Q & As – Avocado Omega Balance, PMS Acne, and Forced to Go Without Makeup

Hi Tracy,
I have something to ask you regarding avocado which you included in a video earlier about top ten anti-inflammatory foods. The omega 3 to omega 6 ratio for avocado is an unhealthy ratio – excess omega 6 is inflammatory, so in your opinion, do you think eating an avocado everyday is beneficial?

Hi there!

You are right that avocados do have more Omega 6s than Omega 3s. For those of you not familiar with this concept, let me explain:

We need these two fats in our diets in a specific ratio of approximately 2:1 Omega 6s to Omega 3s. When this ratio is in line, your body produces tons of anti-inflammatory compounds. When this ratio is not in line, inflammation flourishes.

Because Omega 6s are found in abundance in modern foods like processed vegetable oils (such as corn oil, soybean oil, etc), and quality Omega 3s are found in so few foods, most modern people have a ratio of like 20:1 6s to 3s as opposed to the ideal 2:1. So inflammation abounds. And it’s not really good enough to simply up your Omega 3s – you also have to lower your Omega 6s for it to make a difference.

Now, as for avocados, while it does have some Omega 6 and hardly any Omega 3, I don’t think it’s a huge problem in this case. As far as I know, most of the avocado is monounsaturated fats as opposed to polyunsaturated (which houses the Omega family), so the amount of Omega 6 you are getting is still quite small. If you have cut out processed foods and commercial seed oils from your diet and do not eat a ridiculous amount of nuts like almonds (which are another fairly large source of Omega 6s if you eat a lot of them), and you take a good Omega 3 fish oil or cod liver oil every day, then one avocado per day shouldn’t be a big deal.

Plus the reason I included avocado in my anti-inflammatory list was because it has a diverse range of vitamins, anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

Hi Tracy,

Can i ask a question? I, like you, find myself breaking out a lot the week before my period. do you have any idea what is going on during this time of the month? is it androgens, progesterone or estrogen? i have done a lot of research on this but havent come to a conclusion. How can we fix this? 

Hi there!

What is supposed to happen in a regular cycle is that estrogen is the dominant hormone during day 1 – 14 of your cycle, and then after you ovulate and before your period (called the luteal stage), estrogen is supposed to fall and progesterone is supposed to be the dominant hormone.

What I think is happening in my most women that have classic PMS symptoms and pre-menstrual acne is that our progesterone levels end up being lower than estrogen in the luteal phase of our cycle and it doesn’t balance out the estrogenic effects. This is generally referred to as estrogen dominance. This could either be because you have normal progesterone levels and high estrogen levels, or you could have normal estrogen levels and a lower progesterone level…. you could even have low estrogen levels, but still have estrogen dominance symptoms if your progesterone is even lower.

So anyway… hormones don’t get out of whack for no reason. They get out of whack due to lifestyle problems, so things like a nourishing, anti-inflammatory diet (including lots of Omega 3s and a good Omega balance!), lowering stress, and exercise are going to help fix this problem.

There are supplements out there that can also help you such as Vitex Chasteberry, Evening Primrose Oil, or Dong Quai but I really think it’s best to see a natural therapist who can test you for hormone levels and recommend what will work for you before you start blindly messing with your hormones.

However, there is a supplement that you may find interesting called DIM or diindolylmethane, which is a natural compound found in broccoli and cruciferous vegetables. What it does is help your body to metabolize bad estrogens that we’ve acquired from our environment (from plastics and pesticides and things), so that your estrogen levels can come back into a natural balance.

Fran from High on Health has been using a DIM product called Estroblock three times per day and apparently it was the last piece in her puzzle that finally brought her body into balance and got rid of her mild acne. I find that very interesting and positive. I personally have been trying a different brand of DIM for a few months, and haven’t seen any improvement, although I only took one per day so I may not have been using enough. I may one day give Estroblock a shot, but I’d really like to get a saliva hormone test done before I start on any more hormone supplements.

Hey Tracy,

You see, I’m in my first semester studying nutrition and what makes me really nervous is that next semester I have three laboratories and I won’t be able to wear any piercings, rings, watches, makeup etc.. not to mention I will be forced to wear black pants, a white labcoat and nasty ass black shoes.

