Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 May

How I Lost 40 Pounds and Banished Rosacea Using Primal Principles

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Like many others who’ve jumped on the Paleo/Primal eating concept, I didn’t quite start following the regimen for weight loss. My issues stemmed from the life halting condition (which I believe to be an autoimmune condition) rosacea. For those who aren’t familiar with the condition, rosacea is an inflammatory skin disease known to have an effect on facial flushing and redness. In my case, it got to be pretty bad. Now to most people, including family and friends, this wasn’t such a big deal. So I had a bit of redness going on in my face… so what? Everyone flushes from time to time. But for me, it was an incredibly life halting experience that, for the time I had it, completely derailed my entire life.

I’ll hereby state that my condition was, in all likelihood, entirely inflicted by me. In my senior year of high school, I got swept away in the idea of gaining weight, building muscle and power-lifting. I made the jump all the way from 140 up to 180. I “beefed” or “bulked” up as some of my friends referred to it, but in all honesty, I was just getting fat. None of it was lean muscle. I don’t recall where my train of thought was at the time, but some foreign instinct told me to keep eating. Bad idea. At one point or another, I stopped caring about ‘what’ I was eating and was just shoving food in my mouth every two to three hours to “preserve muscle.” I was far too swept away in my own world of “Broscience” to listen to anyone else’s nutritional advice. But I still ate my whole grains and stayed hydrated, so I was being healthy, right? It’s ironic that the whole wheat/low-fat, FDA heart healthy diet is the one that eventually did me in. Over the course of a year, it hit.

Let it be clear. I absolutely HATE these pictures, but I’m sharing them with everyone because I don’t want to hide the truth of how bad it was. Look up a definition of “inflammation” in the dictionary, and you might find these pictures. If I can come back from this, I feel anybody can, especially those with a mild case.

Rob Before Primal

Yeah, it was bad… So as it became worse, I checked in with my dermatologist and doctor. The provided diagnosis was always, “You have dry skin, apply this cream,” and “Your skin is too oily, use this harsh chemical on your face.” Over time, I just became fed up with it. None of the creams worked. Some of them masked the symptoms to some degree, while others made them ten times worse. I wasn’t getting anywhere and this had me frustrated and about ready to give up. Self-loathing started to creep in. I was afraid to look in the mirror some days. I declined certain social events based on the status of my skin. I couldn’t look at someone and have a conversation without contemplating what my skin looked like from his or her perspective. My once robust self-confidence had been gut-shot. I became reclusive and shy. Every time I went into the sun I got sunburned. I was told there was absolutely no cure for rosacea and I’d have it forever. I was going to have to live with this embarrassing inflammation for the rest of my life.

Then I started noticing something. Every time I ate, it caused a flair up, or at least some type of small reaction with my rosacea. It became a habit of mine to routinely check how my skin reacted to certain foods. Any processed foods, foods that came in a box, or something with 3,000 ingredients – flare up. Bread, flare up. Dairy, flare up. Vegetable oils, flare up.

Slowly I began eliminating things from my diet. I kept this up for the better part of a year. My skin was getting better, but I was still nowhere near coaxing it back to its pre-rosacea state. I’d eat the same exact foods everyday as a precaution to not set off my rosacea. I literally ate nothing but lean turkey, sweet potatoes, and olive oil for almost half a year! I couldn’t live like this, but I had to find something that worked. I was getting closer to the root of the problem, but this wasn’t sustainable, nor a healthy way to live.

I was at the end of my road. Eventually I found out about gluten intolerance and paleo eating, or what I refer to now as just, “Eating food that is nourishing to my body, opposed to destroying it.” I’ll make the grand statement right here: Adapting to a high-fat/lower carbohydrate, paleo way of eating has pretty much, if not entirely, cured me of my rosacea. Why? Even after curing it, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why rosacea comes on, but I believe, like most diseases, it starts within the gut. I think my particular case was a mixture of immune system problems, intestinal permeability, poor nutrient absorption, and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Rosacea is just a sign of a deeper problem within the GI tract that needs to be corrected. Thankfully, the body is always trying to heal itself and when you take out the crap, you allow it to do so.

Here I stand today. In an attempt to be truthful to you guys, I haven’t added any “filters” or fancy Photoshop tricks to make my skin look better or cover any blemishes. (Except the last one. That one has a filter. For better or worse, this is my skin in its natural, flawed sort of-HD glory!

Rob After Primal

So goodbye rosacea and autoimmunity! I won’t miss you! Truthfully, this article stands as a final farewell to my condition. I’m done obsessing over my skin the way I have the past three to four years. My skin is never going to be perfect, but I need to stop thinking I can make it perfect. I’m ready to start embracing and enjoying my life again! I’m ready to tackle any opportunity that comes at me, and with rosacea, I felt I could not do this. I read a thread the other day on a separate rosacea forum entitled, “What would your life have been like had you not been diagnosed with rosacea.” What people posted was genuinely tragic and upsetting to me. People declining job opportunities, living housebound sheltered lives and ignoring intimacy, marriage, and children just because of this stupid condition. This thread was so heartbreaking to me; I felt I had to share my success story with others in the hope that I could help other people. As exciting as it is to share individual success, my biggest hope is that it reaches someone and saves them from the same trap I fell into. With that said, I’m done obsessing over the status of my skin and letting it control my life. Even with my condition in total remission, I’m still hung up on what my skin looks like on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I want to tell myself, “Dude, relax. You’ve put it behind you! Now move forward and don’t look back!” So I’m doing that. Once again, goodbye rosacea! ☺

Additionally here are some tips or steps to follow for those who are dealing with rosacea. This is how I healed my body. I’m not going to tell you to avoid hot baths, saunas, hot weather, cold weather, spicy foods (unless you’re nightshade sensitive), etc… the typical rosacea recommendations. I don’t feel those things should play into it.

