My story2017-08-17T14:19:46+00:00

My story

 

I struggled with fairly severe eczema for most of my life.  As a baby, it was my cheeks. Through middle school, it was the inside creases of my elbows and the backs of my knees. In high school, it was cracked, dry eyelids and painful scaly skin around my mouth.  In college, it also began to show up on my hands.

Eczema flare 2013

I had countless visits to the dermatologist, allergist, and pediatrician, received increasingly more potent prescription steroid creams, and religiously applied Vaseline and moisturizer dozens of times a day in an attempt to remain comfortable.  At one point, I was so desperate I resigned to wearing cotton gloves inside my goalkeeper gloves for soccer practice and purple Nitrile gloves for biology lab. I often felt self-conscious about going to work or school with my face all red and scaly, and frankly was tired of living uncomfortably in my own skin.

Yes, this is me carrying 6 boxes of Berry Kix and a McDonald’s smoothie cup. I’m not proud of it.

My sister, Jill, adopted a paleo-type diet in summer 2013 and sent me a few research studies that linked consumption of certain foods with eczema. At this point in my life, I was a full-blown sugar addict, and my definition of a vegetable was Ragu sauce or corn.  I could eat whatever I wanted, and still be skinny as a twig, so clearly my diet was fine, right?!

I was pretty skeptical that changing my diet  would do anything for my skin. But I was desperate. I was sick of being asked things like “Is that paint on your hands?” (in neurobiology lab) or “Is she wearing pink eyeshadow?” (one of my relatives at Thanksgiving).  So despite my reluctance to give up my processed carb-laden junk food diet and the limited offerings of my college cafeteria, I began to slowly cut out grains, refined sugar, and dairy, replacing them with whole foods.  A few months later, I petitioned to forego a cafeteria meal plan altogether (apparently you need extenuating circumstances to not want to eat caf food) and began making all home-cooked meals for myself.  I quickly transitioned to full paleo and found that eating a diet of fresh, whole foods from quality sources made all the difference in the world.

It was like night and day. My eczema was rapidly disappearing. I slept better, got sick less frequently, and felt great throughout the day.  As a two-sport college athlete, I was delighted in the increased energy and faster workout recovery.

My new-found energy on paleo allowed me to have the best soccer season of my career during my senior year.

The heavy fog of chronic inflammation had lifted, and I finally realized how absolutely fantastic I could feel. It was almost as if I hadn’t fully lived the first seventeen years of my life and was finally seeing with acute clarity.

Pasta binge-ing days behind me, I became a true believer in this new healthy lifestyle.  As a biology major and science nerd, I had been diving into the research in all of my free time. I was surprised to find that a paleo diet was extensively supported by peer-reviewed research. I also learned about the connection between the microbiome, leaky gut, and autoimmune diseases like eczema.  And it made a lot of sense, as I had experienced many of the environmental triggers known to cause a perturbed microbiome and intestinal permeability: repeated antibiotic use, heavy consumption of processed foods, and multiple rounds of vaccination.  After eighteen some years, I had finally found some answers as to why I had this chronic skin condition.  And more importantly, some hope that it could be reversed.

A little more experimentation and a year later, I was completely eczema-free! Not only that, but my skin felt softer and healthier. I finally had control over my skin and my health, and learned a tremendous amount through scouring the medical literature and experimenting in my own kitchen.

Fast forward to the present, and I have been eczema free for almost three years! I am pursuing an MD and a PhD in the hopes that one day I can share this drive and passion for knowledge and health with others as both a practicing physician and clinician researcher. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my blog!

My story

 

I struggled with fairly severe eczema for most of my life.  As a baby, it was my cheeks. Through middle school, it was the inside creases of my elbows and the backs of my knees. In high school, it was cracked, dry eyelids and painful scaly skin around my mouth.  In college, it also began to show up on my hands.

Eczema flare 2013

I had countless visits to the dermatologist, allergist, and pediatrician, received increasingly more potent prescription steroid creams, and religiously applied Vaseline and moisturizer dozens of times a day in an attempt to remain comfortable.  At one point, I was so desperate I resigned to wearing cotton gloves inside my goalkeeper gloves for soccer practice and purple Nitrile gloves for biology lab. I often felt self-conscious about going to work or school with my face all red and scaly, and frankly was tired of living uncomfortably in my own skin.

Yes, this is me carrying 6 boxes of Berry Kix and a McDonald’s smoothie cup. I’m not proud of it.

My sister, Jill, adopted a paleo-type diet in summer 2013 and sent me a few research studies that linked consumption of certain foods with eczema. At this point in my life, I was a full-blown sugar addict, and my definition of a vegetable was Ragu sauce or corn.  I could eat whatever I wanted, and still be skinny as a twig, so clearly my diet was fine, right?!

I was pretty skeptical that changing my diet  would do anything for my skin. But I was desperate. I was sick of being asked things like “Is that paint on your hands?” (in neurobiology lab) or “Is she wearing pink eyeshadow?” (one of my relatives at Thanksgiving).  So despite my reluctance to give up my processed carb-laden junk food diet and the limited offerings of my college cafeteria, I began to slowly cut out grains, refined sugar, and dairy, replacing them with whole foods.  A few months later, I petitioned to forego a cafeteria meal plan altogether (apparently you need extenuating circumstances to not want to eat caf food) and began making all home-cooked meals for myself.  I quickly transitioned to full paleo and found that eating a diet of fresh, whole foods from quality sources made all the difference in the world.

It was like night and day. My eczema was rapidly disappearing. I slept better, got sick less frequently, and felt great throughout the day.  As a two-sport college athlete, I was delighted in the increased energy and faster workout recovery.

My new-found energy on paleo allowed me to have the best soccer season of my career during my senior year.

The heavy fog of chronic inflammation had lifted, and I finally realized how absolutely fantastic I could feel. It was almost as if I hadn’t fully lived the first seventeen years of my life and was finally seeing with acute clarity.

Pasta binge-ing days behind me, I became a true believer in this new healthy lifestyle.  As a biology major and science nerd, I had been diving into the research in all of my free time. I was surprised to find that a paleo diet was extensively supported by peer-reviewed research. I also learned about the connection between the microbiome, leaky gut, and autoimmune diseases like eczema.  And it made a lot of sense, as I had experienced many of the environmental triggers known to cause a perturbed microbiome and intestinal permeability: repeated antibiotic use, heavy consumption of processed foods, and multiple rounds of vaccination.  After eighteen some years, I had finally found some answers as to why I had this chronic skin condition.  And more importantly, some hope that it could be reversed.

A little more experimentation and a year later, I was completely eczema-free! Not only that, but my skin felt softer and healthier. I finally had control over my skin and my health, and learned a tremendous amount through scouring the medical literature and experimenting in my own kitchen.

Fast forward to the present, and I have been eczema free for almost three years! I am pursuing an MD and a PhD in the hopes that one day I can share this drive and passion for knowledge and health with others as both a practicing physician and clinician researcher. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my blog!

Happy and healthy in my own skin.