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TLS

Insulin levels and Acne

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Hi everyone! I had posted back in October or November that I had found a medical journal that talked about a condition (specifically, PCOS). Women with PCOS had symptoms of weight gain, acne, hair on the face (can't remember the right term this moment), in addition to some other symptoms. They also had markedly high insulin levels. The article also said that androgens (the basic beginning cause of acne) attach themselves to insulin, resulting in these women having high free-testosterone levels which most likely caused the acne and the coarse hair growing on their faces.

Well, my own symptoms were similar, though not severe. I had fine hair growing on my face and acne that did not respond favorably to anything. I had my hormones checked and the tests came back "in the normal range" - meanwhile, I'm shaving hair off my face and my skin is so bad I don't want to go out in public.

I ascertained from reading this article that my own problems could be linked to high insulin. I had not had weight gain, but I did have symptoms that suggested hormone imbalance. I decided that if I could cut down on the insulin in my body at any given time, I could possibly cut down on the amount of androgens circulating throughout my body at any given time too. I could cut down the insulin by cutting down the amount of carbs I ingested. So that's what I did, and the results were spectacular.

I had been using the regimen faithfully for a few months, and while it got rid of the cysts and pimples I got, I was still getting new ones, so it was a never-ending battle. As soon as I changed my diet, I stopped getting new ones, so that left me to deal only with the ones I already had and the scars. The regimen took care of the zits in no time, so after a couple of weeks on the diet, I had only the scars to deal with. And oh, what an ordeal.

I tried Mederma, which you should only use when you are clear. It seemed to benefit a little, though VERY slowly. Plus, it was not practical because it made my face itch intensely at first, and I couldn't use it during the day because of the peeling of the Mederma gel itself (It peels and takes dead skin with it).

So I still had the scars, and had resigned myself to having them for at least a year before they would fade, knowing this from previous experience.

But then I started using Alpha Lipoic Acid and Vitamin C Ester, and in 1 month, my face looks better than it has since I was in my early 20's. I'll be 35 this year. I found these creams in a health food store - Advanced Nutrition, to be exact. They are somewhat pricey ($12 - 15$ a jar or bottle), but they last quite awhile - I'm still using my first bottles - and they WORKED FOR ME!

I have had about 5 breakouts since I started the diet, and use the tiny dollop of BP required to heal them, but I no longer do the regimen on a regular basis, and haven't since I cut out carbs. Incidently, I'm not on a strict Atkins - I only cut out bread, pasta, and potatoes. When I first started, I cut out ALL carbs for about 2 weeks.

So, to make this LONG story short - try cutting out carbs and see if it helps. It certainly can't hurt. I use the Alpha Lipoic Acid lotion and Vitamin C Ester lotion twice a day - morning and night, after cleansing. I also take 1000 mg of Vitamin C 3 times a day, 400 mg of Vitamin E twice a day, Beta-Carotene (not more than 25K IU) a day, and 50 mg of Zinc. I take these 6 days a week - rest on Sunday - and about every two or 3 months I take two weeks off and do a mild liver cleanse - no vitamins, and herbal teas to support the liver. Remember that your liver controls your hormone levels, specifically by removing excess hormones from your body. So good luck and spread the word if it helps you too!

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Hi TLS,

Thanks for all this info! I've been thinking about insulin stuff too, I've been doing the regimen for about 7 weeks and while it seems to be helping (I'm definitely clearer than before) I still get breakouts, especially around my period (just after rather than during, which is weird). I was thinking of experimenting with cutting out carbs, a friend of mine told me his cousin cleared up totally by doing this too.

So I have a couple of questions for you:

1. When you say cut out the carbs totally for two weeks, do you mean fruits and vegetables too? Or just bread, potatoes etc.?

2. What about caffeine/alcohol? I have heard that these also cause an insulin spike, but I love my coffee in the morning & a glass of wine or whatever in the evening.

3. How do you find your weight? The reason I ask is because I am reasonably slim (5'6" and 118-120lb) and when I tried the Zone diet for a little while (for general health not weight loss) I lost quite a bit of weight - about 10 pounds in a week - even though I was eating about twice as much as recommended. People were coming up to me and asking me if I was OK. So I would like to get a balance between good skin & reasonable weight.

4. Do you eat the less starchy alternatives, e.g. sweet potatoes? Or just protein & salads/vegetables? What about high-starch fruit such as bananas and mangoes?

