Skin health: It goes beyond expensive moisturizers

Our skin is our largest organ.

It acts as a barrier and protects us from external assailants.

But it can’t perform effectively without proper nourishment.

I’m not talking about expensive exfoliators and moisturizers…

Rather, your diet.

Because your skin’s health stems from the inside, out.

Is the Standard American Diet to blame?

When things aren’t quite right on the inside, you may notice some superficial clues… like acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, and more.

And while there’s a lot of marketing hype surrounding skincare—it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry—we must not overlook the basics.

Because there’s quite a bit of evidence linking what we eat and drink to these all-too-common skin conditions.

See, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in dairy, red meat, and carbohydrates—three dietary factors that can break down into leucine (an amino acid that helps regulate blood sugar). And of course, it’s high in sugar.

These choices can increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), ultimately wreaking havoc on the inside.

In fact, too much IGF-1 leads to hormone dysfunction, particularly because it can reach the body’s androgen receptors. (These are male hormones that increase sebum production, fat production, and keratinization.)

Even more dire, it could lead to increased disease risk and premature death.

But let’s take a closer look at how specific dietary choices can harm your skin…

How your skin responds

Research shows that dairy and other dairy products can contribute to acne.

This is especially true if you’re choosing reduced fat varieties or conventional, non-organic milk products. (Dairy cows who are fed growth hormones and antibiotics will further increase IGF-1 levels.)

If you’re a dairy lover, look for products made from organic, whole milk—or choose an unsweetened nut milk substitute (like almond, cashew, or coconut milk).

Next, we have psoriasis. In a review of 55 studies, evidence shows that obesity is perhaps the strongest associative factor. And guess what? The SAD is notorious for contributing to obesity.

Not only that, but alcohol and vitamin D may exacerbate symptoms. I always recommend alcohol in moderation, but it seems that’s especially important for psoriasis suffers. Plus, I find most everyone can benefit from a daily vitamin D3 supplement.

When it comes to atopic dermatitis—which is practically an epidemic in this country—a good yeast-free diet will help. (Yeast is commonly found in breads, baked goods, dairy, and more).

In addition, one meta-analysis showed a combination and pre- and probiotics could help lower its severity. (Yet another reason to add a high-quality probiotic supplement to your regimen!)

Other findings show vitamin D3, vitamin E, hemp seed oil, histidine, and oolong tea can also help improve atopic dermatitis.

And finally, for many rosacea victims, sunlight, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods, and even caffeine made facial flushing, edema, burning, and inflammatory response worse. (In my experience, this is the condition most associated with food choices.)

At the end of the day, most skin conditions can improve by following a healthy, balanced diet. (For more detailed guidance behind dietary choices, check out my Hamptons Diet and A-List Diet books.) 

 Of course, I also include an entire section on skin conditions in The Allergy and Asthma Cure. 

 Click here to browse (and order) my books. 


“A Look at the Evidence Linking Diet to Skin Conditions.” Medscape, 01/22/2024. (