As you can imagine it has all left me pretty bummed.
As well as leaving me feeling unhappy, it left me feeling that there was an imbalance in my body.
I went to the doctors when my eczema broke out a few weeks back and they just offered me steroid cream. I took the prescription but didn't use any of the cream because while I've used in the past to clear up my eczema it doesn't get to the root of the cause and can be addictive.
My eczema isn't something I haven't spoken about too much on the blog, mainly because most of the time while I have been blogging my skin has been good. Eating wholefoods, ditching the low fat diet and eating healthy fats and drinking more water have all helped. But like I was honest with why I quit dieting and when I put on a few pounds, I need to the same about my skin.
The fact is....I have eczema. And it SUCKS! I know its not cancer or a life-threatening disease but it destroys all my confidence, it is uncomfortable when it is itchy and it can get really sore. I hate it. I was born with it on my eyelids and have lived with it for 25 years up and I'm
Recently it has broke out on my face (BIG BUMMER) and on my arms. If one thing is a sure fire way to get me down it is if my eczema flares up. I've been wearing very little make-up and when it initially broke out I went make-up free for a few days, which was really hard as I had to go to work.
You know if I could have one wish it wouldn't be to have rock hard abs and stay skinny forever or to be rich it would be to be eczema free.
My healthy living journey didn't start with weight loss or even healthy eating, it started with my skin after the last major break out of eczema when I was around 19, which is when I was given oral steroids and put on all the weight. After that break out I changed all my cosmetics and beauty products going for natural, organic and mineral varieties. Although this recent flare up is nowhere near as bad as that or other ones I have had like when I was 15-16 and doing my GCSEs or when I hit puberty, it still gets me down.
After being given a prescription for the steroid creams my the doctor I decided to seek advice from somewhere else and remembered being told about a nutritional therapist in the area, so I made an appointment.
I was nervous but excited about going to see her. She made me feel very at ease and it was easy to talk to her and tell her everything that I have been through with my skin, migraines, hypermobility and getting glandular fever (mono) at 17-18.
The truth is, which I have only alluded to here on the blog, is that for the most of my teenager years and early 20s before I started exploring wholesome, clean foods and got rid of glandular fever, my eczema calming down and starting this blog, I was pretty sick. I was tired, had no energy, not get up and go and caught every little cold, virus or bug going. And I still pick things easier than the average person.
During my session, the therapist used this amazing machine called the Asyra to scan my body to see what was lurking in it and causing me problems. The Asyra screening is a non-invasive way to get information from the body about any areas of imbalance. Readings are taken by holding two bras hand-masses. The energetic, vibrational characteristics of substances have been electronically stored on a computer database. These vibration characteristics are known as ‘signatures’, the Asyra compares readings from your body with it's database of 40,000 signatures which include bacteria, fungus, virus, nutritional deficiencies, emotions, food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, toxic elements and many more.
Using the Asya screening, the nutritionist game to the conclusion that my digestive system has shut down, my adrenal glands are burnt out, my eczema is caused by a leaky gut and is controlled by my emotions (especially stress), I have a hormonal imbalance and I'm deficient in magnesium and B vitamins.
So yeah, lots of stuff to work on.
I was always told when I was younger that "you'll grow out of it, most children grow out of eczema". Well, I haven't. I always thought I had eczema because I was born with it and that it was something I would just have to deal with, but now I've realised there is something probably in my gut causing it.
So, what is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
70% of our immune system is located around the digestive system. In a normal healthy person the small intestine behaves like a selective sieve allowing only the breakdown products of digestion into the bloodstream. Nutrients and well digested fats, proteins and starches are readily able to enter into the bloodstream whilst large molecules, microbes and toxins are kept out. In the intestinal tract, villi (finger like projections off the lining the intestinal tract with hair like cell membrane extensions called microvilli), serve as a point of absorption of nutrients. Nutrients such as glucose, amino acids or electrolytes are carried through the microvilli into the cells of the villus via active transport (carrier molecules take the nutrients across the cell membrane). Leaky Gut Syndrome causes the intestinal lining to become inflamed and the microvilli become damaged or altered. The damaged microvilli cannot then produce the necessary enzymes and secretions that are essential for a healthy digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
Leaky Gut Syndrome has many symptoms. Some of the ones I have experienced are bloating, migraines, Muscle pain, myofascial pain. mood swings, poor memory, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue and sluggishness.
So, what does it have to do with eczema?
The underlying causes of psoriasis and eczema have common denominators. In working with hundreds of clients with skin disorders, I find these two skin disorders, and many others, are strictly a degree of toxicity; toxic colon, candida, leaky gut syndrome and parasites.
The nutritionist has given me some homeopathic remedies to use, as well as some B vitamin supplements and has told me to continue taking some supplements I was already using - maca powder, chlorella, fermented cod liver oil and vitamin D.
She has also put me on ant-inflammatory diet to turn my body's own inflammation switch back on - inflammation is essential in the body in order to alert you that there is a problem and you need to take action. For example if you're a klutz like me and sprain you ankle regularly there will be pain, swelling and redness, aka inflammation, your inflammation switch will tell you not to walk on it until the ankle is better. The body actively tries to restore health by sending nutrients via an increased blood flow, chemicals and heat to kill any invaders. Once the threat is over over and the condition/ailment/injury has healed the body will turn the mechanism off to protect healthy tissue from damage by the chemicals. In a healthy body works in balance with an on and off switch, but many of us have too many on switches and not enough off switches and many people have a poor diet these days.
Having not enough off switches means not enough off switches can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, IBS and just being generally under par. Some common conditions associated with chronic pain are back pain (which I have), osteoarthritis, headaches and migraines (which I have since I was 16-17), inflammatory bowel disorders, musculoskeletal injury and trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome and autoimmune disease.
