The Effect Of Intermittent Fasting On Skin Health And Acne

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The Effect Of Intermittent Fasting On Skin Health And Acne

Skin, the body’s largest organ, serves crucial functions such as regulating body temperature, providing a protective barrier, and maintaining fluid balance. At birth, many possess healthy, supple skin; however, as you age, your skin’s ability to withstand daily stressors diminishes.

Numerous other factors, including hormone levels, conditions like diabetes, and lifestyle choices, influence your skin’s health and appearance. While genetics can contribute to good skin, the exciting reality is that you have ample opportunities to enhance and preserve your skin’s health as you age.

One effective way to support skin health is fasting, which nourishes your body from within.

If you’re wondering how skipping meals connects with your skin, let’s learn the effect of intermittent fasting on skin health and acne.

Understanding Acne, Skin Health, And Dietary Impact

Acne is a common skin condition characterized by the formation of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and occasionally deeper cysts or nodules. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne can affect people of all ages but is most prevalent during puberty due to hormonal changes.

Several factors contribute to the development of acne. Hormonal fluctuations, especially during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to acne. Genetics also play a role, as individuals with a family history of acne are more likely to experience it themselves1,2.

The skin serves as a protective barrier against external factors. It comprises three main layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. The epidermis, the outermost layer, contains melanocytes that produce melanin (pigment) and keratinocytes that produce keratin (a structural protein). The dermis, situated beneath the epidermis, houses blood vessels, nerve endings, sweat glands, and hair follicles. It provides nutrients to the epidermis and helps regulate body temperature. The subcutis, the innermost layer, primarily consists of fat cells that offer insulation and cushioning3.

While diet may not be the sole cause of acne, it can influence skin health and potentially exacerbate acne in susceptible individuals. High-glycemic foods, such as white bread, sugary snacks, and pastries, can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and increased insulin production, contributing to inflammation and sebum production4. Some studies also suggest a link between dairy consumption, particularly milk, and acne due to dairy products’ hormones and growth factors5.

Best Foods For Skin Health

  • Salmon: The red color in salmon, due to astaxanthin, acts as a potent antioxidant that can reduce wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, and protect skin cells6,7.
  • Avocado: Packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants like vitamin E, avocados nourish the skin, keeping it supple and contributing to a healthy skin barrier8.
  • Walnuts: Another source of omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts aid in maintaining skin elasticity, preventing dryness, and preventing damaged skin structure9.
  • Sweet Potatoes: High in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes are converted into vitamin A in the body, crucial for skin cell turnover and overall healthy skin function10.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals, helping to maintain a youthful appearance and clear skin11,12.
  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens provide vitamins A, C, and E, essential for collagen production, skin repair, and maintaining healthy skin tone8.
  • Tomatoes: Lycopene in tomatoes protects the skin from UV damage, contributing to clear and healthy skin while reducing the risk of sun-related skin issues13.
  • Green Tea: The EGCG found in green tea is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial abilities, which have been found to be effective in improving acne and oily skin14.
  • Edamame: Edamame and other soybean products have the potential to enhance the skin of postmenopausal women by reducing wrinkles and pigmentation and boosting hydration levels15.
  • Greek Yogurt: High in probiotics and protein, Greek yogurt supports gut health, which in turn reflects on the skin by reducing inflammation and contributing to a clear complexion16.

Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting differs from traditional fasting in that it follows a structured pattern each day, allowing you to eat during a designated window of time while fasting for the remainder of the day. This eating pattern has gained popularity for its potential health benefits, particularly in weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and digestive system health.

One of the key benefits of intermittent fasting is its effectiveness for weight loss. Restricting the time window for eating can lead to a reduction in overall calorie intake, which may promote weight loss over time17. Additionally, intermittent fasting has been shown to support metabolic health by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance, thereby helping to regulate blood sugar levels18,19.

Moreover, intermittent fasting can have positive effects on the digestive system. During fasting, the digestive system gets a break from constant food processing, allowing it to rest and repair. This can improve gut health by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the gut20.

The Effect Of Intermittent Fasting On Skin Health And Acne

While research specifically focused on intermittent fasting and acne is limited, there are several ways in which intermittent fasting may indirectly contribute to improved skin health and potentially benefit individuals with acne:

Reduced Inflammation

Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation in the body. Inflammation plays a significant role in acne development, and by lowering overall inflammation levels, intermittent fasting may help mitigate acne symptoms21.

Balanced Hormones

Intermittent fasting can have positive effects on hormone regulation. Hormonal imbalances, particularly increased levels of androgens (male hormones), are linked to acne. By promoting hormone balance, intermittent fasting may indirectly improve acne22.

Enhanced Autophagy

Autophagy is a cellular process that removes damaged cells and promotes cell renewal. Intermittent fasting can stimulate autophagy, which may contribute to healthier skin by clearing out old or dysfunctional skin cells and supporting the growth of new, healthy cells23,24.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Intermittent fasting can enhance insulin sensitivity, reducing insulin resistance. High insulin levels and insulin resistance are associated with acne development25, and improving insulin sensitivity may help regulate sebum production and reduce acne severity.

Gut Health

Intermittent fasting may positively impact gut health by promoting a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is crucial for overall health, including skin health, as it can influence inflammation levels and immune function26.

Potential Reduction in Pore-Clogging Foods

Depending on the specific intermittent fasting protocol followed, individuals may naturally reduce their consumption of certain foods that can contribute to acne, such as high-glycemic foods and dairy products.

Setting Expectations

Intermittent fasting can be an appealing choice for its potential health benefits. However, setting realistic expectations is essential, especially when considering its impact on skin problems.

Since various factors influence skin health, it’s not a guaranteed solution for addressing specific skin concerns. It’s important to be aware of the following points:

Potential Exacerbation of Skin Problems

For some individuals, especially those with certain skin conditions like eczema or sensitive skin, intermittent fasting may inadvertently exacerbate skin problems. This could be due to changes in hormone levels, stress response, or dietary shifts during fasting periods.

Hydration Challenges

Extended fasting periods might lead to reduced fluid intake, which can impact skin hydration. Inadequate hydration can contribute to dryness, flakiness, and potential irritation, particularly for individuals prone to eczema or dry skin conditions.

Risk of Nutrient Deficiencies

Depending on the specific fasting protocol followed and individual dietary choices, there’s a risk of nutrient deficiencies that could indirectly affect skin health. For instance, inadequate intake of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals crucial for skin function may worsen certain skin problems.


Intermittent fasting, especially if not done mindfully or in conjunction with stress management techniques, can potentially increase stress levels. Elevated stress hormones like cortisol may trigger or worsen skin problems such as acne breakouts or flare-ups of conditions like psoriasis.

Individual Response Variation

Each person’s skin is unique, and while some individuals may experience improvements in skin problems with intermittent fasting, others may find it has no noticeable effect or even worsens their skin conditions. It’s essential to pay attention to your skin’s response and make adjustments as needed.

Final Thoughts

While intermittent fasting shows promise in promoting overall health and potentially benefiting skin conditions like acne, it’s crucial to approach it realistically. Individual responses vary, and factors like hydration, nutrient intake, and stress management play significant roles. Incorporating intermittent fasting into a skincare routine should be done mindfully, considering its potential impact alongside other aspects of skin health.


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2 Bagatin, E., Freitas, T. H. P., Rivitti-Machado, M. C., Machado, M. C. R., Ribeiro, B. M., Nunes, S., & Rocha, M. A. D. D. (2019). Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice. Anais brasileiros de dermatologia, 94(1), 62–75. https://doi.org/10.1590/abd1806-4841.20198203

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