  • The Paleo Mom’s Autoimmune Protocol – I’m a really big fan of The Paleo Mom’s site and all she does. If I ever feel as if I’m having inflammation issues, I always have The Autoimmune Protocol to fall back on and it keeps all those issues at bay.
  • Eliminate Gluten, Grains & Legumes Entirely (This is a Biggie) – Never cheat with gluten. Ever! Your body will heal when you eliminate gluten, but will continue to relapse if you cheat with it from time to time. There’s no moderation here, just take it out. Every time you eat it, you’re setting yourself back and opening yourself up to a host of food allergies. Gluten is the gateway food allergy. I truly think any food intolerance I’ve ever had (dairy, nightshades, nuts) originally stemmed from gluten. Most people find that without gluten for an extended period of time, their food allergies heal. Gluten can take anywhere from a few weeks to two years to leave the system. Its effects on the gut can be devastating. When attending social events, don’t let anyone persuade you to, “just have a little.” Without gluten and grains, I’ve become free from auto-immunity at last. I’m not going to let someone who has no concern over my condition set me back and ruin the progress I’ve made in my health. Also, look out for gluten cross reactors (for me, corn is one). Have I made it clear that I absolutely hate gluten?! Good.
  • Eliminate Dairy – At least for a while. I’ve tried reintroducing it with grass-fed butter and the like, but it’s hard to tell if it’s giving me gut problems or not. I don’t get flare ups immediately anymore so its effects are hard to pinpoint. I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance as a kid, so maybe that factors into it? I think the casein gives me problems too. Absolutely avoid low-fat dairy. It’s gross anyway.
  • Eliminate Vegetable Oils
  • Be Mindful of Your O3:O6 Ratio – I eat a lot of oily fish, mostly salmon and sardines. I haven’t tried supplementation yet, but I might incorporate cod liver oil at some point. Especially with the cold weather rolling in. Also, more red meat like beef and lamb. I tend to eat pork and chicken too, but just not as much as the former due to O6.
  • Try and Eat Grass Fed
  • Eat More Saturated Fat and More Fat in General! – Saturated fats regulate the immune system. Fat is my highest macronutrient, sometimes getting anywhere from 60-80% of my calories from it. In the case of SIBO, you have to starve off the bad bacteria in your small intestine. Adopting a high-fat/low-carb diet disallows the sugars to reach the bad bacteria crowding the small intestine.
  • Bone Broth!
  • L-Glutamine – Best source is food, but the supplemental powder form is good for intestinal health and can help repair the damage done. L-glutamine cured my “post-meal flush” that many people with rosacea experience.
  • Try Gaps and SCD (Specific Carbohydrates Diet) – A lot of people with rosacea have carbohydrate intolerance. This might have to do with SIBO, pancreatic issues, and insulin. I’m honestly not sure why we have such a problem with carbs. God knows I used to eat a lot of sugar on SAD (Standard American Diet). Starch like sweet potatoes are very healing to the gut, but not particularly your best option of choice when it comes to SIBO. I really love all vegetables and most fruits (blueberries, bananas, pears, cantaloupe), and I tend to limit my fruit anywhere from 0-2 pieces a day. Usually on the weekends I’ll eat some carbs in the form of sugar. I tolerate most paleo baked goods, but avoid stuff like agave nectar. Most days I’m in ketosis, but every once in a while I’ll do the paleo cookies, cakes, etc… Just make sure they’re higher in fat for SIBO.
  • Stack Up On Veggies (Low FODMAP if Your SIBO Issues Are Bad) – Really go for nutrient density here. I always eat my veggies with fat for maximum absorption.
  • Probiotics – The only probiotics I’ve experimented with are Bubbies Sauerkraut. Be careful with probiotics in the case of SIBO, as there are particular strains you might want to avoid that could make it worse. Soil based probiotics like Prescript-Assist Broad Spectrum seem like the best choice.
  • HCL – Work on stomach acid. You need more of it, not less. So wean yourself off the PPI/acid reducers if you’re on them. HCL, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut. Don’t restrict yourself from sea salt.
  • Sleep and Stress – I used to think these weren’t so important. VERY wrong. There’s a definite connection between the gut and stress and how much sleep you’re getting.
  • Don’t Scrub Your Skin Like it’s the Bathroom Floor – The best thing I ever did for my skin was to just leave it alone! Excessive exfoliating and washing only messes with your natural oil production and confuses your skin. The only thing I ever use on my skin is water and natural soaps.
  • Exercise – I used to do a lot of power-lifting, sometimes lifting six or several days a week. Key word: moderation. Don’t fry your central nervous system working out vigorously every single day of the week. Take the time to rest, sleep, and make sure your cortisol is well regulated. Excessive exercise and chronic cardio is a recipe for disaster. The attitude in fitness and bodybuilding nowadays is, “Push, Push, Push!!!” and “Work and train like a madman!” No. I’ve gotten better results with just keeping my diet in check and getting better sleep then I ever did spending hours in the gym.
  • Intermittent Fasting – Just don’t be constantly grazing on food or snacking spontaneously throughout the day. Fast every once in a while. Every so often, don’t worry about it. I usually eat three meals and a snack a day. Some days I just say, “Forget it,” and eat when I’m hungry. Nevertheless, stop the six to seven small meals a day advice.
  • Get Some Sun – Maybe it’s not the best to step into the sun if you’re very flared up, but we need vitamin D. Stop eating all the above-mentioned foods and you won’t get sunburned every time you expose yourself to the sun.
  • Finacea Gel – This is the only rosacea pharmaceutical product I can endorse. I do think it helps to some extent, but only by masking the symptoms. It’s not a cure and it’s certainly not enough to take your rosacea into remission. I use it, but if I had to choose between diet or medicinal cream, without hesitation, diet and gut health is vitally more important.