Thanks & sorry for the long post.

Vanessa

P.S. I am 30 and was clear throughout most of my 20's due to birth control pills, so I am pretty sure my breakouts are hormonal.

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Vanessa, at first I cut out all carbs - fruits too - but did keep the coffee and alky-hol, and still do, though I'm not much of a beer drinker to begin with.

But then after two weeks, I ate everything as normal except no pototoes, pasta or bread. Now, I might eat pasta once every 1 or 2 weeks, and corn every once in a while too. When I'm "bad" and eat lots of french fries over a period of a week, (2 -3 times) I get rewarded with a small breakout. I eat no more than two slices of bread in a day, whole wheat, if at all. I still drink whole milk - 1 glass a day. I still eat fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, and strawberries) and drink fruit juices (orange and apple). I also still eat pizza about once every two weeks, and still have my cheeseburger every once in a while. For veggies, I usually eat green beans and salads. Most veggies are okay carb-wise, but some you should not eat on a regular basis - like corn, or instance.

The weight loss is a problem. I am a kind of person who doesn't easily lose or gain weight, and it sounds like you may be a person that loses weight easily. Maybe just try cutting out one thing at a time and see if it helps, like potatoes or pasta? With me, the results were immediate. I just didn't get any new breakouts, so maybe if you cut out one thing that you eat a lot of and you notice a difference, then that's all you'll have to do and it won't cause you to lose weight, but will still take care of the acne problem.

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Hi TLS,

Thanks for the quick reply. I guess I'll try cutting down on bread (my major carb source) and see how it goes. I've been thinking about this anyway as my mother got diagnosed with celiac disease (inability to tolerate glutens) which can apparently be hereditary so I'm supposed to go and get checked out (they put a mini-camera down your throat as far as your intestine - fun!).

I was also thinking about a diet I did a few years ago when I was in my early 20's - I like to experiment with how my body reacts to different stuff. This was a raw food diet so it basically consisted of fruit & veges, nuts, goat's yoghurt/milk (I'm lactose intolerant) and sashimi, plus some oats soaked overnight in water, which I ate for breakfast mixed w/ fruit and yoghurt. After about a month of this my skin glowed (it was pretty clear, but not perfect, anyway due to BCPs) and I had no cellulite!! Of course this diet is hard to maintain as it is rather strict, but I was thinking that maybe the lack of carbs was the key. I didn't lose weight like on the Zone since I ate a lot of bananas & other starchy fruit/veges.

Anyway, I'll follow your advice & let you know how it goes. Then if all goes well I'll bug you to find out about the skin creams you use. Thanks again for all the info & advice.

Vanessa

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Hi TLS,

Thanks for all the info.

Quick question- did the change in diet help with your facial hair growth?

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Fiona, yes and no. I've been on the diet for about 6 months now. If I look really closely, I can still see it. But it's not nearly as "plentiful" as it was before - very fine and doesn't interfere with my makeup, whereas before my makeup would cake up on it. I don't feel the need to shave it. So it's much better, but it's not completely gone away yet. I only have it around my ears - not going down my jawline as before or over my lips.

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Fiona, yes and no. I've been on the diet for about 6 months now. If I look really closely, I can still see it. But it's not nearly as "plentiful" as it was before - very fine and doesn't interfere with my makeup, whereas before my makeup would cake up on it. I don't feel the need to shave it. So it's much better, but it's not completely gone away yet. I only have it around my ears - not going down my jawline as before or over my lips.

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Hey TLS, just an update. I've been doing the low-carb thing for 5 days now & I had a big breakout at the beginning (related to other factors I think) but now it seems to be calming down & I haven't lost too much weight, yay! So thanks for the advice, it looks as if it's going well. Also, I just quit smoking this weekend which I guess will probably help as well.

I'm surprised that people aren't all over this topic - usually this diet & acne stuff causes a lot of controversy! UbahOne, Veneficus, newcastlegirl, et al., where are you guys?

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yeah, diet is controversial, but not everyone's acne is diet related. It actually makes me mad now when the doc said my diet didn't have anything to do with it. And then I was the one that mentioned that androgens attach themselves to insulin and she said Yes, that's right. I'm like "Well duh!! Why didn't you mention that before when I asked if there was anything I could do wit my diet besides eat "healthy" foods and drink water, which I've been doing for months without any positive results?"

