Effect of Carnivore Diet on Dandruff

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What I plan to do

See how strict carnivore diet affects my dandruff.

Background

I’ve had dandruff my entire life. I suspect it’s seborrheic dermatitis but can’t be sure. Nothing I have tried so far had any impact. Steroid shampoos, different heads and shoulders shampoos, all natural hippy dippy shampoos, apple cider vinegar wash, only hot water no products for months. Nothing.

My partner believes the dandruff is a gut response, that eating food which inflames me is what causes it. What she recommends is called an Elimination Protocol. It means eating as few inflammatory foods as possible, to start with this means I’ll only be eating red meat and salt.

Once I’ve been eating red meat and salt for a period of at least a month (depending how depressed I am from missing food) I will slowly start adding in other food products to see what effect they have.

If possible, I’d like to stay on a purely meat diet for three months. This might be too ambitious.

Where possible I will also practice intermittent fasting, with an eating window of about 4 hours each day.

Method

Each day I’ll keep a log of

  • food consumed
  • at what time
  • a close up video of rubbing my beard
  • a photo of black paper after rubbing my beard over it

All logs will be tracked and recorded using Notion, and then shared on Reddit and QS forums. I’ll upload videos to YouTube.

Testing period

Early Jan to early Feb for phase one (strict carnivore) and will check results and readjust from there. Either going deeper into carnivore (applying longer fasts) or further away into more ketovore (meat centric low carb).

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Hi Said,

Thank you for posting about this plan. It’s great to be able to discuss and learn from a self-tracking project from the start. I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty to switch the category to “Project Logs.” This doesn’t make much of a difference in how it appears on the forum, design-wise, but Project Logs are meant to document ongoing projects, and encourage frequent updates, so that if you decide to present about your project sometime your progress is well documented.

I have two questions:

  1. How are you tracking your dandruff?
  2. Why did you choose red meat and salt as the basis of the diet?

I would be concerned about eating only red meat. Possibly add supplements?
Nothing But Meat Article.
Do you also track the humidity level in your environment?
How is the general condition of your skin (Dry, Oily, etc). Does it show the effects of what you are eating?
Have you looked at the makeup of your skin and gut micro-biome?

Heya Gary, thanks!

  1. I’m tracking it with photos and videos. Not the most scientific… I’m open to other ideas!
  2. I chose meat and salt based on the (somewhat controversial) advice of my partner. :joy:

Liver has more than enough micronutrients, fat and protein can cover all the rest of my needs, plus salt is critical as we can’t make it ourselves (unlike… say glucose for example).

Thanks for sharing that article!

Yeah I eat tip to tail as much as I can, which means I’ll occasionally even eat parts of the bones I slow cook for example, and cartilage etc. When I have eaten red meat for a while I will re-evaluate and see about adding fish and seafood into my diet, as that’s the easiest way to eat complete animals.

I also regularly eat raw liver which is far more densely packed with (bioavailable!) micronutrients than any other food source. Like, by an order of magnitude per unit. The trick is to make sure it has been frozen long enough to kill any parasites.

Plus I (very occasionally) have diatematious earth which is apparently small, sharp and hard enough to kill parasites (purely anecdotally, I haven’t ever looked for research on this).

My skin is quite oily typically, I’ve never noticed whether my food shows effects on my skin because I’ve never paid close attention to it before, other than having lived with dandruff for as long as I remember. Though I do notice far more dandruff after having Kombucha which sucks because it’s my favourite lol.

I have not looked at the makeup of my gut micro-biome. Wouldn’t even know how. As for my skin microbes I have no clue about this. I don’t use any products on my skin other than shampoo and jojoba oil.

Without using jojoba my skin can get dry on my face. All the rest of my skin doesn’t get dry and I use no moisturizer or anything. I live in a tropical climate and it can range between mid to high humidity, but I spend a lot of time in air-conditioned spaces as of this year.

This book is on my to-read list: Clean

Interesting. I have come across this idea. I vaguely recall something called the donut theory. That humans are basically donuts with skin actually going all the way around, inside and out. In that way I suppose it makes sense that the outer layer would also have it’s own microbiome.

I haven’t changed my diet yet, still eating low carb with plenty of non animal foods.

Oki, I suppose I’ll post these videos here maybe once a week or so. I hardly imagine anyone would be interested in seeing it lol but for posterity’s sake here it is.

If you have any suggestions for me to improve what I’m doing, please share!

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Hi Said, I think your project will be much easier to carry out and more likely to yield a discovery if you develop a way to make a record of your observations of “dandruff severity” that you can conveniently collect over time. By “conveniently collect over time” I mean that it becomes part of your daily life and isn’t so burdensome that it’s likely to be disturbed when other aspects of your daily routine change, as they inevitably will.

Observations have three elements:

  1. Noticing.
  2. Measuring.
  3. Recording.

Noticing means that you select some aspect of your dandruff problem that you can easily separate from the more fuzzy and complex background context and check it reliably day after day. What is the specific phenomenon you want to track? This could be a visual impression when you look in the mirror each morning, or, alternately, you can develop a simple procedure, like taking a piece of cloth of contrasting color and brushing it across your scalp one time. There are many possibilities, but the selection of a specific phenomenon to track doesn’t happen automatically. You will probably have to try some different approaches to determine an easy and trustworthy method. Getting the specific phenomenon right will be a huge help, and it’s worth playing with a bit and learning what works.

Measuring refers to how you translate your assessment into a number. It’s typically easiest to work with binary measures or 3 point scales. In the simplest measurement schemes, you focus either on incidence of the phenomenon (binary) or on bad/medium/good. These approaches work well when you want to troubleshoot a problem and don’t care very much about subtle degrees of improvement. If you want to get to “# of days without dandruff” or “# of good days” then you don’t wan to mess around with scales that require you to assess a “6/10” day vs a “7/10” day.

