I welcome and appreciate any critique :) Sparknotes and Questions below.
Incoming lots of disorganized writing...
I'm a 16 year old kid suffering from acne and have been somewhat Paleo for about 3 months now. I have been strict in avoiding sugars and gluten for a while but gave up dairy(was very intolerant when young) just about 2 months ago. About a week ago I have decided to also remove nightshades(ate lots of tomatoes) and legumes(I rarely included these in my diet anyway).
My diet includes 3-6 eggs with some avocado in the morning, chicken/beef/pork/fish(I eat too little) depending on what my mother cooks with sweet potatoes/rice(is this ok?, gave it up 3 days ago to see if it helps) and a salad in the afternoon, and leftovers and fruit and whatever else paleo I can find in the kitchen to finish off the day. I know my diet is far from perfect but my family doesn't make much money and affording quality food from Whole Foods is difficult.
My previous diet was loaded with gluten and dairy(upon removing these two my cysts subsided, acne persisted) and many sugary treats.
When I gave up sugars, I turned to fruits when on Paleo. I was eating something like 4 pears, 3 apples, an orange, a grapefruit, berries everyday. I know this is excessive but I could never stop craving them and they never really filled me up. I dropped all fructose and within 24 hours I was feeling very sick as if I had some kind of withdrawal and it lasted for almost two days. I'm now fine without eating fruit despite my immense cravings for it, but I do have one piece every so often and I feel like I have a negative reaction to it; headache(sometimes nausea) and an acne breakout the next day(usually when the fruit is an apple). When I have a few strawberries and blueberries along with a carrot I feel fine. I'm not very sure if this is just psychological as I haven't experienced it enough so I can't be certain, maybe someone can help me out.
Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C - 2g daily
Vitamin D3 - 5000iu daily
Cod Liver Oil(Green Pastures) - Just got this but plan on taking one a day
Coconut Oil - Started taking two tablespoons a day for a week
Unfortunately I have yet to see an improvement in my acne, which is mostly inflamed whiteheads and an occasional cyst. I have been using Tretinoin 0.05% which has been helping but I'm still very unhappy and conscious about my acne. I'm not very willing to go cold turkey and stop using anything on my face considering my situation was much worse when I tried that my first month of Paleo.
I believe that the years of gluten and dairy have harmed my gut health and have led to my acne problems. How long will it take to heal my gut and see my acne problems subsiding if this is the case?
I am leaving to visit my family in Europe for about 2 1/2 months and will have access to many farm raised foods for very cheap. I'll be including much more liver and beef into my diet and will try to start eating much more fish, though the taste isn't favorite. I do have to find a new source of carbs as there isn't any sweet potatoes where my family lives and I'm not sure if I'll continue eating rice. Can anyone recommend some good carb sources?
Sparknotes and Questions
Sparknotes: -16 years old suffering from mostly inflamed whitehead acne and occasional cyst
-Somewhat Paleo for 3 months(have been feeling healthier)
-No Gluten for 3 months
-No Dairy for 2 months now(reduced amount of cysts)
-No Legumes for 2 months now
-No Nightshades for a week now
-Sugar replaced with too much Fruits(cutting down caused withdrawal and not sure if eating fructose causes problems)
-Eggs and avocado everyday, chicken/pork/beef with sweet potatoes/rice everyday. Too little fish and I need to include liver.
-Old Diet included lots of Gluten, Dairy(very intolerant as little kid), and Sugar
-Using Tretinoin 0.05% to lessen acne
-Affording quality food is difficult, going away for 2 1/2 months with access to quality food for cheap
-Supplements Vit C(ascorbic acid 2g), Vit D(5000iu), Cod Liver Oil(just started), Coconut oil(just started)
Should I incorporate any probiotics into my diet? Currently eating sauerkraut and pickles as only fermented foods.
Supplements, should I add or remove any?
Is it possible that I am intolerant to fructose?
If I am somewhat on the right track how long till I start seeing improvement in my acne; so far my health has improved, however somedays I feel great others I have a mild annoying headache and grogginess throughout the day(possibly caused by fructose)?
Is rice okay? If not then what other carbs can I incorporate into my diet, since I won't be able to get sweet potatoes and I want to avoid nightshade potatoes? Could Carbs be causing my problems? I am eating around 100-150 carbs per day at the moment.