Anyway, hope the diet helps you. I am SO glad I tried it now. Using the regimen and changing my diet was exactly what I needed. I'm sure the Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin E, and Beta Carotene helps a lot too. I might get one tiny pimple now around my period and that's it. Whew! What a relief. Still battling scars, but the Vitamin C Ester and Alpha Lipoic Acid creams seem to be doing VERY well, and it usually takes about 3 months before the average person sees results. I've been using these for about 4 - 6 weeks now, and had no redness or irritation whatsoever from them. Good luck! Keep me posted on your progess.

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Really interesting thread guys.

Although i have never had any hirutism/androgen signals like facial hair etc I still feel that my acne is hormonal in nature. I'm 27 - and although the Regimen has cleared my skin recently - for the last 15 years my acne flares have revovled around my menstrual cycle. I'm also a sugar craver and tend to get tired and lacklustre in the afternoon so I am defintely interested in reading your experience and results.

Only bit of info I can add (you'll know already no doubt) Is that eating excessive calories can cause an insulin/testosterone spike which can break you out. So avoiding bingeing can help too.

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Hi frances,

I guess it's all the Kiwi girls on this thread! Are you going to try this low-carb thing? I remember reading somewhere (I think on these boards) that avoiding carbs just before & the first day of the menstrual cycle can help with cramps etc., so if you only break out around your period you could try cutting out carbs only at that point in the cycle & see if it helps. Bingeing is definitely bad but I've never really been a binger - if anything my problem is in the other direction - I "forget" to eat if I'm stressed etc.

Anyway, let us know if you decide to do this - pretty soon our sample size will be big enough to publish our results!

Vanessa

P.S. No praise for quitting smoking you guys? This is much harder than giving up carbs, especially as I live with a smoker, grrrr.

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Hi Vanessa.

I'll think about the diet change - I am a slug and hate changes to my routine.

Ra ra ra - hooray for you about quitting smoking. Now you won't be the subject of one of those NZ ads where they dissect a human brain to show you the smoking induced blood clot....vomit. What is it with NZ and horror advertising?...it is no longer just smoking and the road toll...there is a whole new series where people have graphic household accidents ie: falling over and cracking your head in the shower, falling through glass tables. Anyway I rave, rant and digress!!!!

May cut back the carbs - if so I'll post findings here for our groundbreaking research paper.

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Hi Vanessa, I was wondering how your lower carb diet is working out, and also congrats on quitting smoking! Whoo hoo!

I wanted to get on here to suggest also that you might want to try Milk Thistle. It helps to clear out excess testosterone by-products (by increasing bile, thus getting rid of it via the stool and keeping it from being reabsorbed into the intestine), but anyone who has a liver disorder or gallstones should not use Milk Thistle - otherwise it's virtually harmless in normal doses. You can get it at a lot of grocery stores. I've been using sporadically for about a year, but recently started up again just for general liver support.

Also read that Saw Palmetto helps with hirsutism (the excess body hair deal). Haven't tried that, but right now I don't seem to have that problem so much. If anyone wants info on the how/why this works, let me know and I'll post what I have.

Still whining about my scars, but still so happy not to have breakouts! It's hard to believe that this time last year I was cringing almost every time I had to go out somewhere special and mourning over my pre-acne pictures. I wish I had been secure enough in myself to take close up pictures without makeup so you can really see the difference between then and now. I found one pic where I was wearing makeup, and my face looks better now without makeup than it did then with the full spackle. Thanks again Dan!

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omg!! I did not know.. this about carbs!! i mean i just joined today and read about this.... holy mackarel !! i'm sooo amazed.. had no idea that could help.

:) anyways, now that i'm partly over the shock.. i was wondering if any of yu could help me out. I had really awful skin for about 4-5 yrs.. k and then it got better and now it's getting real nice BUT instead of getting breakouts all over my face like i used to, I'm now getting like maybe two major ones... :)

And i used to think that less is definetely better than more, when it comes to breakouts but i feel just as unwilling to go out as I did before. I guess, there is no substitute for CLEAR !!

Anyways,...my question is.. do yu think that drinking coffee or pop on a regular basis could hurt my sitaution? cuz i heard dat what yu eat doesn't affect your skin. Were they just lying? :D or should I just give it time and let nature take it's course. I'm 23 by the way and have had acne since i was 17. ( About freaking time to get over it.. don't yu think :roll:

thanks...so much

fawn.

