Well this I hope will become the foundation for what is considered the acne diet. I'm going to make this relitively short, but what I hope happens is it starts to spark brain cells. I will gladly answer any detailed questions, but i'm making this as digestable as possible for the masses. I suffered from acne for upwards of 10 years (and i'm talking full face of ance.. inflammed cysts, scars, you name it), and I cured myself for life.
Why you have acne:
First off, you're broken and everything i am going to write is based on this clear and crucial information. You're broken because you do not have the proper mineral stores or vitamin stores in place to properly regulate everything i'm going to talk about. You are in an imbalanced state - and to simplify, it's a two facet problem. Inflammation and hormones - which are intertwined on many levels.
You're in an inflamed state, you have low, or perhaps even high levels of inflammatory markers, the severity of your inflammatory acne is a good indicator of this. Why are you inflamed? Well, to simplify things i'm going to make the assumption you're currently not on any medications - as that can complicate everything.
Inflammation starts in the gut. You are inflamed because your gut is not working properly, and this is a multi faceted issue, but to simply things, its 99.9% due to an incorrect balance of bacteria/microbes, due to the living conditions in your gut being out of wack. Why are they out of wack? Well you're body isn't getting the nutrients in your diet that you need to maintain that balance. There is a genetic link involved but, that's neither here nor there, long story story short, you have acne, and you have to deal with it. Most gut issues arise from consuming a nutrient poor diet in childhood (large amounts of poly unsaturated acids via vegetable oils, grains/legumes, sugars, soda etc) but the bottom line is, you are were not getting the required "stuff" to make things work. This is why pro-biotics work to a certain degree, but never fully solve the problem and you constantly have to consume them to gain the desired effects. In a working system, the bacteria/microbes in your gut are constantly reproducing properly, keeping the bad bugs at bay, and making sure the system is working perfectly. Food that you eat, is not only fuel for you, but fuel for the bacteria/microbes inside you. We are symbiotic beings from that perspective, we need them to function properly - the produce vitamins for us, and also protect our bodies from foreign microbial invasion. Now, the incorrect bacteria/microbes in our guts produce endotoxins, and it's these endotoxins which are the spark plugs for the inflammation.. and having a gut that is not properly functioning will let in even more endotoxin (what you would refer to as a "leaky gut").
Hormones are what controls the second precursor to acne, and that's the release of sebum from the oil glands. They are androgen sensitive (T and DHT mainly). Now these hormones are elevated because our body because our body is malnourished/not functioning correctly and they help dealing with stress, and balance other hormones. DHT is our bodies natural way as strengthening the system to better deal with stress. Increases the amount of sweat glands, and the stregnth of our autonomic nervous system - T improves muscle tone (perhaps to better catch prey,find food, get away with enemies.. the primal list goes on.... T is required for DHT). Also, DHT is an antagonist for estrogen, which will be elevated by endotoxins and microbial imbalance. Estrogen gets elevated for a few reasons... One being when bacteria is out of control it sets up a terrible disaster --- Normally the liver deactivates estrogen, and sends it out in bile for elimination however in the broken individual the bacteria will re-activate it - now with a leaky gut, it slips right back into the blood stream. The cycle continues...
Now i'm going to make some connections:
Stress - when your body becomes stressed, part of the stress response is to make our guts more permeable - so we can absorb a high amount of nutrients in a short time to help us deal with the stress at hand. In a perfect world, stress is not a common occurance, and this would only happen in dire situations. However, when a body isn't properly fueled, it has a very hard time dealing with stress in the first place, and when it's constantly around, this toxins seriously build up. The stress reaction also uses up vitamins, and minerals to produce stress hormones. Stress hormones are horrible for the body on many levels (dont need to explain, but from ROS to tissue degeneration). Stress also links back to DHT,as stated above (which is produced my sebum glands)
GI Diet - Eating a low GI diet will certainly help your acne situation, because in a body that's not correctly working and 'most people' for that matter insulin will spike very high when you eat high GI foods, or for more able bodies -- on a regular basis. A high GI diet will also aid in the dis-regulation of microbes in the gut. A high release of insulin also starts the cascade of hormone creation that leads to a large release of sebum. So eating high GI foods effects both facets of the problem. However, eating a moderate, and even slightly high GI diet doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have a large release of insulin because there are other compounds in the blood that control blood sugar other than insulin, but in a body that's not working correctly it almost completely relies on insulin to do this job. A high GI diet is one of the main precursors that got you into this mess - and it was likely during your adolescent years before acne took hold that most of the damage was done.
