As some of you who’ve been following my podcast or other blog posts may know, I’ve had some major struggles with eczema since December, when I was in the eight month of my fourth pregnancy. Eczema, like any other autoimmune disorder, is NOT sexy, people. At times it got so severe for me, I couldn’t sleep for weeks at a time. Therefore, I wasn’t totally functional, which is not ideal for someone responsible for four kids. The burning, intense itching came from deep within, and no over-the-counter treatment worked. Doctors kept pushing prednisone and steroid ointments, and told me this is my life now, and there’s no answer. Refusing to “learn to live with it,” I set out to try and learn anything and everything I could.
After visiting even more doctors, dermatologists, and allergists, I learned that I currently have zero allergies. ZERO. So, I couldn’t blame the outbreaks on food sensitivities. Yet, I noticed that when I had sugar, wheat, diary, or alcohol (you know, all the typical suspects), the itching and rashes became noticeably worse. Obviously, these are the things we should steer clear of anyway (or only have occasionally), if we’re eating a healthy diet. So I did my best to stick to what I already knew and taught to be a nutritious, balanced diet. I noticed that doing so kept the worst of the eczema outbreaks at bay, along with getting in the ocean and regularly moisturizing with non-scented creams containing lactic acid. I also noticed a trend with my skin acting up at certain times in my cycle, when progesterone is higher. In general, though, the eczema was much more under control.
But then, there was coffee. And wine! Oh, the pleasures of adulting. We got ourselves a Moka pot and started making our own espresso from organic, free-trade, etc etc beans. It was wonderful! So wonderful, and tasty. I was up to 2-3 cups of coffee a day, much of which was espresso. Of course, with so much coffee in my day, I didn’t want to keep up with my green smoothie, because, hello…who wants to be peeing all the frickin’ time? Not this mama. Also, I discovered that I actually do like wine. I like it quite a bit. So I started to have me some of that more often.
“What’s that, chardonnay? Hmm, well, okay! Yes, I’ll have a glass (or two), please!”
To recap, my green smoothies were down, and coffee and wine were up…which is basically a recipe for acid-forming action in my body. This is where things started going downhill again. I realized I was absolutely exhausted, even when I got decent sleep. I struggled to stay focused on what I was doing. I began noticing worse eczema outbreaks all over my hands, arms, legs, feet, and even on my face. It was getting out of control. How the heck is the Sexy Mama coach supposed to shoot videos and go out in public like this? It looks like a swarm of insects just went to town all over my skin. Yikes. Plus, I felt like I could pass out from exhaustion in the middle of the morning, after 4 shots of espresso!
Something had to be done, pronto. I cut out bread and sugar; it wasn’t enough. I upped my intake of water and fermented foods; still not much improvement. Finally, I took a good, hard look at my overall diet, drinks included.
DUH. There’s my problem. Still eating too much sugar (even though from fruits). Hardly eating any greens at all. Drinking more and more coffee. Having wine too often. Essentially: Eating lots of acid-forming foods, and not nearly enough alkaline-forming foods. I started addressing this problem, and guess what? By day 2, I had more energy and less eczema patches, despite my progesterone skyrocketing at that time of the month. The daily average of pH readings from my urine were slowly but steadily rising, which I also found encouraging. I’m still not 100% in the clear, but addressing the acidity issue in my body is helping more than anything else I’ve tried.
I was quickly reminded of how much of a game-changer an alkaline diet is, not only for eczema, but for anyone having trouble losing weight or losing fat. When biogenic (live) foods are lacking and acid-forming foods are consumed with wild abandon, we create a breeding ground for health issues and illness. The body’s vitamins and minerals deplete. Energy levels go to crap. The body holds on to fat as a buffer, particularly visceral fat (around the organs), which is the worst kind of fat. There is much to be explored in the arena of alkalinity in the body. For the sake of simplicity, let’s stick to a few do-able actions you can start taking today to encourage a more alkaline environment in your body.
1.Drink More Water
Drinking more water is the easiest way to alkalize, and the majority of people in our culture today are chronically dehydrated. Even just a 5% drop in body fluids causes a 25-30% loss of energy in most people. CRAZY, but so easy to remedy. Shoot for at least gallon of water a day. The standard recommendation of eight glasses of eight ounces is just the minimum. You can do this. Get yourself a big glass right now!
2. Go Green
Another simple solution: add some green to every meal. Chlorophyll has a fantastic alkalizing effect on the body. This really doesn’t have to be as complicated as we sometimes make it. Just throw some kale or spinach in your smoothie. Drink a generous cup of matcha green tea in the morning. Add a handful of sprouts to your wrap. Snack on cucumber slices, or celery with hummus. Roast some broccoli and sprinkle a little sea salt and red pepper on it. Before you know it, chlorophyll-rich greens will be a regular part of your day and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.
3. Address Stress
Side-stepping the typical Western diet high in sugars, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine is only a piece of the acidity puzzle. Consider the chronic stress our bodies are under from being in a fast-paced world that praises long hours and sleep deprivation in the name of productivity. This absolutely affects our internal environment and the way we expend mental, physical and emotional energy. Lack of sleep and high cortisol also has a direct effect on hormones, which are tightly correlated to weight loss and weight gain. Make time to connect with nature, get away from the grind of work and blue screens, and clear your mind. You might need to get creative on finding ways to squeeze in the time, but I’m confident you can make it happen.
4. Pump Up the Omega-3’s
In a typical Western diet, we get way too many omega-6 fatty acids, and not enough omega-3’s. When the ratio gets out of balance, so do our bodies. Omega-3’s are critical for energy, metabolism, eyes, hair, skin, digestive system…everything! Yet, about 90% of people in the Western world are deficient. You can add more essential fatty acids to your diet by eating more nuts and seeds, salmon, tuna, grass-fed meat, sea vegetables, and flax oil. If these things are not feasible addition to your daily diet, an easy solution is to add a high-quality omega-3 supplement to your diet. While I’m not a huge advocate of gobbling up the supplements, but there are a few key supplements I don’t go a day without. Krill oil is one of them. I personally choose krill oil over fish oil because it is more potent and doesn’t go rancid as quickly. We get ours at Costco for a pretty great price! If you don’t have a Costco nearby, check out your options on Amazon or your nearest health food store.
5. Leave Some Wiggle Room (shoot for a Diet of 60-70% Alkaline Foods)
Look it; we’re human. We gotta cut loose sometimes. We want to splurge every now and then, and enjoy our favorite treats. And hey, that’s cool. Shoot for a diet of 70% alkaline foods, making veggies the star of every show while incorporating a moderate amount of those lesser alkaline foods, like meat, eggs, dairy, coffee, and wine. Leave some wiggle room in your healthy diet for that special occasion. Just be honest with yourself about what that means. Making it to the kids’ bedtime on a Tuesday night is probably not a “special occasion,” but I’ll let you be the judge of that. 🙂
In the bigger picture, we could greatly benefit from alkalizing our diets, and energizing our lives. Ready to do this with me??