Basically, anything that’s good for your digestive and gut health is good for your rosacea!

Rob

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great job Rob. Loved the journey!

    Nocona wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  2. Awesome journey, I’m so happy for you! I started this diet for weight loss, but now that I’ve been on it for a few years, I stay on it for my skin! I can tell within a day or so if I’ve gone crazy on carbs because I’ll get a pimple! I’m always amazed to hear about the multitude of benefits this nourishing diet provides. Time to add rosacea to the list!

    Lauren wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  3. I’ve been about 90% GF for the last year after being diagnosed with a thyroid disease. Thank you for the reminder I need to just go 100% and my body will thank me later!

    Erica wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • I am so happy for you and you look wonderful!

      I would suggest you try coconut oil instead of soap for cleaning your face. It works great to control my excema. Soap is so drying and kills beneficial bacteria.

      Sheri wrote on May 23rd, 2014
      • I recently started washing my face with coconut oil and it’s wonderful! I also have eczema and it’s getting better every day. I still have some slight irritation, but I’m no longer using hydrocortisone cream on my face and feeling much better knowing I’m not putting that on my face!

        Carol wrote on May 23rd, 2014
      • Hey Sheri,
        Do you use straight coconut oil as a cleanser for your face or do you mix it with anything?
        Sounds like it might make a good moisturizer too:)

        Eileen wrote on May 23rd, 2014
        • Straight up! I use it all over as a moisturizer as well. My skin has never looked better….(I’m sure the diet helps that too 😉).

          Sheri wrote on May 23rd, 2014
        • Eileen, I take crystalized honey and use it as “soap” in the shower on my face, then a little Doctor Bronners soap diluted with LOTS of water, then coconut oil when I’m done washing.
          Works well for me.

          2Rae wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  4. Congratulations! I see you applied the “duck-lip filter” to the last shot :-)

    Susan wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • :) the duck face did it!

      Aly wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  5. Thanks for sharing your story, it gives people hope. To me the before pictures don’t look that bad, but then you see the after pictures and the happiness and confidence that shine through are amazing! I find myself sometimes obsessing with not wanting to get sick again. When I do that, I just try take a deep breath and remember to enjoy my good health and not let any more life pass me by. Awesome story!

    Melissa wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  6. Amen to grain free! Fab job Rob!

    Susie wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  7. Wow! your skin really looks great, and the tips at the end are valuable for all of us. Thanks for sharing this.

    Sandy wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  8. Thank you for the detailed account Rob.
    Will be 3 years paleo coming this July.
    I occasionally cheat. When I do eczema flares.
    When I eat clean I fire on all cylinders! 51 yrs old/young
    Loving Paleo! Loving Life! Thank you Rob for sharing.
    Thank you Mark! My story coming soon. Grok On!

    Jennifer wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  9. Is SIBO something people with Rosacea have or was it an additional, separate problem that you had?

    Diane wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) can happen to anyone and sometimes be hard to diagnose-I got it after two courses of intense antibiotics that wiped out all of my good bacteria, allowing the bad ones (which feed off of gluten and FODMAP foods) to grow like crazy. It overwhelmed my system making me tired all the time, spontaneously vomiting, losing up to 10 lbs at a time and making me feel like no food would be okay for my system.

      After eating next thing I knew, 2- 3 hours later I looked pregnant from the internal pressure of the gas the bacteria leaves as a byproduct of eating the crap food I was trying to digest got to be too much. I had to carry a bag with me anytime I ate, knowing full well that in a few hours, I might have the sudden need to vomit. That happened to me in business meetings, on very crowded NYC trains, walking to work, out with friends, traveling…YUCK.

      A year later (and a few misdiagnoses by CW doctors) and I found out I needed to change my diet, started to take probiotics and overall started to feel okay again. No more spontaneous vomiting from the internal pressure 2 – 3 hours after eating!! YAY!

      PrimalGrokette wrote on May 23rd, 2014
      • I should also note that it was a naturopath who finally helped me and sent me to the proper specialists. She knew exactly what the problem was in a few minutes of talking about my symptoms when other “specialists” gave me perscriptions for drugs that only made my condition worse. No more masking symptoms-here’s to treating them! Thanks Naturopathy! :)

        PrimalGrokette wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Diane,

      I firmly believe SIBO, which also compromises the gut-lining and creates intestinal permeability, is what “initiates” the rosacea. A lot of people with rosacea state that have digestion problems such as IBS. I’ve done a lot of reading on IBS, and it’s really not a diagnosis at all. A physician will diagnosis you with IBS if you tell him you’re having a digestive issue, but they can’t figure out the cause. Science is not showing that most cases of “IBS”, whatever that really means, are actually SIBO.