I always rely on my makeup, clothing and etc to give me my personality and give me a self esteem boost. Now i will have to go to classes everyday looking like shit. I’m really afraid that this will make me realize that i have a lot of work to be done on myself on the inside and will really make my feel worse about myself. i’m even thinking of changing careers just because i can’t bear the thought of others looking at my bare skin. Do you have any advice for me?

Thanks in advance!

Hi there!

Wow, that is a really tough situation. I’m sorry you’re being forced into it! I understand that it is always a major self esteem boost to be able to dress and look your best, and I wouldn’t be happy in that situation either.

I can definitely feel first hand the anxiety that this situation is stirring up in you because I was someone who used to not be able to imagine ever, EVER going anywhere, let alone somewhere with people I knew, without makeup on and my spots covered up. The thought of people seeing that I wasn’t perfect that was not something I could handle.

However, I never liked this. I didn’t want to be this way. I was envious, yet perplexed by girls who could be around others when they didn’t have any makeup on – how could they do that? Aren’t they self conscious? Yet this problem was not something that I ever planned to face or change, because to me, it still wasn’t enough of a problem to bother moving from my comfort zone.

“I’m really afraid that this will make me realize that i have a lot of work to be done on myself on the inside and will really make my feel worse about myself.” – you already know there are things that you need to address and work on otherwise you wouldn’t have written that sentence. The truth is that facing your fears and demons is never going to be comfortable; it’s never going to be fun. And often it takes a situation like this one to force you to do it, because most of us would never make that leap voluntarily. For me it took the experience of my mild acne (that I fretted so much about) turning to severe acne before I was able to see that the way I felt about myself was unhealthy.

You’re obviously not ready for this transformation and growth – hey – I wasn’t ready to deal with severe acne either – but sometimes we are just thrown into these situations and we must weather them as best we can. I don’t think it’s bad unless you choose to not learn from it or use it as an opportunity to grow. I feel like I’ve come out the other side and I have a healthier way of looking at my imperfections now – I can honestly say that your situation would not stress me out nearly as much as it would have before, even if I happened to have some mild breakouts. That feels pretty good.

I’d highly suggest you do not ditch your career over this, especially if it’s what you really want to do. You will regret it, and I would be very disappointed. You will get through this – just remember that every single person in your lab is going to be in the same situation and NO ONE is going to be looking at you. One thing I’ve learned is that people just don’t care about you the way you think they do. I mean, they care about you as a person – but they don’t care what you look like. They are way more concerned about what they look like.

You can do it. Be strong!

Lots of love,
Tracy x

PS – I think I’m only going to do the Q & A article every second Monday, instead of every week. Some people like this article, and others don’t seem to… so I will be sure to save up some really good q’s for the bi-weekly sesh!

photo by Darwin Bell

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  1. Tamar says

    Thanks for the post, Tracy! I’m thoroughly interested in anything about hormonal acne. I tend to break out mostly a week before my period also and hormonal acne seems so murky and difficult to pinpoint and get rid of. I’m going to give Evening Primrose Oil a shot though. Do you know if it might initially cause a breakout?
    In regard to the no-make-up thing, eeek! I decided one day to go without make-up. I was going to the salon to get my hair cut–the hair salon, all those mirrors and women caked in make-up! And, to top it off, this was when my acne was probably at its worst. I looked like a pissed-off pomegranate without make-up and had huge cysts and whiteheads–the whole nine yards. Although it was terrifying, you’re right. No one really cares what you look like. It is liberating once you go without it. I’m still not entirely over my fear of being sans make-up. “Always do what you’re afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Tracy says

      Hi Tamar!
      I’m not totally sure whether evening primrose oil would cause an initial breakout… I doubt it, but I don’t know!

