Update on November 11, 2012:
Think I have finally found a cure to my skin troubles! And what a long and torturous experiment it’s been!
I’ve learned that it’s about maintaining an equilibrium between the yin and yang, coldness and warmness, in my body. This concept comes from traditional Chinese medicine, and I believe the Indian cuisine follows this idea as well, eg eating yogurt with curry.
Ping Ming Health offers a pretty decent guide.
The part that I stupidly didn’t realize until recently, is that there are many factors that impact this balance of cold and warm, not just diet alone. Your natural physiology, the environment you live in, your stress level, how much sleep you’re getting, and exercise, all play a part. It’s almost impossible to keep track, so luckily there are several ways to read your body:
• Lips (chapped 1 ——- 5 soft and smooth)
• Skin (blotchy and breaking out 1 ——- 5 rosy and clear)
• Stress level (anxious and quick tempered 1 ——- 5 calm and basically non-argumentative)
Of course, these are my symptoms and they would likely be different from yours.
Update on September 3, 2012:
Test:cutting out cooling foods, dairy, eggs, coffee, processed food, and reducing stress/adding more sleep.
Could it be food allergies, to dairy? Coffee? Cooling foods? Gluten? Stress? Constipation? Period?
Doubt it’s because of my period either, as the breakouts did not seem to happen cyclically.
Test: cutting out cooling foods, gluten, dairy, coffee, and reducing stress/adding more sleep.
Both times it struck I had been eating lots of milk and cereal, drinking tons of coffee, feeling moderately stressed, and had not been sleeping enough. Very possibly the three compounded—caffeine, the stress, and a lack of sleep—was what had me feeling extremely anxious. Cutting out cooling foods becuase I’m not supposed to eat cooling foods according to my traditional Chinese doctor anyway. Defecating lots always helps.
Found a great article that probably helps more than anything I just said. It summarizes all of the factors I should be monitoring, and even though I essentially arrived at the same conclusions, it puts things into perspective and clarifies how they relate to one another.
Pulled from High on Health:
We all know that one of the main contributors to acne is overactive oil glands in your skin that produce excess sebum that then collects in your skin, blocking hair follicles and pores. This forms plugs that prevent the normal drainage of oil and also causes dead skin cells to become trapped. Bacteria in your skin then feed on the excess sebum which causes an infection which results in a pimple.
So you can understand why many doctors and dermatologists say excess sebum is the cause of acne. But really, it’s not. Excess sebum is just another symptom of a bigger problem within your body that’s causing it. Instead of getting rid of the symptom (excess sebum) by using harsh drugs and chemicals, we need to actually fix the root cause of excess sebum and acne.
Two Main Causes of Excess Sebum:
2. Excess Hormones (androgens) [DHT]
Excess toxins that your body has to expel through the skin can be caused by:
a. Sluggish digestion, poor kidney and liver function [defecate more]
b. Candida [fungal] overgrowth
c. Junk food/low quality food
d. Chemicals in food and environment [coffee, computer screen?]
e. Allergies and Food Intolerances [dairy, gluten, cooling foods?]
Hormonal imbalances (particularly excess androgens) also increase sebum production. Hormonal imbalances can be caused by:
a. Emotional stress [rushing deadlines]
b. Physical stress
c. Environmental synthetic hormones (e.g. xenoestorgens in plastic)
d. Hormones in animal produce/food
e. Contraceptive pills
f. Genetic predisposition
g. Bad Diet, Poor Nutrition
As you can see, a lot of the root causes of hormonal imbalances are diet, lifestyle and emotional health related. These causes result in certain types hormonal imbalances that I’ve found to be common in acne sufferers:
a. Adrenal Stress/Fatigue with elevated Cortisol levels [coffee plus deadlines?]
b. Estrogen Dominance (Low Progesterone)
d. Insulin Resistance
e. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
The most important thing you should do first is to go and get your hormones tested with a saliva test (more accurate than a blood test). [And] here are a few general things you can do to help balance your hormones overall:
1. De-stress! [Breathe, plan ahead, calm down, and refuse to be overstressed]
Please don’t underestimate the impact this has on your hormones and acne. Any time you’re stressed your adrenal glands pumps out Cortisol that contributes to increased androgens and increased acne.
2. Eat a Low GI Organic Diet [cut out coffee]
Cut out all bad food, especially stimulants and sugar. Eat low GI, healthy organic food. Cut down on fruits too (even though they’re good, don’t eat too much because the sugar can be stimulating and add stress).
[“Where carbohydrates outweigh both proteins and fats significantly (in your diet), skin problems will ensue, because the digestive system becomes toxic, and the superfluous glucose imbalances the hormonal system” said an article on PureCalma.com]
3. Eat plenty of Essential Fatty Acids [more extra virgin olive oil, healthy fish, avocados, almonds, sesame seeds]
Essential fatty can help reduce the production of androgens and balance hormones. People with acne have been shown to have deficiencies in EFAs. You can also apply topically to your body, face and hair for added benefits.
a. Flaxseed Oil (15-60ml per day)
b. Omega 3 Fish Oil (5ml per day)
c. GLA from Evening Primrose Oil (5ml per day)
d. Sunflower Seeds
e. Pumpkin Seeds
f. Grape Seed Oil
g. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
l. Coconut Oil
a. Vitamin C
4. Vitamins and Minerals [tons of vegetables and some fruits, and zinc chelate supplements]
b. Vitamin B’s (especially Vitamin B6)
e. Vitamin A
5. Herbs that help to balance hormones
e. Holy Basil
f. Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus-Castus)
i. Milk Thistle
a. Green Tea Extract
6. Natural Anti-Androgrens [drinking green tea at work instead of coffee, replace milk with soy milk, eat other soy products]
b. Saw Palmetto
d. Spearmint Tea
e. Pumpkin Seed Oil
f. Emu Oil
g. Soy Isoflavones
h. Beta Sitosterols
i. Alzelaic Acid
Thank you High on Health!