Friday, February 27, 2009

Acne

It must be true. Shmoo must really be hitting his preteens, because now he has zits. Last night he pointed to the big red blotches on his chin and asked me, "What is this?" My little baby!! Next thing you know he'll be going on dates and asking to borrow the car...

I've dealt with acne my entire adult life (they all told me I'd grow out of it, the liars). And although acne has been linked to milk and dairy products in several studies, going vegan did not clear up my skin at all.

Of course, although it didn't contain dairy, my early vegan diet did include daily servings of things like soda, chips, candy, and french fries.

When I learned about nutrient-density and started following Eat To Live, things changed. I cleared sugar, white flour, and oil out of my diet and added more fruits and vegetables, and within two to three weeks my acne had disappeared. At first I didn't know what to make of it. Each morning I would stare intently into the bathroom mirror, ready to do battle with my face, and would find that I had nothing to fight. I would stand back and gape at myself. No zits!

Of course, I'll always have acne scars and pores you can see across the room (along with wrinkles now, how lovely), but for the first time in my adult life I have clear skin. The nasty bumps return and flare up all along my chin and jawline within two to three weeks of bringing sweets back into my diet. (I wish I could say one experience of this was enough to keep me on the wagon forever, but I must admit I've fallen off a few times now, always with the same results.)

Then last week I discovered that I'm not alone. Here's the passage I read in Anticancer:
"When [Loren Cordain, PhD] was told that certain population groups whose way of life is very different from ours had no experience of acne (which is caused by an inflammation of the epidermis, among other mechanisms), he wanted to find out how this could occur...Cordain accompanied a team of dermatologists to examine the skin of 1,200 adolescents cut off from the rest of the world in the Kitavan Islands of New Guinea, and 130 Ache Indians living in isolation in Paraguay. In these two groups they found no trace whatsoever of acne. In their article in Archives of Dermatology, the researchers attributed their amazing discovery to the adolescents' nutrition. The diets of these contemporary sheltered groups resemble those of our distant ancestors: no refined sugar or white flour, thus no peaks of insulin or IGF in the blood.

"In Australia, researchers convinced Western adolescents to try a diet restricting sugar and white flour for three months. In a few weeks, their insulin and IGF levels diminished. So did their acne."
Think this information will be enough to convince shmoo to go sugar-free? I doubt it. That monkey just don't let go. But maybe when he gets interested in girls...

59 comments:

student dr. blaze said...

wow-that's fascinating! no more acne? seriously? i can't even imagine...

& i totally agree with you-that whole "you'll grow out of it" statement is infuriating! :-/

thanks for the info! :-)

veggievixen said...

i've had acne my whole life too...the only thing that cured it was going on birth control bc it helped level out my hormones around that "time of the month."

student dr. blaze said...

it makes me wonder if spikes in glucose have some kind of effect on skin...because it would make sense to see the acne disappear under glucose controlled situations based on what's being said here, as the bacteria wouldn't have as much sugar to thrive on & tf, acne would decrease &/or disappear. hmm. sure wish i knew more! i think you're on to something important here!

Alisa said...

Haha, when he gets interested in girls you might be praying for the pre-teen zits!

Thanks Jennifer! This is really interesting. I battle with skin issues, though even the derma isn't sure if it is acne (I have problems with long-term hives from allergies); but I must admit, I can't shake the "bad" food. This may be enough motivation to really give it a go. Darn, all of my chocolate has sugar.

Alisa said...

Haha, when he gets interested in girls you might be praying for the pre-teen zits!

Thanks Jennifer! This is really interesting. I battle with skin issues, though even the derma isn't sure if it is acne (I have problems with long-term hives from allergies); but I must admit, I can't shake the "bad" food. This may be enough motivation to really give it a go. Darn, all of my chocolate has sugar.

Heather D said...

Birth control helped me as well. I've had acne ever since I was about 12 and have had many (many) consultations with dermatologists, make up artists, skin care specialists, etc. over the years. I had tried pretty much everything that I could think of. Minocycline, doxycycline, Retin-A micro, and a variety of other prescription cleansers. Nothing worked! I actually had to stop taking the medications because they had such a negative impact on my immune system.

Going vegan five years ago helped a little bit. Still, only now have I noticed a dramatic improvement in my skin! I think the mix of birth control, way more water/rest, my avoidance of processed foods like the plague, and my discovery of a good cleanser did the trick.

I'm definitely going to try cutting out sugar, though. It will be difficult; I have a sweet tooth that cannot be tamed.