  2. magda says

    hey tracy!thanks for answering my question!
    one thing i ve learned is never mess with your hormones with supplements.even natural supplements like vitex or evening primrose and flaxseed oil can cause hormonal breakouts for some. i ve tried the three of them in the past hoping they would magically help but i had the worst breakouts of my life.i keep wondering if premenstrual acne is due to progesterone since progesterone is high during the luteal phase.could that be possible? if so how do you normalise this.i have read plenty of info on fixing estrogen dominance and balancing androgens but nothing about balancing high progesterone naturally…even pregnant women get acne due to high levels of progesterone! whatever, hormonal acne is so difficult to understand.i am afraid i will never be able to beat it.i feel so helpless cause nothing seems to work.i always trust your opinion.do you have any idea about this?
    p.s. i like this section.we can always learn more from other peoples questions.we are all here for the same reason guys!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Magda,
      Yeah hormones are a really tricky subject…. I also don’t have it completely straight either about which hormones are doing what. That’s why I said “what I think is happening is…”. I know that acne can be a side effect of estrogen dominance and that estrogen dominance is extremely common – more than other hormonal imbalances – … as for high progesterone, I don’t know whether it causes acne or not. I kind of think that if high progesterone is supposed to be what’s happening during the luteal phase, then it in itself wouldn’t cause PMS and acne, because PMS and acne are not conditions that are “normal”. They seem normal because most women seem to get PMS symptoms, but when you’re healthy, they don’t exist.

      However, when I refer to ‘high progesterone’ during the luteal stage, I simply mean ‘higher than estrogen’, not necessarily high, but simply a normal level of progesterone. Maybe if progesterone is above a normal level during this time and it really is super high, it could also cause acne, which would explain pregnancy acne.

      Agh, it’s confusing.

      Either way, messing around with supplements when you’re not sure is not a great idea…. however, for many who don’t have the money to get a test, they get lucky and it works, but obviously like you, it doesn’t. I really want to visit a natural therapist, get the hormone saliva test for myself, and have a discussion with them about the hormones, and then hopefully I will be more sure as to what to advise.

      In my opinion though, I know that weird hormones are only doing weird things because of other factors and treating them with supplement is usually not really treating the root cause – it’s usually gut problems or stress, or maybe mineral deficiencies (that’s why I decided I wanted to get a mineral test first and see if something there could be an underlying issue for me). Although synthetic estrogens and chemicals from our environment is also a factor, that is why DIM can help.

      • Sampson says

        From what I know about female hormones, I believe that higher levels of progesterone in retrospect to estrogen contribute to acne, similar to an omega-3 to 6 ratio in a way. Many women get acne during menopause which is when both estrogen and progesterone fall, but women who do bioidentical hormone therapy usually take estrogen and that makes virtually all menopause symptoms go away (although that has it’s own issues with estrogen-dependent cancers and whatnot, but that’s another subject altogether.) Also as estrogen drops, androgen hormones like DHT might still stay at the same level, so instead of being controlled by estrogen or healthy free-testosterone, they have a more pronounced effect. So I think this ratio of estrogen to progesterone might be more important than just high or low overall estrogen/progesterone.

        • Tracy says

          Yeah, see this is where I get confused… I too have read that estrogen controls androgens… like for example, the reason that it’s more common for boys to get severe teenage acne is because the girls have estrogen that moderates it. In which case, I don’t understand why acne is a side effect of estrogen dominance, but it is…. although maybe this is where we get into the “bad” estrogens vs the “good” estrogens.

          • Sampson says

            I hate not knowing how stuff works! I always thought estrogen dominance was having an elevated level of estrogen in comparison to progesterone levels, not necessarily having a high level of estrogen (because women who have high levels of estrogen or go through hormone therapy with estrogen find their hair, skin and nails are greatly improved.) My theory is that it’s this ratio of est to progest that can offset hormonal balance and make women more prone to a bunch of stuff like PMS/PMDD or acne. Having elevated estrogen might be fine as long as your progesterone levels are slightly raised as well so the ratio stays similar, but having “normal” levels of progesterone and raised levels of estrogen might make women more predisposed to estrogen-dependent cancers, PMS, acne, etc.

            There’s definitely some sort of correlation between estrogen, DHT, testosterone and progesterone that’s working behind the scenes to influence all of this.

  3. says

    You mentioned that “We need these two fats in our diets in a specific ratio of approximately 2:1 Omega 6s to Omega 3s.” But wouldn’t we want more Omega 3s (anti-inflammatory) versus Omega 6s (inflammatory)? Or did I just read your post incorrectly?

    Thanks. jared

    • Tracy says

      No, it is correct…. you don’t actually need more omega 3s than 6s – you simply need the ratio of approximately 2:1. It’s this ratio that causes the fats to create anti-inflammatory compounds, but if omega 6s are too high compared to the 3s, then they create inflammatory compounds. It’s not so much that Omega 6s are in themselves inflammatory and they are an important part of your diet – it’s just the mega amounts of them that we get in our modern diets (and the low amount of Omega 3s comparatively) that make them so because it throws off this ratio. You only ever hear about getting more Omega 3s to fight inflammation though because there’s almost no way anyone would get more Omega 3 than 6 in their diet by accident.