The nutritional therapist also explained that too much arachidonic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid, can cause issues as well.
What is arachidonic acid (AA)?
Arachidonic acid is a kind of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that can be naturally found in some foods or synthesized. Some of this kind of element is necessary for nutrition in the body, but too much can be extremely harmful. Arachidonic acid is helpful for facilitating the growth of muscle tissues around the skeleton. Humans get arachidonic acid through their diets. It is primarily found in a variety of red meats, as well as egg yolks and organ meats. It can also be put into processed foods as a supplement for vegans or vegetarians.
Ideally, the body produces a delicate balance of hormones (pro and anti inflammatory) for optimal health. These small yet powerful hormones are called eicosanoids. AA is the precursor of the pro inflammatory eicosanoids. When your AA levels are too high pro inflammatory hormones are produced in greater numbers. They overpower the anti inflammatory hormones which keep them in check.This triggers a constant cascade of inflammatory factors. The immune system is kept on in a low level state. It continually damages the healthy tissues of your body. If you ever feel achy upon waking or when you get up from sitting you are experiencing the effects of low level inflammation. This is aggravating but it is also a sign of far worse things going on inside of you. It's the effects you don't feel which are the real dangers of excess AA.You don't "feel" your arteries clogging, your brain degenerating towards Alzheimer's, or your cell's preparing to turn cancerous.
Diary - Dairy and cheese are sources of arachidonic acid and feed the inflammation cascade. I always have almond milk in the house for baking and in smoothies, so I have switched to that completely. I didn't drink that much cow's milk, just a little in tea and coffee. When my eczema broke out I cut back on the diary because I know it is a known trigger for eczema, but one day at work I was offered a couple of mugs of coffee made with cow's milk, so I said yes, but when I got home my eczema on my face, which had started to calm down a little, was red and inflamed. So I am staying firmly away from dairy right now. I sure am missing thick and creamy Greek yoghurt though. She nutritional therapist did say I could have goat's cheese, milk and yoghurt in moderation. I love goat's cheese but am a bit skeptical about the yoghurt and milk.
Wheat - Gluten is a large protein that my digestive system may not be able to cope with at the moment and
this mayy be contributing to my inflammation via a leaky gut, causing an immune response. I'd cut down on a lot of wheat, cutting out white bread and pasta, so this shouldn't be too hard and the therapist said I can still eat oats (thank goodness), quinoa, spelt and buckwheat.
Coffee - Coffee raises levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and insulin, hormones that accelerate aging and store body fat. I miss coffee but I am drinking green tea, peppermint tea and on the therapist's recommendation ginger tea.
Red meat - It contains saturated fats and arachidonic acid which increases the formation of inflammatory compounds. I don't eat lamb, steak or beef, so that will be relatively easy, but it also includes pork, so that means no more bacon frittatas or salads for a while.
Alcohol - Alcohol causes inflammatory problems in the body. I'm not a big drinker, the last time I had a drink was my birthday last month, so this is easy to cut out.
Processed Food/Sunflower oil/Vegetable oil - Processed food (anything that is the colour beige like crisps/chips, cookies, pastry and pies) are made processed using cheap and rancid fats like sunflower or vegetable. Any oils that are heated during the processing will have turned into bad fats and will fuel the inflammation cascade and provide a source of free radicals, which damage DNA and your cells batteries turning them leaky. I make all my meals from scratch and don't eat crisps, pastries, cookies and pies that are store-bought and I cook with olive and coconut oil, so this is an easy one.
Fizzy pop/soda and sugary treats - Sugar depletes magnesium very quickly, which is the body’s main alkaline and anti-stress mineral. I cut out white sugar about two years ago and feel much better for it, I eat much more natural sugars now from fruit and have a little bit of honey, coconut sugar and pure maple syrup in my baked goods.
Diet drinks with no added sugar - The main ingredient in diet drinks is aspartame, which has linked to many inflammatory conditions. I cute out diet drinks a while back now after realising what was actually in them. I only ever have them now on a rare occasion.
Nightshades - They contain a chemical substance than can activate pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Nightshades include tomatoes, peppers, chilies, paprika, aubergine (eggplant) and potatoes (but not sweet potatoes). This has been the hardest one for me to give up as I love peppers and tomatoes are often the base of a lot of my dishes.
On top of this the nutritional therapist said the Asyra machine found my body does not like seafood or spinach at the moment, so I am also cutting them out for the time being. For my green smoothies I'm using watercress, romaine kale and broccoli instead, and I may even try some chard.
Since going on the anti-inflammatory diet I have felt less bloated and my digestive system is much better. My eczema has not gone down, but the redness in my face has calmed down, thought it is still a little dry. But I didn't expect it to go over night, although I wish it would, I think it is on the right track. I don't just want this flare up to go away, I want to go away for good. As this post is long enough already I will check in again soon with how I am doing on the anti-inflammatory diet and what I have been eating.
The reason why I haven't posted on the blog in over a week but I just needed some time to get my head around things, and I know this has been a pretty long post and I've thrown loads of information at you, and a lot of it is what I got from the nutritional therapist, but I also wanted to give you some proper definitions (the sources for which I have linked to) of the things that I have been talking about.
It may have taken me a few days but I wanted I wanted to share my story and what is going on with me with you because I know there are many people living with similar (as well as many different) conditions to me. And you don't have to suffer in silence. There is help out there.
Have you seen a nutritional therapist?
Do you have eczema or another skin condition?
Have you suffered from migraines?
Have you ever gone on an ant-inflammatory diet?