080: Nutrient Depletions That Can Trigger Adult Acne w/ Autumn Smith

Struggling with acne as an adult can be frustrating. What many people may not know is that nutrient depletion can impact the onset of acne later in life. My guest today offers some information about what to eat to try and reduce adult acne.

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My guest today is Autumn Fladmo Smith. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in dance from the University of Montana.

She has also danced professionally, taught yoga, and toured the world training celebrities as a Tracy Anderson Method fitness trainer. While working for Tracy Anderson she could see that exercise alone was not enough for all of her clients to achieve vibrant health.

Meanwhile, “incurable” IBS and anxiety continued to place her personal health. Through self guided research, Autumn healed herself by upgrading her diet. She was then so inspired by the healing power of food that she quit her job as a personal trainer to pursue the study of holistic nutrition full time.

Autumn earned her Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Hawthorn University and became a Certified Eating Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner.

She and her family founded Paleovalley in 2013 with the goal of disseminating high quality nutrition information and products to everyone who will listen. Autumn's dedication to health also reached new heights following the birth of her son, Maverick.

Join us as we talk about how nutrient depletions can affect adult acne.

Have you seen a difference to your acne after incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into your diet? Tell me about it in the comments!

In this episode:

  • Autumn's history with acne
  • Three things that helped her
  • Hypochlorhydria
  • The effect emotional stress and oxidative stress have on your skin
  • Autumn's favorite nutrient-dense foods


“I urge you (and it took a long time for me to get here) to see your acne as a whisper from your body.” [3:10]

“Vitamin A in food form from animals is really, really important for your skin.” [4:00]

“A lot of acne is caused by oxidative stress. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants we know of.” [5:58]

“Collagen is like the scaffold for the skin and it's amazing for your gut as well.” [16:22]


Find Autumn online

Use code HEALTHYSKIN10 to get 10% off your first purchase at the Paleovalley online store

Healthy Skin Show ep. 068: Vitamin A & Zinc Connections To Skin Rash Symptoms w/ Chris Masterjohn, PhD

Healthy Skin Show ep. 013: What's Really Going On Behind Adult Acne? w/ Brie Weiselman

Healthy Skin Show ep. 034: Diet Solutions For Adult Acne w/ Brie Wieselman

Autumn's Radiate in 28 Program

DIY low stomach acid test

Follow Autumn on Facebook

Cronometer nutrition tracker

080: Nutrient Depletions That Can Trigger Adult Acne w/ Autumn Smith FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everyone and welcome back to the Healthy Skin Show. Today I've got a guest with me who is someone that I've known for a while from a distance because a pretty close friend of mine I believe actually works for Paleovalley now and I've already given the name. You're like, wait, who is this? My guest today is Autumn Smith and she's the one of the founders of Paleovalley and I love their products and I wanted to talk to her because of her really interesting history with her health and how she wove that into creating a food company that is super based around nutrient density. That's one of the biggest takeaways from me is that it's clean, nutrient dense and whatnot, and it spring-boarded from her health journey. And you might not know this about her, but she had danced professionally and taught yoga and toured with world training celebrities like Tracy Anderson. And she was a Tracy Anderson method fitness trainer. And while she worked for Tracy Anderson, she could see that exercise alone really wasn't enough for all of our clients to get toward that state of vibrant health that everyone seeks. In the meantime, she was dealing with incurable IBS and anxiety, which put a real burden upon her own personal health and she worked on upgrading her diet and eventually healed herself. She was then so inspired by the healing power of food that she quit her job as a personal trainer to pursue the study of holistic nutrition full time. She earned her Master's degree in nutrition from Hawthorne University and became a certified eating coach and functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. In 2013 she and her family founded Paleovalley with the goal of disseminating high quality nutrition information and products to everyone who will listen. Her dedication to health also reached new heights following the birth of her son. Maverick. Thank you so much for joining us, Autumn. I appreciate you being here.