Any other recommendations to treating my acne and healing my gut?
Sorry again for all the disorganization writing and questions. I'll appreciate any input greatly!
asked byConfused_Kid (608)
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on June 02, 2012
at 02:02 AM
i tried everything for acne, dropped dairy, dropped fruit, dropped all kinds of things and it always eventually came back. tried supplements etc...im now 26 and just last week bought a blue light
i NEVER EVER thought in a million years it would remotely help, it was just a freak decision i made. within the first 2 days i saw a DRASTIC improvement. i have not had any acne at all since i started, my scars are healing and my skin is becoming smooth. seriously, i know i sound like an infomercial haha, but i 'look' like a totally different person.
it is 100% worth the money IMO. drop the supplements(keep coconut oil) get sleep get a blue light dont put junk on your face
i use it for 30 mins every morning. it is the only change i have made in my diet and i also have been able to have dairy with no problems. its only been a week, but it is absolutely amazing, i cant say enough good about it
on December 19, 2012
at 09:52 AM
try the GAPS diet and follow it thoroughly and over a long period of time. A damaged, leaky gut often causes many inflammatory diseases including acne.
eliminate fructose and fruit completely. any food that gives you addiction and cravings is a problem for you. I used to love wheat, sugar and dairy products, and guess what, they were the ones giving me a leaky gut and making me obese. certain starches like sweet potatoes and white rice (not brown rice) are considered safe in a Paleo context but you should go easy with them on the GAPS diet until your gut is healed.
on June 02, 2012
at 04:48 AM
You seem very committed to finding a solution, very commendable for a 16 year old, well done!
Have you considered trying the GAPS diet? Perhaps just starting from scratch and healing your gut is the solution. It takes alot of dedication to do the GAPS diet but, it won't be forever.
Good luck to you! :)
on June 02, 2012
at 04:22 AM
aleppo soap with at least 70pc of laurel [it's probably cheaper in europe than in the US] good moisturising cream with the fewest chemicals possible; hydromol [in the europe again] is basically white paraffin and works great, for the night and showers only [instead of aleppo soaps]; or e45 cream, shea butter unrefined and organic or else. Avoid any acid soap or cream for the moment.
try alive brewer yeast; I took this one http://cgi.ebay.fr/LEVURE-de-BIERE-REVIVIFIABLE-200-gelules-a-700-mg-/270810189200?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_71&hash=item3f0d8b8d90 because it's alive and be sure to get caps otherwise the gastric acid will kill them all before they do good on you :p; it really does the trick to dry your hair and skin [2 to 4 pills a day to me]
You can get a little vitamin A, say 5000 UI a day or/and oily fish and see how it goes.
if you crave bursting your pimples, well don't :p; but know that you can use epidermal needles [cf amazon] to poke a hole hand squeeze these fuckers very gently.
to avoid redness, normally your tretinoin cream will work since it peels off, but you can find natural astringent like witch hazel but be careful to get a solution alcohol free.
also, I tires panthetonin whatever, did not do anything relevant; I am much happier with the yeast.
on June 02, 2012
at 01:49 AM
Hi Confused Kid,
I am so sorry about the acne, I can relate, and there is little else more devastating for a young adult. The one thing that helped me the most after going strict on anti-inflammatory Paleo diet (no nightshades, dairy, nuts, etc), was the inclusion of a specific, high quality fish oil Here and probiotics Here. I know you don't have a lot of money, but I believe it is worth the investment. If you can only afford one right now, start with the fish oil. It makes a huge difference for me.
I too, still use chemicals on my face even after 18 months of Paleo diet. If I do not, I will break out, no two ways about it. I wash with a salycic acid product from Neutrogena and use a topical drying product such as the benzoyl peroxide by Proactive. I'm sure you will get tons of advice on the natural way to go, however, I have done everything under the sun and none of those things worked for me, so I want you to know you are not alone if you haven't gone "all natural." I wish you the best and hope you get some fantastic advice!
on October 15, 2012
at 01:00 AM
I skimmed thru comments ppl wrote, so not sure what they all wrote. Anyway, I have been following the "Gaps diet" by Natasha Campbell-mcBride with outstanding results! Www.gapsdiet.com is her website. My acne has cleared up. I don't crave sugar or processed food! I feel fantastic! I hope you will consider reading her book and head on the road to healing and health :-) acne is caused from gut disbyosis (sp?) as far as I understand. Cheers!
on June 02, 2012
at 08:24 PM
Hi Confused Kid,
I had moderate improvement with my acne after adding zinc (25 mg) and magnesium. I think they are must-have supplements, and they are pretty cheap, too.