P.S. I don't know if you're familiar with this trick, but baking soda works nicely as a cheap exfoliater.

Kara said...

Eat to Live is amazing! My fiance and I have recently discovered it. We pledged to strictly follow Dr. Fuhrman's plan during Lent. But, I know we'll stick to it long after Easter!

I never really had a huge problem with acne, but I do have dry skin and eczema. Since quitting dairy it's cleared up tremendously.

I love reading your blog, Jennifer. It's full of great ideas. Keep up the great work!

Mrs. K1 teacher said...

Ah yes the joys of acne. I have suffered with it on off as an adult but not actually back in the teenage years. Now my siblings are in middle school and one zit on my sisters face gets her in a tizzy.

Yeah I need to have less sugar too...

LKG said...

Your right, you probably can't convince shmoo to give up the sugar but you can get him started on the good habits of washing his face twice a day, using sun screen every day, not picking, and using acne cream at night before the goes to bed. That way he will be saved from the acne scars and the acne outbreaks being worse than they have to be. BTW I am not a vegan but today I am enjoying a yummy vegan lunch. I love your blog!

Kiersten said...

That's really interesting. If more people knew about this they might not have to spend so much money on expensive acne treatments!

I'm willing to bet that this might not be enough to make shmoo cut out the sugar though. It can't hurt to tell him about it though, who knows.

Tamara said...

Not to sound like an infomercial, but I have had good luck in the past with ProActiv. :-) I also had very few zits as a teen but have struggled with them off and on throughout adulthood. Grr.

Laci said...

Jennifer-
I'm sorry shmoo's suffering from acne- he's gotten so big so fast! I really enjoyed this article... I swear, when I was 11 I was already suffering from dramatic ezcama on my face and fingers, it was gross and I was always trying to moisterise my skin but it was already infected. While washing my face/hands often did help, when I cut dairy and animal products from my diet, I swear, my ezcama almost COMPLETELY cleared up! I totally agree it's linked to diet, not oil and chocolate but refined flour and sugar and dairy! Interesting study, I enjoyed this post alot! :)

Tracy Vanity said...

I am glad you posted about this. I'm a vegan and 26 years old and still suffer from acne. I eat healthy but I still eat sugar and lots of breads so my acne flares up especially around that time of the month.

Giving up sugar and white flour is going to be pretty hard, especially since I'm addicted to chocolate!

Nobagplease said...

Thanks for writing about this Jennifer! Like you, I have a similar situation that I think may be helped out by cutting out the sugar and white flour. And looking back on my history, my acne did begin to surface during a period of time in college when I started eating less healthy. This could be an answer to my problem! thanks for writing about this issue!

Sicilian said...

I think herdity is the key. We have great skin in my family and bad teeth. My x's family had great teeth and bad skin. My daughters inherited the great teeth, but got the bad skin.
Ciao

lisbet said...

Hey, a total aside- do you have a juicer? And if so, what model and do you like it?

Heather J. Chin said...

Ah, how sweet! ... And oh, the anxiety-ridden memories!

Thank you for incorporating the scientific study excerpt. Great context.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>do you have a juicer? And if so, what model and do you like it?

Yes, we have a Breville Juice Fountain Elite. It works like a charm; it definitely gets all the juice out -- the leftover pulp is *dry*. It's easy to clean, too. But we hardly ever use it, so I can't say it was worth the money for our family.

rachel said...

Interestingly, I just saw this article in the NYTimes about acne and sugar, I thought you'd be interested:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/health/24real.html

Nikki said...

I don't know if you'd be interested in this or not, but one thing that has gotten rid of pimples of any kind for me was Nelson's Acne Gel. It's AMAZING and a god send! Everyone in my family uses it. We have to order it from a local natural grocer here, but here's a link that you can order online. http://www.mothernature.com/shop/detail.cfm/sku/86505/tab/1
I love it, and if you order it, I'm positive that you will too!! :)

PB and Jess said...

I'm totally jealous of the VitaMix! I've really been craving smoothies lately. Wow - I didn't realize that cutting out sugar could make such a big difference in your skin!

gone_raw said...

Dr. Cordian's Paleo Diet didn't help with my acne at all. Prior to paleo diet I had been already grain-free, sugar-free and diary-free for a while. I have never eaten junk/fast food, hot green tea has always been my drink. What's the result? The same acne as when I consumed homemade breads and organic dairy. Now I am raw. I have been eating only raw vegan food for 8 months, slow changes in my complexion, not really that great yet, BUT promising and I am very hopeful. I am in my thirties... Just thought I would share my experience.

