January 15 2016

Goodbye Eczema, Hello Health

By Guest
94 Comments

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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2This isn’t a weight loss story, although I am extremely proud of all those Apples who’ve experienced tremendous weight loss success–kudos! Mine is, however, a story about how Primal living allowed me to exterminate my auto-immune issues and overcome my lifelong battle with eczema.

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, during the post-Apartheid Nelson Mandela era. My folks and I moved there from London in 1994 when I was two, so I count myself lucky to have been exposed to people from a multitude of cultures, nationalities, and faiths. It’s quite hard to imagine that only 10 years prior to that blacks and whites lived in forced separation from each other under an iron-fisted government!

Anyway, I always had systemic inflammation as a kid, and our family doctors constantly told my parents that I would quite possibly never grow out of the eczema which plagued me every break-time at school. South Africa, being a sports mad country, has always encouraged its children to play outdoors (which is wise in and of itself), however, my experience was often quite different. I remember being ten and playing with my friends on a hot cricket pitch. The sun was out, smiles were in heavy supply, but I was in agonizing pain. My eczema would develop sporadically in sun exposed areas and would leave me in crippling pain, unable to even concentrate on the games we played. Whenever rugby season came around in high school, I knew that my chances of being able to maneuver around the pitch easily (and at speed, I played wing) depended on whether or not my skin irritation ceased.

I had always been into “clean eating,” a principle I emulated from my mother, who first took me to the gym at age 13. Meals at home were largely centered around green leafy veg and meat, and at Christmas when we went to see family in Ghana, I would divulge in fresh coconut and plantains. Although there were many primal aspects to my childhood, I still had a love of whole grains and milk, which I would devour religiously after weekly training sessions. This of course didn’t help my teenage acne and certainly ruined my mood, especially as I was in a rag and tag (although beautiful) boarding school. I also rowed quite competitively during high school and by the time I was eighteen, I had developed a nasty case of over-training in an attempt to “be fit”…this failed abysmally.

Fast forward to college a year later and I was studying history in Dublin, Ireland–the home of Guinness Beer and Oscar Wilde (yes, both). Studying abroad was, and continues to be, a surreal experience. During my first year I did not have adequate health insurance and navigating the Irish health care system was a daunt  task for a foreign student. My grandmother made me promise that I would take “extremely good” care of myself so as not to need any health care, and so I turned to the web to help me get “extremely” healthy. I became a devout reader of Muscle & Fiction, and Men’s Ill-Health alike, and the fact that I naïvely took a greeting job at Abercrombie & Fitch–the mecca of vanity and self-delusion–didn’t help…yes, some of those boys have perms! Thank God this misdirection only lasted a year. I was fortunate to meet a number of open minded health enthusiasts on my college track team and in my Bible study group, a number of whom were self-proclaimed ‘Biohackers.’

photo_3Great things happened and I read The Primal Blueprint (the divine book of fitness, health, and living long while looking darn good doing it!). I also read Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution and the Hartwigs’ It Starts with Food. My health CHANGED. Mr. Sisson opened Pandora’s Box of health for me and I quickly realized how steeped in delusion much of the health industry is.

I now train a mere three times a week with one conditioning session, outdoor sprints aren’t always possible in a rainy country so body-weight does the job, and I’ve had the pleasure of training friends and family too!

photo_2As a student today, I’ve seen too many twenty-somethings running around on treadmills and eating 12 meals a day between lectures for the sake of “bulking up,” while denying their auto-immune issues because conventional wisdom shuns fat and praises the grain. I have seen too many cases of male bigorexia and have seen far too many girls wearing waist trainers for it to be okay. Primal living has taught me to respect myself and in turn, my body has disallowed eczema and other autoimmune problems from inhabiting it. I’ve only just gotten my sleep on track, and being in bed by 10:30 is no social death. Those who matter don’t mind, and I fear that those who mind won’t be with us sixty years down the line. Health isn’t hard, it is a God given birth right we all have.

Thank you Mr. Sisson for your tireless work in the ancestral health realm. My family has a copy of The Primal Blueprint sitting on a bookshelf in South Africa, my family in Ghana have their copy on the way in the mail, and I am trying to gently, but persistently, spread primal knowledge with all those I am encountering in Europe.

