Happy Psoriasis Awareness Month!
Hi Gillian, Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Gillian, I am 28 years old, and I’m from Scotland, UK. I currently live in Qatar. I moved here one year ago for a great job opportunity. I am currently on Instagram as @Psoriafit, which I set up almost a year ago to share my journey with psoriasis. Now I am expanding my knowledge of natural healing, and I am very keen to help others to do the same.
When were you diagnosed with psoriasis?
I was diagnosed with psoriasis around 11 years old. It was treated with tar baths and some topical creams. It then came back around age 15/16, again treated with topicals. Then in 2016, at age 24, it came back quite aggressively, and since then, the last four years have been the worst and most covered of my life.
What do you think caused it?
I believe in all circumstances, and it was brought on by stress. Internally my body doesn’t seem to deal well with stress, and I can pinpoint the times when stressful circumstances have then cause a flare-up on my skin: puberty & school, high school exams, deaths in the family, work-related situations, extreme life changes like moving my life to a different country.
What foods do you avoid?
Gluten 90% of the time I avoid, dairy completely avoid, coffee/caffeine (if I have it I have one cup per week or decaffeinated), processed or junk food, sugar I avoid 90% of the time, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine, peppers, chili)
What foods do you eat to heal?
Lots of fruit and veggies. Anything green! Cucumber, broccoli, kale. I always have a drawer full of veggies and just try to make a healthy meal from them – green smoothies, homemade soups, salads.
I also take the following supplements:
- Digestive enzyme
- Milk thistle.
Do you avoid Gluten and what do you think about gluten sensitivity in psoriasis?
I do avoid gluten mostly. I would say I still occasionally have some gluten whether it’s a craving or I am having dinner with friends and it is unavoidable. But most importantly I don’t punish myself and feel guilty about it – because that causes stress and would be even worse.
I believe gluten should be avoided because it is such a tough and sticky substance for the body. It causes problems for those with weak digestion and if you have psoriasis it is likely that you have weak digestion, so the result of the struggles on the inside of your body is presented as inflammation on the skin.
Let’s talk Psoriasis Friendly Breakfast?
Fruits, normally banana and berries with seeds or a green veg smoothie or both. It’s the best way to give your body energy for the day and have a clean start. The common western diet that is made up of cereal or toast for breakfast isn’t adding any nutritional value to our bodies and isn’t helping our insides and digestive system, which in turn isn’t helping our psoriasis to heal. I was a big cereal lover for many years, and it’s taken me a long time to change, but I am so happy when I wake up and look forward to a fresh fruit bowl. On the weekend, occasionally, I will have eggs, poached, with something like avocado, homemade pesto, or spinach.
Name your top 3 Psoriasis Triggers?
Stress, stress and STRESS!
Unfortunately, everyone has to deal with stress. Everyday life and unexpected events. Everyone reacts differently. In the last few years when significant events have occurred my body has clearly reacted. Stress has such a profound impact on what is going on inside your body and people don’t realize this: your digestion, levels of stomach acid, ability to absorb nutrients and minerals.
More so than eating, combatting, and learning to deal better with stress has become one of my biggest challenges and the most important one that I am consistently working on. It’s what started my psoriasis, and as much as food is helping me to heal, changing my lifestyle and stress management is what will be the catalyst for ultimate skin healing for me, I know it.
- Do a few days of juicing (I like to use Hanna Sillitoe’s book, Radiant, she has a 3 days green juice cleanse in there).
- Dead sea salt or Epsom salt bath (calming, full of magnesium)
- Getting some time in the sun where possible. I live in Qatar and luckily I am able to pop to the beach on my day off to help my skin
- Look at your skincare, skin sensitivities, chemicals that may be causing irritation, and eliminate perfumed products with lots of chemicals.
- Cover my body in coconut oil
- Try to remain calm, do some meditation, and self-care.
What would you tell those who are newly diagnosed and looking for answers?
Anything going on outside your body is a sign of something happening inside your body. Whether it is nutritional or emotionally based, there are things you need to take control of and address. The results will show on your skin. There is no magic cure overnight, healing cream or tablet that will get rid of the problems, and anyone who tells you there is, is lying to you. We need to get to the root cause and there is a whole community of psoriasis warriors online who are doing their own research, support each other, showing evidence of healing through nutritional and lifestyle changes. Don’t stress. You are not alone. We can help you to embrace, love, and heal your skin in a sustainable way.
Find out more about Gillian and her journey via her Instagram account @psoriafit