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How to Clear Acne Fast: Eat These 5 Foods (And Skip These)

Written by Ali Donahue
How to Clear Acne Fast: Eat These 5 Foods (And Skip These)

Quick Take

Acne has impacted so many of us – how we see ourselves and how we carry ourselves in the world. But we don’t have to suffer any longer! By simply substituting certain “trigger” foods for healthy plant-based choices that heal the body inside out, we can make acne a thing of the past! Keep reading to learn how to clear acne fast.

Before We Begin: Make Your Skin Glow with the MamaSezz Beauty Bundle

Filled with an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet, get ready-made dishes, delivered. Each delicious meal is filled to the brim with radiant cell promoting vitamins and minerals, without inflammatory and oxidative foods bogging you down. Get started now. 

On this Page

The Skin

What is Acne and Why Does it Happen?

How to Clear Acne With a Plant-based Diet

5 Foods to Clear Up Acne in Days

5 Acne-Promoting Foods to Avoid

Key Takeaways

The Skin

Our skin is a protective and selective barrier separating us from the outside world. It is known as “the third kidney” because it is the biggest eliminative organ that bears a large burden of helping us keep our body clean. Although external factors such as pollution, beauty products, makeup, and water can impact our skin, what we put into our body  what we eat and drink – plays a major role in our skin’s quality.

Our genetic disposition does have an impact on how our skin reacts to external and internal factors, but we can take matters into our own hands and overcome all the roadblocks to healthy, glowing skin!

What is Acne and Why Does it Happen?

Eating foods that are not optimal for the human body can clog up our kidneys, lungs, and bowels, leaving the skin to bear the burden of eliminating much of our metabolic waste and toxins. The toxic and tissue-corrosive waste can start accumulating underneath our skin, creating pockets of lymph (with some blood) that slowly move to the surface to be eliminated through the thinnest areas of our skin, the pores.

What is lymph? It is simply an oil-based liquid that helps the body move waste to eliminative organs. It contains metabolic waste (cell by-products, hormones, food debris), toxins, and other forms of waste the body wants to clean out.

Without proper lymph movement, this acidic waste accumulates in the body, irritating and damaging our tissues. Bacteria and fungi see this toxic sludge underneath the skin as a food source and love to munch on it, creating a lot of inflammation associated with different types of acne. The inflammation is there to help us heal these acne wounds but, unfortunately, it causes us a lot of discomfort and even scarring.

How to Clear Acne With a Plant-Based Diet

Wondering how to clear acne and and rid of that toxic sludge? Eat more plant-based foods. A plant-based diet enhances the function of all the organs and glands of our body so we can properly eliminate the toxic sludge, as well as create less waste in the first place.

With its cleansing, healing, and regenerating properties, the plant-based diet has been shown to significantly improve the internal and external state of our body. In other words, you can heal from the inside out! Here are the best plant-based foods to eat to reveal the true beauty of your skin. Oh, we're also dishing on what foods to avoid on your skin healing journey.  

5 Foods to Clear up Acne in Days

1. Turmeric


Turmeric, a brilliant orange tuber of a perennial plant native to Southeast Asia, has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for millennia to heal tissue, dissolve calcified areas of the body (such as tumors and cysts), improve digestion, and enhance liver function. This golden tuber has slightly astringent cleansing and nourishing properties, toning and healing tissues such as the skin by flooding them with oxygen and other rejuvenating compounds.

Not sure how to get turmeric into your diet? Whip up this anti-inflammatory (and delicious) Vegan Turmeric Latte. Or let MamaSezz do the cooking and order our Vegan Breakfast Scramble, made with turmeric-spiced chickpeas.

2. Grapes


A perfect healthy snack, grapes (especially the seeded dark skin kinds), contain a sublime concoction of molecules shown to help heal many human ailments. For example, grapes are made of simple sugars and phytochemicals needed for brain power and optimal function of our endocrine glands. Packaged with immunity-boosting Vitamins C and K, minerals copper, potassium, and manganese, and mild astringent factors, grapes have been used to help heal tumors, neurological issues, and gut problems and will work to dissolve your acne, too!

Worried about the sugar content in grapes? Worry no more! Find out why you can still have natural sugar on a plant-based diet!

3. Bitter Greens


Many people shy away from bitter flavors but eating bitter vegetables is instrumental in our gut, liver, and nervous system health. Bitter greens such as arugula, mustard greens, oregano, dandelion greens, watercress, collard greens, stinging nettle, and tatsoi contain aromatic bitter compounds (glucosinolates, for example) that help us digest our food and have proper bowel movements for a clean colon.

In addition to phytonutrients, bitter greens are a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals including potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which contribute to a more balanced nervous system. This means less stress for us and less acidic waste that our body has to clean up through our skin.

Not into the bitter flavor? Delicious and healthy oil-free salad dressings can be very helpful until your taste buds acclimate to the bitter taste. You can also try bitter green sprouts called microgreens as they tend to be less pungent. Who knows, you might even start to like the bitterness!

4. Algae (Seaweed and Blue-green Algae)


Seaweed such as nori, wakame, and kelp, as well as blue-green algae spirulina and chlorella, have a special mix of minerals and other compounds that help with optimal function of our endocrine glands, allowing us achieve a better hormonal balance and calm our nerves.

Our immune system becomes overactive when many toxins and heavy metals accumulate in the body. Compounds in algae help clean out these irritants which would otherwise contribute to cell and tissue damage, causing breakouts on our skin.

My favorite ways to include algae in my diet is in vegan sushi, smoothies, and MamaSezz Tuna "Ish" salad!