VeganBattleBot said...

Alright, sold. Getting that book. It's remarkable how much of an impact our diets have on such things, even as vegans. Frickin' acne and puberty!

coco marie said...

absolutely our eatting habits affect our skin. i'm not surprised at all that people living in isolated areas of paraguay had no acne because they have no processed, nutrient stripped, chemically infused foods like a lot of the foods here in america. their eatting pure, whole, natural foods. Although I'm vegan i can't say i never eat sugar....i just couldn't do it to myself. but hey, its good to know what causes that pimple to pop up every once in a while..... and it is another fact to keep me encouraged to continue my vegan diet.

J said...

Poor Shmoo! I started getting acne at about age 14. It turned into the nasty cystic kind, and I ended up going on some fancy prescription medicines for it, which I still take now. I completely agree about the food, though. White flour and refined sugar seem to have terrible effects on my skin. When I went vegan, it helped clear up my skin a little, but I still struggle with acne pretty much constantly. And I was doing all the "right" things... whole grains, oil-free cooking, etc.

Recently, I started experimenting with the "raw food" diet. I'm now about 75% raw, and I've noticed that my skin has started to clear up pretty consistently. I've also reduced my grain/ref. sugar consumption to almost nothing, so this might have something to do with it. Just my two cents...

constant comment said...

In my opinion treat acne with functional medicine. It is about getting to the root cause of a problem, unlike traditional medicne which is only medicating symptoms.

Your skin is your body's largest organ and having acne is you body's way of saying there is a problem. and not a problem that washing your face and putting topical chemical solutions on will solve.

I believe that poor digestion is an underlying problem with acne. Two reasons for the poor digeston , and what I believe to be the root cause to a myriad of diseases, are parasites and candida.

You mentioned that getting off the sugar was the 1st time you got relief. and that my friend is candida. just google candida and you will be shocked.

Acne people stop using all of these chemicals to treat the surface of your skin. These chemical are toxic and do not belong on your skin even though the FDA says its is safe.

check out www.skindeep.com

Toss out all of your conventional skin products especially the ones with parabens in them. You will find parabEns in your shampoo, lotion and in breast tumors!

treat you acne with what you put into your body.
you are what you eat!

your truly,
100% vegan

Knit - R - Done said...

Take him to a doctor. I wish my parents had. They constantly blamed my diet and poured shame all over me. I usually don't comment here, but you have the ability to save him years of pain and humiliation. Not to mention thousands of dollars in scar revision.

Jennifershmoo said...

Oh my, it's only two bumps on his chin, don't worry! They're already completely gone. I went to a dermatologist when my face was at its worst, and would not hesitate to take him in if it got to that point.

Summer Fae said...

Thank you for the tips. Dragon is starting to get zits. I don't know about you, but my children are growing up way too fast.

Seanain said...

heh, only think the dermatologist had left was accutane, not sure about that route, and proactive, neutrogena, and many other highly rated products haven't helped. My question is, in this book are there recipes, I mean good ones? I can do vegan, there are plenty of options for that, I mean I just started making vegan pizza at home, and I'd hate to give it up, but if I got clear skin... but where do I find recipes that adhere to this "eat to live" diet/book?

bhaskoro said...

Hi, im writing about acne site here on Effective acne treatment

Jennifershmoo said...

>>in this book are there recipes, I mean good ones?

Yes, all the books include a recipe section, especially Eat To Live and the new Eat For Health Book 2.

The recipes are good, but they're probably very different than what you are used to. It's like a level beyond just vegan -- no flour, no sugar, no salt, no oil, etc. Lots and lots of vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds. It's all about nutrient-density.

This website describes the basics and has a lot of Eat To Live-friendly recipes:

http://www.fatfreevegan.com/etl/index.shtml

Seanain said...

no oil? but what about other stuff that's naturally high in fat nuts, avocados? I can't do fat free, I mean I really can't. I just got UP to a size 2p and I'm trying not to go back down. (my metabolism is ridiculous, I'm generally avoid exercising, because I'm afraid of losing too much), I guess I could try to eat a lot of meals throughout the day to keep up my calorie intake...

Seanain said...

oh, you said nuts and seeds, duh. never mind

Jennifershmoo said...

