I've ummed and aahed and oohed and hummed about whether or not to write this post, firstly because it's going to be long (so long, in fact, I'm breaking it up into more than one part) and secondly because I am wary of doling out health advice given that I am not a) a doctor b) a nurse c) in no way in a position to tell you or anybody what decisions to make with regards to health and wellness. However, I've had such a positive experience since eliminating dairy from my diet, I feel like it's a story worth sharing in case it's of use to anybody else. For those of you who it's of no use to, you might just like being nosy and seeing what I eat. So first, a background.
Since I was a baby I have suffered with eczema, asthma and hayfever. It's definitely got a lot better over the years but I still carry an inhaler with me everywhere, I still spend around five months a year popping antihistamines and I have two persistent patches of eczema on my feet which just keep on keepin' on. On top of this, I was suffering with generally itchy, uncomfortable skin, particularly on my hands and my back. The skin on my back was particularly bad; red and with a lot of painful spots and bumps which no amount of exfoliating/Liquid Gold-ing/moisturising seemed to shift. All in all, I was a bit of a red, itchy mess.
I've read a fair bit over the years regarding the impact of dairy products (and by this I mean anything made with cow's milk) on eczema, asthma and hayfever sufferers due to the antibody found in dairy products called IgG. All the above conditions are allergy-related (not in all cases, but certainly mine) and it's believed that this antibody in dairy products is a major irritant to sufferers. It causes a reaction in the gut which leads to skin irritation and inflammation, definitely something I was experiencing a lot of. It wasn't even the dryness of the skin that was the particular problem, as that's something that's relatively easy to combat with moisturisers, and God knows I have plenty; more it was the itching and hotness of my skin, just a really uncomfortable sensation that was present pretty much 24/7.
So, I decided to try cutting out dairy to see if it made a difference. That was four weeks ago and I haven't looked back. Within a week, the bumps and marks on my back had all but gone, my skin had stopped itching all together, the patches of eczema on my feet that had flared up had disappeared and I'd lost nearly a stone. Four weeks on, further positive effects are that the skin on my face looks better (as in less redness) than it has done in ages, my hayfever symptoms have alleviated to the extent that I actually forget to take antihistamines now and am fine, I haven't used my inhaler once and weirdly (and perhaps most excitingly) those pesky upper arm bumps that everybody seems to have? GONE.
I have changed nothing else in my diet or skincare routine so I know all these effects are purely down to cutting out dairy. Colour me impressed. Of course, in eliminating a whole food group from your diet it's important to make sure you're getting the missing nutrients from elsewhere but in the next post I'll discuss what I'm eating now to ensure I'm getting enough calcium (and not pining too much for mozzarella and Phish Food ice cream).
So there we go, part 1 of my new diet. Part 2: HOW DO I LIVE WITHOUT CHEESE?