I am not a teenager. Far from it, actually. So why is my skin acting like I'm 17? Why are my cheeks, chin and chest consistently covered in blemishes? What on earth am I doing wrong?
Two months ago, I found myself asking these questions on a daily basis. I would peer into the mirror each morning and glare back at my pimple-covered reflection with haste. I used to have good skin! Great skin, in fact. It was clear, radiant, and in good nick for someone about to hit the big 3-0. But it was no longer healthy, and I had no idea why.
For a solid 12 months prior, I had been experiencing breakouts like never before. They were constantly present. They were constantly large. And they were constantly painful. It was horrible, and the ol' self-esteem most certainly took a hit.
Despite cleansing with salicylic acid to help remove and loosen dead skin cells and dissolve blackheads, as well as treating with topical retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), clay-based masks and tea tree oil, I saw no visible changes in my skin. As soon as one pimple would heal, another one would form a few millimetres away. It was a vicious cycle that was spinning completely out of my control.
I knew I had to come up with a new plan of attack; one that corrected the problem from the inside out. Putting on my 'holistic healing hat', I visited an iridologist to help pin point my body's specific weaknesses. By studying the iris, an iridologist can highlight areas of the body that are injured or in pain, allowing you to actively help heal them.
My iris map showed my stomach was in a world of bother. So much so, it was likely I was suffering from leaky gut. And because leaky gut causes internal and external inflammation, it was the plausible cause of my skin issues, too.
So, how do you heal a leaky gut? You eat for your blood type. Yes, your blood type.
Our blood type plays a key role in how foods benefit or hinder our health, explained the iridologist. The link between our blood type and the food we consume is because of lectins — a protein component of food. When we eat food containing lectins that are incompatible with our blood type, these lectins target our organs or bodily systems, causing the blood cells in that area to agglutinate (clump together). This clumping is often associated with tissue destruction, and can even be a major factor in the development of disease.
Each blood type has a list of foods that are highly beneficial (acts like a medicine), neutral (acts like a food), and should be avoided (acts like a poison). When eating for your blood type, you should always opt for the highly beneficial foods over the neutral ones, but the latter won't do you any harm as they're necessary for a balanced diet.
After having a blood test, I found out my blood type is B+. And scarily, a number of the 'poison' foods on the Type B avoid list matched the current contents of my daily meals, which I'd been consuming consistently for the past 12 months:
- Chicken. I've been eating this at least four times a week. Damn.
- Cashews. Yes! I love a good Thai dish, and cashew chicken is one of my go-tos . . .
- Chickpeas. I've basically eaten a cup of these every day for the past year. Eek.
- Wheat, rye and barley. These are gluten-containing grains. I knew these didn't agree with me, which is why I've avoided them of years. My sister with Coeliac disease is also a blood type B+. Interesting.
- Corn, cornmeal, cornflakes, corn syrup, corn oil and corn starch. Corn Thins and corn wraps are staples in my diet. Not any more!
- Sorghum and buckwheat. These two ingredients are used in basically every single gluten-free product, including my morning bowl of gluten-free Weetbix and favourite gluten-free pasta.
- Tomatoes, tomato-based sauces. That weekly bowl of gluten-free spaghetti bolognaise is really coming back to haunt me.
- Coconut. I may or may not have been stealing of few pieces of my boyfriend's much-loved Lindt dark coconut chocolate . . . Shhh!
- Soda water, mineral water and soft drinks. I love a Coke Zero, and drink a glass of sparkling water almost daily. Oops!
- Spirits. Hmm . . . Now I understand why vodka leaves me in such a state.
No wonder my skincare routine wasn't having any affect on clearing my breakouts — I was sabotaging my skin from the inside on a daily basis!
In order to heal my skin, I needed to heal my leaky gut first. So, I studied up on my blood type diet and implemented it immediately. I also started taking probiotics and glutamine powder daily, which the iridologist recommended in order to help relieve stomach and intestine inflammation and strengthen my digestive lining. (I take Ethical Nutrients Inner Health Plus and Blooms L-Glutamine Powder.)
Within three weeks, I started to notice a difference in my skin. Current pimples were healing, and new ones we no longer forming in their place. Fast forward to today — a mere two months later — and my skin is completely clear. After 12 months of constant blemishes, I don't have a single breakout on my face or chest. Not one! It's phenomenal. And all I've changed is my diet.
Eating for your blood type may sound like another diet fad, but for me, the results speak for themselves. Not only is my skin clear, my stomach is less bloated, and I have more energy. The 'avoid' list for my B+ blood type may appear long, but the list of 'highly beneficial' foods is a whole lot longer, and includes all of my favourite fruits and vegetables, plus rice, quinoa, beef and lamb. Wine is also a 'neutral' food for my blood type, which is a huge relief — I grew up in a wine region and love a good glass of shiraz. I am still mourning the loss of my weekly gin, soda and fresh lime, but it's worth it. Clear, radiant skin is finally mine.