Part 1 revealed exactly how disastrous my skin had suddenly become. I was diagnosed with disseminated secondary eczema in late 2016 that had no cure. However, as stated, I began to realise that things did not quite add up. If it was triggered by an allergic reaction, why did my skin allergy patch test come back clear? It was following a recent flare up after an Ashanti concert that motivated me to start my own research. I had a holiday to America coming up and I definitely did not want my skin to impact this. In this blog I will share exactly how I healed my own skin finding a link between skin and diet.
Recap of my Skin Journey
If you have not seen the previous blog post, I will share a few videos/images with you below so you know what I was working with. Hopefully you are not too squeamish and apologies in advance for the unpleasant images.
This all broke out in September 2016 and it was only in March 2017 where I began to do more research myself. After a course of oral steroids and using steroid creams to suppress the eczema, my skin had improved from the above images. However, I would still get these spots and bumps on my legs and arms. These would come and go and the flare ups were random yet still frequent.
It was many years ago now and I cannot remember exactly what I first started Googling. I remember getting caught up in reading about gut health and a leaky gut. There are already some studies to indicate the link between skin and diet. I would sign up to email subscriptions to get free pdfs to learn more. The key takeaways from what I initially found was to eat more dark chocolate and to try chicken broth. I am not much of a cook but this really did get me cooking up a stew. It definitely is not something I would have again!
With New York and Miami approaching, I must admit I was getting quite down about my skin. I believe it was on a day where I was impacted by it that I decided to research again. I am pretty sure it might have been this exact blog that I read. The exact words I remember reading is that eczema could be caused by wheat, sugar or dairy. THE PENNY DROPPED.
Disclaimer: I am not sure exactly how true the link between eczema and diet is but based on what you will read below, I am convinced there is a link between skin and diet.
Skin and Diet
This one bit of information was all I needed to turn things around. I am not sure how I did not realise this sooner but none of the tens of doctors linked eczema and diet. These doctors still probably would not. I found that out the hard way with a very awkward conversation with a doctor who told me there are not enough studies to prove it. This may still be true as perhaps what I had was not actually eczema. Nevertheless, in March 2017 almost 10 months after the issues first started, I finally found what may have been the reason behind it all… dairy. My new found enemy.
It was in March 2016 where I started taking Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein, six months after starting the gym. At the time, I did not want to take protein powder as I wanted to know what I was putting in my body. However, after six months I gave in a went for this well known brand. What I did not realise though is that whey protein is a form of dairy. I had also not considered the fact that I was already consuming a LOT of dairy. I had always been one to enjoy drinking full fat milk and having it in cereal but this is roughly how much dairy I was having a day:
- Full fat cows milk within the Whey (dairy) shake
- Full fat cows milk in a banana and peanut butter shake
- Full fat cows milk in my cereal
- Cheese with jacket potato
Believe me, I took bulking very seriously. It seems obvious looking back now but as the skin and diet reaction was delayed, I did not suspect dairy to be the cause of all of this. The best way I think of it is that my body was not able to process the high level of dairy in my diet. Therefore, the only option was to push these toxins out of my skin. “You are what you eat” had never hit home so hard.
Dietary Changes and the Impact to my Skin
My first response was the cut dairy out of my diet. I needed to try it to see if it would make a difference but I was already so convinced it would. I kid you not, a day or two after having no milk at all or any Whey protein, my skin went completely FLAT. There were no bumps, flare ups or anything. It was actually crazy how instantaneous the healing was. There may not be many studies to prove the link between skin and diet but I definitely know what I experienced was linked to diet.
Following this experience, I rarely have any cows milk but instead substitute this with unsweetened almond milk. Whey protein I have not touched since and probably never will. My go to is now Pea Protein Isolate. I personally would always recommend a vegan version. Although it does not taste very nice, with banana or other additions the taste can be masked.
Key Takeaway based on my Skin Experience
Some people may be fine with high intakes of dairy and dairy may not be root cause of their skin issues. However, if you are in a similar position to what I was in, I would definitely recommend taking a look at your diet. Use a food diary (aff link) to cut out certain food groups at a time. If it is not dairy, your trigger could perhaps be wheat, sugar or something else. Allergy tests may work but bear in mind for me it was not an allergy itself but instead it was overconsumption. From this experience, I learnt that moderation is definitely the key.
I hope you found this blog post insightful and if you know anyone experiencing acne/skin breakouts since taking protein powder, please share this article with them. My next blog will cover the aesthetic side of this experience and how I went about dealing with the scarring. Join my journey to find out more.