Yours truly and Grok on!

Kwadwo

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94 thoughts on “Goodbye Eczema, Hello Health”

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  1. Well done! The saying, “Nothing good happens late night except for in the bedroom” is true. Give me sleep and “sleep” over a last call round of drinks anytime.

    1. Haha! Thank you Paleo Ron Burgundy 😉 Sleep is truly magnificent – it’s a mystery why folks skimp on it so often knowing how good it is…

  2. “Those who matter don’t mind, and I fear that those who mind won’t be with us sixty years down the line.”

    Love that line! Congrats on a job well done!

  3. “I’ve only just gotten my sleep on track, and being in bed by 10:30 is no social death.” So true! I love being in bed by 9:00 myself.

    Great story, thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Isn’t the hour of 10 like the magic number?! It just works for those of us who’re tempted to stay up 😉

    2. Anything before 11 is like a magic number! It just works for those of us who’re tempted to stay up 😉

  4. Thanks for sharing. You positive attitude is enhanced by your health!

    1. Yes great story and I love your writing style!! Many good quotes to remember…thanks.

    2. I appreciate that James, thanks I’m glad it was readable enough 🙂

  5. Great story! Thank you for sharing, keep up with the excellent work.

    1. Much appreciated Kitty, primal has truly become a lifestyle that works

  6. Inspiring story. During the winter months when I’m restrained by cold climates from hunting, hiking, and kayaking I usually do for physical activities I enjoy visiting this site to hear others success stories to get me into the gym so that I don’t lose any progress in physique that I made over the summer from these sports.

    1. Thanks Hunter! You’re right about finding inspiration on this site for fitness related goals. We have a ton of stories to choose from, and a lot of access to smarter information about fitness

  7. Great Story, spread the love. We used to think all Africa is Primal. The rate of growth of metabolic diseases is frightening, at least in Ghana. Back to Grok (Sankofa) is our only way out.

    1. I appreciate that Kwasi. You’re spot on, our rates of chronic disease are skyrocketing.Metabolic issues are also becoming commonplace in what was a previously healthy population. It’ll change with real health awareness.
      (another Ghanaian on MDA – I’ve got to tell my grandmother 😉 )

  8. Great story.

    Clarification request for a yank:

    What does “rag and tag” mean?

    Thanks and GROK ON

    1. Thank you Alpha Foxtrot (is this my new password?…). “Rag and tag” refers to an eclectic mix, or mishmash of people or things. In the case of school, it was an adventure with an unruly bunch!

  9. Awesome, woot, Professor Noakes and Karen Thompson will love this story. You are going to have to meet him in Cape Town if you can.

    Thanks for sharing and passing the info on. Have a bit of a man-crush I’ll admit. Nothing wrong with looking great. Feeling great is best, but Primal helps both.

    1. Hi Larry, thank you for the encouragement, I have read Noakes’s Real Meal Revolution and I must say I like the way he distills the scientific history of LCHF. Man-crushes can be useful to challenge us in different ways – like the eternal Jack Lalanne! Primal is wholesome indeed

  10. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. You look as good and you say you feel, hale and hearty. Best wishes for continued success.

    1. Thank you Carla! I feel incredible and don’t know why so many good people don’t have access to what could be a tremendously beneficial lifestyle change. It’s important to encourage one another. Also,you’ve given me my new favorite word…when I’m 90 I want to be “hale!”

  11. I especially love that you called us, your fellow followers of the primal shining path, “Apples”.

      1. But Kwado, why not “Steaks” or Bacons?!! Apples I fear have too many carbs! Pulling your leg there! I loved your story. We so often forget about health, while we are focusing on looking good.

  12. Congratulations! You’re right: health isn’t hard. It just takes intelligent effort consistently applied! Here’s to you!

    1. Thank you Patricia, and thank you for affirming what is only the truth – health is a natural standard that we’ve got to look after diligently!

  13. Great story, Kwadwo – in your photo you exude health. I’m sure you will do an excellent job spreading the primal word. And it’s always nice to hear about Mark’s global influence.

    1. Susan thank you for this thoughtful comment! I’m one of many people abroad who has been inspired by Mark. His intelligent, funny, but incredibly well-researched stance on human health can’t be refuted without a second (third, fourth, or fifth!) look.