Autumn: You're so welcome, Jennifer. It's an honor to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

Jennifer: So let's talk about acne today. You know, we haven't talked a ton about acne and I get asked quite a bit about it, especially those ladies who are a bit on the older side. So we're talking not a teenager and all of a sudden you're like, wait, I'm getting acne. Like I thought I outgrew this phase of my life and I can't figure out what's going on. You're trying a lot of like topical things and it doesn't seem to work. And my gut instinct right now is you're going to tell me you've got to look on the inside. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Autumn: I would love to, especially because, oh, I struggled with acne for my whole life starting in my teens. I was always like, okay, you know, I just need to learn to accept it. But when I hit 25 and 30 and it was still happening, I was kind of like, Whoa, this isn't funny anymore. And I hope everyone out there doesn't feel alone because adult acne is just on the rise and like Jen said, it's a sign of imbalance and I urge you, it took a long time for me to get here, but to kind of see your acne as a whisper from your body. Just like, Hey, pay attention. Something isn't in balance. And it took me a really long time. I did the Paleo Diet. It helped a little bit. It wasn't until I really got my micronutrients and my gut health in check that things were better all the time. So some of the things that really helped me, I just want to talk about three. The first is just micronutrients that are really, really important for the skin. I think we have this emphasis on what we're not eating in the Paleo space. We're not doing gluten, we're not doing grains, we're not doing sugar, we're not doing soy. And that is all awesome because those foods aren't going to, you know, prevent acne. But we're not also focusing on what we should be eating and things like vitamin A. Vitamin A in food form from animals is really, really important for your skin. It helps keep skin cells turning over rather than the dead skin cells that can clog your pores. So vitamin A is really, really important and also zinc. Zinc and vitamin A kind of go hand in hand. If you're not eating, you know oysters and you're not eating pumpkin seeds and you're not eating grass fed red meat regularly. Or if you are eating a lot of phytates like from legumes and a lot of nuts and seeds and grains, that is like the number one predictor of zinc deficiency and I see it all the time in women with skin issues. If you are one of those people who gets like dry patchy skin that later leads to acne, that could be a big zinc thing and you can actually do this zinc taste test. There's this premier research lab's zinc supplement that I get. If you taste like a little teaspoon of that and it doesn't taste super bitter and make you want to spit it out, then it's likely or you might be deficient in zinc, so I like to throw that out there. The two other ones, I see: vitamin D, it's synthesized in the skin. It acts as a hormone in our body, so you can see how vitamin D levels when they're low, when they're off, it sets off this chain reaction. That can actually be one of the underlying factors in hormonal acne. And a lot of us aren't outside enough, we're wearing sunblock, maybe we're not eating organic produce and sometimes pesticides can interfere with the activation of vitamin D and maybe we're going outside, but we're also using a lot of soap and body products that interfere with those skin bacteria that help with the conversion. There's a lot of reasons. It's also hard to get from food. But checking your vitamin D status. There was a study, it was really cool that 1,000iU a day of Vitamin D actually reduced pimples by 35% I think over just a month. So that was cool. And the last one is vitamin C is central to Collagen production. A lot of acne is caused by oxidative stress. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants we know of. And I know there's like a RDA of 60 to 90 milligrams, but some people, especially in today's society where we're constantly bombarded by this toxicity, we actually need more vitamin C than we think. Especially if you're not eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, if you're smoking, if you live in a big city or you're in a profession where you're constantly exposed to levels of toxicity. So that's first is think as much about what you are eating as what you're not. And there's this cool little exercise where you go to this app called chronometer and it's got this extensive micronutrient database. It's kinda like My Fitness Pal. So you just write what you've eaten for three days in there and it'll show you which micronutrients your low in. Of course you can do blood testing too, but this is a nice place to start. The other two I things I want to share is I was juicing garlic at the worst point in my acne. Garlic. I was convinced that it was a candida issue that I had. Garlic has some anti-candida and antibacterial properties. I have a food sensitivity to garlic. And so when I identified that, everything got way better. Now I know, avoiding garlic is awful, but if I eat garlic two days later I will get a breakout and it will be on my nose. This seems to be a certainty for me. So exploring food sensitivities, always a great idea. And the last thing that I think causes a lot of breakouts that people might know about (other than general gut issues because food sensitivities are often a result of that) is hypochlorhydria, which just means you don't have enough stomach acid going on and when you don't have enough stomach acid, you're not breaking down your food, you're not getting those nutrients. And so I see a lot of women, especially as they age, because levels of hydrochloric acid decline after 50, I see that once we restore those levels, skin breakouts don't happen as often.

