Ah, I never get tired of telling this story.
Having my acne clear up was one of the first benefits I noticed when I started Paleo. All of my friends noticed it too. I never tested for gluten-intolerance but now I'm pretty sure I am. When I was eating SAD I had the most horrible acne. Evidence:
Yup, that's me in high school 4 years ago. See the pimples attacking my cheeks and forehead? Ugh.
I still have acne scars which I don't think will go away for a while because of how severe my acne was. And when I do get pimples (which is very seldom now!), they're not as red/painful and go away really quickly.
My diet is lots of meat and lots of vegetables (including starchy tubers). Some nuts and dairy. Rarely any fruit. Healthy fats (almost exclusively coconut oil and butter/ghee). Absolutely NO wheat/grains/sugar/refined crap. I treated myself to some chocolate cake on Thanksgiving and woke up the next day with three fugly pimples.
I did VLC for a while but the low-carb flu never went away. I eat anywhere from 50-100+ grams of carbs a day.
My acne cleared up pretty nicely when I first went low-carb paleo. When I started adding carbs back in to solve some other issues, some acne came back. After much experimentation, I've concluded that doing the following things allow me to stay acne-free while eating moderate to high carb:
I'm at about 200-250g of carbs a day right now. My diet mostly consists of beef, eggs, shellfish, broth, coconut oil, butter, fruit (usually oranges, kiwis, bananas), potatoes, cooked veggies, and some other goodies like macadamia nuts, dark chocolate, fermented ginger carrots, and seaweeds.
I got rid of my acne when I got rid of wheat/gluten. Followed a low-carb lifestyle for a while, switched to mainly Paleo recently. I get the occasional breakout when I binge on nasty crap. I haven't been tested for gluten intolerance either, but I'm hypothyroid so I'm pretty sure I have an issue. Planning to start Whole30 next week and I'm curious to see how my skin looks afterwards.
I eat tons of carbs (compared to your average paleo diet, that is). I tried low carb in the past for several months, and I didnt notice any change in my acne. Maybe some acne is cause by diet, but mine did not seem to be.
The way I got rid of my acne was Accutane. Taking 20mg every-other-day is sufficient to clear acne in around 90% of people in 6 months, with very few side effects. In the past over-eager doctors were prescribing as much as 120mg every day, which resulted in significantly more side effects. A 6 months supply can be obtained for as low as $60 if you know where to get it. Other than the Accutane, the only thing I do for my acne is rinse my face off using only water several times a day and change my pillow case on most nights.
I am 31 now and have amazing skin. My skin was disgusting in high school, into my late twenties. In high school, I ate rarely, but when I did, it was soda and candy (NO WONDER I LOOKED HORRIBLE, skinny, but horrible).
In my early twenties, I ate, but drank a bunch of beer. fatter, with horrible skin. In my mid-twenties I went vegetarian/vegan. Bloated stomach, terrible skin, still. In my late-twenties I ditched the gluten. Skin improved. Ditched soy, grains and sugar. MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT.
Now, at 31, limited alcohol (that's been a BIG battle), limited dairy, mega veggies, normal amount of meat, LOTS OF WATER.
I think the biggest factor was in discovering natural skincare products and a natural cleansing regimen. I cleanse with grapeseed oil, moisturize with coconut oil (very sparingly), and only use mineral makeup that is free of talc and bismuth.
Whenever, I think, "oh, well, I'm old enough now that acne doesn't afflict me, I try to use regular makeup/cleansers and break-out all over. The same thing happens during the holidays when I eat too much sugar and dairy. What worked/didn't work for me may not work for everyone, though.
A typical meal plan for me is this:
A boiled egg
A big salad with a palm-sized portion of protein, or a soup containing meat, broth, and veggies.
A dinner consisting of veg, meat, and spices, or a homemade sauce.
Water, sparkling water, tea, throughout the day.
P.S. sleep on clean pillows. Don't pick or touch your face. Dab tea tree oil on your pimples and after several minutes, moisturize with coconut oil.
What helped me get rid of horrible acne(all important): 1.Stopped grains. 2.Eating clean:Quality saturated fat and greens. 3.Daily exercise outside. 4.Stopped caffeine.even teas except for herbal. 5.No sugar. 6.Magnesium supplementation 7.Probiotics 8.Vitamin C supplementation 9.Little to no fruits,no artificial sweeteners. 10.Leangains protocol. All together works wonders.
It seems like the Peatarians believe that an excess of carbohydates are not necessarily the issue. Their recommendations, which cohered with Kresser's in his recent series on skin health, is that vitamin A deficiency is probably an important contributor to bad skin. Kresser also recommended zinc.
In short, eat some liver and oysters, but not too much of the former (or the latter, I suppose).
From my own experience, I can eat a moderate to high amount of carbs without any acne (I'm a 20 year old male, for what it's worth). I notice that I get acne after having a lot of carbs (e.g. 3 pounds of yams, which is about 400g carbs. Yes, I eat a frightening amount of food.), either in the form of starch, but especially fruit. Perhaps I just need to increase my vitamin A intake, but I'm just speculating.
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