      My rosacea started when I begun experiencing these IBS/ digestive disorder symptoms. It can sometimes be very subtle. Here are some of the typical SIBO symptoms.

      Excess Gas
      Excess Belching.
      Indigestion,
      Bloating
      Acid Reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

      In my opinion, of you can fix your digestion and the above mentioned problems, you’re on your way to fixing your rosacea.

      Rob (orginal poster) wrote on May 24th, 2014
      • Thank you for your response to me. My partner has occular rosacea, which is rosacea in the eye. He also has had some digestive issues. I have not converted him to paleo but he has cut down on the amount of sugar and wheat products he eats and I hear a lot less complaining about his eyes or his bowels and his indigestion. It would be nice to see what would happen with a full conversion.

        Diane wrote on May 24th, 2014
        • I’m such a believer at this point, I’d probably predict total remission! :)

          Although I only refer to the the wheat and grain products. I actually think “sugar”, which I just refer to carbohydrate, is essential to life.

          I’m a big fan of Keto for fixing these inflammation problems, but I’m not quite sure yet if it’s optimal, and for that matter, really necessary after a certain point.

          Rob (Original Poster) wrote on May 26th, 2014
  10. Thanks Rob – I really appreciate the detailed information about your recovery. Unfortunately, a strict 6-month paleo/ketogenic diet worsened my rosacea (diet was mostly lamb, lettuce, sardines, suet). At that time, I had ice packs on my face more often than not :(. But we’re all different – I’m (too) slender, female, and paid no attention to RDA for nutrients. At this point, I’m convinced my rosacea results from a histamine intolerance (via mast-cell dysregulation). Some things you mentioned, e.g. reducing sugar and omega-6 reduces PGE2 formation, and histamine intolerance. I’m hoping that Jaminet’s PHD-style diet (while also avoiding omega6, sugar and dairy), will result in less inflammation. But until then, my “cure” for after-meal flushes is TMG + niacin. Niacin reduces PGE2/histamine, and the TMG supplies methyl groups to the niacin. A mild niacin flush is very different from a rosacea flare, and causes little discomfort. In the rare case where niacin/TMG doesn’t work, or if I want to avoid the histamine flush, I take glycine to reduce the ‘anxiety/panic’ feeling. Thanks for the l-glutamine tip – I’ll give it another try.
    As for the probiotics, even Prescript-Assist increased my appetite, and causes me to wake up hungry. I’ve tested this several times. I thought I was crazy until I read a post from Bill Lagakos who described this as a ~common side-effect.
    Thanks again, and congratulations!!!

    Julie wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Hey Julie,

      Are you on a completely GF diet? I think i’ve flirted with histamine intolerance in the past, but my food intolerances fade rapidly the longer I abstain from wheat. For me, A very small, almost negligible, amount of wheat brings back my food intolerances for months so if you’re not 100% GF, I recommend doing so and your histamine intolerance will most likely disappear.

      Another thing I forgot to stress in my post, that I really wanted to point out is: It’s not just important what you take out, but also what you add back in. I know I said be mindful about O6, but I’m mainly referring to vegetable oils. I think if you’re eating enough wild caught, omega-3 fish, you shouldn’t really have to work about how much O6 you’re getting from things like avocado, olive oil or bacon.

      I’ve taken a look at Paul Jaminet’s research on rosacea, but I can’t say I agree with it, at least not in with my case. For one, he recommends a hefty amount of starch and white rice, both of which are not good for SIBO, although you’ll most likely be able to add in the former at one point or another once the SIBO is under control. I’m not a big fan of pusdo-grains like white rice and definitely don’t recommend them for rosacea, or even in general. Simple sugars(glucose, fructose), opposed to starch, is very easily absorbed in the stomach and barely has time to reach the small intestine.

      Another thing I don’t understand is his recommendation against eating so much fish. I’ve had nothing but success by including lots of wild-caught, sometimes nearly raw, salmon in my diet. Prepare it with some saturated fat, veggies and some lacto-fermented probiotics, and that’s one gut-healing, inflammation fighting meal.

      Rob wrote on May 24th, 2014
      • thanks Rob! I’ve been gluten free for since ~2002, before it became fashionable ;). I was SO SO serious about ketosis and paleo – I didn’t eat out – I ate only meat/veggies, and all from scratch…except the sardines and Bariani olive oil ;). In hindsight, I think my downfall was either the sardines (high histamine), and/or ignorning the RDAs. I’ve tried salmon, but it invariably causes severe flushing/anxiety.
        I’m also conflicted about Jaminet’s PHD – since glucose raises PGE2 (inflammation), but he claims it’s important for mucous secretion and therefore a healthy digestive tract.
        I doubt I have SIBO, because I don’t have any digestive problems. Although a couple of things concern me: I can take over 20 HCL tablets with a protein meal, and not feel a thing; and if I add 5+ Tbsp of ACV to my salads, I do burp. (I love ACV).
        Since I read your initial post, I was inspired (thank you!) and decided to try the reduced-glucose diet again, this time with cronometer. I replaced the white rice (1/2-2/3 cup per day) with cucumber, summer squash, or green papaya. It’s only been 2 days, but I’m already noticing less reaction from taking the niacin. (The niacin is a great barometer for measuring inflammation.) I really should get a blood glucose meter!
        Thanks again for the detailed information, and continued success!

