Whole30 done and one goal didn't improve


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This is certainly a TMI situation, but I'm going to take the embarrassment to seek some help.

Wondering if the community could help hack my Whole 30 and help me figure out why one of my goals: reduced cystic acne didn't improve. I'm a 34 year old man and am sick of dealing with this "teenage" issue!

While I feel like my face has cleared up a lot, acne on my neck, chest & shoulders has not cleared up at all. In fact there were times during the W30 when it got even worse. Here on day 31 it is pretty much the same as day 0.

One of my suspicions is eggs and another is coffee, so on Monday I am going to start a new Whole 30 without eggs or coffee. Perhaps someone else has an idea of what I could eliminate (or include) to see some results. I already limited my nut & fruit consumption - probably had less than 5 servings of each over the entire 30 days.

Here are my last 10 days of meals. The only things left out are oils (coconut & olive depending on the dish) & coffee, which I had about 2-3 cups a day before noon.

Day 20 - Monday, April 22nd

M1 - Eggs, Pork Sausage & sweet potato hash

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Sirloin Steak & grilled peppers & onions

Day 21 - Tuesday, April 23rd

M1 - Eggs, Pork Sausage & cauliflower rice

M2 - Chocolate Chili

M3 - Beef Roast with Carrots & Onions

Day 22 - Wednesday, April 24th

M1 - Eggs, sausage & sweet potato

M2 - Chocolate Chili

M3 - Chicken & swiss chard

Day 23 - Thursday, April 25th

M1 - Eggs, sausage & sweet potato skillet

M2 - Chocolate Chili

M3 - Pork Shoulder, onions & sauerkraut

Day 24 - Friday, April 26th

M1 - Eggs Sausages & sweet potato skillet

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Pork Tenderloin & Swiss Chard

Day 25 - Saturday, April 27th

M1 - Eggs, Sausage & cauliflower rice

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Roasted Whole Chicken & Swiss Chard

Day 26 - Sunday, April 28th

M1 - Eggs, Sausage & sweet potato

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Baked Chicken Wings & Roasted Leeks

Day 27 - Monday, April 29th

M1 - Eggs, Sausage & Sweet Potato

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Pork Tenderloin & Roasted Broccoli

Day 28 - Tuesday, April 30th

M1 - Eggs, Sausage & Sweet Potato

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Macadamia, Cashews, Pistachios & grapes

M4 - Pot Roast, Carrots & Onions

Day 29 - Wednesday, May 1st

M1 - Eggs, Sausage & Sweet Potato

M2 - Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad with mayo/lime dressing

M3 - Grilled Chicken & Zucchini

Day 30 - Thursday, May 2nd

M1 - Eggs, Crumbled Pork Sausage & Cauliflower rice

M2 - Grilled Salmon Salad with EVOO & Balsamic

M3 - Turkey Breast & Roasted Broccoli

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I can tell you that though I do not deal with any true acne issues the big changes that I saw in my skin happened around day 40-45 for me. I was kind of surprised that it took that long but I'm guessing that it has to do with the life cycle of the outermost layers of skin. Unfortunately the cystic type acne can take some time to subside because the follicles have been clogged and breeding that bacteria for so long. Just out of curiosity what products are you currently using for it? (I'm a skin care professional so there may be some different things that I can recommend.)

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I can tell you that though I do not deal with any true acne issues the big changes that I saw in my skin happened around day 40-45 for me. I was kind of surprised that it took that long but I'm guessing that it has to do with the life cycle of the outermost layers of skin. Unfortunately the cystic type acne can take some time to subside because the follicles have been clogged and breeding that bacteria for so long. Just out of curiosity what products are you currently using for it? (I'm a skin care professional so there may be some different things that I can recommend.)

Just wash the areas with soap and water right now. I've tried almost everything over the counter in the past with no real success.

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I usually recommend products with salycilic acid for any kind of acne. Cystic acne is usually caused by a sebum that is much thicker than it normally should be which creates kind of like a dam that clogs the end of the follicle where the oil and dead skin cells that we slough off daily get caught up and cause inflammation and bacteria growth. The salycilic acid acts like draino for the follicles and can help keep them clear and free from this debris. This is the cleanser that I have found to be the most useful:

http://www.dermalogica.com/clearing-skin-wash/46,default,pd.html

Though it may sound counter-intuitive make sure that you are moisturizing also. Sometimes cleansing the skin (especially with bar soap) can be really drying and then our body freaks out and thinks it needs to produce more oil, which only makes things worse. If you are using a good quality oil on your skin that can help replace that barrier layer the oil production slows down noticeably. Coconut oil is one of the best that you can use, in my opinion. It really is great for your skin!

Also, are you drinking Kombucha? Usually what is going on in our gut has a lot to do with what is happening on our skin.

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I usually recommend products with salycilic acid for any kind of acne. Cystic acne is usually caused by a sebum that is much thicker than it normally should be which creates kind of like a dam that clogs the end of the follicle where the oil and dead skin cells that we slough off daily get caught up and cause inflammation and bacteria growth. The salycilic acid acts like draino for the follicles and can help keep them clear and free from this debris. This is the cleanser that I have found to be the most useful:

http://www.dermalogi...default,pd.html

Though it may sound counter-intuitive make sure that you are moisturizing also. Sometimes cleansing the skin (especially with bar soap) can be really drying and then our body freaks out and thinks it needs to produce more oil, which only makes things worse. If you are using a good quality oil on your skin that can help replace that barrier layer the oil production slows down noticeably. Coconut oil is one of the best that you can use, in my opinion. It really is great for your skin!

