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Quitting sugar, probiotics, and acne

Answered on March 19, 2016
Created March 17, 2016 at 7:55 PM

I've been a sugar-lover my whole life.  However, over the last year or so I have been picking up healthier habits and eating more wholesome, real foods (paleo-ish).  About a month ago, I made the decision to cut all sugar except for fruits and honey.  I also don't eat processed foods or any gluten products.  Around the same time, I switched to a stronger probiotic ( I had been taking a different brand prior).  Its been about a month now, and the entire month I have been struggling with SEVERE acne on my chest.  I've always had some acne on my face, but not on my chest, and its a different type of acne--very superficial, red bumps and white heads, and it's so bad my face feels like braille.  I've been reading that it could possibly be due to a die-off reaction, but its been so long now that I'm tempted to go back to my old ways of eating just so I don't have to deal with this anymore.  Help!!   Could it really be a die off reaction lasting this long or is it something else??

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on March 19, 2016
at 10:32 AM

I read about this phenomena on some fruitarian forums, people suffering from acne. One person suggested the only thing that really took care of the acne permanently was a water fast.

I´m not sure if monosaccharide sugars (found in fruits and honey, but not sucrose) is bad or not for acne, but maybe it´s worth trying eating less honey and sugary fruits, and instead try things like sweet potatoes / regular potatoes, for the carbs.

I suppose you could think of the acne as an infection caused by a bacteria. Some of the nutrients the body need to deal with infections are vitamin A and vitamin C, among others. Also zinc is useful.

Incidentally the diet of hunter gatherers is high in those nutrients. Human milk is high in those but low in most other nutrients, typically 100-300 mg vitamin C/2000 kcal and 5000-10000 IU vitamin A. One study showed a lower incidence of eczema in the infant if the mother´s milk had more vitamin C. I think it was 175 mg vs 125 mg/2000 kcal in that study. But these are anyways much higher than the official recommendations and this should tell us something. I believe it´s best to obtain vitamin C from foods. 1/2-1 heaped teaspoon of acerola cherry powder (approx 250-500 mg vitamin C) taken with each meal I think makes sense for everyone, as high fat diets also seems to have a tendencey to deplete vitamin C. Not so much if the fat is coming from avocados, nuts or coconut oil, but if it comes from fish oils and vegetable oils. I´ve seen some suggestions that high pufa intake promotes acne, if this is true maybe it has something to do with vitamin C depletion.

Vitamin C from foods seems to be retained better/longer than from isolated supplements, in a somewhat similar way as sugar is used better if supplied from fruits.

Vitamin D in excess can suppress vitamin A. Human milk is low in vitamin D but high in vitamin A. In the past, high dose vitamin A was commonly used to treat acne. A study showed that the conversion from beta-carotene to retinol was increased 6-7x if raw carrot was consumed with plenty of avocados. So eat foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, high in beta-carotene, but along with plenty of fats. One carrot can then supply 10-15,000 IU retinol vitamin A. 20,000-50,000 IU may be a good target.

I have no idea if this will work or not, nor am I any expert on acne, just trying to apply some of the principles of human milk and diet of hunter gatherers/paleo to propose an answer to the question of acne in general.

Additionally there are many natural anti-microbials found in traditional cuisines, garlic, vinegar etc, that can be added to the diet.

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on March 19, 2016
at 01:03 PM

If memory serve right, my sister's roommate in college decided to go on an apple diet. She lost weight, but after a few weeks came down with horrible acne.

Here's an earlier Paleohacks thread that might be helpful

For all acne sufferers

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