        Julie wrote on May 25th, 2014
        • I don’t eat out at restaurants, and do all of my cooking myself. Some might perceive this as OCD behavior, but it’s really the sacrifice you have to take if you’re trying to heal from state of inflammation, boarding on auto-immunity. Even if you request a special order, no one is looking out for your food issues more then you are. I have buddies who work at fast-food pizza shops who’ve admitted that (and this probably goes for all places) their “gluten free” pizzas aren’t really GF. They use the same utensils, appliances etc.., so cross-conamination is pretty much guaranteed, if albeit a really small amount.

          You sound like you’re eating only so many foods. Have you ever tried coconut products? I can’t believe I forgot to include this, but coconut products are a HUGE part of my diet, especially oil and milk. Both are incredibly crucial for SIBO and solving intestinal permeability.

          I think a big part of why people fail on keto-genic diets, is because they’re still scared to eat a lot of fat. I should emphasize that I eat A LOT of fat, mostly saturated. I make coconut whipped cream using a whole can of coconut milk and honey. Make sure you’re eating more then just olive oil. You know how some people do “carb ups?” I find it extremely beneficial towards my skin to do what I call “fat-ups.”

          I should also mention that on my keto-days, I’m basically zero carbing it. My only net carbs com from the mostly green vegetables I eat. Always consult a specialist first, but you might want to try a VLC diet for awhile, even things like butter-nut squash could me problematic.

          https://imgur.com/a/1olQA

          Rob (Original Poster) wrote on May 26th, 2014
        • Yeah, tried coconut. For about a month, 90%+ of my calories were from coconut. I could buy coconut from a local grocer that was a stage between the young thai and the mature brown – I call is ‘juvenile’ ;). It still had a lot of insoluble fiber, which can cause bloating if you eat 2k+ calories of it, so I bought a fancy juicer ($400+) to juice the coconuts. It came out like coconut cream – AMAZING. But it never helped my rosacea nor the heart palpitations after eating it. I feel much better with fresh beef from my local butcher.

          Julie wrote on May 27th, 2014
  11. Great story! I, too, have some rosacea. Delighted you got yours under check!

    Peter Smith wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  12. Thanks so much for your great story and advice! I’m in the same boat you were in and your tips are very helpful!

    Amy B wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  13. Great story! Congratulations on your wonderful success! Thanks for sharing your journey with us, and for all the tips.

    CaveWoman wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  14. Excellent story. I absolutely agree with virtually everything you’ve said here…including (but not limited to) the discussion of compulsive workouts. It is really easy, when you’ve sculpted your body, to think “more is better”, and you become addicted to the workout regime. Funny thing is…not only do you boost cortisol production (and risk rosacea flare-ups), but you miss out on other things that are more fun (playing in the outdoors, for one…).

    Good stuff. It’s interesting as hell how frequently we are now learning how the gut is really the gateway to health.

    And it’s pathetic as hell how the medical community will prescribe drugs (topical steroids, for example) for symptoms such as those you described…instead of teaching patients about gut health. That’s just sick…

    Bear wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  15. Great story and great advice!

    Karen wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  16. Thank you Mark and Rob for the inspiration. The Friday success stories are are great for those of us that are new to a primitive diet or considering making a full commitment. Hopefully I will go 100% and eventually have a story and some after pictures to share. It seems that almost everyone has some sort of “autoimmune” condition. That’s why many of us have found MDA.

    “Autoimmunity is the failure of an organism in recognizing its own constituent parts as self, thus leading to an immune response against its own cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an autoimmune disease.” – Source Wikipedia.

    Therefore the perfect human machine has a built in self destruct mechanism that is NOT influenced by environmental exposure. I don’t buy it! This gives the medical community the excuse to treat symptoms i.e. skin creams for rosacea and not seek the preventative measures Rob shared with us today. Many of us have been to MDs that send us off with the conclusion that our bodies are designed to cause itself physical harm and discomfort so take this prescription for the rest of your life. So we search the internet, find MDA, bearing the hope that there is a noninvasive protocol to minimize our built in “self-destruction” mechanism. There may be genetic markers that make some of us more susceptible to the various forms of “self destruction” than others. That is what we should be paying professionals for for rather than a prescribed remedy for the symptoms.

    Imagine if rosacea or eczema felt like a 3rd degree burn. I’m having issue right now and feel it was triggered by combination of nightshades and alcohol. I know what I’m not ingesting this weekend. I don’t need either to live. I can’t wait to be a success story or at least live a life without chronic joint pain.

    jack lea mason wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Good point Jack Lea, they’re not really *auto* immune at all, are they? Many of us seem to suffer “autoimmune” problems after eating, say wheat! So maybe it’s not us that’s the problem, maybe its the wheat!

      HB wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  17. Love this story and all the info. My mom has rosacea and I’m sending her this article. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Michele wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  18. Thank you for sharing. I know of at least one person who would benefit from this condition. I will forward this to her and then we shall see if she’s ready to start the journey. Carbs are so difficult to quit for some people….. sigh.

    2Rae wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  19. Great job, Rob! I can relate, before paleo I had eczema and psoriasis. How well I remember scheduling my personal life around the condition of my skin. I am so thankful those days are gone.

    Siobhan wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  20. Great story and awesome recommendations. I have/had minor rosacea along my outer jawline. It wasn’t out front and center so I never really noticed it until it started going away when I went Primal.

    Have you ever read into the oil cleansing method? It has done wonders for my skin but yeah, just like you most days I don’t wash my face at all – just some witch hazel in the morning, if that.