  14. Great job Kwadwo! I love hearing success stories that are not just about weight loss (although those are cool too). So wonderful that your eczema has cleared up. I had the same thing happen with my acne…I suffered from the age of 12 until my mid 40’s, even though I was eating relatively clean. Just like you, cutting out the grains and dairy did the trick. Keep up the good work!

    1. Many thanks Elizabeth! I am so glad to hear how eating this way transformed your health issues too – those pesky grains and the dairy do more harm than good in most people. I’m amazed I no longer have to be self-conscious about exposed eczema areas. Everyone should encounter true health in their lives

  15. Your story has inspired me to stop eating those brown rice crackers that I bought by mistake. I’m all puffed up today. We have a neighbor who cleared up her eczema also by going paleo. Honestly, there are a couple of foods that I still need to cut out, and I find so much inspiration on the Friday Success Story page. Congratulations to you, but the best reward is your apparent vibrant health! I loved reading your story.

    1. Laura I’m so glad you’re honest about the brown rice crackers’ tempting you! We all face food obstacles on the go. Luckily there are always ways to change your environment when it comes to food like finding tastier primal alternatives. Thank you for the kind words too 🙂

  16. I love how you point out that not everyone’s Primal journey revolves around weight (and that’s not a criticism for those whose journey does). The sheer number of conditions that Primal living can fix is almost daunting. You’re doing great!

    1. Much appreciated Jamie – Primal (or just eating real food) can treat a number of seemingly complex conditions, and my story is just the tip of the iceberg

        1. Wow that’s awesome, and the fact that a dietary change like this can affect you on such a level proves how widespread the effects are.

  17. What a terrific way with words. I think you’ve been inspired by Oscar Wilde, or maybe you’ve tapped into his energy there.

    I trust you’re going to keep writing, whatever field you pursue.

    1. Thanks Terez! I enjoy writing, so being able to share in this way means a lot to me. I’ll certainly try my hand at exploring other topics too – be well 🙂

    1. Haha thanks Pamela, fitness magazines tend to obscure a lot unnecessarily so I’ll pass!

      1. I loved the way you changed the magazines’ names too! Thanks for giving us your story – so interesting and well written.

        1. Thanks Caroline! It’s only true, the magazines we see on shelves rarely have any truth in them. If we want to change our health, it starts & ends in nature.

  18. Kwadwo, thanks for the great story. Health is a birthright? You betcha. Keep spreading the good news.

  19. Wow – I love your story. Thank you so much for posting.The Friday Success stories are great, but yours is a breath of fresh air in the sense that it gives us insight into not only how we can be healthier, but how to be ourselves and be the best that we can be. Some of us have to try a little harder and maybe do things a little differently, but it can be done and the rewards are there for the taking!

    And I love that we can see how much of a global span MDA is taking One wonders how Oscar Wilde would have embraced a Primal lifestyle??

    BTW -who is the lovely lady with you in that pic?

    1. PrimalGrandma (love this name), I receive this & I appreciate your thoughtfulness! We all have different health set points, different goals, and different histories; but it’s only when we embrace who we ARE that we see transformations happen.
      I’m sure Oscar Wilde would’ve taken his primal lifestyle with a dash of whisky and lime…or possibly something stronger. That wonderful woman is my aunt, we were vacationing in San Diego at that time.

    2. Thank you so much for this comment PrimalGrandma (love your username!), You’re totally right – we become the best versions of ourselves by making the effort to take care of our health first and foremost 😉 This awesome woman is my aunt!

      I also think Oscar Wilde would’ve done Primal with a dash of whisky, and perhaps something a little stronger…

  20. Great story! Definitely looks like this lifestyle is treating you right.

  21. I almost never read these primal stories, but today I decided to and I’m glad I did! I love your writing style and you look absolutely amazing! Well done and thanks for being an inspiration 🙂

    1. Wow, I appreciate your kind words Reamika! We can all bring out the best in one another while living healthfully

  22. Congratulations, you rock big time

    You will live forever with this quote:

    “Health isn’t hard, it is a God given birth right we all have.”

