January 16, 2014

The Whole30® and Psoriasis: Karen R’s Story

Whole30 burger Melissa Joulwan

Karen’s story (first published on her blog, Beautifully Simple) about her battle with psoriasis (an autoimmune condition) showcases the power of food to change your life–but also the fact that food isn’t everything. Lifestyle factors like stress and sleep and other environmental factors like skin care products all play into healing from skin conditions. The only certain thing is that you must be patient, you must try new approaches, and you must build your plan on a foundation of healthy eating, like the plan we outline in the Whole30 program. Read Karen’s story and learn how she recovered from psoriasis through healthy eating and skin care (and without prescription medication).

In Karen’s Own Words

From freckles to acne to psoriasis, my skin and I have been through a lot. But finally, at the age of 33, I finally found a solution that worked for me. Here is my story. For as long as I can remember, I have been self-conscious about my skin. As a little girl it was my freckles.  As I entered my teenage years, the acne began. It was embarrassing and it killed my self-esteem. To this day, I still have a difficult time looking people in the eye when I speak to them. I would always look down or just avoid people and conversations all together. My parents took me to several dermatologists to find something that would work. I went through two rounds of Accutane, which had terrible side effects. I also tried antibiotics and a number of topical medicines.  All of this on top of anything else I could find over the counter. In my late teens, I went on a birth control pill that advertised it could help with acne. For the most part it did, although I would have the occasional breakout around my cycle for the next 10 years. I eventually stopped the pill, got pregnant, had my beautiful little girl, and switched to a different form of birth control. jan-2012

The Onset of Psoriasis

In January of 2012, at 31 years old, I developed a small dry spot over my right eyebrow. I had just gotten my eyebrows waxed, so I figured it was a reaction from that. But it didn’t go away and before I knew it, the dry spots started to spread to other areas of my face, the worst of which was my forehead right by my hairline. It quickly moved to my scalp, and then to a few spots on the back of my legs and upper abdomen. I finally called the dermatologist, but of course, it would be two weeks before I could get in. It was the longest two weeks of my life! When I did make it in, I broke down crying in front of my doctor. He said it was psoriasis and handed over two prescriptions; one a topical foam for my face and body and the other a solution for my scalp. The foam worked great on my face—within a week it was pretty much clear and stayed clear as long as I applied the foam twice a day. The spots on my body were a little more stubborn and would take months to clear with the medication. My scalp, however, was the worse because it itched – BAD – which led to a lot of flakes and a lot of embarrassment. The prescription the doc gave me didn’t seem to do anything and it would be over a year before I was able to clear it on my own.

How I Fixed My Skin

During the summer of 2011, before my psoriasis began, my husband and I decided to clean up our diet and completed our first Whole30 program. (They have a New York Times bestselling book, It Starts With Food. Seriously people, BUY THIS BOOK. It will change your life!) By the end of the 30 days, we both felt amazing and I saw a noticeable difference in my skin. Not only was it clear, but it was brighter and looked healthy. This was my light bulb moment… after 30 days of a clean diet, my skin looked the best that it ever had. But six months later, during my second Whole30, the psoriasis began again. It was January of 2012 and I wanted to start the year fresh after indulging during the holidays. It was also an extremely stressful time for me as I had just started a new job, moved to a new home, and tragically lost a friend. This time, I started doing some research to learn more about psoriasis to see if I could heal it naturally. I discovered that it is an autoimmune condition—my immune system was attacking my skin cells, which caused them to reproduce rapidly. There are no cures for autoimmune conditions, but that didn’t stop me. I knew there had to be a way to control it without prescription meds. In May of 2012, I did a Whole60 hoping to heal my gut and reduce the inflammation. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a huge improvement after the 60 days. So after doing some more digging and research, I discovered the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). This protocol is even more restrictive than the traditional Whole30 program as it further eliminates foods like eggs, nightshades, and nuts and seeds. I followed the AIP for 30 days in August and at the end I did see some improvement. When 2013 rolled around, I continued to stick with the Whole30 program plus the elimination of eggs.  I also started to look into the skincare products I was using every day. Turns out, they are pretty crappy. Most of them contain known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and even skin irritants. I knew I had to change my skincare products if I was going to heal my psoriasis. Thankfully, I found TASTYFACE Organics.  The founder, Kelly, has created the most amazing products. Not only do they feel and smell amazing,  but they don’t contain any harmful chemicals. In fact, her products are so clean, you can eat them if you want! So I threw out all of my name brand products and religiously began using her cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and body butter. I also found a shampoo and conditioner that I really liked that was fairly clean. For about four months, I consistently used these products. By July of 2013, my psoriasis was finally gone!

(Whole30 + clean products) – eggs = happy skin & a happy me!

 It may have taken me a year and of half of trial and error plus a lot of frustration, but I never gave up. jan-2014

My Suggestions for Healthy Skin

  • If you are suffering from acne or psoriasis, go to the book store or hop online and purchase It Starts With Food.  RIGHT NOW.  And when you are done with the book, do a Whole30 challenge.  If you have psoriasis, you may need to do a Whole60 or even the autoimmune protocol (AIP). Luckily, over the past year and half since I initially did the AIP, there have been several Paleo Autoimmune Cookbooks that have come out, making it much easier to stick to the AIP diet.
  • I also highly recommend making a change in your skincare products. My favorite products come from TASTYFACE Organics and Primal Life Organics.  Both have amazing products!

I’ll be posting another blog article shortly dedicated completely to skincare products, so be on the lookout for that. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or connect with me on Facebook.

Good news! The great folks over at TASTYFACE Organics are offering readers 20% off their orders, between now and Sunday (midnight EDT). Use the code FACEIT20 at http://tastyfaceorganics.com.