    Laura wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  21. Great story Rob. Congratulations. But don’t beat yourself over “getting fat”. No one puts on 40 pounds of fat and no muscle in a year with your eating and powerlifting schedule. I can tell by your before photos that you were solid. Not as lean now, but your neck and proportions in the before photos are not that of a fat person but of an athlete.

    Clay wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  22. I have struggled with Rosacea as well. I agree with what you mentioned about exfoliating. This is horrible on sensitive skin. Also pat on any creams or oils rather than rubbing into the skin. Getting out in the sun again really helped me ( my Rosacea began while we were living in New England). Once we moved to Colorado it cleared up. I do not think this is a coincidence. I also have to limit my consumption of Hatch chiles. I overdid it once and my skin paid.

    Julie wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • I’m so happy for you and the success you’ve had. You look very healthy, happy and confident.
      Your description of how your skin made you feel was exactly how I used to feel. My problem was acne and you described the horrible daily prison it keeps you in better than anyone. It feels amazing to leave that pain behind. I no longer dread the mirror or worry about how my skin looks to others. ( I eat Paleo)
      Imagine how many people you have helped. Enjoy your new life!

      Donna wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  23. This is a great story, congratulations, and thank you very much for sharing it. you look great now, and your skin looks like that of a healthy person!!

    I have Rosacea as well, but am so confused, because I don’t have the “typical” Rosacea that I read about like yours, with the flushing, flares, etc. Mine is a constant low level of redness that never goes away, and the textural changes in my skin are actually what worry me more-very large pores and thickening of the skin. I am a female, so feel lucky that my makeup covers my redness well, yet it is obviously does nothing to help my long term appearance, or my overall health.

    I share your dissapointment with your dermatologist experiences-I often suspect the harsh topicals do more harm than good-and all of the dermatologists I’ve been to have just looked at my skin for about a second upon entering the room (one from ACROSS the examination room-she didn’t even come close to me to actually examine my skin) and then just write several prescriptions with little else said.

    As thankful as I am for people who devote their lives to the medical profession, it is scary how often we are misled by the information they are taught. I was diagnosed with mild Mitral Valve Prolapse as a young girl, and as a result was required to take ridiculous amounts of antibiotics both before and after my 2x/yr dental appointments. This went on for years until the official recommendations for dosage were lessened and then revoked for those with mild cases.

    I also have IBS symptoms, and though I have that largely under control, it is still a constant low level concern in my life. I have started suspecting both problems are are related to autoimmune issues, but also often wonder how much was affected by early and misguided antibiotic use.

    I have been hesitant to try the paleo/primal diet as I feel that standard gluten-filled items like plain white bread and pasta have actually “soothed” my stomach when it was at its worst-which further confuses me.

    Anyhow, I am rambling now, but I think your post may be the final push I needed to go from learning about the Primal/Paleo lifestyle to actually participating. I have always been thin and pretty fit, so trying “diets” was always a foreign idea to me, but I realize this it a total lifestyle shift and not a diet.

    Amy wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Good luck, Amy! Just tell yourself you’ll give it a month. Commit to trying it for 30 days. It’s not like eating only nutrient-dense foods for a month is bad for you, right? That’s how I rationalized starting.There is no down side to trying a month and seeing how you feel. (Spoiler alert: most of us never look back.)

      Annabelle wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Amy, if you read my story on MDA from two weeks ago you will see that I also didn’t go Primal for weight loss. I just wanted to be healthy, and I am so much better now than when I started. Going Primal is the best thing that you could ever do for yourself.

      Debbie wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • I was in your boat Amy. Eventually the low level of issues compiled until I hit 29 and well… I was more than just a little off mentally and physically. I was “normal” compared to others around me but overall, to me, this didn’t seem like it should be normal. My tolerance for pain is was extremely high so it took a drastic change to know what life was like without ANY pain. I never did a fad diet before until I did a sugar detox and saw such a difference that I changed my lifestyle diet and well being. Try a sugar detox/primal challenge/paleo/whole30/grain free life for 30 days. It doesn’t cure everything in 30 but if it changes one thing for the better it means it could change a lot more in time. Good Luck!

      Em wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  24. Thank you Rob. I’m almost in tears after reading your story twice now. I have Rosacea and am struggling. I feel more hopeful and have some great tips to go research thanks to you.

    runprimal wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  25. Great work Rob. Congratulations man. This is one of the better Friday success stories I’ve read. I certainly appreciate the extra mile you went in giving advice to all of us readers.

    Keep up the great work, man.

    Sean wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  26. I do so wish I could have read your testimonial YEARS ago as I was very sad with rosacea myself, and so cool to hear somebody else has benefited from this life and shared! I also have enjoyed a wonderful remission and often go without foundation. I had a stinky sulphur-smelling gel that just depressed me. Stinkyface ALLLL day. I want to share your story on all the rosacea forums! I used to want to cry. I think I did cry.

    Joy Beer wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Please do!

      There’s so much faux, mis-information about rosacea on the internet. Most sources actually recommending eating tons of whole grains and avoiding red meat!

      For people having trouble with red meat, or beef, here are my three theories as to maybe why.

      1. Low Stomach Acid

      2. It’s not the beef. It’s what it’s been seasoned/marinated with. Most often, especially if you’re eating out or not cooking it yourself, meat gets marinated with certain spices. Most conventional brands have either wheat, corn, or nightshades as apart of their ingredients… sometimes all three.

      4. This is mostly unheard of, but you might actually have an intolerance to beef. It will go away once you’ve been on a wheat/grain free diet for awhile.

