Saturday, 29 October 2016

Curing Psoriasis through Diet

Curing Psoriasis through Diet

The last couple of years I have been using a Pedometer on my phone to measure the number of steps I do each day. It takes a few changes to daily routines to make it accurate, such as always keeping the phone in a pocket and you have to set it up correctly and regularly adjust the sensitivity so it doesn't count steps when in a vehicle, but that's now become a standard habit. It counts every step whether I'm walking or gardening. The accuracy can be argued about but when you only compare it to yourself rather than anyone else, each day, it is an accurate account of all physical movement that you do. Any inaccuracy, such as mine reads between 1 and 10% low on any given check of 100 foot steps, doesn't matter because it's the same day in day out.

Last year I averaged 14,000 steps a day for the 1st six months of the year. I didn't bother to do it for the 2nd half of the year because I thought I had a good reflection of the exercise I was getting for the whole year. This year I decided to keep it going every day, through both halves of the year and I was struck by how much less I did during the summer. All the extra gardening, although a lot of effort, was a lot less physical activity compared to the cooler months when I go bush beating for local shoots and also when I go out for walks, just for the sake of it. The summer I find is too hot to walk. 

As I get older, the weight it piling on, despite being very active. My diet is truly balanced. Lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, lots of meat and lots of junk and of course a lot of processed food. That's been the problem, lots of everything. Too much of everything. No amount of physical exercise (unless you're an athlete) can burn off all those calories. Add that to age, when everything you do is just that little bit slower and bit by bit you get fat. The fatter you get the slower you get and each footstep burns less calories because you take it easier.

Something needed to be done.

2nd October 3026
Psoriasis is an Auto Immune System problem where the immune system attacks the body. In this case it shows up on the skin. Skin cells grow and die within a couple of days, maybe 3 or 4 days. The redness is inflammation and although it shows up mainly on the arms and legs clearly it also affects the  scalp, wrists, hands and finger nails. The white bits are dead skin that simply flake of leaving piles of dusty dead skin every where I sit.

I've had this condition for years now. Probably since birth, but, it only shows up when something triggers it. In my case it's stress, and it is obvious. I get stressed and 2 days later the skin is much worse. In theory de-stressing makes it better but it is such a slow process when it improves that another burst of stress always comes along before the skin heals.

The first 4 years I had this it just got worse. Doctors prescribe steroids and plenty of Aqueous Cream / Moisturiser. Loads of different creams failed to have any affect although they can ease the itching and stop the skin from cracking and bleeding but simply haven't worked. I am against taking drugs like steroids because they have side effects and if they aren't working need to be stopped.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and allows you to read up on conditions like this and pull hundreds of different people's ideas together and learn a lot more. Several Doctors that I have seen clearly have limited knowledge about the subject. They are just General Practitioners after all. Jacks of all trades, masters of none, and because they work they can't spend a lot of time learning. Their skills often don't keep up with modern and new thinking and just like the rest of us have their opinions are set early in their career and they often become narrow minded and closed to many new ideas.

After spending a week reading about many other people's experience and thoughts about Psoriasis, as well as scientific papers, it became obvious to me that Psoriasis isn't a skin problem. It shows up on the skin but only because you can't see inside the body. It is, without doubt, a systemic problem. It effects all of the body.

Firstly, no matter who you are, it affects you mentally. When you see your problem only getting worse you can't help but regularly think about it. It itches, keeping the problem at the forefront of your mind. It hurts when you haven't applied skin cream and sometimes I can just flex my wrist and the skin splits and bleeds. You scratch at night and rip huge amounts of skin off causing more pain and blood on the sheets. Then you pay for something in the shops and you notice people dropping money into your hand from an inch or two above which often makes the money fall on the floor. Some people think you are contagious. You read in the press someone has been ejected from a swimming pool because of it, so you don't go swimming. All this causes anxiety and more stress.

A lot of people with Psoriasis also get a version of Arthritis causing painful joints, I have this. Extra pain, extra stress. Some studies have shown that Psoriasis causes heart problems because Arteries become hardened, just the thought of this causes stress.

The knee and just below
My Doctor said that diet wouldn't make a difference because I already ate all the food groups and did plenty of exercise but all my reading up on the subject suggested this was too simplistic an answer.

I changed my diet and went onto an anti-inflammatory diet. One designed for people with Arthritis. I modified this to include Vitamin D tablets and an Ibuprofen tablet each day. The diet removed most fats and oils and added in nut oil for cooking and plenty of oily fish. I also stopped eating anything from the Nightshade family (Tomatoes and Potatoes). Within 4 days I could see and feel difference. Within 2 weeks it was obvious to everyone else it was much better. Within 6 to 8 weeks it was cured. After 4 years of it just getting worse with Doctors help and steroids I had cleared it up rapidly. I then went back to my normal diet and the skin remained fine for over a year. The Doctor refused to believe it was the diet.

