Why is my skin like this?

skin problems

For many years skin problems were one of the more difficult conditions that I saw in clinic. Whether it was tinea, rashes, acne or excema often treatment can be lengthy and involve significant dietary change. Also I find it can often flare up as you are detoxing and this requires careful management.

Skin is the largest organ of the body and performs an important role in detoxification, so if you are eating badly it will show up on the skin. Even when you improve your eating patterns it may take 4-6 weeks to show changes as it takes time to work through your system, to reduce inflammation and ultimately to heal.

So what you say, I have a really good diet but I still have skin problems ? Well fabulous that you have sorted out diet but ideally this comes down to identifying the underlying triggers for your skin issues. Usually I find it comes down to one of the following ;

  1. “My excema is always bad when I am stressed ” In this case stress hormones are hijacking your system and simply addressing the skin isn’t going to be enough. Often the strategy here is to use lifestyle interventions to manage the stress – yoga, meditation, reframing exercises as well as using appropriate supplements to support the adrenals and manage the skin. People who are stressed are usually more acidic so alkalising nutrients such as lots of vegetables work well or supplements with magnesium and potassium.shutterstock_553662235
  2. My skin it so itchy but I really don’t know why? It doesn’t seem to matter what I eat or what products I use on it! Two big areas here – one in exposure to foods or external triggers which are incompatible with your system. In this case I usually look at the Bio Compatability Hair Test to identify potential triggers and determine what is causing the reaction for that person.
  3. The skin problems only seem to happen at a certain time of year ??? Yes it could be a particular stressor (like a big family Christmas) but in this case its important to be an environmental detective. Even in dry winters its possible that the house has underlying damp and mould and this can create havoc for people who are sensitive. However it could also be a seasonal intolerance to a particular plant – apparently although wattle gets blamed for a lot of hayfever its not usually the suspect as the particles are too big. Apparently grass and dust are more common allergens. If mould is the underlying issue its important that it be treated appropriately and there are specialists in its detection and removal.
  4. My tinea flares up whenever I drink a lot! This is often related to an underlying candida overgrowth which feeds off sugar – alcohol is literally liquid sugar in many cases. Apart from sticking to spirits with lime and soda and not lemonade or coke (which is not very good naturopathic advice but it does help) its important to treat the underlying fungal picture. Foods which are good sources of anti-fungal compounds include coconut oil and garlic, however I usually find a combination of approriate herbs and essential oils is faster at cleaning up the tinea.Coconut oil and fresh coconut
  5. Not only do I have rashes constantly but I am also really anxious or down. This can be related to an excess of copper in relation to zinc which reduces your ability to break down histamine and mount an appropriate immune response. In my first consultation I always include my inhouse minerals analysis tool – Oligoscan – and this can detect these imbalances. The other option is hair tissue minerals analysis which does take a little time.img_0543
  6. My baby is completely breast fed and yet he still has excema? Well unfortunately this means Mum is probably consuming something that doesn’t agree with her system and bubs is reacting.  It probably started with a colicky whiny baby and has now progressed. If this is the case its essential for Mum to eliminate any foods she reacts to and monitoring the impact this has on bubs. Usually within 2-4 weeks you can expect good resolution if you know what your triggers are. Occassionally it may be the baby care products that could be causing a reaction but its much more common that it’s Mum’s diet. Its always a bit tough since a new breastfeeding mother has a large appetite and probably not a lot of energy for lots of cooking as well as all the other chores she now gets to enjoy, however longer term it makes for a much happier baby and Mum!

The first suggestion I would make is to ideally keep a food diary for a week and track your reactions to what you are eating. Record not only what you are eating and drinking but also whether you feel tired or energised afterwards. Keep note of what is happening with your stomach as well particularly if you have urgency or constipation after a particular meal or are suffering bloating or reflux. Note how your mood is impacted by what is happening as well. Over a week you should start to see patterns emerging that will help you detect which foods are a problem for you.

If that doesn’t shine any clarity on it for you take your food diary to a naturopath or nutritionist and ask them for help. My clinic is at St Ives in Sydney and you can make appointments on 8084 0081.

 

Five easy detox lunch options

One of my favourite meals to eat out is lunch so before I started the detox I scoped out the local area for some good detox lunch options.

The detox is gluten and dairy free to remove inflammatory foods as well as excluding alcohol and  coffee. It’s not that challenging for me really as I am gluten free and usually only have a little cheese or yoghurt. It also excludes processed foods such as deli meats and recommends minimal deep water fish which often have heavy metal exposures.Basically the idea is to reduce as many toxins going in to your system to lighten the load. Its helpful if you make sure you also include the following;

1. 5-6 serves of vegetables a day, including at least one of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage;
2. A small handful of nuts and seeds – great nutrients for detox and you can use raw or activated nuts.
3. Two to three serves of fruit a day – berries are a good inclusion.
The detox is also supported with a low allergen rice protein powder which has good liver support included, plus some gently detoxifying greens. I tend to mix that all together as breakfast and that makes for an easy (but green) start to the day.

When eating out remember many meals can be adapted by asking for the sauce or dressing on the side so don’t worry about asking – the worst they can say is no! Usually if they say no it means its been pre-prepared and sitting around for a while so it might be better to eat somewhere else.

