Recently I have had one individual radically demanding me to take down my blog site as he suggests that it is false information and that I am preaching to people. He also said that he could never support Auotimmune Alopecia Research UK because he believes what I am writing about has absolutely nothing to do with Alopecia. I was firstly hurt by his comments (as he too is an Alopecia sufferer) and secondly disappointed that a sufferer would not embrace a new angle, a new concept, another way forward which can only be good for our community. He believes that autoimmunity and the gut has nothing to do with Alopecia since it has never been researched or proven. This is true that it has never been researched. If it is not reserched then how can we ever rule it out??? Alopecia has never had it’s own research in order to look farther down these avenues. So if we do not investigate farther….. Then how will one ever know?????
As I explained on my Home Page, I am not a doctor and the information I put up on this site is from working with anecdotal evidence which I have gathered from speaking with many many Alopecia sufferers over the course of 2 years. Also from researching on the internet information from other studies regarding other Autoimmune diseases. I am simply posing questions which need to be investigated and hopefully this is what AARUK can do in the future….. We can begin to document information and symptoms from sufferers through qeuestionnaires and possibly deduce some common factors which can then be singled out and looked into in greater depths.
Before being part of The Food Hospital on Channel 4 last month I had been tampering with my diet for around 12 months. My Alopecia has always been complete Alopecia Universalis. I have never had any regrowth in the 10 years of being universalis and I have never had immature velous hairs anywhere on my body (the only place I have had hair is in my knucles, small baby blonde hairs).
Last year when I changed my diet, in 3-4 weeks I noticed tiny tiny blonde hairs appearing on my scalp. Not all over, but in small areas. I was amazed because I had never seen a hair on my head in a decade. For years my body had been attacking hair follicles on a daily basis and for the first time hair follicles (albeit only a few) had began to produce small blonde hairs. For me this was real hope. For my individual case of having not had a hair on my head to having a few single hairs was quite extraordinary. I have never been a sufferer who has had periods of remission of small regrowth for periods of time etc so the coincidence of changing my diet and the hair growth was definite in my mind.
Over the past year I have been “listening” to my body a lot more intently. I realise when I eat certain foods that I immediately bloat for example pasta or bread. I soon noticed that if I loaded up on a lot of carbohydrates before or after I exercised or ate cereal then my bowel movements would be halted for a few days. I also began listening to my body regarding my sugar intake and my energy slumps midday. Another interesting thing I began to notice was if I ate too much chocolate or sugar more often than not I would get ulcers on the side of my tongue and on wakening in the morning my hands would be stiff and swollen.
One thing that I can deduce is that my body just cannot tolerate certain foods in larger quantities. I am still learning about my own body.
Many people have been writing to me and asking me more about the diet that I was on. I firstly want it to be known that I cannot guarantee that this “diet” will have the same effect on another individual as we are all very different and just because one person cannot tolerate a certain food item it does not say that the next person wont be able to. With the research being done into the gut and and the microbiome it is apparent that the medical profession is only touching on what could play a massive role in autoimmune diseases. Changing a persons diet has a direct influence on the composition of the bacteria in the gut. In our western diets we consume a lot os trans fats/ sugars/ additives/ preservatives which our bodies simply were not designed to ingest. Our bodies have tolerated these often in excess for many years.
The diet that I shall be talking about can only be good for ones self. Whether or not your hair grows back I can guarantee you that you will feel 100 times better and your body will be a lot healthier.
Autoimmune Alopecia is a disease with an inflammatory response of one of the largest organs of the body… The skin. With myself I know I have problems with my digestive system and so hopefully by addressing this first my body has a better chance of healing. One of the most important things is routine. We are routine mammals who awaken in the morning, eat during the day and sleep during the night. Eating patterns should be kept to a daily routine too. When food goes in it must also come out. This is very important. The last thing you want is waste products to be accumulating in your intestines and byproducts/toxins being absorbed into the bloodstream. Bowel regularity is key and one should be aiming to have at least one bowel movement everyday. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is imperative along with eating fiber rich foods.
