When “good” gut bacteria decline—whether from illness, stress, or taking antibiotics—toxic byproducts from undigested food and harmful bacteria can penetrate the intestinal lining, entering the bloodstream and turning on inflammatory cytokines that can promote acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkling. Diet is critical because excess sugar and hormones in food disrupt the skin, says Alan Logan, ND, co-author of Your Skin, Younger  (Sourcebooks, 2010).

EAT

Poached, steamed, and stewed foods. Cooking meats and fats at high heat with no moisture (grilling, baking, frying) creates compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that accelerate skin aging, says Logan.

AVOID

Sugar. Refined carbs spike insulin production, which in turn boosts sebum (oil) production, aggravating acne. Acne patients who ate few processed grains for 12 weeks decreased their pimples twice as much as a control group.

Milk. Natural hormones in milk (not just milk from cows injected with artificial growth hormones such as rGBH) also boost sebum production. Two major Harvard School of Public Health studies found that the more milk teen boys and girls drank, the more likely they had acne.

TAKE

Probiotics. These “good bugs” heal the gut lining and dampen the inflammatory response, says Beaulne. Significant research shows probiotics help limit acne. Aim for 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) daily.

EPA. A powerful anti-inflammatory and skin lubricant, this omega-3 fatty acid helps good bacteria adhere to the intestinal wall. It’s fine to take a combination EPA-DHA supplement; just be sure to get 1 gram of EPA itself.

Curcumin. The yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric promotes collagen production, slows skin cancer cell growth, and supports liver-detox enzyme production. Take 500 mg curcumin daily.