Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
Like many others who’ve jumped on the Paleo/Primal eating concept, I didn’t quite start following the regimen for weight loss. My issues stemmed from the life halting condition (which I believe to be an autoimmune condition) rosacea. For those who aren’t familiar with the condition, rosacea is an inflammatory skin disease known to have an effect on facial flushing and redness. In my case, it got to be pretty bad. Now to most people, including family and friends, this wasn’t such a big deal. So I had a bit of redness going on in my face… so what? Everyone flushes from time to time. But for me, it was an incredibly life halting experience that, for the time I had it, completely derailed my entire life.
I’ll hereby state that my condition was, in all likelihood, entirely inflicted by me. In my senior year of high school, I got swept away in the idea of gaining weight, building muscle and power-lifting. I made the jump all the way from 140 up to 180. I “beefed” or “bulked” up as some of my friends referred to it, but in all honesty, I was just getting fat. None of it was lean muscle. I don’t recall where my train of thought was at the time, but some foreign instinct told me to keep eating. Bad idea. At one point or another, I stopped caring about ‘what’ I was eating and was just shoving food in my mouth every two to three hours to “preserve muscle.” I was far too swept away in my own world of “Broscience” to listen to anyone else’s nutritional advice. But I still ate my whole grains and stayed hydrated, so I was being healthy, right? It’s ironic that the whole wheat/low-fat, FDA heart healthy diet is the one that eventually did me in. Over the course of a year, it hit.
Let it be clear. I absolutely HATE these pictures, but I’m sharing them with everyone because I don’t want to hide the truth of how bad it was. Look up a definition of “inflammation” in the dictionary, and you might find my pictures. If I can come back from this, I feel anybody can, especially those with a mild case.
Yeah, it was bad… So as it became worse, I checked in with my dermatologist and doctor. The provided diagnosis was always, “You have dry skin, apply this cream,” and “Your skin is too oily, use this harsh chemical on your face.” Over time, I just became fed up with it. None of the creams worked. Some of them masked the symptoms to some degree, while others made them ten times worse. I wasn’t getting anywhere and this had me frustrated and about ready to give up. Self-loathing started to creep in. I was afraid to look in the mirror some days. I declined certain social events based on the status of my skin. I couldn’t look at someone and have a conversation without contemplating what my skin looked like from his or her perspective. My once robust self-confidence had been gut-shot. I became reclusive and shy. Every time I went into the sun I got sunburned. I was told there was absolutely no cure for rosacea and I’d have it forever. I was going to have to live with this embarrassing inflammation for the rest of my life.
Then I started noticing something. Every time I ate, it caused a flair up, or at least some type of small reaction with my rosacea. It became a habit of mine to routinely check how my skin reacted to certain foods. Any processed foods, foods that came in a box, or something with 3,000 ingredients – flare up. Bread, flare up. Dairy, flare up. Vegetable oils, flare up.
Slowly I began eliminating things from my diet. I kept this up for the better part of a year. My skin was getting better, but I was still nowhere near coaxing it back to its pre-rosacea state. I’d eat the same exact foods everyday as a precaution to not set off my rosacea. I literally ate nothing but lean turkey, sweet potatoes, and olive oil for almost half a year! I couldn’t live like this, but I had to find something that worked. I was getting closer to the root of the problem, but this wasn’t sustainable, nor a healthy way to live.
I was at the end of my road. Eventually I found out about gluten intolerance and paleo eating, or what I refer to now as just, “Eating food that is nourishing to my body, opposed to destroying it.” I’ll make the grand statement right here: Adapting to a high-fat/lower carbohydrate, paleo way of eating has pretty much, if not entirely, cured me of my rosacea. Why? Even after curing it, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why rosacea comes on, but I believe, like most diseases, it starts within the gut. I think my particular case was a mixture of immune system problems, intestinal permeability, poor nutrient absorption, and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Rosacea is just a sign of a deeper problem within the GI tract that needs to be corrected. Thankfully, the body is always trying to heal itself and when you take out the crap, you allow it to do so.
So goodbye rosacea and autoimmunity! I won’t miss you! Truthfully, this article stands as a final farewell to my condition. I’m done obsessing over my skin the way I have the past three to four years. My skin is never going to be perfect, but I need to stop thinking I can make it perfect. I’m ready to start embracing and enjoying my life again! I’m ready to tackle any opportunity that comes at me, and with rosacea, I felt I could not do this. I read a thread the other day on a separate rosacea forum entitled, “What would your life have been like had you not been diagnosed with rosacea.” What people posted was genuinely tragic and upsetting to me. People declining job opportunities, living housebound sheltered lives and ignoring intimacy, marriage, and children just because of this stupid condition. This thread was so heartbreaking to me; I felt I had to share my success story with others in the hope that I could help other people. As exciting as it is to share individual success, my biggest hope is that it reaches someone and saves them from the same trap I fell into. With that said, I’m done obsessing over the status of my skin and letting it control my life. Even with my condition in total remission, I’m still hung up on what my skin looks like on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I want to tell myself, “Dude, relax. You’ve put it behind you! Now move forward and don’t look back!” So I’m doing that. Once again, goodbye rosacea! ?
Additionally here are some tips or steps to follow for those who are dealing with rosacea. This is how I healed my body. I’m not going to tell you to avoid hot baths, saunas, hot weather, cold weather, spicy foods (unless you’re nightshade sensitive), etc… the typical rosacea recommendations. I don’t feel those things should play into it.
Basically, anything that’s good for your digestive and gut health is good for your rosacea!