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Fad diets and skin


Whether to lose weight or for perceived health benefits, many patients are on one of a number of fad diets. Dr. Katta shares her advice to patients and how specific diets might affect skin health.

Whether to lose weight or for perceived health benefits, many patients are on one of a number of fad diets. Dr. Katta shares her advice to patients and how specific diets might affect skin health.

READ: Diet, skin disease data growing

Vegan diet

“Vegans who eat a lot of vegetables will benefit from many antioxidants and phytonutrients. On the flip side, you have to be careful about nutrient deficiencies, since cutting out eggs and dairy as well as meat can put you at risk for protein and B12 deficiency, which can harm the skin.”

Mediterranean diet

“Research supports its role in reducing cardiovascular disease, and with an emphasis on good sources of skin-protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients (including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains), it would be expected to provide strong skin benefits, as well.”

Gluten-free diet

“While eliminating processed wheat products can help reduce the sugar spikes that promote collagen glycation and sagging skin, make sure you're not replacing your processed wheat with white rice, processed boxed gluten-free products, or other gluten-free foods that can equally spike blood sugar.”

Paleo diet

“The emphasis on unprocessed foods (especially vegetables, fruits, and nuts) is great, as these are strong sources of skin-protecting antioxidants--as long as your version of Paleo is heavy on vegetables and not just heavy on meat. Be aware, though, that restricting entire food groups (legumes, beans and dairy) means that you're missing out on some very beneficial nutrients.”

Raw food

“Scientific research on this diet is lacking, so it's hard to draw conclusions. While unprocessed fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts contain many antioxidants and phytonutrients that combat the molecular damage resulting from UV radiation, we do know that some nutrients, such as the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes, are more bioavailable in cooked foods.”

The Zone Diet

“While trying to maintain a perfect ratio of fats, carbohydrates and protein at every meal is overly restrictive, it probably will help to stabilize blood sugar, which helps protect collagen. I like the diet's emphasis on filling over half the plate with vegetables, but you do have to make sure that the protein- and fat-containing foods you choose are also full of nutrients.”

A low-fat diet

“You have to be careful with this one, because while a low fat diet restricts all fats, there are definitely beneficial skin effects from the MUFAs [monounsaturated fatty acids] and PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acids] found in nuts, avocados, olives and fatty fish.”

South Beach Diet

“This was one of the first popular diets to emphasize the idea of choosing ‘good’ carbohydrates and fats (over ‘bad’ carbs and fats), which works well for the skin. Choosing ‘good’ carbs and fats promotes more stable blood sugar levels, and allows for the anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidants as well as MUFAs and PUFAs.”

The Blood Type Diet

“The hypothesis behind the blood type diet, specifically that you should eat a different diet based on your blood type, has not been supported by research. This is really four different diets, and the diet that emphasizes high consumption of fruits and vegetables (regardless of your blood type) would be good for the skin, while the diet that emphasizes meat would not be recommended.”

Alkaline diet 

“While the hypothesis behind the alkaline diet is flawed, the foods recommended on the diet are those that are good for your skin, including lots of fruits and vegetables. The diet also advises avoidance of sugar and processed foods, which helps to preserve collagen.”


“With juicing, you're throwing away all of the extra pulp and roughage. However, that's good stuff! We now know that the fiber in roughage has very important effects on health and can help stabilize blood sugar levels after a meal, which helps preserve collagen.”

NEXT: More resources on diet, skin disease


For more reading 

A study about the anti-inflammatory effect of a Mediterranean diet.

Galland L. Diet and inflammation. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Dec;25(6):634-40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139128

A study looking at antiinflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal.

Lucas L, Russell A, Keast R. Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(8):754-68. Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21443487

Researchers look at nutrition and sun protection.

Shapira N. Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies. Nutr Rev. 2010 Feb;68(2):75-86.

Researchers study diet and skin aging in middle-aged women.

Cosgrove MC, Franco OH, Granger SP, Murray PG, Mayes AE. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1225-31. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;88(2):480.

Researchers take a look at free radicals, food and skin health.

Epstein HA. Food for thought and skin. Skinmed. 2010 Jan-Feb;8(1):50-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Epstein+2010+diet+wrinkles

This study looks at diet and skin wrinkling in Japanese women.

Nagata C, Nakamura K, Wada K, Oba S, Hayashi M, Takeda N, Yasuda K. Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women. Br J Nutr. 2010 May;103(10):1493-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Nagata+2010+diet+wrinkles

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