My theory on acne is that it's a result of oil production in your skin due to teenage hormones and teenage metabolism interacting poorly with a standard american diet. I think oil production can be provoked by high carbohydrate intake, or high omega-6/bad fat intake. You've already cut out the bad fats and the refined grains, but I'm a bit skeptical about potatoes and rice. I think they are digested pretty darn quickly and lead to a sizable blood sugar/insulin spike, which then leads to oily skin + acne.
One thing you might try is replacing rice/potatoes with Kerrygold or Organic Valley Pastured Butter. That way you're still getting enough calories.
When I was a teenager, I used retin-A (tretinoin) for months and never noticed an improvement. It makes your face pink and more susceptible to sunburn. But I never felt that it improved my skin.
I think that fruit, almonds, and beans are fine even though they are carbohydrates due to their high fiber content and slow digestion time, as long as you don't over do it. I doubt tomatoes have anything to do with your acne.
My number one face supplement is St. Ives Apricot Scrub. It does a remarkable job of removing blackheads and softening your skin and removing dead skin particles. If you shave, it will prevent ingrown hairs/acne on your upper lip.
Good Luck! Let us know if you ever solve this.
on June 02, 2012
at 06:43 PM
Keep the faith, Confused Kid! I've been suffering with acne on and off since my teens and am so impressed you're tinkering with your diet at your young age. I only wish I had discovered the dietary solution to my acne so young.
A few things I've learned that could help you:
***My acne cleared up about 1 month after my weight stabilized. When I started primal/paleo I steadily lost weight for about a month and my acne continued unabated. I think this is because as old fat burned off, nasty dietary irritants from my pre-paleo days were being released into my body. As soon as the fat-loss stopped, my acne was gone within weeks. If you're still losing fat, this could be why your acne still hasn't cleared up. Stick with paleo until at least 2 months after your body fat percentage stabilizes.
***Consider limiting your exposure to fluoride. A friend of mine had good luck switching to non-fluoride toothpaste to curb her acne. I'm not sure exactly where your acne is, but I hear fluoride is linked to acne near your mouth and on your temples. Also limit your consumption of unfiltered tap water. Tom's of Maine makes fluoride-free toothpaste.
***Laundry tips: Do not use fabric softener on your clothes, towels, or sheets. Make sure to use a chemical-free, hypo-allergenic detergent on your laundry, and be sure to wash your sheets and towels often. If you're female, try not to wear your bras more than twice between washings. You may have to stock up on bras if you have the dreaded back-ne.
***You may consider taking steps to heal your gut: I'm currently on a course of L-glutamine and a probiotic and my digestion has improved noticeably. Here's a good article on leaky gut syndrome: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/do-you-have-leaky-gut-syn_b_688951.html
Best of luck to you, Confused Kid. Be sure to let us know how this turns out!
on June 02, 2012
at 03:21 PM
"My diet includes 3-6 eggs with some avocado in the morning, chicken/beef/pork/fish(I eat too little) depending on what my mother cooks with sweet potatoes/rice"
I think your omega 6/omega 3 ratio is unbalanced. Eggs, avocado, chicken and pork have much more omega 6 than omega 3. Try getting the bulk of your calories from beef and lamb.
"I was eating something like 4 pears, 3 apples, an orange, a grapefruit, berries everyday. I know this is excessive but I could never stop craving them and they never really filled me up. I dropped all fructose and within 24 hours I was feeling very sick as if I had some kind of withdrawal and it lasted for almost two days. I'm now fine without eating fruit despite my immense cravings for it, but I do have one piece every so often and I feel like I have a negative reaction to it; headache(sometimes nausea) and an acne breakout the next day(usually when the fruit is an apple). When I have a few strawberries and blueberries along with a carrot I feel fine."