Jennifer: I actually focus with my private clients on helping them identify whether they have enough stomach acid because if they're consuming any type of protein and they don't have enough stomach acid to break it down, that means that the nutrients like B12, which is typically attached to protein, doesn't get separated. The proteins aren't broken down into their smaller amino acids because your body doesn't absorb cow or chicken. It breaks down the pieces into their smallest parts. And then absorbs them and our body has this great wisdom to reformulate those little tiny pieces. I like to think of them as like Legos (amino acids) into whatever it is our body needs. But the stomach acid piece is a big, big part of this. If you haven't done that low stomach acid test, which I talk often about, we'll definitely put that in the show notes here so that if you want to give that a shot you can, it's super easy to do at home and that might be one of the big pieces to your puzzle. Now, one thing I wanted to add is just that piece about the vitamin C which is super interesting. And I don't know if you have any thoughts on this, but one of the biggest stores in the body of vitamin C is your adrenal glands. And stress is such a big piece to this. From your perspective, do you think there's some connection too between like the stress and oxidative stress that our body goes through? You know, whether you're exposed to chemicals or fumes or whatever, or just even if you're in a really stressful relationship. Emotional stress can certainly be traumatic as well.

Autumn: Oh, my goodness. I'm so glad you brought that up because it was just last week or maybe two weeks ago that I came upon this research that when people have adequate levels of vitamin C. (And when you do vitamin C, if you can do it from fresh fruits and vegetables, awesome. If you could do that three times a day, great. If you're taking a supplement, I would split it up because it can actually prevent or moderate the amount of cortisol you're releasing.) So yes, it's important to address the sources of stress in your life, but it seems like vitamin C, in addition to just preventing oxidative stress and buffering you from toxicity, even this emotional response and the cortisol response seems to be buffered by adequate amounts of vitamin C. And by the way, adequate amounts are different for everyone. They've done research, they're highly variable. And so you have to find your sweet spot. But yes, I'm so glad you brought that up because there's definitely connection.

Jennifer: And I think another point to that is that while we're talking about acne, we talk about all different chronic skin conditions here. And so I know that there's a lot of people who are listening to all of the episodes rather than just cherry picking because they find the information, they can apply some of it to their particular circumstance. And stress is a huge trigger for many people who have Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea. Stress is usually one of the top triggers for people. So that might also be another helpful tidbit for others listening if they feel like they are chronically under a lot of stress, vitamin C may be a really helpful piece to their puzzle to help support the adrenal health, the dealing with free radicals that are bouncing around the body as a result of any number of things that are going on. So I really, really love that. So as far as acne is concerned, your whole thing is about food, and I believe (if I'm wrong about this, let me know), but I feel like a lot of what you do has to do with nutrient density. What would be some of your favorite foods that if we're talking about acne that are super nutrient dense and that are gonna help somebody really see a difference in cleaning their diet up.

