For the last few years, Kieran had been developing skin rashes which came out either when he was sweating, or sometimes when he went from hot to cold temperatures. They could erupt over most of his body, would last for anywhere between 20 minutes and a few hours, and made exercising or even being outside difficult.
A shift worker with erratic eating patterns due to work, he was 10 kg over his target weight. He enjoyed cooking and would have 1 good meal a day, usually some meat, rice and vegetables, but it could be very late at night depending on what hours his shift was each day. The rest of the day was mostly made up of snacks such as bread and cheese, biscuits, chocolate, or maybe some fruit. He very rarely drank water, but would have at least 3 or more coffees a day and ended his days with at least 4 alcoholic drinks to help him relax and get to sleep.
We talked about his digestion, which was pretty good although he suffered occasionally from bloating. His main complaint apart from the rashes was his energy levels, which were always low.
Stress – Always a Factor
We also discussed stress levels. A few years ago, he had gone through a particularly stressful time. Things were not so bad now, but that was definitely the time when the skin problems began to surface. He also remembered that around that time he had developed some psoriasis on his arms. That had cleared up, but the rashes were becoming more frequent.
What Kieran was describing is known as a type of urticaria. It is particularly sensitive to changes in temperature – usually hot to cold, but in Kieran’s case he was prone to rashes when he was hot as well.
There are often links between urticaria and gut health. Other causes can be underlying infections with H.pylori, viruses or Candida, or a problem with the thyroid. There can also be food intolerances. We started off by improving the basics of his diet and added a few supplements before using any medical testing.
Kieran’s first challenges were
Drink Water – at least 2 litres a day
Eat 10 servings of different vegetables, herbs and fruits a day
Eliminate alcohol, gluten and dairy for the next 4 weeks
Take out as many high histamine foods as possible.
Histamine foods contain ingredients that are more likely to provoke a histamine response in the body. The list can be quite exhaustive, so it should only be undertaken with the help of a nutritionist or dietician, and only for a few weeks if possible.
We also worked on improving the snacks to take to work so he didn’t have the biscuits, crisps, chocolate and so on. Ideas included:
Apples, pears, or bananas with nut butter – almond butter, peanut butter ( low sugar) or sunflower seed butter
Vegetable sticks with hummus, avocado
Fresh nuts and seeds
Rice cakes with nut butter, hummus
Overnight oats (recipe attached) or overnight chia seed puddings.
Water and Alcohol
At our first follow up, Kieran had been finding the changes quite difficult. He’d done really well at cutting out the alcohol, wheat and high histamine foods with only a couple of lapses. He’d made a huge effort to drink at least 2 litres of water a day and had cut out all the unhealthy snacks. His energy levels had increased and he had no spots on his skin since the first appointment, although he hadn’t really experimented with any hard exercise. He was missing lemons, chillies and gluten though!
Weight loss and inflammation
At our second follow up a few weeks later, he reported losing 11 kg in body weight since making the diet changes. I explained that a lot of this was due to decreasing inflammation, and that drinking water was allowing his body to start functioning properly.
As well as the weight loss, the really good news was that he had tried exercising and doing things like washing the car in the good weather and the rashes that would had bothered him before had virtually completely disappeared. He was thrilled. We decided at this point to take a food intolerance test. While we were waiting for the results, we agreed to slowly start re-introducing some of the high histamine foods that we cut out to see if they provoked a reaction.
We used the York Premium Food Intolerance Test which tests for IgG reactions from over 200 ingredients. The results were really interesting. Kieron had a very high reaction to cow’s milk, which fits with his genetic profile. He also showed significant reactions to wheat, yeast, rye, eggs, soya – and strangely, avocado. That’s not one I usually see. But all the others, the dairy, wheat, yeast, eggs and soy, are incredibly common irritants.
They’re not easy to avoid, but the difference it makes can be immense.
Kieron was fascinated to see these results and is working on slowly reintroducing some of the foods that provoked less of a reaction. Having something concrete to use as a guide has been really helpful. Some foods he was worried about, such as olive oil and lemon, are absolutely fine for him, and he has returned those to his diet happily.
If you are interested in taking a food intolerance test, or discussing your skin issues,