Meet Alex, a handsome young college student who dared to be different. Like most college students living away from home, Alex had gained some weight eating the typical college fare of unhealthy foods. Alex was in his sophomore year of college when he was inspired to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives.

Alex began to change in his diet, cutting out meat/dairy, and processed/fast foods. Since he lived in an apartment, he was able to prepare most of his own meals, which cut his food bill significantly. Alex suffered from acne since he was in high school. He was using several topical acne medications as well as a prescription antibiotic. He discontinued the medications before college and wanted to see if a change in diet would help. Within days, he saw immediate improvements in his complexion, and within three months, he dropped 25 pounds (without exercising).

Alex's "after" photo illustrates what excellent health looks like! Those that consume a diet rich in unrefined plant food have a healthy "glowing" skin color.  This comes from the carotenoids in fruits and vegetables and increased blood flow to the skin. (More about how diet affects our skin tone is below.)

It was Alex that encouraged his parents to watch Forks Over Knives. His father struggled to keep his high cholesterol under 200 for 25 years. After just a few weeks of making the transition to a whole-food, plant-based diet, his cholesterol dropped 50 points. Alex's mother, Amy, had type-2 diabetes for many years but discontinued her diabetic medication after three months and has lost 30 pounds. She now helps others make the transition to a plant-centered diet through blogging and social networking.

We commend Alex for going against popular opinion and pursuing truth in a world which loves to ignore it. It's not easy to live a different lifestyle that's not popular, especially while in college. We need to remind ourselves that wrong doesn't become right, and untruths don't become true just because it's accepted by a majority. As Dr. John McDougall points out, our culture likes to "ignore the bulk of the science, exaggerate the truth, and make false associations" in order to satisfy addictive behaviors. The standard American diet is based on rich, high-fat, calorie-concentrated, low-nutrient foods, which gives us what we want instead of what we need. The hyper-concentrated, hyper-palatable foods have seduced and hijacked our dopamine receptors which prevent us from enjoying the delicious taste and textures of simple, whole plant foods. Read more about food addictions here and here and what Doug Lisle Ph.D. calls "The Pleasure Trap" here.

If you are a young adult suffering from acne or have a teen at home, this article will help you understand how our food choices affect the color, health, and appearance of the skin.

Populations Consuming a Diet Based on Low-Fat Carbohydrates Have Little or No Acne

Acne is a common ailment for many adolescents, teens and young adults like Alex. A major review on diet and acne by the International Journal of Dermatology states:  "Acne is described as a disease of Western civilization, a near universal disease affecting up to 95% of teens and about half of adults here in the United States, but if you go to places that still eat more traditional diets, out of over a thousand people examined, not one single case of acne."

Dr. John McDougall adds, "Multiple studies of people living on their traditional native diets – almost all of which are low fat-diets, based on starches, vegetables, and fruits – have found these people have little or no acne. When these healthy people learn the Western diet, acne becomes an epidemic – as do the other diseases of modern civilization (obesity, heart disease, diabetes, prostate and breast cancer)." The incidence of acne in underdeveloped countries is often zero percent. Not a single case of acne was found in well-studied populations including the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Ache' of Eastern Paraguay. These two populations live primarily on unprocessed, low-fat plant-foods consisting of 70% carbohydrate. Similarly, "People from Malaysia living on rice-based diets have been reported to have no acne problems. A rice-centered diet is also the reason people in rural Japan have very few skin troubles. Even those Europeans on lower-fat diets (Crete, Southern Italy) have less acne compared to those in Western Europe on higher fat diets. The Yemenite Jews following a healthier, lower-fat diet than European Jews report less acne, too." Acne becomes more prevalent when those living in villages move to the city, thereby adopting a richer diet high in fat, similar to the rich American diet. Dr. McDougall adds, that acne is not a natural condition, it's a disease which reflects the components of the rich Western diet.

How Does Diet Promote Acne?

Unfortunately, most medical doctors believe that oily skin and diet have nothing to do with acne. It's commonly believed that acne is related to "surging hormones during adolescence" yet as noted above, this condition is found only in populations that consume rich foods. Dr. McDougall highlights several ways in which diet influences acne:

Other Factors That can Contribute to a Lesser Degree are:

Natural Growth Factors and Hormones in Dairy Products Promote Acne

Skim Milk Contains the Highest Levels of Hormones

Those Who Eat a Diet Based on Plant Foods Appear Healthier and More Attractive

This is an excellent short video by Dr. McDougall regarding diet and acne embedded below.

Preventing and Healing Acne

Within approximately 4-7 days after changing to a low-fat, plant-based diet, a reduction in the oiliness of the face and hair is noticeable. Pimples will soon disappear, although it may take as long as a month to show significant improvement. "Strict adherence to the diet is absolutely essential" Dr. McDougall writes, "because I have found that small indiscretions result in a crop of pimples within a day or two. One night out to the pizza parlor will mean a face-full of flare-ups." Additional recommendations regarding treating acne can be seen here and here.  Many processed foods contain dairy - it can be hard sometimes to recognize it in the ingredient list. Click here for a list of ingredients that contain dairy.

Dairy products are not only associated with increased rates of acne, they raise risk factors for more serious epidemic diseases in the Western world such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.

For more information, click on the following links:

(1) Reduce Cancer Risk by Avoiding Dairy

(2) Colin Campbell Explains Cancer Growth

(3) Animal Protein "Turns On" Cancer Genes

(4) Cow's Milk is Baby Calf Growth Fluid

(5) Dairy Products Promote Prostate Cancer

(6)  Dr. Carney's "Got Milk? Got Disease!" Pinterest Board

(7) But I Could Never Give up Meat-Dairy!

(8) Dairy Hormonal Interference

(9) Everyone Else is Doing It!

(10) Current Protein Recommendations Flawed