Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saving Face

I've been MIA on the blog scene trying to save my face. Although I had evaded the dreaded teen sheen (acne) a mild form of it found me in my late-twenties, making its way to my forehead and chest. WTF. Aside from the embarassment it was frustrating to feel that nothing I tried was working.

I worked out (release the toxins!), showered regularly and exfoliated, ate what I thought were good foods, and used what I thought were efficient skincare products (proactive, mud masks, holistic facial lotions - I tried a lot of variations). Didn't work well. Dermatologists prescribed creams that bleached my clothes. I didn't stick with them long enough to see if the bumps would flee. Then I discovered something...

During a recent two-week detox experiment, where I only consumed fresh juices and whole fruits/vegetables, I noticed that in three days my skin was amazingly clear. I had my first clue!

Naturally, the bumps returned when I resumed my typical eating habits.

After some research I found that acne/bumps can be a sign of inflammation and/or food intolerance. Diet habits never came up in conversations with dermatologists. How could they not? If you think about it, food is a foreign object that we put in our system daily. Our bodies may not always like what we deposit.

During my last visit to the dermatologist I asked about it. Could this be from a food sensitivity? "I can't speculate." "How about from synthetic materials or the underwire in my bra?" "Can't speculate." He prescribed me a low dose antibiotic and a topical cream (yup! the ones that bleach clothes). I was very wary of taking an antibiotic, intuitively feeling that I was contributing to the bumps with my food choices. Not to mention that antibiotics, when used for an extended period of time, can really mess up your system. I stopped the antibiotic after a month - 2 months earlier than recommended. I decided to pursue a mode of inquiry. I got a blood test.

It was an expensive blood test but well worth the definitive answers it provided. My primary doctor, who is trained in holistic healthcare, ordered the test that would introduce 45 different foods including the most common foods linked with intolerance/sensitivity and measure the level of antibodies produced in response.

The results included varying degrees of sensitivity. My doctor looked at me like, "are you really going to not eat these foods?"

* Chocolate
* Cheese
* Eggs
* Yogurt
* Cow's Milk
* Yeast
* Lobster
* Banana

After two weeks of eliminating these foods (with of course a little bit of cheating) my chest is almost back to "normal" and my face is getting there.

* Note: The test I ordered has three variations - testing 45 of the common foods, with the option of testing two other sets of 45 foods each. My doctor has found that most people are sensitive to chocolate and many have intolerances to animal products like milk and cheese - so this wasn't a shocker. But apparently most people are not willing to part with them.

Some friends have asked, "well what the hell do you eat when you're sensitive to all those things?" Still working on that answer (yeast is in everything!). It's not that I can't ever eat these "foods." I just need to be mindful of my body's responses to them.