Yes, the idea is to get those healthy fats in every day but in the form of a whole food, so lots of nuts, seeds, avocado, etc. Someone who is athletic can eat something like 2 to 3 ounces of nuts and an avocado a day...maybe more!

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SJ said...

This is interesting...I am plagued with a small but constant amount of adult acne. Are you allowing yourself ANY sweeteners at all, such as agave? Or are do you cut out all of that entirely?

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Are you allowing yourself ANY sweeteners at all, such as agave? Or are do you cut out all of that entirely?

I do use a bit of agave when I have herbal tea, but that's not often. The other "sweeteners" I use would be dried fruits like dates and raisins, also used sparingly.

siman said...

Numerous healing centers are offering the acne scarring treatments. Acne scars are very common in teenagers, but there are many acne removal products which can heal the scarring and well acne troubles.

http://www.treatmentsforacne.net/

Elizabeth said...

Hi Jennifer! I read your other blog (This is why you're thin) and just started Eat to Live. I was googling around to see if this REALLY works and found that you eat this way too!

I was very excited. If it's good enough for you, it's good enough for me. I have wicked, evil, plague-of-Egypt adult acne and I'm praying this works. At this point, I don't even care if I lose weight. Not being hungry and no more nasty buggers on my chin will be enough for me!

This is the start of my second week as a vegan and I gotta say... I like it! I feel great!

Erin said...

Better late than never! A solution that worked on my acne without requiring major lifestyle changes was the oil cleansing method. I hope this info helps your hormone-tossed shmoo!

Mackenzie said...

Ah, I *thought* there might be a dairy/acne link.

I'm lactose intolerant, so I've been avoiding dairy for about 9 months now. A couple weeks ago, I was in Spain and having a lot of trouble finding non-dairy foods. I know the airline gave me whey-based salad dressing even though I requested a vegan meal. Then one place I had dinner didn't say on the menu that there was cheese involved when there was. Next day, I had about 15 new zits. Normally, I have one, maybe 2 zits total.

Azimutz Quantum said...

This is really interesting. I battle with skin issues, though even the derma isn't sure if it is acne (I have problems with long-term hives from allergies); but I must admit, I can't shake the "bad" food. This may be enough motivation to really give it a go. Darn, all of my chocolate has sugar.
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Living Vitamin Review said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Living Vitamin Review said...

Good for you Jennifer! It just goes to show that real health and beauty come from the inside out. I have some pretty interesting natural remedies for acne and other things here: http://livingvitaminreview.blogspot.com/

Congratulations on your healthy, acne-free lifestyle!

Technology UK said...

I usually use turmeric which is a natural antiseptic to gid rid of acne.

Frannie said...

If a recipe calls for "saute", do you use water then?

Jennifershmoo said...

Yes, you can use a little bit of water or broth to "steam-fry" foods; just add a bit more as the liquid cooks away.

Tampab0y said...

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Sara said...

so I think anyone who thinks or feels that they have a skin condition which relates to acne,
they should try Aloe Vera and see if it works for them, and I’m sure it will work for them..

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Doctor_Eva said...

Atherosclerosis is the plague of fast-food eating society! Take care of your health! But I know, how to loose weight!

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BellaMia said...

I completely get why high GI foods would effect acne. Foods like sugar and white flour put a strain on your immune system, making it harder to fight off infection. Then unless you are really on top of the bacteria on your skin and, more importantly, in your pores, it multiplies and causes the infection - acne. There is a new product that I've run across from Tria Beauty that uses a "blue light" to effectively inhibit the growth of acne.

Flo said...

I had acne for 20 years and the only thing that cleared it up was the Dirt n' Grime Combat Kit by Arden & Angelina Vintage Skincare. Good luck!

ufbec22 said...

When you say you limit your sugar intake, does that include fresh fruit?

I am 24 and have been struggling with acne for 12 years. I went vegan about 3 months ago and my skin improved but I still struggle with it every single day. I can't seem to find the right remedies to completely get rid of it. Thanks!

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, ufbec22,

I don't limit fresh fruit but I do limit dried fruit and bananas.

Studies do point to dairy causing some acne, but I did not notice an improvement in my acne when I went vegan. When I cut out oil and sugar and began eating more nutrient-dense foods, however, my face cleared within weeks.

lifeasacollegevegan said...

Wow! So happy for you! I'd been vegetarian for years and went vegan back in March of this year. I'm still struggling with acne too - actually wrote a post about it a few days on my own blog a few days ago, haha! It was great coming across you post (and blog!) Have any advice on the eliminating sugar/white flour move?