Healing acne and Crohn’s disease on a whole food plant-based diet
I developed severe cystic acne 5 years ago and felt overwhelmed.
I tried everything that was recommended to me by medical professionals (the oral contraceptive pill, topical creams and regular facials) but nothing really worked. The impact of diet on skin health was never discussed. After months of unease, it dawned on me that there might be a link between my diet and acne.
I began to research for myself and learnt that dairy consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing acne and other skin conditions. I decided to stop eating all foods implicated in causing inflammation of the skin to see if it could help my situation. I came off meat, dairy, fish and eggs overnight. I had been eating huge amounts of animal products my whole life. Cheese, yoghurt, milk, eggs and meat were my daily staples with little or no plant-based foods.
‘Within 3 weeks I could see a huge improvement in my skin.’
It was an adjustment to learn about what foods I needed to focus on, but within 3 weeks I could see a huge improvement in my skin. I also noticed a dramatic ease in my digestion with less bloating, pain and more regular bowel movements.
I’ve also had Crohn’s disease for over 20 years, so when I realised that removing these inflammatory foods had positively impacted my skin and digestion, I was really taken aback.
‘I’m no longer on any medications, having spent over 20 years on immunosuppressants.’
My experience living with Crohn’s disease has improved in a huge way. I’m no longer on any medications, having spent over 20 years on immunosuppressants and periods of 8 weeks on steroids almost every year since I was 10 years old. Flare-ups are very rare now and I’m relieved that I can manage my Crohn’s disease through diet, knowing that I’ll always have the option of medication, if necessary. I have noticed that I’m very sensitive to processed foods and anything with artificial additives in it so I focus on eating a whole food plant-based diet as it’s given me the best results. I have also found that having the right tools to manage stress has had a beneficial impact on my Crohn’s too.
‘I have noticed that I’m very sensitive to processed foods and anything with artificial additives in it so I focus on eating a whole food plant-based diet.’
Chronic fatigue is a huge struggle for anyone with inflammatory bowel disease and it was clear to me that my energy levels were increasing as well as my ability to concentrate following my diet change. I now feel lighter and more confident in my body’s ability to heal.
Here’s what a typical day looks like for me.
Breakfast: Oat & buckwheat porridge with milled flax/hemp, berries and kiwi’s
Lunch: Buddha Bowl — pumpkin, potatoes, kale, broccoli, tahini, tamari, dried herbs, seaweed flakes and tempeh
Snack: Medjool dates & nut butter
Dinner: Lentils or tofu with pumpkin, leafy greens, courgette and a sauce made out of white beans with herbs.
‘People around me have also seen how much healthier I am.’
5 years on, I’m still aware of how incredibly beneficial a whole food plant-based diet is for my body and mood. People around me have also seen how much healthier I am and they’re curious because they saw how bad my skin was and how sick I was with Crohn’s disease. It is clear to me that my shift to a plant-based diet has been the key to healing and regaing my health.
Rachel Huban August 2020
Rachel’s health journey with Crohn’s disease and acne led her to qualify as a Nutritional Therapist, specialising in plant-based nutrition for pregnancy. You’ll find her on Instagram @huban_health and www.hubanhealth.com