Fats - Most of us can agree that vegetable oils are bad for us. Infact the large degree of omega 6 laced vegetable oils in our societies diet today is the main reason you're currently in this mess. However, where i'd like to stray away from the advice on these forums is that fats on a whole are bad for someone who's 'broken'. Fat is essential however, basing a diet around fat, and avoiding carboyhydrates is not going to make the situation any better. Nuts, olive oil, seeds, grains, and animal fat (beef, pork, poultry, etc) will all worsen the situation. Fat has a particular function on the gut - while not particularly contributing the amount of bacteria in the gut, it's the poly unsaturated fats that got you into this mess in the first place, and I can't recommend them. The reason it can make things worse is that when the small intestines absorbs fat for use, it actually enlarges the junctions and in a broken individual this is allowing more endotoxins into our blood, and thus an increase in inflammation - and in this broken body, the fat also gives the body extra material for creating hormones so in effect it's a double whammy, just like a high GI diet. So a high fat diet, is also not the answer in the short term. Now eating a high fat diet has many ancestral ties, but in your current situation you're not going to be well adapted to a high fat diet. To add to this, for the proper digestion of fats you require high levels of bile output and a properly functioning liver - but when your liver is constantly dealing with toxins, excess hormones(stress and androgen's), lack of vitamins/minerals it is very unlikely that your liver is functioning correctly.
Probiotics - there is no doubt in my mind that probiotics have a beneficial effect, but as I stated above, in a broken system you must constantly be pumping them into your system to get desired effects. The best way to look at is that your planting a flower in dead soil.. the plant may survive for a short time, but in the end it was destined to die. You can't expect them to work if you haven't got a system where they can thrive and flourish.
Olive leaf, or other anti microbials - Now these follow the same logic as the probiotics, yes you might see some positive effects, but at the end of the day, it's like stepping on ants... they just keep coming back no matter what you do, as long as there is food for them. Not an effective remedy by any stretch.
Topical Treatments - They either work by killing the bacteria on the surface of the skin, limiting its ability to create acne, or by reducing the size of the oil glands to reduce sebum output. Either way, they are not fixes.
Accutane - Accutane is a temporary fix, it works by shutting down, and shrinking your oil glands, so that you no longer produce large amounts of sebum, so you essentially take out one facet of the problem.. and acne no longer occurs. For less damaged individuals the glands do not regrow, however for the more weaker ones, the glands regrow and you're back to square one.
Well to truly combat the horrible situation you're in, you have to make some sacrifices in the short term. It's not an easy process but the more drastic the change in your diet, the quicker your body will heal and return to its proper state.
So where do you start?
Well step one is eliminating foods that cause problems:
Overt fats: You may not like it but, the complete elimination of overt fats - this means no nuts, no seeds, no vegetable oils (except coconut in small quantity), no red meat, no poultry, no sauces.. pretty much anything that contains fat is going to make life difficult.. but don't worry it isn't forever, it's just in the recovery phase.. when things are in good condition, you can transition to a high fat paleo/primal diet if you wish (google them if interested). Though a high carbohydrate diet is a much healthier diet, as long as it's the right carbohydrates.
Grains/legumes/seeds/nuts: These foods are all difficult to digest (gut damaging), contain anti-nutrients (compounds which inhibit the proper digestion and or utilization of nutrients), contain large amounts of omega 6 fats, and are not nutrient dense enough for you in your current state. To digest any food, your body requires the use of vitamins and minerals, if you consume a diet heavy in nutrient poor foods, the less your body is going to get out of it - and since you're broken, you need to get as much as you can in, rather than out. Again, when things are working properly.. you can eat them again.. but remember, the more bad you put in, the more likely you'll be back at square one.
Sugar: I dont feel like I even need to dedicate any time to this, but yes, sugar or any atificial sweetener is absolutely out of the question.
Fish oil supplements: I'm not even sure why anyone is taking them these days, with all the studies on there completely horrible effects. Basically fish oil supps are as rancid and vegetable oils, and provide little benefit and far more harm then good. Cut them out.. eat seafood instead.
Quaky supplements: If a supplement is quacky (IE. anti microbials, primrose, grape seed etc.) cut it out, it's not doing jack.
High GI: When it comes to foods that don't apply to the above, but are also high GI (IE. white potatoes etc), it's best to avoid them for now.
So WTF can I eat?
