Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates
My journey started when I was 23
That was the start of two years of chronic strep throats and about twelve rounds of antibiotics. The eventual end of that came only after my doctor decided to remove my tonsils. Thankfully, that little surgical procedure put the throat infections to rest, but I would later discover that all those antibiotics left a trail of destruction in their wake.
From Chronic Strep Throat to Cystic Acne
So, the tonsils are out, and off I went to live in Honolulu, Hawaii for a few years. My life in paradise was anything but. I started noticing that I was quickly developing a pretty major acne problem. Initially, I was just annoyed, but figured I could handle a few zits at a time. No matter what I did to fight it, things just kept getting progressively worse until I had full-blown cystic acne.
I became obsessed and determined to figure out what was causing this. Like most of us, I was used to an occasional blemish, but nothing like this. I was full of questions. What had changed? Why did this start all of the sudden? and most importantly, “How do I get rid of it?”
While in Hawaii, my diet consisted of mostly fruits, vegetables, cooked or raw fish, and white rice, due to the large Asian influence there. I rarely consumed dairy because of how expensive it was there. So, I began consuming soy milk instead and laid off cheese all together.
I returned to Vermont two years later, and I saw a big shift in my diet. I began eating plenty of dairy again, and my skin went from bad to much worse.
Digestive Problems, Coming Through!
As if a face full of cystic acne wasn’t enough to deal with, I started noticing my digestive system giving me more and more trouble. At this point, I am now twenty-eight years old and I’m quickly becoming consumed by these two health issues.
Doctors to the Rescue, Right?!… WRONG!
I felt that it was probably time to see a dermatologist about my skin and my primary care physician about my digestion. I resorted to taking antibiotics for my acne, which I would later regret. I took Tetracycline for about a year and a half, until I finished school for Esthetics (skin care). Once I had graduated, I decided to take matters back into my own hands with my skin. I got off the antibiotics, and started taking meticulous care of it. Using the skincare knowledge that I had just gained in school, I was able to get the acne under control so that I could live with it. It was manageable, but by no means gone from my life.
My digestion kept getting worse. I was very sick every day! The first four or five hours of every day was thick with nauseau, and sometimes it resulted in vomiting. It felt like my digestive system wasn’t processing food from dinner until well into the next day. I would explain this to countless doctors and specialists for the next few years, and not one of them actually helped me. I had one specialist tell me that I had dispepsia (which apparently is latin for “bad” stomach, thanks doc!), then he did what everyone else did, write me a prescription for some acid blockers and send me on my way. This approach never worked. In fact I think it just compounded the problem. It was frustrating to say the least. I had been programmed to think that Western medicine would be able to fix me, but in the long run I would learn that the problems all started here.
Fed Up and Searching for Answers
What I was quickly discovering is that our health care system is way too focused on curing the symptoms, and not on fixing the cause. Not one of the doctors or specialists cared about my diet, or even mentioned any concern about the truckload of antibiotics that tore through my system over the last five years. Their answer was always another prescription.
Fed up, I took matters into my own hands, and I figured I would start with my diet. To me it seemed like common sense. I wouldn’t use the wrong fuel in my car and expect it to work well, so why would I do it to my body?!
I had gradually cleaned up my diet since this mess began, but it was time to kick it into high gear. I tried Dr. Perricone’s “Acne Cure Diet”, I did numerous cleanses, from healthy ones to the extreme ones that I wouldn’t ever recommend. I eliminated dairy 10 years ago which finally cleared my acne, but didn’t change my digestion in any way. I went 100% sugar free (meaning: potato free, white rice free, flour free, gluten free, high glycemic index free and of course sweetener free) for 4 months to ensure it wasn’t a yeast problem, a gluten sensitivity or even a sugar issue. In doing all of this, I learned so much about my body and my digestive system. My acne is gone. I take no pills and use no prescription creams. I steer clear of dairy, and I try my best to avoid inflammatory foods. My stomach problems have improved dramatically. Through the process of eliminiation, I have been able to determine which foods are the troublemakers, and as long as I don’t bother them, they don’t bother me! So to sum it up, changing your diet can change your skin, as well as your digestion, and your overall health.
“If somebody’s got beautiful skin, it invites us to a deeper understanding as to what is going on inside the body.”
With a renewed spring in my step, nutrition has become my second passion. In 2011, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and took things to the next level. I learned why dairy causes acne. I learned how to repair my digestive system from the imbalance caused by all of those antibiotics. I learned that their was a huge gap in our medical system when it comes to digestion and nutrition and I have also learned so much about how what happens in our lives, directly effects our bodies and our health. I am grateful to have my life back after finding a happy place with both and despite the journey, I feel that I have so much to offer others as a result!
It is important to learn and grow as individuals and become better people with happier more fulfilling lives.