Autumn: I love this topic because there's seven foods that I often talk about, but I'm going to throw them at you. The first one. And I know a lot of people, oh, I don't know how your audience will take this, but it's liver, it's liver, it's organ meats. And before you get super grossed out, I just wanted to tell you, I don't actually eat it or enjoy liver, but I just want to tell you, it is nature's Multivitamin, richest source of vitamin A. So critical for your skin health. Richest source of natural B12. It has zinc, it has iron, and it has like this unique ability for your body to use those minerals really effectively because of the synergy. When I was pregnant, I learned about the fact that they were literally kind of the missing piece. It's really hard to be nutrient sufficient in today's world because even if you're choosing nutrient dense foods, because the levels of minerals in our soil are on the decline, which means our food, our plants, and the animals who eat the plants, it's all less nutrients dense than it used to be. So organ meats are a great way to kind of compensate for that. And when I was pregnant I was like, okay, this is the time in my life. I'm going to do everything I can to get all the nutrients my body needs for that little baby. But I couldn't choke it down. And so my company and I, we put them in capsules. We did heart, liver and kidney mostly liver because of its anti fatigue and vitamin A and vitamin B 12. And I had that acne history, so we wanted to be sure that it was nice and high in vitamin A. I'm so proud of it in capsules so you never have to taste it. It's a wonderful solution. So liver, organ meats, if you don't consume them, I hope that you will at least start. I've heard liver pate and chicken liver are less off-putting. They're better, they're more palatable. If you want to begin somewhere and I would soak it if you want to try and make, soak it in some coconut milk first. I've heard that's a great place to start.

Jennifer: Well, let me ask you a quick question about that. In case someone wants to actually go and find liver or other organ meats, do you have any suggestions about what they should even be looking for? Because I would assume you shouldn't just go to your regular grocer and buy liver.

Autumn: No, definitely not yet. How they're raised is really, really critical. Sometimes you can get it in a store, whole foods, a local health food market, but you must be sure they're grass fed and grass finished. Okay. And if you're gonna meet a farmer, when I lived in California, I had a farmer who would do this for me. I looked him in the eye, you know, I asked him the hard questions about how he was raising his animals. I trusted him. And so I highly recommend you definitely trust the source and you vet them. There's so many loopholes. So you want to ask them, are they ever fed grain? Hopefully that's a no, or they even finished on grain. Hopefully that's a no, are they using pesticides? That should be a no. Antibiotics. Most farmers, ranchers who do grass fed finish don't, but it's possible. So it's always worth asking. And then the cream of the crop, the last question I love is do you utilize rotational grazing practices? Now the reason I ask this is because recent research has shown farmers, ranchers who do this it's not only sustainable animal agriculture, it's actually regenerative. And so every time you make a decision to vet these people and to choose animal products from farmers who are like literally sequestering carbon and building topsoil and replenishing those minerals stores. Future generations benefit. And all of us benefit from more nutrient dense foods.

Jennifer: Awesome. Okay, next.

Autumn: Leafy greens. Oh my goodness. Antioxidants are key to having vibrant health. So what I do is just a green shake every single day. Romaine, spinach, celary, cucumbers, a few strawberries, maybe some Collagen. I often put collagen protein in there or bone broth. Again, Collagen is like the scaffold for the skin and it's amazing for your gut as well. So I do my green shake with the bone broth protein. Number three is things from the sea. So minerals, our body can't make. Things from the sea are very rich in minerals as well as omega three fatty acids, which are incredible for your skin. If you start to get really dry, flaky skin, or just dull skin, that can be an Omega three deficiency. If you don't have enough of those Omega threes, you're going to be inflamed. And so that's again another cause of skin issues. So things like oysters and clams and mussels and wild salmon and all of those things. Even seaweed. Now I know there's certain people who will tell you that too much iodine will cause acne, but I don't see that ever with food sources. So seaweed, don't go crazy on the kelp, but I just don't think that's your problem. The last two are just fermented foods. As I said, this was fascinating to me when I finally understood this connection, that if I had digestive issues, I had IBS for, you know, over a decade, two days later I would have a breakout. So I think your audience probably knows this, but if your gut is not healthy, if you have leaky gut, then your skin is going to suffer, your body's going to be trying to get all of that stuff out and your skin is the largest organ. So that's what's going to happen. So I really, really like to use fermented foods to restore the bacterial imbalance that you might have. Just adding things like raw organic sauerkraut. We have grass fed and finished beef stick that actually contains probiotics. If you do the coconut kefer kind of things, just fermented foods. You don't need to eat them in large amounts; a little bit goes a long way. And my last food is just spices because a) They're full of antioxidants and they also are very, very helpful. Some of them are antibacterial. We have an apple cider vinegar complex that combines turmeric, very anti-inflammatory, ginger, again, very anti-inflammatory, lemon and apple cider vinegar, which is gonna help you break down and liberate the proteins from your food. And what I used to do, and the reason we made that complex is because I used to drink this tea I called ignite, and I put turmeric and cinnamon and Ginger and Lemon and some cayenne. And it helps keep my blood sugar stable. I think you've talked about this, but PCOS, insulin resistance, if you have unstable blood sugar and insulin issues, that is also a culprit when it comes to breakouts. And so I like to keep my blood sugar nice and steady with spices. They do a beautiful job of helping with this. And I just think they're the most antioxidant rich foods ever. So nutrient dense when you're looking at like gram for gram. And so doubling the amount you're using in your recipes, making awesome little concoctions like I do to drink every day. Just being creative about the different ways you can bring them into your diet I think is totally key.