There are certain diseses such as inflammatory collitis whereby patients are told to steer clear of high fiber foods as this may irritate the gut farther and cause a flare up so at this point I must say that before making any huge changes to your diet firstly please speak with a medical practitioner or a qualified dietician.
I cut out and reduced these foods in my diet
All dairy products (apart from a good natural yoghurt)
Wheat ( I cut all wheat out, apart from one toasted wholemeal pitta bread a day but I am now cutting this out entirely)
I eat 3 meals a day at routine times 5 hours apart with a snack at 3 hour intervals.
I NEVER over eat as not to put any strain on my digestive system.
Each meal has 3 components eg carbohydrate, protien, something fresh.
All the food is fresh and nothing is packaged and there are absolutley NO additives or preservatives in anything I eat.
When doing the diet, with the research I have done by myself I am conscious not to eat foods which are known to cause an inflammatory response within the body. I am also conscious to include oily fish in my diet for omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Also to eat fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants and a variety of fresh foods in order to obtain a broad spectrum of vitamins and nutrients.
EXAMPLE MEAL PLAN
2 tbsp gluten free organic oats (if not tolerated try millet flakes)
Sprinkling Pumpkin seeds
one toasted wholemeal pitta bread (no additives or preservatives, check the back of packet…… I am in the midst of cutting this out completely)
Spread with avacado (butter substitute)
Salmon, or any other fresh lean protien…. Chicken, Prawns, Mackeral ( I steer clear of red meats as they are known to produce an inflammatory response in the body). I also eat Alaskan Wild Salmon from the tin….. quite expnsive but so tasty and less contaminants eg mercury
Salad…… including spinach, watercress. red cabbage, baby beetroots (steamed in own juices, no vinegar) spring oninon raddishes…… As much salad as you like
Sweet potato or Brown Rice
Protien source, If I had fish for lunch I would have Chicken or turkey for dinner
Vegetables. If I had salad for lunch I would have Vegetables for dinner. Vegetables I would try to eat super foods eg Brocolli or Cauliflower, Asparagus and any other green leafy vegetables
Raw vegetable sticks with hummous
one piece of fruit
This is a basic diet and from this you can begin to be more adventurous. You can makes soups in the winter, blended vegetable juices or smoothies as snacks, you can also get great recipes off the internet.
I would love to be sitting here with a full head of hair at this point and be telling each and everyone of you that if you stick to this diet then your hair will grow back. But sadly (at present) this is not the case. What I must remember is that I have had Autoimmune Alopecia for over 10 years and for that reason it may take a long time for my body to heal…. What I also have to remember is that even if my hair does not grow back I know now that my body feels and behaves much more healthily than it has ever done; my skin looks better, I do not suffer from lethargy during the day, my digestive problems have gone AND I have small blonde growth on my head which I have not had ever during my years suffering Alopecia Universalis.
As an Alopecia sufferer I have never accepted having this disease. I had hair until I was 19 so something changed in my body for it to fall out. I will not accept having it until I know sustantial research has been done and all avenues have been exhausted….. At present we are a million miles away from that scenario!
By changing my diet and by setting up AARUK I feel as though I am being proactive and that to me is more cathartic than accepting this as the normal for the rest of my days. I hope you can all get behind myself and Sheelagh and Emma in the future with the charity and hopefully together we can make a difference
Thanks for reading
So for my sceptics who wish to make negative comments about my blog … I am not out to preach to anyone about diet. I am not out to make any gurantees (at this stage). Diet is out there for you experiment with. There is much research out there regarding autoimmune diseases and diet therapies. The foods we eat determine how our bodies function. We need food to live and we need simple, quality, unprocessed food for our bodies to function optimally….. Not junk food, processed foods, artificially enhanced foods. I am not blogging about anything that will harm people, it can only make you feel healthier!!!
As for the charity AARUK I do believe we need to look at our community as a group, we need to ASK our community is there a common link with digestive problems? Celiacs disease which has been genetically linked with Alopecia is very much focused on diet and gluten intolerances. We need to be investigating these avenues with independant research into Autoimmune Alopecia.