“You can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy.” – James Altucher
First, know this: You do not need to live with acne. It is a treatable health condition. In societies that conform to a specific lifestyle, there are zero incidences of acne.
Second, know this: It is going to take hard work and discipline. You must become a detective. Your mission is to find what your body cannot tolerate and what it requires.
Third, know this: The psychological benefits of acne-free skin are immense. You will live a happier and more fulfilling life when you achieve clear skin.
The body is a complex, interconnected system. We must first strive to maximize overall health, while tweaking every acne trigger we can identify. We must regulate the melatonin cycle, get the immune system under control, eliminate malabsorption problems in the digestive tract, and ensure that the body / brain receives proper levels of vital nutrients.
The system boils down to the following four steps.
Supplements: Vitamin D, Boron, Vitamin B Complex and Zinc.
Diet: Reduce consumption of sugar, flour, nuts, soy, dairy, alcohol and caffeine. Eat vegetables, limited amounts of fruit, and organic meat. This is an attempt to eliminate malabsorption while providing the body necessary nutrients.
Lifestyle: Sleep more than 8 interrupted hours every night, on a regular schedule.
Melatonin cycle: Spend time outside during the day. In the shade, not in direct sunlight.
The complete system:
Take the following supplements
- Zinc (75mgs / day)
- Boron (6mgs / day)
- Vitamin B complex 100
- Vitamin D
These supplements are not required, but potentially helpful
- Fish Oil (1000 mgs/day. This is questionable with regards to acne, but it does seem likely to help with heart disease)
- A multivitamin (once/day, with a meal). In lieu of multivitamin, you can take:
- Selenium (200mcg/day — do not exceed this)
- Chromium Picolinate (200 mcg/day)
- Calcium (500 mgs/day) & Magnesium (250mgs/day)
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid (100 mgs)
- ECGC (Green Tea Extract)
Fix your melatonin cycle by getting outside during the day and sleeping in complete darkness
There is a correlation between diminished acne and regulating the body’s melatonin cycle.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound produced by the pineal gland of the brain. Melatonin levels fluctuate based on a daily cycle, regulating the circadian rhythms of several biological functions. During the day, the brain produces less melatonin and at night the brain produces a melatonin surges. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles usually wreak havoc on the melatonin cycle. When indoors, the human body doesn’t see bright light and determines that it is late in the day, so it produces excess melatonin prepare for sleep. At night, a combination of too much light, not going to bed at a regular time, sleeping in past sunrise, and too much melatonin wasted during the day prevent the brain from producing a proper melatonin surge. New schools of thought suggest that a damaged melatonin cycle might cause illnesses including insomnia, depression, acne, cancer, and dementia. The biological functions that are triggered by circadian rhythms are thrown off and don’t function the way they should, leading to a variety of health problems. For example, many sufferers of carb malabsorption and fruit malabsorption are able to eat fruit and other carbs when they have been in bright sunlight for over an hour, but eating the same foods at night cause indigestion and acid reflux. This is an indication that the melatonin controlled biological rhythms allow different diet choices at different times of day.
Steps necessary to achieve a properly functioning melatonin cycle:
- Go to sleep at the same time every night, preferably around 10pm. A consistent bedtime makes it easier for your body to begin the biological processes necessary for sleep.
- Sleep >8 hours in a pitch black room. Any type of light (blinking light on a phone, computer, or smoke detector) can potentially affect the melatonin cycle.
- Make sure that you are out and about as much as possible during the day. Your eyes need exposure to natural sunlight, without sunglasses or other filters obscuring the light. When the eyes are in natural sunlight, the brain’s pineal glands suppress melatonin production. All day melatonin suppression is necessary for a proper nighttime melatonin surge. You don’t want to be in direct sunlight. Sit in the shade. Ideally, you will spend 10+ hours outside per day. When you spend time indoors, the indoor lighting convinces the brain nightfall is coming, leading the brain to produce melatonin.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants within 10-12 hours of when you go to bed. You can drink caffeine first thing in the morning, but any time after that is more likely to disrupt your sleep. Eliminating caffeine altogether is probably the single best thing you can do to improve your skin.
- Depending on the time of year and latitude/longitude, get enough direct sunlight on your body to produce Vitamin D. You may want to cover your face and allow the sun to hit only your body. Vitamin D deficiency is highly correlated with various cancers, and there are some indications that it is associated with acne. If you can’t get in the sun, it’s an absolute must that you take a Vitamin D supplement.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but it disrupts the second half of your sleep cycle.
- At night, try to keep all the lights off in your house. Spend the last hour or two you are awake in the dimmest light you can function in. We are trying to emulate nature here. If you use a computer, turn the brightness all the way down.
Eat a low glycemic load, anti-inflammatory diet. As your skin clears, ease back on the strict diet to observe which foods are acne triggers for you.
- Eliminate flour / gluten from your diet.
- Cut out as much sugar as possible, particularly processed and refined sugar. Reducing fruit intake may help as well, as it contains both sugar and at times fungus. Several recent studies have linked high sugar diets to acne.
- Eliminate all nuts and legumes, including peanuts.