    1. Thank you Wildgrok! Health really is something we all know how to do

  23. Thank you for sharing your story with us. My daughter and I both have mild eczema and I have also found that eating Primal has greatly alleviated the symptoms. Enjoy your time in Dublin–it truly is a wonderful city!

    1. I receive this beautiful comment Jessica, thanks! Eczema is helped greatly through nutrition, & eating this way can take your skin to the next level of health. Keep at it!

  24. My son had severe, head-to-toe eczema throughout his infancy, until we finally got it under control when an elimination diet showed milk, wheat, and eggs were to blame, so I know firsthand how powerful an influence diet can have on allergies/eczema. Never being able to sleep properly because you’re so itchy is pretty debilitating – our son was a different child overnight once he stopped itching and could sleep through the night. We suddenly realized he did not have a crotchety, cranky temperament; he had just been itchy all the time.

    Anyway, as I’m sure you know, eczema is a problem for which modern medicine has very little to offer, and the only people I know who have gotten it under control have done so through lifestyle changes like diet, so it’s a shame doctors never recommend that.

    1. Thanks for highlighting this important info Anna. you’re totally spot on, eczema is rarely helped with modern medicine. We have means to prevent itching, etc. but not really to eliminate it the way nutrition & lifestyle factors can. Your elimination diet definitely got the culprits, & it’s offensive foods like wheat that are often to blame.

  25. What a beautiful, inspiring story, Kwadwo.

    So many people suffer from physically and emotionally painful skin conditions and autoimmune problems that could benefit from primal eating. Every time someone like you shares a success story like this, there’s a chance of reaching those people.

    I share stories I read here with my own clients, many of whom are new to primal and have come to believe nothing will work to alleviate their suffering. Thank you so much for sharing–by doing so, you’re helping many others.

    1. I receive this amazing comment Dr. Lyons, and thank you for being one of the medical practitioners who actually shares this knowledge with clients! You have a platform to affect change through testimonies (like my own), and I hope that you continue to do good work, because many folks have been prescribed pills and not a lifestyle change.

  26. Kwadwo, congratulations, I take it your Eczema is now completely gone ? Do you take pro-biotics to help in this regard, and did you happen to notice if it was grains or milk in particular which caused it ?

    I definitely had a huge improvement in my Eczema symptoms when going primal, however it still comes back now and then.

    1. Hi Barbarian, thanks a lot for the kind words – they’re appreciated 🙂
      My eczema only comes back to haunt me if I steer away from primal nutrition. I stopped incorporating cheat meals into my weekends about 2 years ago while I was (& still am) primal. However, I noticed that while I don’t eat junk regularly, when I did, the eczema reappeared! My eczema has also showed up during periods when I haven’t paid attention to sleep quality or stress management. I attended my granddad’s funeral last Jan & barely slept that weekend – on Monday the eczema was rampant. By Thursday, with primal interjection – it was gone. Congrats on your own conquest over eczema.

  27. You look amazing!!!! Ive been battling eczema since I was a young child. I remember my mom having to put medicine with a tooth pick on the million small bumps on my legs when I was little. Now It is on my hands and I cannot use any commercial soaps on my hands.

    I notice when I stick to paleo my eczema and acne go away and are non-existent. THe second I go off the primal path the skin issues start to resurface. It is crazy how food has such a difference in ones life and body!

    1. Hi! I’m a stay at home mom & when my youngest was 4, she had the beginning of eczema. For over 10 years now, I’ve been a soap maker & it makes me smile to hear success stories from those who no longer suffer from skin conditions by using my natural products.
      Most people don’t understand how horrific commercially made bar so is incredibly bad for skin! It’s loaded with chemicals, dyes, etc. When we bathe, our pores are completely open and allows these ingredients into our system.
      Keep up the good work and God bless you!

      1. Amy your dedication to finding an alternative solution for commercial soaps is awesome! People are very oblivious to the irritant that commercial soap can be, and I think further education on this topic is important for the sake of our skin! Thanks for the well wishes, and God bless you too 🙂

    2. I receive this wonderful comment Ashley!! Congratulations on recognizing how powerful an intervention Primal eating can be, when used to battle skin conditions. Commercial soaps are toxic in many ways, but knowledge helps us avoid such bummers 🙂

  28. God bless you! Your story is inspirational and I thank you for sharing your testimony.
    I struggle with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis at the young age of 40. Turning this age made me look at the vessel God’s given me & i see how I’ve poorly taken care of it. I now aim to do yoga daily, use ayuvedic herbs to help with my issues.
    I’m going to buy the book that inspired you and hope to glean more right living information.