  4. Tracy says

    @ Sampson – I agree. I do think it has something to do with the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Maybe it works both ways…. if estrogen is way higher than progesterone, it causes problems, and acne, and if progesterone is way higher than estrogen, it also causes problems and acne…. maybe these out of whack ratios causes androgens to rise to match it?

    But yeah… I also think in the case of estrogen dominance symptoms, it definitely also has something to do with having too many bad estrogens from estrogenic foods and plastics and pesticides – these end up occupying the estrogen receptors instead of the good estrogen which moderates androgens… perhaps. I also hate not knowing how things work!

  5. lulu says

    hey tracy great post, do you know if there is a website for where we can find naturopaths? (im from the US). please dont make us wait 2 weeks til the next post tho, i’d really make to make my appointment soon! much love xo

    • Tracy says

      Haha okay I won’t make you wait ha… I usually answer the questions right away to the person who asked anyway and then just post them, or elaborate on them…… but either way…. I’m sorry but I actually don’t know of any far reaching resource for naturopaths except just googling naturopaths + your area

  6. stacey says

    Tracy, What do think about the liver? Its connection to acne? Hormone imbalance? Hormonal acne? I hear that milk thistle may benefit.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Stacey!
      yes the liver is an important link in the whole acne creation, because it filters all the toxins in your body, so if it’s overloaded, it starts dumping toxins into your blood and that can come out on your skin for many reasons. So while an overloaded liver is still not the root cause of acne (since the liver is overloaded for a reason – poor nutrition, tons of toxins in the diet, etc), but helping your liver detoxify so that it can be your security guard again is a good thing! … and yes milk thistle can help, I’ve used that before. Just eating super nutrient dense foods will also help open the liver’s detox pathways.

      • Stacey says

        What was your experience like wiht milk thistle? It makes me nervous because I know you need to have a strong colon before you touch the liver.

        • Tracy says

          Yeah I know.. haha… health is so hard! I don’t know how well it worked exactly. It’s hard to tell. I usually only use it if I’m doing like a candida cleanse or something, in which you are working on your digestion and probiotics and stuff too…

  7. Alexa says

    Hi Tracy,
    I’ve heard that coconut oil is amazing for your health, but it is very high in saturated fat. There seems to be a gap in my logic about how coconut oil can be good for us. Can you help me?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Alexa,

      A bit of saturated fat really isn’t as evil as they make it sound… a stable fat, resistant to going bad, like unrefined coconut oil is way better for you than the delicate and therefore usually rancid vegetable oils that are promoted as healthful (such as corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, margarine etc)

      Coconut oil also contains a lot of something called lauric acid, which is really antiviral and protective against infections. It’s also a potent antifungal that really helps to keep bad bacteria at bay in your intestines.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Jeff,
      Yes I’ve heard of it, haven’t tried it though… sounds like it’s just another oil that works great for some and not for others, so if you want to try it you just have to try it and see!

  8. Jeff says

    ugh. i think i need to just stop with getting too many different things. right now i have jojoba oil, rosehip oil, tea tree oil, aloe vera, manuka honey, AND apple cider vinegar…

    getting addicted with these things. not good. *slapping myself out of it*

  9. katie says

    I was following your instruction on diet to cure eczema on my leg. It has gone down and I see the differnce, but today I ate some cooked beans and I seem to have a flare up again!

    Will I need to start from scratch? What are some immediate measures to prevent it from getting worse.

      • Katie says

        Hi Tracy,
        Yes, I meant on the candida cleanse diet.
        Also, can I eat a small amount of Basmati rice on the diet since I am vegetarian?

        • Tracy says

          Just keep going with the cleanse… at least you know now that your body is talking to you and letting you know what’s good and what’s not. Don’t worry about starting all over again, just keep going.

          Also, I understand it is harder for vegetarians to do the cleanse, and there are many different variations of the diet and opinions, so it’s hard for me to be so strict about it… some versions allow rice. The first cleanse I did I ate brown rice, and it was fine. Try some and see what your body says, since it seems that it is letting you know if it doesn’t like something.

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