Also, are you drinking Kombucha? Usually what is going on in our gut has a lot to do with what is happening on our skin.

Thanks for the advice!

I love Kombucha, but I don't buy it often because of the cost (feels like splurging & making it myself sounds like a disaster waiting to happen), but if it would be beneficial I would deal with the cost. How do you recommend drinking it: With or without food? morning, noon or night?

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Cutting out nightshades is one thing that can theoretically help. It's something I'm trying, anyway. No more tomatoes or peppers for a while and see how it goes.

Good luck continuing! I'm confident that simply staying the course longer will help.

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I still have acne after two full Whole30s and mostly clean eating in between. I think I just have bad not-so-great skin, since drinking lots of water and cutting out sugar, dairy, etc. don't seem to effect it.

I've had REALLY good luck with the Murad brand "acne complex," which is their fancy labeling for their acne treatment stuff. I use the face-wash and this clear gel that is supposed to exfoliate and treat. I still get mild breakouts, but my face was WRECKED before I started using Murad. I'd reached the point where I was very embarrassed by and self conscious of my skin.

I tried Murad after researching adult acne specifically, since all the things that worked in my teens and early twenties had apparently just stopped working at all.

Also, if it's a chronic problem, it might be worth seeing a dermatologist. Sometimes they're good at identifying issues. I would recommend -- as above -- using a non-comedogenic moisturizer of some kind, and also using a soap that is designed for washing your face. It might help at least some. For moisturizer, I like Neutrogena, personally.

Sorry you're dealing with this. You're definitely not alone -- I'm about two days from 31, and I've never had clear skin without constant fussing.

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Don't be insulted or offended by this question, but have you taken any anabolics? Those guys can cause cystic acne like WHOA, due to the crazy hormone shifts. Some of the russian weightlifters that I train with are scarred like crazy from their old "supplement" program. If you ever have (and perhaps even if you haven't) it would be worth checking in on your hormone levels with a naturopath or functional medicine doc. There could be some imbalances going on, like an estrogen dominance (maybe?) that's contributing.

Additionally, and probably more likely, acne and skin issues are very closely tied into gut health...especially with cystic acne, it make take longer than 30 days to heal your gut. Personally, I would ditch the nuts if you keep going (and definitely before I ditched the eggs).

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I "second" going to the dermatologist. Acne is a bacterial infection.

Egg whites or dairy or hormones or ??? may trigger an eruption, but you won't see real improvement until the infections are treated (systemically) and eliminated.

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Don't be insulted or offended by this question, but have you taken any anabolics? Those guys can cause cystic acne like WHOA, due to the crazy hormone shifts. Some of the russian weightlifters that I train with are scarred like crazy from their old "supplement" program. If you ever have (and perhaps even if you haven't) it would be worth checking in on your hormone levels with a naturopath or functional medicine doc. There could be some imbalances going on, like an estrogen dominance (maybe?) that's contributing.

Additionally, and probably more likely, acne and skin issues are very closely tied into gut health...especially with cystic acne, it make take longer than 30 days to heal your gut. Personally, I would ditch the nuts if you keep going (and definitely before I ditched the eggs).

Not insulted at all. I understand why you'd ask, but no I've never taken anabolics. I've never even power-lifted, just used the weight machines & dumbbells in the gym :)

I just started my 2nd Whole30 today, so we'll see if time is all I need. I am going to ditch eggs for the month. I am really curious and it won't be that much of a lifestyle adjustment.

I will also schedule a dermatologist appointment. I have a history of going to one as a teenager and it seemed like we tried every pill & topical solution with no real success. So an adult I just didn't bother going back again, but now seems like the time.

Thanks everyone for your comments & suggestions.

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Matt, my skin problems improved with whole30 eating but still flare. Triggers are definitely stress, coffee, cocoa, coconut, nuts and possibly eggs, plus citrus and fish. Suppressors are ghee, high quality meat fats, olive oil, not sure about coconut oil... Are you having enough good fats? I definitely think it worth avoiding nuts for a week or so. Good luck.

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I'm allergic to eggs & if I eat anything I'm allergic to, it breaks my face out the same way. Additionally, I'm noticing sensitivities to some nuts. I can eat macadamias and pistachios without reaction, but almonds give me heartburn. I'm in the middle of a regular Whole30, but I will be following it with the autoimmune protocol Whole30 directly afterwards, then followed by one more Whole30 while reintroducing the Whole30 approved foods that are restricted on the autoimmune protocol to see exactly what I am sensitive to. I realize 90 days straight is too much for some people, but if you really want to get to the root of the problem, it takes time and experimentation.

As far as coffee, you can switch to something like Folgers Simply Smooth that greatly reduces the oil in the coffee beans to eliminate irritation of the stomach lining and if it still bothers you, it may be one of those things you are very sensitive to, unfortunately.

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Have you seen this? I can't speak to it personally but he seems like an even-handed smart dude. I have persistent psoriasis issues that only got mildly better with my W30. I am starting a mini AIP thing next week with a few other people. (W30 + no eggs or night shades, no coffee.)

http://chriskresser.com/naturally-get-rid-of-acne-by-fixing-your-gut

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Have you seen this? I can't speak to it personally but he seems like an even-handed smart dude. I have persistent psoriasis issues that only got mildly better with my W30. I am starting a mini AIP thing next week with a few other people. (W30 + no eggs or night shades, no coffee.)

http://chriskresser....fixing-your-gut

Thanks! I'll take a listen. This certainly seems like the route I'd like to take at this point. I'm 5 days into my "no eggs, no coffee" Whole30 and I haven't noticed any new breakouts, so fingers-crossed.

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