Jennifer: And something like that apple cider vinegar complex, is that something that you would recommend people take before they eat? How would you take something like that?

Autumn: There's a few ways I use it, but yes, before I eat. That is like the first thing my husband, my son and I do in the morning, we have like two cap-fulls of that with like two drops of Stevia and we call it our wellness tonic. So right away in the morning. So we can just kinda jumpstart our body's ability to produce hydrochloric acid and also reduce any inflammation. The other way that's kind of cool is there's research to suggest that it lowers fasting blood sugar levels in type two diabetics. It's just really good for blood sugar control. If you're on medications, of course talk to your doctor, but sometimes people take it after they eat as well because of that blood sugar stabilizing effect.

Jennifer: Oh, interesting. That is a really interesting idea. We had Brie Wieselman on the show, and she had talked about PCOS and we can certainly link to that in this post. But that's a really interesting idea to help if you are having blood sugar issues. That's a great idea. I love it.

Autumn: And if you just want to do the organic apple cider vinegar Braggs with the mother, you know, like a cap-full or two diluted in water. You can use a straw, it can be hard on the enamel, just toss it back and yeah, it's very beneficial. The other thing I really love about it is it's actually been shown to reduce cravings. So I mean, who doesn't want that. Can keep you off that blood sugar roller coaster.

Jennifer: That is always definitely helpful. Well, Autumn, I just want to thank you so much for coming and sharing your knowledge with everybody. I just want to reiterate that Paleovalley has been one of my favorite companies. So Autumn, I'm really appreciative that you joined us today to share all of this incredible information because as we all know, struggling with acne, especially when there's that onset later in life can be incredibly frustrating. And I hope that these pieces to the puzzle will give every one who's struggling with this, some answers that they're not getting from their dermatologist because oftentimes it's like a pill or a cream or something like that. And we're starting to think, hey, maybe like you said, these are little clues that our body has given us to invite us to look deeper. And food is certainly such a big piece of the puzzle. And adding nutrient dense foods is important. So as I was saying, Paleovalley is one of my favorites. Gosh, I carry you guys with me on flights. I've constantly got your products on me and, and in my handbag, wherever I go. And I was so appreciative when you guys were so nice to give a gift to everybody listening, a nice little coupon that they can use for 10% off our Paleovalley products. Do you want to share what that coupon code would be for them?

Autumn: Yeah, that's going to be HEALTHYSKINSHOW and like she said, 10% off store-wide. We've got a lot of products going on. So go there and check it out. You can also email me at autumn@paleovalley.com if you have questions or concerns. We're excited for you guys to try our products. We've put a lot of love into them and I hope they make your skin radiant.

Jennifer: Well, let us know what you think of this podcast. If you have any questions, I'll let Autumn know that you've left them in our comments section and maybe she can join us again sometime and talk a little bit more about nutrient dense foods and how they can be really helpful for those struggling with chronic skin issues. But remember, check out paleovalley.com you've got the coupon code to use, and Autumn, thank you so much for joining us.

Autumn: It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

"I urge you (and it took a long time for me to get here) to see your acne as a whisper from your body."