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Why is my skin worsening on PB?

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  • Why is my skin worsening on PB?

    First let me state that I love the primal lifestyle and I have experienced great benefit from this diet. The only thing I can't seem to control right now is my skin.

    I never had a serious problem with acne prior to starting PB. I would have an occasional breakout here and there but nothing like what I've been experiencing since May 2011.

    Everything I have read has stated that an anti-inflammatory diet like this one should make my skin clear, but I am experiencing the opposite.
    I've been in a constant state of breaking out, when one pimple or red bump disappears another takes its place.

    I follow the diet and do not cheat.
    I tried eliminating dairy for a long while and that did not help.
    I take omega 3 oil every day.
    I tried the oil cleansing method and that did not help.
    I take a probiotic every day.
    I initially thought this was just a symptom of the die off of bad bacteria, but now that it has been 3 months and my skin has seen no improvement I'm not so sure.

    Does anyone have any other theories?

  • #2
    Have you lost weight? When you burn stored fat from fat cells it can also release built up nasties.


    • #3
      Has anything else changed in your life? A new job perhaps?

      Reason I ask is that I started getting spots on my face out of the blue a few years ago, and it turned out to be down to public transport. I had begun to commute on the train to work instead of driving, and must have been picking something up on my fingers. When I got to work and sat down at my desk, I would put my hand on my chin.

      Cue: spots.

      When I started washing my hands with soap as soon as I got to the office, the spots stopped.

      So it might be worth considering that your spot problem might not be diet-related.


      • #4
        I do have another theory, but it is just that, a theory based on my own experiences, so take it with a grain of salt. When I have had trouble with acne, it's often because I have excess "free androgens" floating around in my blood steam. Essentially my body produces too much testosterone-like hormones, and my body tries to get it out of my bloodstream by sweating it out, and so sebum production is ramped up, and bam, acne.

        I think this is a theory worth investigating for you because since primal/paleo diets eliminate (or at least cut down on) a lot of "estrogenic" foods (meat and dairy with hormones added, veggies and fruits with pesticides, soy products) and thus the ratio of estrogen to androgen gets changed. Some things that helped me: drinking 1-2 cups of spearmint tea a day (lowers androgen levels, which helps your hormone ratios without ingesting a lot of dangerous estrogenic stuff) and taking a B-complex vitamin, which helps with your body's stress reaction which can exacerbate what would otherwise be barely noticable oil/acne production. Unfortunately, it takes about a month of fairly consistent use for me to see a difference from those two things, but it's worked a few times in the past when I've started breaking out more and more. At least tea is pretty cheap.
        “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” -- Joseph Campbell


        • #5
          I had a phase of the same thing for a while at the beginning of PB, but it passed after a couple of weeks.
          "Wait! I'll fix it!"
          "Problems always disappear in the presence of a technician."
          "If you can't improvise, what are you doing out in the field?"


          • #6
            re: losing weight - yes I lost 10 lbs in the first month of PB, but my weight has been steady since then.

            re: other changes in life - there are none

            re: androgens - I have not heard of androgens, that is very interesting. I have a big bag of peppermint tea at my desk, not sure if that would work?
            I have considered that this might be a hormonal issue, I'm just not sure why going primal would have been the thing to set that off since this diet typically balances hormone levels.


            • #7
              I had similar issues not long ago, and one thing that really helped was scaling back the pork & beef fats and consuming more fish instead, with olive and coconut being my primary oils. I've also pretty much stopped eating nuts. Oddly enough, I still have whole milk and cottage cheese fairly regularly, and they don't seem to cause any greasy-face flare ups.

              Another thing to consider is how much you're washing. If you're applying tons of harsh soap and hot water twice or more a day, your body is going to go into sebum overdrive. Stick to a quick and gentle face wash, don't scrub the crap out of your face, just apply soap and rinse off right away.
              “The whole concept of a macronutrient, like that of a calorie, is determining our language game in such a way that the conversation is not making sense." - Dr. Kurt Harris


              • #8
                Have you found what caused your previous acne? Did the episodes seem to be cyclic (in relation to your hormones)


                • #9
                  Well I have certainly increased my intake of pork, beef and nuts! In fact I rarely ate nuts prior to going primal and now I have some most days. I had also substituted almond milk for cow's milk.

                  I had already re-evalutated my skin cleaning products and got rid of the harsh stuff and learned that less = more from my research on oil cleansing. Hence the reason I needed help, because I just couldn't figure this out.

                  I will stop eating nuts for a while and if that doesn't work I'll cut back on bacon, though it will make me cry.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Daria View Post
                    I had already re-evalutated my skin cleaning products and got rid of the harsh stuff and learned that less = more from my research on oil cleansing. Hence the reason I needed help, because I just couldn't figure this out.
                    I use just witch hazel (mixed with water) and splash some on my face. It works fine for me (I do still get one or two small pimples from time to time before my periods). When I have a dirty day at work, I just rinse in the shower and then use a tiny bit of body wash for my arms, legs, and torso.


                    • #11
                      @Daria, peppermint unfortunately does not have the same androgen-reducing property that spearmint does. If you go looking for a spearmint tea (spearmint oil works too but you will have to google dosage and I'd hazard a guess it's more expensive), make sure that spearmint is one of the first two ingredients or it will not be enough. Before I found a spearmint-only tea when I switched grocery stores, I used to drink Celestial Seasonings mint blend (forget the name) with peppermint and spearmint and that helped me for months. I was eventually able to go down to one cup a day, then a few cups a week, and now I could probably get by with just a "booster" routine every few weeks.

                      Yeah, androgens, it's interesting. I had never heard of it either, but it makes sense -- it's essentially the same reason hormonal birth control works to reduce acne, but decreasing "male" hormones instead of upping "female" hormones. Personally birth control makes me a crazy bipolar person, so I was glad to find an alternative. It could be the nuts (or maybe just one kind), too, of course. Or any other sensitivity to something in your diet. But if you try eliminating things and you're still getting nowhere, less than $10 for a couple boxes of tea might not be a bad investment. Worst case scenario you drink tasty mint tea every day.
                      “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” -- Joseph Campbell


                      • #12
                        Robb Wolf has mentioned that some people break out by taking Fish Oil.

                        Ditch the fish oil for awhile. See what happens.