of cystic acne.

Gluten Free: 2 years originally. Again January 2021 -> Present. A gluten free diet is tricky because gluten insensitivity can effect people in different ways. The good news is that if someone is already following a keto - vegan diet, it becomes very easy to be gluten free as well. Simply avoid food products that contain 'wheat' and find their gluten free alternatives which are available at the grocery store (such as soy sauce). For me, gluten seems to a culprit for a certain type of acne or skin condition, which was especially noticeable after drinking beer.

No Fast Food: 5 years. Now I know that fast food (or any food) will contribute to acne if it contains any kind of meat, dairy, high carbs, or processed sugar. Therefore eliminating fast food from the diet definitely helps to reduce acne breakouts, but not all of them depending on the other foods in your diet.

No Chips or Junk Food: 2014 -> Present. Again, this can really help reduce the severity of some types of acne, but not all of them.

No Alcohol: 5 years. Basically at this point I am trying to eliminate everything I can think of that might be causing such terrible cystic acne. This is what most people go through who have life-long skin problems. Now I know that certain alcohol like beer is high is carbs and does cause acne.

No Smoking: As a prior cigarette smoker, I had the opportunity to see if quitting smoking would help improve the condition of my skin. It doesn't really seem to effect acne on it's own. Although you may exercise more and sleep better as a non-smoker, which can improve the condition of acne.

No Harsh Chemicals: Stopped wearing deodorants or using cologne. stayed away from known skin irritating chemicals that are found in soaps and detergents, shaving creams, etc. Eliminated products that contain artificial fragrances. This helps tremendously to reduce skin irritation but does not cure acne.

No Mirrors or Reflections: This is to prevent overly touching the face or paying attention to the acne. Surprisingly this actually helps by greatly reducing the overall stress and anxiety caused by severe acne.

No Shaving: There were many times when I tried to grow a beard but soon discovered that the cystic acne would still plague my existence. This might help for some types of skin irritation.

Sun Tanning: Natural sunlight helps to heal acne. If sitting outside, try to find a sunny spot with light leafy cover to avoid sunburn.

Exercise and Sweating: It seems logical to assume that getting lots of exercise and clearing the pores through sweating would help get rid of acne. Unfortunately, I never found this to help in that way, but it is a great excuse to stay active and fit.

Additional Info About the Low-Carb, Plant-Based Diet

Acne Cure = Keto Vegan

There are so many options available at the grocery store now, it has become easy to find plant based alternatives to dairy and meat. Search 'keto vegan' on Youtube to find many more recipes and advanced techniques for making low carb bread and other baked goods (cookies).

The Diabetes Association Terminology:
Low Carbohydrates = Low Glycemic Index Food = Low GI
High Carbohydrates = High Glycemic Index Food = High GI
Many diets such as Atkins and Keto use this food index as a guide.

About Vegan - Keto Protein Shakes:
There are a lot of varieties of protein shakes available. Protein shakes are a way of getting protein into your body quickly and efficiently. They come in many different flavors and varieties, contain varying levels of vitamins and nutrients, and generally have very few carbs. It's a simple way to consume plant based protein without having to cook a meal. Whenever your feeling hungry, it's easy to drink a shake and get revitalized. The great thing is that the protein in shakes can come from different plant sources such as pea or hemp, which is a nice alternative from soy based protein (like tofu).

AVOID Whey Protein:
Make sure the protein shakes are keto - vegan friendly. Avoid 'whey' protein, and any with high carbs or that contain dairy products.

Here is a Chart of Common Low Carb (Keto) Replacements:
Sugar -> Stevia, Monk Fruit Sweetener
Flour -> Almond and Coconut Flour
Rice -> Crumbled Cauliflower

Here is a Chart of Plant Based Replacements:
Milk -> UNSWEETENED Almond Milk, Cashew Milk, Soy Milk. 'Fortified' means that additional vitamins are added.
Coffee Cream -> Make sure the almond cream is unsweetened. Sugar is often added to these.
Butter -> Coconut Oil or other non-dairy substitute. Plant based butter can be found in stick form as well.
Cheese -> Plant Based Cheese
Ground Beef -> Plant Based Veggie Crumble (many different varieties available), Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Pepperoni / Ham / Deli -> Plant Based Pepperoni, ham slices, and other deli items are available.
Sausage -> Plant Based Sausages come in many varieties.
Bacon -> Plant Based Bacon
Eggs for Baking -> Flax Eggs or other Egg Replacer

Foods That Are High in Carbohydrates:
- Avoid Bread and Pasta (unless it's made from keto friendly flour and ingredients).
- Avoid Potatoes, Rice, Beans, and Corn which are very high in carbs.
- Avoid all high sugar Fruits and Berries.
- Avoid Beer and Sweet Liquor.
- Avoid Potato Chips and Corn Chips
- Avoid all foods containing refined sugar like Cakes, Cookies, Muffins and other Baked Goods (unless it's made from keto friendly flour and ingredients).

First Hand Testimony and Success Stories

There is now an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the acne-diet connection.

Here is a list of articles from

Articles from

Articles from

Articles from other sources that support the acne-diet connection:

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