      Rob (orginal poster) wrote on May 24th, 2014
  27. Go you! I am so happy for your whole body success! Primal has changed how I look at my diet too! Such a blessing for all of us! Also, thanks so much for providing all of the extra tips. You’ve really done your homework!

    christa wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  28. Rob, Glad you got it all figured out, good for you! I’ve had some friends impact their skin symptoms being primal as well. Thanks for sharing

    Luke wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  29. Can just feel the change in your attitude/confidence in the last two pictures. So happy for you:))

    Elle F. wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  30. Man, good job. Glad to hear that the paleo way of eating helped with rosacea. I’ve had a few friends with rosacea, but I don’t think they would be open to following the paleo way of eating.

    I have canker sores, which are an autoimmune response. Reading these stories I wonder if something I’m eating is causing me to have outbreaks?

    Long ago I eliminated commercial toothpaste, and that helped with outbreaks immensely.

    C L Deards wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • I use to have 1 to 2 a week. I published my success story a few months back and that was one of the many items I didn’t include that went away. I have had one in the course of a year and it was due to my travels and lack of primal adherence. Tough to do on the road but I’m learning better ways to stay primal and I haven’t had one since.

      Em wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Definitely possible – my mother always used to get canker sores after eating raw citrus or strawberries. Basically any really acidic fruit would do it.

      Loquat wrote on May 23rd, 2014
      • From an auto-immune point of view the only questionable foods in my diet are eggs, 90% chocolate, coffee, pecans, and xylitol.

        I’d like to keep all of those foods, but if I want to rid myself of canker sores I’d have to eliminate one and then go until I had a canker sore. Eliminate another, and then go again.

        C L Deards wrote on May 23rd, 2014
        • I’ve had canker sores my whole life. Sometimes huge bad ones. Until I went Primal, that is. Haven’t had one in months.
          Causes usually included acidic food or mouth irritation. Biting my cheeks would do it all the time.
          Lately, none of this has caused sores. I’ve always believed them to be a result of a virus that comes out at some times. The big change was when I started fasting periodically. Maybe once a week or so for around 20 hours at a time. After a few such fasts, I noticed the sores were not coming back, despite mouth trauma. Maybe fasting-induced body-repair mode caused my body to kick the virus or whatever the source was?? Don’t know. But I know there has been a real improvement.

          Tainerman wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • I have never heard of canker sores being “an autoimmune response” but I have a hard time believing it. I haven’t had one in years, but I only got them when ingesting a lot of acidic things (soda and fruit juices for example), and they went away promptly if I simply ate a bunch of probiotic yogurt. This makes it seem a whole lot more like something just related to the gut biome frankly.

      PJ (RightNOW) wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  31. Your passion for healing yourself and the happiness and positive attitude you currently seem to possess are inspiring and infectious. All the best to you! How wonderful to have found all this knowledge and have been willing to apply it at such a young age. Go forth and live!

    Debbie wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  32. Hey everyone, Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m working on a follow up to this, and I’m looking forward to answering some of the questions people have submitted ASAP.

    I sent Mark a bunch of photo. Here is a few more: http://imgur.com/a/1olQA

    Rob (Original Poster) wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  33. Healthy skin starts in the gut and your tips are spot on! I wish dermatologists everywhere would get on board, it would have saved so many of us from years of struggles.

    Beverly wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • But if they did you wouldn’t come back!

      Colleen S. wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  34. Great job! I also suffered from rosacea. This was my primary reason for beginning my paleo journey, which started with the Whole 30, 1.5 years ago. Like you, I am now completely symptom free. The only time I catch glimpses of it anymore is if my overall carbohydrate intake exceeds about 120g per day. I’ll give a shout out for one more natural product that helped me symptomatically. That product is Prosacea. But, I’ve got two unopened tubes in the cabinet because my diet completely cleared it up!

    Duncan wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Ducan,

      I’m very happy to say that I no longer have carbohydrate intolerance. I like to stick to a keto-genic anywhere from 5-6 days a week and in the initial stages I did nearly zero-carb for a month or two, but I no longer have problems with carbohydrates… unless I really really over due starch. Some of our users might not agree with this because everyone seems to be on an “anti- sugar crusade”these days haha , but I tolerate sugars of all kind a lot better then carbs that have to be “broken down”(sweet potatoes). So Honey, Maple Syrup, coconut palm, Cane Sugar… If you’re still having problems with carbs on certain days, I recommend eating them with fat. As a preventive measure, I always eat my sugars with fat so they don’t reach the small intestine. It’s also good for insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control since the sugars are released slowly.

      Rob (orginal poster) wrote on May 24th, 2014
  35. Terrific summary! Covered all the bases.

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  36. Rob,
    Thank you for sharing your rosacea experience.
    The experience for me was much the same. There were days that the flush burned so bad that the idea of taking a garden rake to my face would have seemed like the only relief. The MD wasn’t much help; prescribed a tube of goop that didn’t accomplish much. The Dermatologist wasn’t much help either; another prescription and advise to avoid alcohol, sun and whatever seemed to cause a flair. After a few false starts with dietary changes and reading stories on the rosacea boards where people were having limited success the next move was to make a full on effort to go Paleo. It’s been 1.5 yrs since even a mild pink face or skin texture changes. All those strategies you listed read like a how-to on defeating rosacea. Happy to say that it is even now possible to enjoy a glass of wine with no ill effects.
    It is tremendous that others are inspired by your story to follow suit and that there are so many readers of MDA who are going to reach out to family and friends that need the help – with the link to this page; you guys & gals rock! Hopefully many more people will be ex-rosacea suffers after this. Thanks Rob. Thanks Mark.

