Managing blood glucose (BG, aka blood sugar) levels is the primary focus of diabetes management. For good reason, high or low blood glucose can wreak havoc on your organs causing all sorts of short term (blurred vision, thirst, frequent urination, etc.) and long term (kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, etc.) problems. BUT…
There is more to the story.
Autoimmune issues tend to go in bunches. Meaning if you have one autoimmune issue, you are likely to develop others. I believe this happens if the root cause of the autoimmune disease has not been addressed.
Since my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, I’ve had other health issues resolve that I didn’t know were related: eczema, nail strength, and under eye circles. Of the three, I have concrete answers as to what caused the problem with the eczema and eye circles, but the nail strength is a bit of a mystery still.
Eczema is inflammation of the skin caused by an overactive immune system (i.e. an autoimmune disorder). This WedMD article lays out the condition pretty well; however, it is vague on how to cure the issue.
My mom has eczema so when it started popping up on my wrists, I just accepted it. Although I did think it was odd that I hadn’t had it my whole life. It popped up one day and slowly worsened over several years.
In the beginning, it only showed up on my wrist in the winter time. Therefore, I decided it must just be bad dry skin. I used all kinds of creams but they didn’t touch it. It was just as rough, scaly, and thick no matter how faithful I applied various creams.
Then it started to last longer and longer into the spring, summer, fall, and eventually it hung around all year long. For at least a year before the Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, I couldn’t get rid of the patch of eczema on my right wrist, no matter how hard I tried.
I began my gluten-free diet in April 2017, and 4 weeks in I was eczema free.
It just disappeared.
I didn’t apply any creams or do anything fancy except change my diet. I also was able to verify gluten was the cause when later in the summer, I accidentally ingested some gluten, and my eczema patch popped up a few days after having gluten. Crazy, right?
Once I identified the source of the gluten (homemade BBQ sauce that time), it took another four weeks to get rid of the eczema.
Here’s my right hand which, although dry (I always struggle with dry skin in the winter!), does not have a scaly, red patch of eczema covering my wrist.
Growing up I could grow my nails like no one’s business. I always had long “claws,” as my mom would call them. 🙂 I had no trouble keeping them from breaking. I even had lovely long nails on my wedding day.
For the last several years my nails have been extremely brittle. They split, peel, and break off so easily. The very few times I got a Shellac manicure my nails would be destroyed for months. I do mean destroyed. They would be very soft, often peeling back too far where the nail is connected. Ouch! I blamed the Shellac polish, but now, I don’t think that was the issue.
I am now 8 months into my gluten-free diet (2 months into paleo: grain-free and dairy-free), and my nails are strong for the first time in many years, possibly 5 years?
Currently my nails are short, but I couldn’t even grow them this long a year ago without them breaking.
I’ve had dark under eye circles my whole life. I’d heard they were genetic, so I just didn’t worry about it. Somewhere along they way, I read that dark circles could be a sign of dairy allergy. I still didn’t worry about this because you wouldn’t expect me to give up cheese just to fix my skin color, right? Give me better concealer!
Part of my elimination diet involved cutting out dairy. When I did, my blood sugar levels stabilized immediately which was the primary concern at the time. For the last two months I’ve been dairy-free because I do think it was causing inflammation in my gut which resulted in elevated blood sugar levels (I would eat a very low carb breakfast: eggs, sausage, cheese and have blood glucose level of higher than 150 by lunch.).
The result I didn’t expect (because I didn’t remember the whole dairy allergy thing) was more even skin tone on my face. The circles under my eyes, while still there, are far less dramatic. To the point, my concealer is not my go to every single day. I really don’t mind going out bare-faced. I’m loving the skin God gave me, just as He gave it to me.
Here I am, this morning. I did freshly wash my face and apply lotion prior to the picture, but I do not have any make-up on whatsoever.
These changes are all more subtle than blood sugar levels, but to me, they are significant signs of improved health. It takes a lot for me to admit this too as I’ve always thought I was the picture of good health. Obviously not not not…apparently it takes a lot to get my attention and change how I live!
I’m so encouraged that I am on the right track. These small changes tell me my body is working better and fighting itself less and less each day. Taking the time is realize and appreciate the small things helps in the day to day living with my new diet and lifestyle changes.
What small things encourage you to stay the course (no matter the journey!)? Do you take the time to pause and take stock of the good? It’s a good practice for everything!