5. Beets


Just the mesmerizing burgundy color of beets makes them seductive enough food to eat, but beets have so much more depth to them than that.

These beautiful roots are very high in nutrients and minerals since they extract these compounds from the soil to nourish the rest of the plant. High in Vitamin C and folate, as well as manganese and potassium, beets act to invigorate and tone tissues, bringing in nourishing oxygen and other compounds to promote healing and regeneration of internal organs and the skin. The high fiber content and cleansing properties help us heal our gut, releasing pressure from the skin to have to do all the dirty work.

How can you sneak in more beets into your diet? Try adding them in salads, smoothies, and even nice cream!

Bottom Line

Plant foods work holistically, inside out, to help us heal our skin. Think of them as packages of genius instruction for our body to take care of itself. No single component is responsible for plant foods’ health benefits – the magic is in the way that all the compounds work together to help us heal.

5 Acne-Promoting Foods to Avoid

1. Dairy

Dairy products contain proteins foreign to the human body, which are very hard to process. Because our body wants to clean out these foreign proteins, our immune system creates a lot of mucus that is a vehicle for expelling these proteins. If the body isn’t able to clean out the mucus, it accumulates in our lymph system and has a corrosive effect on tissues and our skin which can greatly contribute to our breakouts. Mucus can also calcify and create obstructions (cystic acne) and tumors that are harder to eliminate.

The good news is, dairy can be easily avoided by enjoying plant-based milks, yogurts, and cheeses!

2. Fried Food (Highly-heated and Reheated Oils)

We have all fallen for crunchy tempura or French fries at least a few times in our life. The mouth-watering taste can be hard to resist but this addictive flavor comes with a price. We now know that heating and reheating oils at high temperatures breaks and reforms so many molecular bonds that free radicals, highly unstable and toxic compounds, are formed in the process.

Eating food fried in these oils can wreak havoc on our body, mutating many important molecules, including our DNA! Since the body recognizes fried food as toxic and foreign, it mobilizes our immune system to remedy the situation. The immune system can become overactive, causing chronic inflammation and tissue damage. As the body tries to detox these compounds, our skin will eventually begin to expel them, causing acne and other skin issues.

For damage control, it's best to eliminate oils from your cooking and your diet. Not sure how to do that? Get our top tips for cooking without oil here

3. Gluten

Back in the day, when humans were healthier and ate unmodified and less-processed grains, gluten wasn’t much of a problem. Today, many grains have greater gluten content because they have been hybridized and even genetically modified for taste, yield, and shelf-life. In the Western world, we are eating more grain products than ever, increasing our gluten consumption even more. The use of pesticides has also contributed to the way gluten negatively affects us.

So how does gluten contribute to acne? Gluten, a glue-like complex protein, is hard to digest by our gastric juices. Anything that gluten sticks to can become indigestible and can eventually harden on our gut wall, preventing nutrient absorption and causing inflammation in the gut, the nervous system, and, eventually, our skin.

You can avoid gluten by eating organic ancient grains or baking with gluten-free flours. Or eliminate it completely by only eating certified gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, teff, and oats. 

(By the way, all MamaSezz meals are gluten-free!)

4. GMO Food

Genetically modifying plant DNA seemed like a good idea to scientists back in 1994 – a way to grow more food, help it survive longer in supermarkets, and cater to the increasingly blunted taste buds. But like Frankenstein creating his tragic monster, little did they know that the human body would severely react to engineered food it couldn’t recognize, causing inflammation and many skin issues.

The foreign genetic material in our body can even integrate into our own DNA, changing our genetic makeup with unknown long-term effects. Toxic pesticides also heavily contribute to tissue and DNA damage. The best way to avoid pesticides and GMO food is to buy organic as much as possible and wash your non-organic fruit and veggies thoroughly before eating.

Starting in 2022, all food will have to contain a “bioengineered” label so you can easily avoid these foods when you see them.

5. Alcohol

Small amounts of alcohol probably have a negligent effect on the body if you are healthy and have a robust nervous system. In fact, alcohol is used in herbalism to extract important healing compounds from plants (tincture making), and this liquid is taken to promote healing. But what happens when alcohol becomes a staple in our diet?

Alcohol is very permeable to tissues and is highly reactive with many compounds in the body, including our DNA, and not in a positive way. In high quantities (especially if it contains harmful additives), it can damage cells, making them more susceptible to mutation and invaders. Our nervous and endocrine systems, the gut, and our liver are especially sensitive to alcohol.

With prolonged use, it acts as a neurotoxin, impairing the function of our nervous system. A weakened nervous system and endocrine glands impact the way our liver, kidneys, and the rest of our body functions, promoting stagnation of waste and contributing to the formation of acne.

You can avoid alcohol toxicity by choosing pure organic brands and drinking sparingly, or you can stop drinking alcohol completely if this is right for you. 

Bottom Line

Many of the foods found in our modern processed diets are recognized as foreign objects by our body, causing inflammation, lymph stagnation, tissue damage, chronic pain, and even tumors. Eliminating these foods can liberate us from skin issues such as acne and other chronic illnesses that have become normalized in our society. 

Key Takeaways

  • Acne affects most of us at some point in our life, but we have the power to heal our skin permanently.
  • External pollutants and especially the food we put into our body contribute to the integrity of our skin.
  • We can help heal our body and our skin by eating powerful plant-based foods and eliminating a few key harmful dietary choices.


By Sebila Kratovac

Sebila is very passionate about plant-based food and how it can help us heal from the inside out. You can often find her creating new vegan dishes and infusing them with healing herbs and spices or just enjoying being in nature. She is also an ardent artist, dancer, performer, writer, and wellness practitioner.

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