    Vaun wrote on May 23rd, 2014
    • Vaun,

      So glad you’ve also has success! I know what you mean when you talk about false starts dietary changes. In the beginning, every doctor I ever spoke to told me there was no correlation between my diet and skin health, nor did they mention wheat/gluten and dairy could be problematic. With so much mis-information out there, it took me awhile to really get a good understanding of the info I posted. I hope it reaches far and wide to everyone struggling :)

      Rob (orginal poster) wrote on May 24th, 2014
  37. Thank you so very much for your story. I never ceased to be amazed at how a proper diet can be such an effective tool in getting our health back regardless of what it is we are fighting. I personally never had any issues with rosacea, but could write books about other issues which ended up going away just by watching what I eat (aka: Paleo style).

    What I think is really interesting is that a problem that manifests itself on your face or on your skin could be caused by something we eat! We always think that eating will cause a digestive issue, but don’t really correlate it to problems elsewhere on our bodies.

    Your post was so informative and I loved the hints/tips that you posted as well. Your determination to find a reason for your problems plus the willingness to not listen to CW make your journey even more worthwhile. All the very best to you.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  38. Awesome post Rob. One of the bwtter success stories I have read. Definitely the most informative. Thanks

    Michael Chekanski wrote on May 24th, 2014
  39. Awesome change and inspiring journey! The advice you give is very helpful, too! My husband suffers from eczema, and it’s getting worse and worse… I wish he would listen to me about it all beginning in his gut!

    Keep up the lifestyle – health suits you well! :-D

    meg wrote on May 24th, 2014
  40. Hi Rob,

    I just wanted to let you know that I had some serious rosacea/orofacial dermatitis going on a couple of years ago and had suffered with acne since I was 12 ( I am now 34). I couldn’t figure out what was going on because I was following a mostly primal diet and doing everything “right.” I finally went to the dermatologist and she basically told me it was, “due to aging. Everybody has their thing. Get over it . . . or if it really bothers you, here is a low-dose anti-biotic, which mimics a steroidal anti-inflammatory.” I said, “No thanks.”

    I ended up doing a bunch of research and turns out there is a “caveman regimen” for your skin. You basically don’t wash your face for at least a month. No cleansers and no scrubbing. It also turns out that I am very sensitive to fluoride so I switched to a no-fluoride, no sulfate toothpaste.

    I would have thought this was crazy if I hadn’t been so desperate. I was the person who would religiously-even if it was two in the morning after a party- wash my make up off every night and wash my face every morning-per all of CW advice. It was really hard to throw all of that out the window.

    As I write this, I have the clearest, healthiest looking skin I have had since I first started getting acne.

    I am Catholic and I took Kateri Tekakwitha as my confirmation name because her feast day is on my birthday. She is also the patron saint of skin ailments. My dad saw me after I had done this regimen for 2 months and he said it was a miracle that should be attributed to her because my skin looked that different. I am not trying to prosthletysize, but that is how much my skin improved.

    So when Mark talks about taking showers with only a wash cloth and nothing else (no soaps, cleansers, shampoos), he isn’t joking.

    Just wanted to share because, as anyone with a skin ailment knows, this was life-changing for me. You should be able to find this by googling “caveman regimen for skin/acne.” The best part is this is totally free, which is probably why it is never recommended by doctors or companies.

    Good luck!

    Amanda

    Amanda wrote on May 24th, 2014
    • Hey Amanda,

      I had a dermatologist give me the same old “you’re getting older, and your skin is changing spiel.” It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

      Even though I am using a bit of dove soap at the moment, It’s hard for me to put into words how little I really use. My skin can get a “tad” bit oily towards the end of the day, so my only real reason for using it is too kind of strip those oils away while making sure I don’t dry it out. If you use anymore then a minimal amount of soap, this is very easy to do, making your skin appear more inflamed.

      However, It’s actually pretty funny how little exterior treatment of my skin matters in the grand scheme things. In my case, it’s more of reflection of digestive/interior health. It has less to do with how I’m treating my skin and more of what I’m putting into my body. When people ask me what my skin regimen was to fix it, they’re kinda shocked that I tell them I literally did nothing. I just left it alone. No fancy products. Nothing.

      Another thing I’ll say works for me is letting myself stay sweaty after doing some HIIT sprints. It’s actually pretty hard for me to sweat these day’s if I’m not outside in 100 degree weather doing sprints, but when I do, I don’t take a shower immediately after my workout. This always benefits my skin.

      I think we’re learning more and more that excess washing, shampooing, exfoliating, is not only pointless, but also detrimental.

      But like I said before, I really do think that skin health is largely a reflection of inner-digestive health, gut-flora and Immune system heath, and how well we’re absorbing nutrients… For me, it doesn’t have much to do with how I treat my skin.

      Rob (Original Poster) wrote on May 26th, 2014
      • A primal diet pretty much cured my ulcerative colitis, for which i am forever grateful, but my skin problem was a combo, and even with a near “perfect” diet, my skin was still pretty bad. It was only after making changes internally AND externally that I saw a real difference. You can have a great diet, but if you are destroying your skin’s acid mantle with external products, you may still have issues. My comment was mainly to share so others might benefit.

        Glad everything has worked out for you.

        Amanda wrote on May 26th, 2014

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