A reader of this blog named Tony Mach explains how he figured out that his acne was caused by pasteurized dairy products:
In summer 2010 my health problems got noticeably worse (unrefreshing sleep, strange pains, strange sensations in the skin and other stuff I don’t want to share here ), and I had to do something. Furthermore I was gaining weight, so I was suspecting something along the lines of diabetes or other metabolic problem.
As I was looking into dietary changes, I stumbled over Wolfgang Lutz’s and Robert Atkins’ work. Being an engineer by training, I figured that if blood sugar might be the problem (which, as it turned out, wasn’t the case for me), then reducing carbs might be a solution (stop fueling the problematic sub-system) – so both Lutz and Atkins appealed to me. I thought let’s give it a try. I was a bit frightened about such an radical change of diet – you read all kind of BS – but hey, I felt like I was going to die anyway.
Before the change, I ate a lots of white bread, some milk chocolate and drank lots of milk. First I reduced carbs – like Lutz suggested, I tried to aim for 6 bread units – but within days I noticed that some problems (like the strange pain and skin sensations) diminished right away. The acne cleared up noticeably. So I thought why bother with low-carb, let’s go full no-carb (like Atkins suggests for some month).
And voila, with no-carb everything got better. I started to feel healthy for the first time in my life. I lost over 30 pounds, all health problems either went away or were almost gone, and life started to become enjoyable. This was a period of about two months over with most problems went away, some fast, some slower.
So for over half a year I was focused on the carbs=evil scheme, started eating cheese again (hey, no carbs!), when slowly some of the health problems returned and my weight started to rise again.
At that point I panicked a bit and made a huge mistake: I thought I can figure this one out too, I have to do something right away. So I trusted what some doctors had written about a pathogen (which I tested for with borderline results), how to cure it (with over the counter medications like Vitamin D and NAC and other stuff) and I thought let’s try this too! The things I took made me worse, but as it was supposed to be a “die off”/”herx” reaction, I wasn’t too alarmed. Turned out that experiment cost me almost an year until I got better again. So for about a year I was not in the mood for big experiments and personal stuff like moving to another city kept me busy.
But slowly I introduced “safe starches” into my diet (like plantains), because I kept reading one should not go too much low-carb. I tried out self-made sourdough rye bread (makes me enormously hungry, so I stopped again) and at one point I thought: What the heck, I’m going to eat ice cream today. Three hours later I got slightly noticeable pimples and local inflammation (I think they are called nodules) and after another roughly 3 hours the acne was prominent.
After that, my suspicion was that milk might be bad for me, but maybe some properly “ripe” cheese like hard cheese (properly digested by bacteria) might be OK. So I waited for the acne inflammation to go away and tried again with a Parmesan cheese. Bingo, acne again, and again in the 3 to 6 hour time frame.
So I didn’t touch milk or dairy again, but now I looked for raw milk cheese, as I read something about it being possibly better. After a while I found raw-milk-cheese, tried it – and got no acne. Tried again, after some time, with another brand – again no acne. Tried cheese from pasteurized milk – acne.
As I still have health problems, I am still in the process of figuring out things. Next up for me is trying to get rid of beef for a week or two, to see if that might be a problem for me.
- I was not very systematic in my experiments, and had some lucky moments.
- All the macro-nutrient ratio paradigms are IMHO BS and not applicable for the majority (might make sense if someone has real/major metabolic problems like T1DM, etc.)
- Having said that, in my view some carb foods come with baggage: e.g. cereal grains and (pasteurized) milk
- A quickly reacting, non-dangerous, clearly visible (objective) surrogate health marker (in my case acne) is worth its weight in gold [I agree, canary in coal mine. In this case it isn't clear what else besides no acne was gained by avoiding pasteurized dairy. -- Seth]
- With such a marker, one should completely eliminate suspicious foods (in my case *ALL* dairy) and then introduce it again (two or three challenges)
- For me, pasteurized dairy = acne, raw dairy = no acne
- Milk chocolate is dairy [A friend's mother said, "If I'm ever in jail, bring me some chocolate." She'll break out.-- Seth]
- Some surrogate health markers (e.g. weight) reacted “funky” for me: I changed my diet to no-carb, my weight went down, and without any big changes [in diet or exercise] my weight started to climb again. [Same thing happened to Alex Chernavsky. -- Seth]
- For most of the health problems that went away, I don’t know exactly what food (Cereal grains? Dairy? Vegetable oils? etc.) caused what problem
- As I felt like I was going to die on my old diet, I am not particular keen on going back full scale to my old diet to see if after one or two month all my old symptoms return, to determine which food caused which symptom… [Better to test the old foods one at a time. -- Seth]
- Medical science and several MDs helped me diddly squat
- Paleo blogs were much more helpful than the medical community
I can only guess why raw milk and cheese are less harmful than pasteurized milk and cheese. Maybe milk and cheese contain acne-causing chemicals that leak into the blood. Maybe raw milk, which contains bigger entities than pasteurized milk, does a better job of plugging the holes from digestive system to blood.