If you have read my blog posts on skin health and Skin health – perioral dermatitis here, you would know that I have been looking for an answer to my perioral dermatitis which I have struggled with for the last 4-5 years. This is a rash that turns up on your face..not pretty! This rash is why I eat a paleo diet.Along with this rash I also suffered from chronic fatigue, had dizzy spells, moodiness and my bones and joints ached. This is not something that should be happening when you have just turned 30. I have for a long time eaten a healthy diet, I always listened to my body and ate foods that I thought were good. However there was something that I was missing.
I had been gluten free for about 7 years and rarely consumed dairy, when I did eat either of these my body reacted badly to it big time. However for some reason something still wasn’t right.
All my symptoms were symptoms of autoimmune disease, at the early stages.
What is autoimmune disease?
Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune system. Your immune system’s job is to fight out any invading substances that enter the body that may cause harm or irritation. An over active system means your body is attacking its own cells. So if you are eating a food that is irritating your body and you are constantly consuming that food, then over time this will lead to different levels of irritation. It may start of with some form of digestive issue, dermititis, candida, fatigue or into bigger problems such as chrons disease, thyroid problems, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclorosis.
So how to you fix an autoimmune condition?
Well that depends on who you talk to. If you head to a doctor, they will treat the symptoms by giving you some sort of drug and probably won’t even mention a thing about fixing your diet and lifestyle which have lead to this condition. I have been down this road.
The first time I got my dermitis on my face I went to a skin specialist. They gave me some expensive creams and said if this doesn’t work you will have to see a doctor and then get some antibiotics. The first time around it fixed my problem for about 3 months. Everyone treated the symptoms and not one of them mentioned diet or lifestyle.
So the next time it turned up, the dermititis was stronger and angrier, and not only did I have that but I was constantly exhausted, run down and by bones ached. I even experienced some days when I was super dizzy, like I couldn’t walk! At this point I decided it was time to discover the root cause of all this, become an expert and find out exactly what was happening and why.
What was happening to me?
It all comes back to my digestive health. I was dealing with some incredibly strong and powerful bad bacteria in my intestines. I had a huge imbalance in my intestinal flora. This lead to my autoimmune conditions which showed the symptoms of dermatitis, fatigue and joint pain. I had to sort out my digestive system.
I had to make sure that absolutely everything I ate wasn’t causing any irritation to my gut whatsoever. I had to make life easy for my digestion. It also meant that I had to get myself on some high doses of good friendly bacteria to help restore the balance and eat foods that healed my gut and were anti-inflammatory by nature. So along with the probiotics came good quality omega 3 fish oils and vitamin d.
So what foods could I eat?
I was already avoiding gluten and dairy, so these were a given. I also wasn’t eating any processed foods and didn’t consume much sugar. The foods that caused the biggest irratation to my gut were the grains, legumes and fruit. Even 6 months down the track I still don’t eat these foods, and if it slips into my diet, my body will tell me about it by way of crippling cramps!
The good news is that my face has cleared up. Within a week of removing the grains I had no joint pains, and my energy sky rocketed. Plus I have lost weight!
I always exercised (I am a personal trainer remember), so I tried everything. However no matter how much I pushed myself fitness wise, the last bit of weight always stayed there, I could never get lean. Just by removing these other foods, I got rid of some extra stubborn fat, and actually started to get some muscles. It’s still a work in progress but I’m getting there :)
6 months on I have slowly begun to experiment with adding in some foods I removed. I allow myself to have one real coffee a couple of times a week, the rest is green tea or decaf. Occasionally (once a week) I will have some fruit, any more than that and I get wicked stomach pains and my rash comes to life again.
They say it takes up to two years to restore your friendly bacteria from 1 dose of antibiotics. It’s not even worth mentioning what happens if I eat grains! The only time they have slipped in has been while travelling and it is so not worth going through that again!
What is a Paleo Diet?
Let me just remind you that I am not about diets and quick fixes. So I hate using the word diet, but I’m not sure what other word to use, maybe paleo food choices? Anyway, you know that I talk about clean eating, this is the same as paleo or a primal diet in my view.
It is about eating foods that are real, natural and that were around 200,000 years ago. Paleo is short for the paleolithic period, so it is the concept of eating what our ancestors ate.
So get rid of the crap food, processed foods and start eating real food that your body can use as fuel. Then learn to discover what foods work for you. I am not telling you that you should eat like me, but start to become an expert on what works for your body. Understand different foods and how you react to them. Know that feeling tired, with achey joints, skin irritations and bad sleep aren’t normal.
Make the choice to be an expert in running a well oiled machine, your very own body. Foods that I eat are vegetables, proteins, good quality fats, nuts and seeds and fruit on occasion.
I am not telling you that you should all go onto a paleo diet, I am sharing with you why I eat a paleo diet, and what I know works for me, and the reason I do what I do. This way you can be more informed in making the choices that are right for you.
Now when I talk about clean eating healthy food, you can know that this is the same as paleo or primal food choices. Every single recipe on my site is paleo or primal by nature. I can’t eat grains or legumes personally so the recipes on my site are all the foods I create and that I want to share with you, in case you are on the same journey as me or if you want to just get more creative and clean with your cooking.
There are loads of resources out there on this and I have just started a readable resources series where I am going to share posts, websites and books that I trust so you can get information that you can take on board and become an expert at your own life.
Hope this helps, would love to hear from you on this subject. :)