This indicates that blood sugar spikes cause acne in you. An apple has a higher glycemic index than berries or carrots. I advise you to only eat low-glycemic index carb sources (berries, carrots, onions), not rice, not bananas. You probably have a narrow window for carb intake. Too little and you feel sick from ketosis. Too much and you get acne. Try 50 grams of carbs a day. Eat your carbs immediately after you exercise. (You can increase your carb tolerance by building muscle).
on June 02, 2012
at 07:54 AM
You don't need fish, you don't need to cut out fruit. Just eat some liver, some oysters, and enjoy the (ripe) fruit. If you want you can even drink (raw) milk. The most important supplement for acne is probably retinol, there's one supplement called nutrisorb-a that has water-soluble vitamin a (retinyl palmitate) and should do the trick. The goal is to find how much you need. Too much vitamin a will cause dry skin and other problems, too little will cause acne and other cool stuff.
on June 02, 2012
at 05:17 AM
I feel like I am always answering skin and acne questions, but I've had a lot of experience, so what the heck. Here it goes again.
1) You're doing a great job. You should be very proud of yourself. Dietary changes are difficult for adults to sustain, even when they are buying their own food and preparing their own meals -- I'm very impressed that you have the willpower and maturity to navigate this transition when you're still living under your parents' roof.
2) It's good that you noticed fewer cysts after dropping dairy and gluten. This suggests you will probably continue to see more improvement the longer you avoid them. It takes a long time -- some people need 6 - 9 months to see their acne disappear. Think about it -- powerful drugs like Accutane and Tretinoin can take 6 to 12 months to work, so why would anyone expect a much gentler method of healing to do it faster? Some people have acne that resolves quickly, others have stubborn cases that require years. Hopefully yours will heal faster than that, but I would try to wait at least 6 months before letting yourself get too impatient, especially since you suspect you have gluten-induced leaky gut (which is what I had, too). If you mentally prepare yourself for a long, slow process, you will be less likely to get too discouraged early on. You're not making these lifestyle changes for some quick, temporary fix. Think of your current efforts as an investment in a lifetime of health.
3) Nuts. You didn't mention them, but they are a common allergen, and lots of people find that nuts give them break-outs. I get cysts from dairy and gluten just like you, and I also get cysts from nuts. So if you're eating them, maybe take a break for a couple of months. Sad, I know... they're so delicious.
4) I would not worry too much about eating some fruit and starch each day. Binging on huge quantities of fruit might be less than optimal, but you do have to eat enough, and if large quantities of fatty meat are not feasible for you right now, I think you are making good choices by eating fruit, rice, and sweet potatoes.
5) I would definitely keep using the Tretinoin. I've heard it's a frustrating drug because it takes so long to see real results, but it's helped a lot of people. By combining a paleo diet with a prescription like Tretinoin, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of vanquishing acne for good. With regard to skincare routine, try to keep it as simple as possible. I like Mallory's blue light suggestion though I don't know anything about it and would be interested in learning more. Don't try to incorporate tons of topicals, toners, etc. You want a simple and gentle routine, especially when using something like Tretinoin.
6) Good luck! You seem like an intelligent and patient individual. I'm confident you will get it all figured out.
on June 02, 2012
at 01:09 AM
It sounds like you're on the right track. At 16, it's still mostly hormones causing your acne. I am not going to advise you about carbs, because you're still growing. You can try different amounts of carbs and see what feels good.
What I am going to suggest is that you try the oil cleansing method. In a bottle, combine castor oil with equal parts olive oil. Shake them to mix. Rub the oil on your skin, massaging it well. Don't get it in your eyes. Take a clean face cloth and run it under hot water, make hot, but not so hot you burn yourself. Wring out the cloth and cover your face.Let the cloth sit and steam your pores. When the cloth has cooled, wipe the oil off your face.
This method works really well to remove oil from your pores, but doesn't dry out your skin.
You can read more here, and also see suggestions for other oils to use. I use this method, and am very happy with it. http://www.theoilcleansingmethod.com/
Also, wash your bedsheets and pillow cases often, in hot water, with a cleanser of your choice. I would use ammonia or bleach, but if you don't like those, looke for something else.