3-4 meals a day, and enough calories for you individual needs. Must eat protein with each meal.
Seafood: Oysters, clams, salmon, cod, sole, halibut etc. Fish have low levels of fat, high levels of other nutrients. You really dont need very much fat at all to properly function. To cook these fish you can use coconut oil. Coconut oil is the exception to the rule.. while it is a vegetable oil it contains very very low levels of omega 6 fats, and is almost entirely medium chain saturated fatty acids, which don't require bile to be digest, leaving the bile you do produce to help digest the rest of your meal. (avoid mackerel, herring, saury and sardines - large amounts of fat, and usually rancid - [EDIT] if you live near or on the ocean, getting these fish fresh of the boat is fine, and the large concentrations of omega-3 are beneficial).
Other Meats: If you must, eating very lean meats such as:: Ethical raised - boneless, skinless chicken breat (trimmed of all fat), turkey [EDIT] Grass fed lean beef, and organ meats from all of the above. Organ meats contain less fat, and high levels of nutrients.
Vegetables: Generally speaking vegetables are fine, you can eat them raw, or lightly cooked. They contain plenty of good stuff, and the wider variety the better! Some super stars are: Squashes, spinach, kale, turnips, raw carrots, cabbage. Yes some may be slightly giotrogenic in nature, but for now, that's the least of your worries.
Starches: Well to get an adequate amount of calories a small amount of starch is nessasary, but starch is a huge player in the dis-regulation of microbial flora, so avoiding as much as possible is beneficial however lower GI starches such as sweet potatoes are not the end of the world and can be eaten daily in moderation.
Fruit: Now this is where you go nuts.. fruit is bar none the most health promoting food you can get your hands on. Eat as much as possible, the majority of your calories should be coming from fruit.. eat a variety.. go absolutely fruit crazy!!! I'm not a fan of the following: citrus(citric acid is hard on the body and can cause cysts in many), or bananas (lots of indigestible starch - serotonin).. but everything else is game as long as you don't have an individual problem with it. Aim for about 20-30 peices of fruit a day.
Wise Supplements: Every morning before eating, drink a few glasses of water.. to get the bowels going. Drink chamomile tea, take liver supporting supplements (milk thistle, dandelion).. to aid in getting rid of the toxic build up. However, just going with a whole food approach is just fine.
Other: Spirulina (google it, has amazing health promoting properties), chlorella (similar to spirulina, but has beneficial and synergistic properties when combined with spirulina).
Food Quality: I thought this is something that needs to be addressed. The quaility of food we eat is very poor in this day and age. The soil is sick, and plants require the use of large amounts of chemicals just so they don't get attacked by insects/microbes. This means that the plants are NOT getting what they need, so when we rely on these plants for fuel, we're not going to get what WE need. Same goes for the meat industry, the animals are sick and require the use of large amounts of antibiotics because what they are fed is a horrible concoction, that has no place in their diet. So I would strongly recommend eating a purely organic fruit/veggies, ethically raised meats, and wild fish.
So you made it this far:
...and you're a little skeptical. I want you to do something for just 2 days. I promise you will see a positive result, and this result will prove everything above (I have all the proof I need, in the thousands of hours of reading i've done, but you might). For one->two days, eat only fruit. Pick 3-4 fruits which you are not allergic too, and eat ALOT, enough for 4 reasonably sized meals. Avoid what I said above. Some great examples are plums, blueberries, apricots, melons, and kiwi.
Now I am really putting myself out there, but this is very researched. I have not included much of my reasoning because i'm not writing a book. Before you make a rash judgement, please inquire about the specifics and i'll do my best to help explain things to you. Unfortunately science has yet to come up with a direct brain transfer so bare with me. This specific diet is not a lifelong diet, but depending on the sevarity of your condition, you may have to eat a strict diet for a significant amount of time. I will also ad, that this is not just an acne fix, but this will fix you're body for many issues down the road..
Some tidbits for the fervent: Diabetes has been very effectively treated with high carbohydrate diets. I used to dwell in the paleo/primal sphere. I once used to believe in candida(though i'll only admit it to you guys). I once though low carbohydrate diets was the only way to eat. Their are many primitive cultures that thrived almost exclusively on carbohydrates, and did not experience obesity, heart disease, malignancy, or any western diseases. As a civilization, we've been eating a diet primarily of carbs for many years. Things are more complicated than you think, question everything. Take care - and have yourself a good day
Edited by moonbase, 07 October 2011 - 04:55 AM.