Of course, it came back but before it got bad I went back on to this diet and it worked again.

There is a big problem with this type of diet. It is very difficult to stick to, isn't enjoyable and includes Ibuprofen which long term can cause lots of problems. The diet misses out lots of beneficial food and isn't balanced. It isn't a long term answer and I don't like fad diets. What it did do is not only fix the problem short term but helped a lot mentally. My subconscious now knew that I had a way of stopping it. That's a lot less stress. The effects of the Psoriasis are back again. The photos above are what it is currently like. I have allowed it to progress for quite a while because I was no longer quite so concerned about it and I like all food but it has now developed to a bad enough extent that once again I am concerned.

With my weight becoming an issue, my age beginning to take it's toll and realising that all the gardening and exercise I was doing in the summer not being quite as much as I had thought, I stumbled upon a documentary film on Netflix called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It is basically about a fat man realising he was too fat and went on a juicing diet. Just Fruit and Vegetables juiced for 2 months. The film was quite inspiring and although I felt what he did was a tad extreme (he missed out too many things from his diet), he did coin the phrase and idea of giving your body or diet a "reboot" and removing all processed food from the diet. He also mentioned that his auto immune system skin problem had been cured.

Carrots, Grapes, Apple, Cucumber, Tomato
I decided to give this idea of a reboot a try. Just juice. The idea is to try and refocus the diet to train you to eat more fruit and veg, stop snacking, and remove as much processed food as possible. I decided to widen the idea so that I would tie in much more exercise every day and take notice of all the scientific reports that studies show what and how you should eat. After one or 2 days of constant cravings I developed bad headaches which lasted almost 2 days. The head aches were interesting. They were caused by Caffeine withdrawal which just goes to show that caffeine has a huge effect on the brain, quite what the effect is I don't know, but the effect is big. If it causes such a big effect coming off of it it must be having a big effect while you're on it.

The next effect I noticed was caused by the "fad" part of the diet. Just fruit and Vegetables isn't good enough. I know many people think being a vegetarian or Vegan is good but the effect I noticed is that I simply wasn't able to do as much exercise. At the beginning of the diet I decided that I would walk 6 miles a day on top of my normal day. I walk when ever it suits me. I didn't push myself hard, it was just a gentle walk but by the end of the week I was getting half way and I had no energy. I wasn't just tired, I know that feeling, this was very different, I had nothing left and was feeling faint.

Grape, Celery, Tomato, Spinach
I modified the diet. Added to just juice I now have a tin of fish (Tuna or Mackerel) once a week. On another day I have a slab of cheese. I also relaxed the just juice bit to include non juiced fruit and veg. When ever I feel hungry or tired I eat a raw carrot or two or pickup a banana or apple. Still the diet is 90% fruit and veg but added is oily fish and calcium from the cheese. Exercise levels, distance and speed then rocketed. The first week I average 10 to 12,000 steps a day. By the end of the 2nd week I was averaging 18,000 steps a day with it feeling easy. Already I am walking the 6 miles 20 minutes faster and thoroughly enjoying it. The walking isn't getting in the way of doing anything else. I have found an extra 2 hours in every day. That's 2 hours less sitting down.

The Psoriasis hasn't had the huge improvement I had hoped for but it has got better. It hasn't got worse, which I know it would have done, and is maybe 10 or 20% better. This may be because during the last month my ex partner of 7 years and mother to my eldest daughter died of a brain tumour causing a lot of stress and anxiety but this doesn't account for the slow speed of the improvement to the skin compared to my previous diets. The diet is helping the skin though.

It's now been almost a month of this diet. After 28.5 days of the diet I have lost 8lbs in weight, put on a lot more leg muscle (so fat loss has been a good bit more than 8lb) and have gone down 2 belt holes. I have walked a minimum of 6 miles every day, with 2 walks of over 12 miles, and the number of steps for the month is already up to 541,000 with 2 days still to go. My previous best month in the last 2 years was 483,000.

I have modified the diet again slightly and now allow myself a normal meal with the rest of the family twice a week including chicken or even pizza or pasta.

What the film, "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" has done is to introduce a formal walk into my day, retrain me to basing my diet on fruit and veg, stopped snacking, reduced my weight, increased my fitness to a level not seen for 25 years as well as ease my Psoriasis. It has been a "reboot" as described in the film. The only thing now banned from my diet is regular processed food, although I will still allow it as a treat. The weight is still reducing and skin still improving. It has been a lifestyle change.