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Hi guys,

TLS: thanks for the encouragement! I am on day 10 of this low-carb thing & things are looking good, of course it's hard to tell as I really need to wait a full menstrual cycle before I can assess what's going on. Also, it's been a week since I quit smoking, I am sure that is helping too - apparently smoking also raises insulin levels, according to Barry Sears, author of The Zone Diet. Also, I haven't lost too much weight (haven't weighed myself but I use my husband as a mirror and he says maybe a couple of pounds). I think this may be since last time I did this I didn't eat chicken or red meat, which makes for a pretty restricted diet, and this time I have started eating whatever I want. It sure makes it easier to keep eating this way! Plus, after 6 years of no meat... mmmm! :) (Although I do feel guilty, plus I got overwhelmed in the meat section of the grocery store, looking at veal sausages. Gross!)

About the supplements - I don't suffer from hirsutism but the Milk Thistle does sound interesting. I seem to be turning into supplement girl! At the moment I'm on:

zinc 50g

vit A 20,000IU

vit E 800IU

vit B complex

acidophilus

plus sometimes I take blood purifying tea, swedish elixir (combo of bitter herbs for cleansing), lecithin...

Anyway, how does the milk thistle come? In capsules or a tincture? Do you notice that it helps?

fawn: I know that they say diet doesn't have an effect on acne, but it seems from the stuff that I've read that it does (pace Dan). I know of no large-scale studies proving this, but the one thing that is for sure is that it's not as simple as "chocolate = acne". If you do a search around this site, there's a poster called SweetJade who wrote a LOT of stuff about this. I really think that different types of acne respond to different things - if you are 23 & female, and you break out around your period (I assume that's when you experience the major breakouts), then the diet we're talking about here is worth a try for you, as the breakouts are probably related to hormonal factors. Just take it slow - I would try the regimen first and then if that doesn't clear you up, start experimenting with food. You may also have intolerances to other foods, e.g. if I eat dairy I break out.

About the coffee/soft drinks thing, I still drink coffee, but I know I shouldn't - I just wasn't prepared to give up smoking, totally change the way I eat & quit coffee at the same time! Soft drinks are bad anyway due to the very high levels of sugar (juice also has a lot of sugar though, you should always water it down). Also, apparently the carbonation makes it more difficult to absorb calcium. I haven't done a lot of research on this since I hate soft drinks anyway.

Oh, and about nature taking its course - check out the ages of the people posting on this thread. TLS will be 35 this year, I'm 30 & Frances is 27 I think. My skin was clear from 18-28 as I was on the pill, and as soon as I went off - major breakouts.

Good luck & let us know if you want any other info.

Vanessa

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Has anyone seen this website ---> www.acne-advice.com

It's been inspiring me to try a diet to try and get rid of my acne. My problem is that I think I'm literally addicted to sugar!lol....

I will try the low carb thing for a few days and then I'll just get a real craving and go and blow the whole thing by eating cookies and candy, etc.

Ugh...I've got to try and get some self-discipline though to see if it actually works. In a way I don't want it to work because I can't imagine living without my pack of skittles everyday.

I think part of the reason is that I'm just not that good at planning what to eat so I end up waiting until I'm reaaally hungry which sets me up for eating bad stuff.

Does anybody have any good low-carb diets they might recommend that I could follow? Is the Atkins one good?

Thanks.

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Hey gypsy,

I think the Atkins diet is a bit red-meat heavy - I'm not super familiar with it though. The Zone is also OK although it does allow junk food - just small amounts! If you go to the diet & acne post Eff just made he gives a link to a big discussion of the paleolithic diet - eat like a cave man! I haven't done enough research on this one to offer a real opinion, but I think it might be a bit tough to switch from a "normal" diet to this in one fell swoop.

What you could try is just cutting down on processed stuff, white bread, candy, etc. - I think everyone would agree that it's better to eat whole foods for general health anyway. Try eating a big salad with lunch & dinner to fill you up a bit, and smaller servings of potatoes/pasta etc. Get some protein with each meal. Fruit for dessert. Or you could follow the Zone but just make sure that your carbohydrate units are always what he calls "favorable". Watch out for excessive weight loss though. And I find that I need to eat pretty regularly when I'm eating like this as I get hungry about every 3 hours or so. If you're disorganised about food (like me) you could just eat some turkey slices & an apple or something, this is a good protein/carb ratio. You can still eat food that's quick, it just has to be a different type of quick food.