Recording means getting your numerical assessment into a permanent record. Should be trivial, but failure modes abound. I advise avoiding self-tracking apps and using either: pen and paper; or, a common, general purpose notes app or spreadsheet. My workflow for projects like this involves entering the number in my notes app, and then later, when I want to do an analysis, copying into a spreadsheet.

I know this advice may seem a bit low level and finicky. But by concentrating on the fundamentals of selecting a specific phenomenon, establishing an observation protocol, and recording your observations reliably, you set yourself up to “learn a lot just by watching.”

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You mentioned kombucha as causing a problem. I googled “Kombucha effect on skin” and got a lot of hits that seem to indicate it is beneficial.
I would consider more experiments on kombucha if it produces known results. Questions like:
Does the type of kombucha matter (plain, flavored, etc), is the effect dose related, does when you drink it matter, how long before onset of symptoms, how long for relief from symptoms, can you replicate the effect with a different acid solution (vinegar or lemon juice), does tea have any effect, sugar, yeast, probiotics.
This could wring out your approach to measuring effects before a more global total diet change.

Thanks Gary! I really appreciate your time. Yeah it seems finicky but I figure that’s the perfect advice for me to truly learn how to experiment. I am very much a ‘dont want to get bogged down in details’ kinda person and I aspire to overcome this. I like the simplicity of good, medium and bad, I will rework my approach to clearly outline those three elements and see how the experiment changes over time.

  1. Noticing; I will simply look, feel and describe, using my fingers to check how thick and dense the dandruff is, on my chin and sideburns (easiest to access).
  2. Measuring; I will use a (one minute?) timer while I rub and look, capturing any falling dandruff on a page, then photograph the result.
  3. Recording; I will use a spreadsheet to capture the date, time and goodness rating. Also might record how many hours ago my last shower was. And to keep it simple, whether I was strict carnivore or even slightly deviated.
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Thanks, I will definitely come to this in time! For now I’ll focus on eating as little variety as I can, to see what impact happens, and then I’ll test and reintroduce foods over a slow period.

It’s difficult with dandruff to isolate whether food etc has an effect because each day it changes throughout the day. Starting with a little after my shower and ending with a lot before my shower. So I guess I get out off by that. I’ll start by keeping it as simple and repetitive as possible, and get into testing specific foods and food groups in the future.

Pre-experiment log #2.

Today’s dandruff level I’ve ranked as bad though the method wasn’t very articulated so the result isn’t so important as the process.

Speaking of, upon watching back a few things occur to me to improve these observations and make them slightly more scientific;

  1. Pick the order, direction and timing of feeling between my chin hairs, in order to standardise results a little more.
  2. Include the rank of good, bad and medium during the video.
  3. Improve the lighting.
  4. Hold the camera side ways so it shows better on QS.

If you have any suggestions for improving my method please let me know!

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Cool experiment! I’ve also struggled with dandruff, but it went away at some point - not quite sure how, though I suspect showering every day once I started working out every day, had something to do with it. Head & Shoulders shampoo worked for a while, then stopped working :man_shrugging: I now use a hippie shampoo, Natralia, and shave te beard.

I also used the “black background” contrast method, by simply brushing my hair above my black desk. Are you only concerned with beard dandruff, as the videos show? How about the scalp? If the scalp has no dandruff, try shampooing the beard? :slight_smile:

Thanks Dan! Brushing that’s such a good idea lol I’ll just use a comb quickly and do maybe 3 passes over. That will make the logs heaps shorter to film as well as standardise them more!

I use a hippy shampoo too lol it helped in the beginning and now doesn’t help at all (could be any of a million factors there). I’m going to keep using this shampoo at least until I’ve tried changing my diet up.

I do have dandruff all over my scalp too! Just can’t film it that well unless my hair is quite short. It’s basically exactly the same (far as I can tell) as that on my beard. I do shampoo my beard lol.

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Log #3

Rank: Bad
Day: 4
Log: 3

This video shows another pre control measure log. dandruff seemed nowhere near as bad for some unknown reason, but shaving after filming revealed it was definitely just as bad.

Tried filing in the bathroom to help quality though I’m not sure if it did. I’ll keep filming in landscape.

Control begins properly in just over a week, will continue filming these and refining my observing and rating technique as I go. Couldn’t add the photo at the end of the video due to annoying video… coding… idk what I’m doing lol.

I’ll probably design a Notion spreadsheet today or tomorrow.

Any tips or hints about dandruff, tracking, N-of-1 or even simply vlogging please let me know!

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Let’s say at day 30 ('cuz Whole30), your dandruff plateaus at 50% of the initial badness. What will you do?

Log #4

Wuhoo consistency baby!

Rank: Meh
Day: 6

This video shows a pre control measure log. Again dandruff seems not as bad, but after trimming the dandruff shows its true face!

Next week I’ll start the carnivore diet properly. W00p!

Any tips or hints about dandruff, tracking, N-of-1 or even simply vlogging please let me know.

Hmmm no idea at this point!

I guess I’d have to control for something else and see how it goes. Before doing that I might see how consistently I can keep it at that level.

Off the top of my head;

  • Shower temperature
  • Hippy dippy shampoo I currently use

I could also try to trigger a flareup. The whole point of doing carnivore is that it’s a great elimination protocol, so I could add, say… cheese back in to see if that triggers it to get worse. Kombucha… veggies… etc etc.

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Have you noticed any seasonal patterns? Might be something to factor into your experiment design…