    1. Wow, Amy it’s incredible that you’ve given attention to the precious nature of your body. God has truly made us in his image, and it’s up to us to maintain and also build his creation – both around us, and in ourselves. Go grab the Primal Blueprint, it’s not dogmatic and it’ll quite possibly enhance your understanding of human health.

  29. This was a great story.

    My favorite part was hearing how widely spread the paleo lifestyle is becoming. Africa?! How awesome is that.

    1. Thanks Gingersnap! Paleo is everywhere now. Last I checked, one of my favourite areas in Cape Town now has chains of Paleo restaurants and Banting cafes 😉

  30. Are you single ;D? Dublin is not that far from Manc, UK if that’s where you’re still based. You look a picture a health in the second photo, God bless and grok on.

    1. Lucky I am single, as single as that lone seed in an Avocado (this makes me look horribly lonely, but I had to include avocados in there somehow.) I really want to visit Manchester actually, it’s great! Keep at your primal journey 🙂

      1. Are you on fbk? If so add me, my fbk name is Lacy Freeman. Yes come visit manc, and I will cook you some tast paleo meals, and we’ll think of paleo things to do, like kayaking in a water park (there is one nearby, I forgot the name) or hiking in the peak district! 🙂

  31. Well done piece Kwadwo! The Bible studies you cited are of great interest. Biohacking?!? I’ve moved past Paleo (still retaining the general principles), as it is the tip of the iceberg. Our genetic inheritance cited by religious texts and myths or legends, tell me we are or could be something way more or quite different than convention tells us. In my mid 40s now going through many changes some good others quite difficult. But filled with Faith as to what is possible then achievable. Thanks.

    1. Thank you Serito, and thanks for acknowledging your faith! I also find that biblical scripture, as well as African and Greek mythology, all hint at an advanced human capacity for transformational change. Use your faith to propel you to greater things health wise and keep at it- it is a serious motivator.

  32. Wow, this story really hits home for me. I have suffered (quite literally) from eczema since I was an infant and never outgrew it either. Every time I consulted a doctor about this – which was many, many times – they suggested possible allergies to skin products, laundry detergents, jewelry, perfumes, clothing dyes… the list goes on and on. I tried eliminating everything. But it seemed the possible causes were endless, and nothing I tried seemed to make much of a difference. Medication came with many side-effects, but sometimes there was no other option. I felt it was a hopeless battle that I could not escape.

    To this day I can not believe no one suggested diet could be a real factor. My mother, who is a pharmacist, finally sent me some research showing a link between gluten intolerance and eczema. I started using gluten free products and within weeks I saw an unbelievable improvement. But all those gluten free breads, pasta and pizza dough were bland, expensive and left me feeling bloated. Plus, it is easier and more fun to make your own sauces than searching the store for one with the right ingredient list. I realized that despite what the industry was telling me, I do not need these substitute products. Thank goodness, because that is how I discovered the primal lifestyle. I am feeling better now than I ever remember feeling. Not having that constant, nagging itch is so liberating. Waking up in the winter and being able to open your eyes properly, without swelling. Scarring from the scabs finally fading. Being able to go in the sun and work up a sweat without worrying about the consequences. It’s amazing.

    Thank you for your story and grok on!

    1. Margaux thank you for such an honest response to my story. Eczema isn’t just a rash or something physical, it can take a mental toll too. Pharmacists also recommended things to me, & though they worked temporarily the REAL change comes through nutrition. There is something otherworldly about being able to mold your health around this simple, but powerful concept of primal living!

  33. Hello! I suffer from eczema since few years ago, for my type of skin it has been really difficult to find a treatment that worked for me. Recently I started using foderma treatment and the results have been amazing, I recommend it!

  34. Nice Post! Great story and beautifully written, Many good quotes to remember. Your positive attitude is enhanced by your health. I really like your story. Thanks a lot for sharing this inspiring story.