Anyway, let us know if you decide to do this. Good luck!

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Hi Vanessa,

Thanks for the advice. It's actually really good to know that you were getting hungry every 3 hours when eating like this...why does that happen? When I did my "experiment" with a low carb diet last week (ate mostly tofu, veggies, and whole grain bread) I also felt like I was literally eating all the time! I was afraid I was going to GAIN weight and it was so time-consuming and distracting to always be on the lookout for food.

I'm definitely disorganized as I'm a student and don't have time to prepare meals.

Maybe I should try making a list of all the stuff I could eat and just whip that out...I saw the Paleothic diet and yeah I think that might be a bit tough for me to follow at the moment :)

I will definitely post a log when I start seriously...I have some food I need to use up for $$ sake.

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yes, gypsy, I'm a student too so I know how it is...

To answer your questions: I don't know why you get so hungry on this kind of diet although I guess you're probably eating fewer calories - plus the psychological feeling of deprivation may have an effect. It's been a couple of weeks that I've been doing it now though & I seem to be adjusting, not having as many cravings etc.

I just wanted to point out to you that while tofu, veggies & whole grain bread are all healthy foods, you are not really low-carbing if you are eating bread. At the moment I am only eating protein sources (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, yoghurt & protein powder), vegetables and fruit. I eat yoghurt w/ protein powder & fruit for breakfast, then lunch and dinner is a protein source + salad + a piece of fruit (or two) for dessert. I also have a couple of snacks, as I mentioned above, e.g. an egg/sliced turkey + fruit. I avoid bananas, mango, papaya & carrots as they have a high glycemic index (i.e. cause an insulin spike). And when I say "salad" I don't mean some lame-ass lettuce and a slice of tomato - I'm talking spinach, cucumber, bell pepper, avocado, even feta cheese - plus olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing, none of this low-fat crap.

This diet is slightly expensive but not at all time consuming in terms of preparation. And believe me, you will not gain weight! It took me a couple of weeks to reach this level of control (I was eating a little bit of pumpernickel bread, plus squash etc., and I cheated & ate a couple of cookies as well). Also, I don't intend to eat like this long-term, just for a month to see if it helps. Then I will experiment with adding other foods in. I should also point out that I am being faithful to Dan :) since in the last couple of months his regimen cleared me up probably 50%.

OK, there's a whole lot of info for you to be going on with! Let us know how you're doing - and remember, bread is a no-no in a low-carb diet!

Vanessa

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Just wondering how you guys are doing on the diet. I got one new zit - grrrrrrr - but that's the only one in months, so I'm not complaining too much!

I have been following the diet since October, and I have also started working out more, and am starting to lose weight, which is a problem. I can see my ribs when I'm just standing normally. Sigh - if it's not one thing, it's another. I guess I'd rather have the ribs. I can hide those. :D

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Hi TLS,

Sorry to hear about the weight loss - hah, I've actually gained 3 pounds! I haven't been working out too much lately though, so that may change.

In terms of the diet, my results have been variable - not as amazing as yours, that's for sure. I haven't cheated at all and just now I am bummed out as I had a breakout. Overall I am clearer than before though. I am also still on the regimen so it's impossible for me to know what is helping - I am going to experiment but I have a feeling I have to do the diet and the regimen together if I want good skin. Grrr - it is somewhat restrictive.

One thing I have noticed is that the zits I do get seem to go away much faster than before. I don't know why this is, but a little zit goes away in a day and even the big nasty ones go away in 3-4 days instead of 2 weeks like before (the cysts, that is). So that's a definite improvement.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated with any progress. Sorry to hear about your zit - put some BP on it!

Vanessa

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Vanessa, the zits I've gotten since I started the diet go away much faster too. I have a cyst now that has reared it's ugly head - it's on it's way out now and I've only had it a few days. So how long have you been on the diet now?

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It's been 5 weeks. I'm feeling better today as my skin is clearing up nicely, it was only bad for 2 days. I'm nervous though because we're going to a dinner party tonight & I don't know what's being served but the birthday boy's favourite food is lasagne. I see trouble ahead!

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