My next challenge is to focus more on the Psoriasis and see if I can get the huge improvement that the previous anti-inflammatory diet achieved. The first step will be to add in Vitamin D. I now think that it will be helped by the addition of something into the diet rather than the removal of something. The addition of Vitamin D might just be what's missing. If that fails maybe Ibuprofen but hopefully not. It might be also that the diet would have had the dramatic effect but for the stressful death. More time on that front is needed. It might also be the addition of a few years of age since my last attempt to cure Psoriasis and maybe I have to accept that fixing it with diet may just take 6 months now rather than 6 weeks. Maybe something else but diet and more exercise has certainly been beneficial and I now have a diet and exercise that fits in nicely with my lifestyle which I think is the key thing with a diet...it must be part of a lifestyle and not simply something you do once to lose weight.

2 years ago my blood pressure was an OK, 120 / 80 and I know it has been that for about 20 years. Now it is averaging 107 / 72 when checked every day. 2 years ago my Cholesterol was 6.0 when tested as part of my MOT, a few months ago I had it checked, after more exercise, and it went down to 5.1. I think it may be well below that now. I'll get that checked again before Christmas.

The film had a doctor explain that half an hour of exercise per day would help stop your arteries from clogging with Cholesterol and an hour per day would help reduce it. Over the last month I have averaged over 3 hours of exercise per day. I'm rather hoping this will help rectify the horrible diet and lack of exercise that the whole of my 20's saw. My 30's were better but not good and it took me until my 40's to have a good lifestyle.

As I approach 50, I'm rather hoping all this exercise and diet will keep me in good health because seeing someone die well well before their time certainly brings home that early death and poor health is not an option I wish to take.  

7 comments:

  1. Hi Andy

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    It sounds like you have made remarkable progress with both your diets. I saw that film, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on TV a couple of years ago and was very impressed by the results he and others had.

    I trained in nutritional medicine some years ago and learned a great deal about food, nutrients, biochemistry, the process of illness and nutritional means of addressing it. A fundamental part of what I was taught was about detoxing the body and a juice diet is one particularly radical way to achieve that. I am not surprised that you ran out of energy to do additional exercise and it sounds very sensible to add in more protein to support that.

    My understanding is that skin conditions often reflect a deficiency in the digestive process, but drinking primarily juice should certainly give your digestive system a rest as part of your ‘reboot’.

    You could also try taking some anti-inflammatory supplements such as aloe vera which has a wide spectrum of action. Also flax seed oil is beneficial in many respects – as is oily fish – but supplementing will give your body a bit more to work with. The other thing that could help is to take some probiotic bacteria. Anyone who has ever taken antibiotics (all of us probably) has had the detrimental effect of having the good bacteria wiped out and the most effective way to re-stock is to take a high dose of a good quality probiotic.

    When you reduce the juice and begin to eat more solid food it would be good to have some meat free days as the fats in meat feed into the pro-inflammatory pathways in the body, whereas oily fish and flax seed feedsinto the anti-inflammatory pathways.

    Many people abuse their bodies these days, but it is not too late ever to make a change and you have clearly made massive changes. My partner and I are both in our 60s, rarely have any ill health, but can see our friends of similar ages contending with a range of nasty and often progressive conditions. The main difference between us is diet.

    It is likely to take more time yet to see all the changes that this dietary approach can make to your health, natural means are not a quick fix, it takes time to unravel afflictions acquired over time. I wish you well – in all senses of that phrase!

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    1. Thanks Anni. My skin is still improving, which is motivation enough to keep going :)

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    2. I'll have to look into flax seed oil ...

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  2. It's impressive how much you've achieved by such simple means, and with the willpower to stick to it. Modern life doesn't make it easy, since eating out while following any kind of diet is very hard, and even eating at home with family is hard if you eat differently to everyone else. And of course all the chemical filled rubbish out there is carefully designed to be as addictive as possible.

    I really should try to follow your example and make a clean break with the worst parts of my diet... good luck and I hope things continue to get better.

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    1. Thanks Chris. Diets of any kind are very difficult to stick to, you can see that by how many people try dieting and still end up being the same weight a year on. I'm convinced it is easier when you do something else as part of the change, such as exercise every day and set goals. Step counters are a handy way of sticking to a diet if you are able to be competitive against yourself, as you lose weight the exercise is easier, and the spending 2 hrs a day on a proper walk is 2 hrs less time to sit down. I eat when ever I sit down so I am breaking that habit. I've done a lot of exercise in the last 6 or 7 years but the body gets used to it so I've upped it massively. I never use a vehicle now if the journey is under 4 miles, I walk or cycle (apart from the market day). When you see blood pressure dropping, cholesterol dropping, weight dropping, fitness rising, skin improving and petrol cost dropping a diet is easier to maintain. A month in and I no longer want the bad food. :)

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  3. Wow Andy, your hard work and determination is really impressive. It's great that you're seeing the benefits.

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  4. Thanks Matt. As it turns out you don't need much determination. It's needed at the start but once you get a week or so into it you only need determination every now and then, such as on the days when it's raining and you don't fancy a walk in the rain and when others around you have chocolate or something. Other than that it's turning out easy.

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