Ayurvedic Diet for Acne
Acne usually plagues everyone at some point in their life. The unfortunate news is that it is DIRECTLY related to our diet (i.e. spicy Mexican food, arugula-mushroom-pancetta-pizza, the organic-delicious-cookie dough ice cream you love). The fortunate news is that it can be easy to fix if you are willing, to be honest about what works for your skin and not just your taste buds.
As you incorporate this anti-acne diet, center your meals around freshly cooked, organic whole foods. Avoid spicy, sour, salty and fermented foods, and stay away from all junk food and processed packaged food. Seriously, stop eating crap. Avoid leftovers as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, consume food within 24 hours of cooking. All meals should be easy to digest, well seasoned with spices, and warm.
Wholesome diet and habits for acne --
- Lukewarm to warm water intake
- Intake of easily digestible food
- Daily intake of fruits and vegetables
- Sound sleep for at least 6-8 hours
- Anti-stress exercises like pranayama and yoga
- Exposure to bright sunlight or take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D
Unwholesome diet and habits for acne --
- Excess spices that increase Pitta
- Excess sun exposure
- Popping or touching the acne area repeatedly
- Sleeping with make-up or heavy cream on
- Although the pitta dosha is always at play in acne, you might be predominantly affected by the vata or kapha dosha.
→ If you have a drier, blackhead-prominent, painful vata-type of acne, avoid any foods on this list that can be constipating or gas-producing like cruciferous vegetables, dried fruits, and beans.
→ If you have large whiteheads and cystic, kapha-type acne, avoid heavy vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkins, and go very easy on the fruits, dairy, and oil.
Favor: Sweet fruits in general, sweet apples, berries, cherries, grapes, plums, pineapple and oranges, mango, dates, figs, melon, pears, watermelon, lime
Avoid: Sour apples, berries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, plums, papaya, pineapple and oranges, grapefruit, peaches, tamarind, strawberries
Favor: Artichoke, Asparagus, Black Olives, Bok choy, Bitter Gourd, Bitter Melon, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Green Beans, Endive, Fennel, Jicama, Potato,
Leafy greens, Okra, Peas, Squash, Zucchini, Watercress
Avoid: Bell Pepper, beets, corn, chili pepper, eggplant, mustard greens, green olives, raw onion, raw garlic, radish, tomato, turnip, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
Favor: Amaranth, barley, couscous, granola, oats, quinoa, white rice (basmati, jasmine), brown rice (basmati, jasmine)
Avoid: Gluten, wheat, buckwheat, corn flour, millet, yeasted bread
Avoid beans in general as they are very hard to digest, but especially avoid red lentils, tempeh, and tofu
Avoid: Dairy in general but especially cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream
Easier to digest white meats like turkey and chicken or sustainably raised/caught freshwater fish are best if they were raised well and fed an organic, natural diet for the specific animal. If we choose to eat animals that have been fed pesticides and very processed feed, what do you think our bodies are absorbing?
Avoid: red meats, eggs, fish, seafood
Nuts and Seeds
Favor: Almonds (very minimal amounts), coconut, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Seeds are always better than nuts because they have less oil content.
Avoid: Nuts in general but especially cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, tahini
Favor: Coconut (minimal amounts), ghee (minimal amounts), sunflower (minimal amounts), olive oil (minimal amounts)
Avoid: Canola, corn, sesame, or any other oil not mentioned above
Favor: Cardamom, cinnamon, cilantro, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek (in moderation), fresh ginger, lemongrass, mint, parsley, saffron (in moderation), turmeric (in moderation)
Avoid: Bay leaves, cayenne, chili, garlic, dry ginger, ketchup, kimchi, mayonnaise, mustard, mustard seeds, pickles, saurkraut, vinegar
Favor: Dates, figs, honey, maple syrup, rock sugar, sucanat, sweet fruits
Avoid: Chocolate, heavy desserts, junk food pastries, processed food, white sugar
Favor: Almond milk, chamomile tea, coconut water, dandelion tea, fennel tea, licorice tea, rice milk, hibiscus tea, rosehips tea, lavender tea, fresh/filtered/spring water
Avoid: Alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, iced drinks, iced tea, kombucha, lemonade, sour fruit juices
Acne can also be caused by more deep-rooted imbalances like parasites from previous food poisoning or an inability to digest your food at all. Contact your local Ayurveda practitioner (like me) to help you naturally sort this out without relying on acidic skin treatments or antibiotics (which only make it worse).
Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002
Photo by Xenia Bogarova on Unsplash