- Eliminate soy.
- Oils: Only consume extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil. Do not consume any other oil. Do not eat anything cooked in vegetable oil, soy oil, or any other kind of oil. When eating at restaurants, be particularly careful to research the type of oil they cook with. Many restaurants will claim that a canola oil / olive oil mix is pure olive oil.
- Eliminate dairy including eggs.
- Eat cooked tomatoes in olive oil. This boosts lycopene levels, which in turn reduces your skins sebum production. Eating raw tomatoes is healthy, but won’t provide you as much lycopene.
- Go to Whole Foods and buy everything in the produce department. Make salads with green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, red onions, white onions, avocados, tomatoes, brocolli, spinach, mixed greens, zucchini, garlic, carrots, and asparagus. Buy the ‘no salt turkey’ from the Whole Foods deli. Top it with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. These nutrient rich foods are anti-inflammatory and very helpful to your body’s fight against acne.
- Eat lots of carrots. This gives you carotenoids, which the body uses to produce as much Vitamin A as it wants/needs.
- Eat a low glycemic load diet. Glycemic load is different (although related) to glycemic index. Visit nutritiondata.com to get the glycemic load facts on foods you eat. Studies link high glycemic load diets to acne.
- Lots of water is good, but stop drinking in the early evening. You don’t want to have to wake up to go to the bathroom and disrupt your sleep cycle.
- Red meat may cause issues. Organic chicken and turkey are good for you and your skin.
- Try to eat wild alaskan salmon or other deepwater fish at least three times/week. Do not eat farmed salmon.
- Read about the foods you regularly eat. The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to make decisions on any given day.
Work out for at least 30 minutes, every day. Be sure you work out strenuously enough to get your heart beating. Outdoor exercise is preferred, but not required. Don’t exercise within 3 hours of bedtime, as you risk setting off the fight or flight instinct in your body and producing anti-sleep hormones that it thinks are necessary to survive. Why else would you be exercising at night other than to run for survival? Humans can’t hunt or do much of value at night; we don’t have night vision. Night is when we sleep and prepare for sleep.
If you exercise daily, you’ll sleep better and have better skin.
How does exercise prevent acne?
- Improves the quality and length of your sleep.
- Improves blood circulation, reduces stress, balances your hormones, and stimulates hundreds of systems in your body.
- When you exercise, stress hormones are flushed from the body and you become more relaxed and less anxious.
- Helps your body absorb nutrients in food.
- Excellent for your overall health, short term and long term.
- Acne is heavily linked with depression, and exercise is an effective treatment for depression.
Does sweat aggravate acne?
Possibly, but probably not. Sweat might cause acne if you have clogged pores from topical medicines that dry skin, which clogs pores. It’s the experience of those on this system that sweat is not a problem with acne.
Food Sensitivity and Allergy Testing
Low grade food allergies, also known as food sensitivities, can cause inflammation in the body. An IcG food sensitivity test can help you determine the foods you are allergic to. Avoiding those foods is likely to make a huge difference in the way you look and feel. The test can be expensive, but the results are well worth it. See my attached IcG test results — I tested to be extremely sensitive to eggs, and when I cut them out of my diet my skin improved within days.
However, there is skepticism about the value of IcG test results. A scientist emailed us the following:
“From what I have learned at national and international allergy meetings, IgG testing is of no clinical value. IgG can be positive just because you eat a particular food. So, milk-specific IgG may just indicate that you eat dairy products. In my opinion, avoidance diets should not be predicated on IgG. The one exception is celiac disease which is now legitimately diagnosed by looking for very specific IgG antibodies in sera (anti-tissue transglutaminase).”
Other thoughts on treating acne:
- Review your prescriptions. Medicine you take for other health conditions may affect your skin.
- Don’t use topical medications, creams, or take acne medications. These just kill good and bad bacteria alike, damage your skin, and make your body more sensitive to the sun. I’m sure you are terrified of the idea of quitting your topical medications, but you must do it eventually. You don’t want to put bleach on your face every day for the rest of your life, do you?
- I don’t wash my face at all. But if you must, wash twice/daily with the most gentle face wash you can find. Acne.org recommends Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser. Wash and shower with lukewarm or only slightly warm water. You don’t want to irritate and dry out your skin with hot water.
- If your skin is dry, moisturize using jojoba oil or another moisturizer you are comfortable with. Use as little as you can get away with.
- If you use sunscreen, attempt to find one that uses Zinc Oxide as the primary ingredient. This blocks both UVB and UVA. Avobenzone is an effective sunscreen ingredient, but it breaks down in sunlight (lasts as little as 1 hour) and some people find that it causes breakouts.
- Excellent oral hygiene will help. Poor oral hygiene causes all sorts of health problems, including heart disease, a condition that like acne is highly correlated with inflammation. Get your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 month, brush after every meal, floss at least twice/day, and use a Waterpic twice/day.
- Make sure your home air ducts are clean. You don’t want to spray dust all over your face all day long, which is what happens when air filters don’t get changed every month. If your air ducts haven’t been regularly changed, you should hire a professional to clean out the entire system.