The Stanley St Cafe downstairs in our building has a great range of salads and is very accommodating so the week started with a lovely Crispy Salmon Salad with Macadamia nuts with a colleague. She is working on the weight loss program at the moment so her lunch was the chicken and haloumi salad. It was a bit tricky resisting the lovely saltiness of the haloumi.

 The following day we went round to Mischica for their Korean warm salad – Bim Bim Bap, they offer chicken, beef, pork or tofu so plenty of options. The warm salad comes with sprouts, greens, brown rice, carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables and, when on detox, grilled chicken. Delicious!

The Runaway Spoon at Lindfield has a reliable salad on its main menu which is filling and detox friendly, the Quinoa and Lemon herb chicken with avocado, pumpkin and tomato. Another great option at St Ives Shopping Centre, a Coconut Chicken salad with rocket, paw paw and avocado.

The one meal I ate at home during the week was a lamb salad my son made with mixed greens, cucumber, lamb and olives. A great range of flavours and adding more greens such as cucumbers or beans to a salad makes it filling as well.

What else would you add for lunches during a detox?

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health, St Ives. She is also a Director  and Treasurer of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. She is available in clinic on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081 or through their online booking software at http://www.elementalhealth.net.au

Alcohol free for a month – Four Reasons your body will thank you.

Spending a month without alcohol is for many people a less than fun way to spend the month. However your body will thank you for removing a major stressor and allowing it to function more effectively. Also I would recommend that you replace the night at the pub with some other fun activities which don’t involve alcohol – go to the movies, bush walking or try a dance or yoga class. Distract yourself to make it easier to manage the changes to your lifestyle and you may find some of them stick.

Your body will also benefit from these changes in several areas.

First up your waistline will thank you! The high kiliojoule count of alcohol (27kj per gram) particularly when combined with juice or soft drink means that cutting out alcohol removes a significant source of extra kilijoules. One of my clearest recollections in clinic was seeing a weight loss client who had put on over 20kg in a year from consuming the equivilant of half a bottle of wine a night. Cutting out the alcohol and exercising regularly saw her lose the weight in less than six months.

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Secondly if you have problematic skin replace the alcohol with 6-8 glasses of water a day and watch it improve. Alcohol is very dehydrating and as the skin is a major organ of detoxification it will often show signs of the struggle on the surface – redness, flushing, blotchy skin, greasy skin and dryness even rashes. A recent UK challenge showed before and after photo’s for a number of women doing a similar challenge with quite amazing results. Have a look at Daily Mail Cold Turkey for some real inspiration. Better still its a lot cheaper than expensive skin care and facials!

Third your liver needs a break and cutting out alcohol for a month gives it a chance to work on eliminating a significant range of other toxins from your system. It may also down regulate your alcohol dehydrogenase pathway which means less alcohol to get a buzz on in future. Fatty liver can be significantly helped by removing the stress of dealing with alcohol as well. You might need to give it a little more than a month and tweak the diet as well but the liver has an amazing ability to regenerate.

Finally you may start to smell better. Skin is one of the biggest organs of elimination so bad body odor or problematic skin is often a sign that we are not coping well with our current diet and lifestyle.  We all know how bad someone with a hangover smells as they detox the next day. Removing this burden on your system will really reduce the smell factor!


Christine Pope is a homeopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. She regularly runs Detox workshops and programs. Contact her on 8084 0081 for appointments.

Four easy ways to add brassica vegetables to your meals

First up why the focus on brassica vegetables? Well every diet that I have been looking at for chronic disease recommends daily inclusion of these vegetables – generally at least one cup a day.

Indian vegetable curry with spinach, cauliflower and potato

The brassica vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale , kohlrabi, collard greens and broccoli. These vegetables support effective detoxification which can also help minimise your risk of serious diseases.

One of my favourite ways to cook cauliflower and broccoli is roasting. Cut the vegetables into florets and sprinkle with lemon, garlic, celtic sea salt and olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft. This brings out the sweetness of these veggies and I find that the cauliflower can then be pureed with chicken stock to make a tasty soup as well.

Brassica veg

Red cabbage shredded can also be added to salads, either a mixed green salad or recently I had it in a chicken waldorf and it was a great addition. The waldorf salad had tarragon poached chicken with red cabbage, celery, walnuts and witlof. Personally I was keener on the red cabbage than the witlof which has a very sharp taste.

Red cabbage with apple makes a great side dish specially with pork or lamb chops. The apple brings some sweetness to the cabbage and most children will give it a try. Stephanie Alexander’s cookbook, The Cook’s Companion, has a really easy version of this recipe. Frankly every house needs this cookbook as you can find recipes by ingredients so if you have lots of cabbage look up that chapter for five ways to prepare it. Better still there is now an app with all of her recipes on it plus lots of other information about storage and seasonal use of produce. http://www.stephaniealexander.com.au/cook-companion-app/

Let me know if you have any other good ways to add more brassica vegetables to your menu.

Christine Pope is a homeopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. She is also Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College. One of her focuses in clinic is the use of comprehensive detoxification to help clients to return to good health as quickly as possible.