Sunday, January 27, 2013

Helpmekaar - Soap for Psoriasis

I am going to start a series of posts called "Helpmekaar". This is an Afrikaans word meaning "help each other".

We need to exchange information between us, to tell each other what we find helps or aggravates our psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. There are so many possible causes and factors that affect how these conditions affect each of us that we all respond differently to treatments, products and even weather conditions. What helps one person may not help the next.

I have found various ways to ease my symptoms, even to sometimes make them go away completely. Many of you have found other ways to achieve similar results. Yet, few of us manage to remain totally clear of symptoms permanently. It may be because we become lax and fall back into our previous bad habits or it may be because the particular treatment that we are using has a limited shelf-life, after which it is no longer effective and we have to move on to try something different. It may be that if we combine what we have found good for ourselves with what someone else has found good, we may stumble onto something that works to our benefit more permanently.

For whatever reason, we can only benefit from reading what others are doing and finding successful. So, I am inviting you to share with us what it is that you do that works for you, to alleviate your psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. Some of it will be purely relief from unpleasant symptoms, other may be getting deeper, into the root causes of these conditions, deep within our bodies. It just depends on the particular aspect that is under consideration at the time.

For each post in this series I will kick it off with what I am doing at the time or have done in the past. What I am doing might be good but may not necessarily be the best that I could do, likewise for you. I hope that many people will respond with their stories. This first one deals with body soap, as in the kind of soap that you use to shower or bath.

I have used various kinds of bath soap over the past 30 years. Popular wisdom is that we must use mild and unscented soaps and I have found this to be true. The one that I finally settled on as the most beneficial to me is Olay Ultra Moisture white bar with Shea Butter. This is a gentle soap that softens any light scaling that I may have at the time, allowing me to "roll it off", leaving sound and undamaged skin behind. It leaves a layer of oil on my skin as well, moisturising it to increase flexibility and prevent it drying out. That reduces itching, so overall my affected skin feels much better and more normal. Soap can dry out your skin, so using a moisturising soap is much better for psoriasis lesions.

Some of the high-end soaps that are supposed to be gentle are not really so gentle if you have psoriasis. I tried Pears soap years ago. I don't remember the exact effects but they were strong enough that I only used one bar and then changed to another brand.

Please post your story as a comment below this post.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Food Combining for Health

I have written before on this blog about the dangers of mixing the wrong foods together. Read about it in my post "Watch What You Mix". Thoughts of that were brought back into mind when I read an excellent article on the same subject, titled "Don't Eat Chicken with Rice" by Carole Jackson of Daily Health News.

I have long been aware of the health dangers of mixing sugars and protein, so I try to have sweet things like fruit, fruit juice etc before a meal rather than after it and leave a big gap between the main meal and desert. If we go out to dinner I seldom have desert because I can't separate the two by anywhere near enough time for it to be healthy.

What I have not really taken into account, though, was a similar problem with starchy food. I don't know why I didn't make the connection, I just didn't apply enough of my brain cells to the problem even though I knew the answer all along. I remember clearly in about Grade 4 or 5 the teacher of our hygiene class telling us that saliva converts starch into sugar, so we must chew our breakfast cereal thoroughly to mix it with saliva, which would start the digestive process even before it reached our stomachs. For some reason that memory kept recurring in my brain ever since, which has been a long, long time. Obviously my sub-conscious mind was trying to tell my conscious mind that this is important, so please pay attention. The Carole Jackson article made the final connection to get me to take note.

Sugars are simple carbohydrates and starches are complex carbohydrates. Ptyalin and amylase in saliva convert complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and move quickly though the digestive system. They should not be consumed with or after anything that is tough to digest, which is exactly the case with any kind of animal protein.

Animal protein takes a long time to go through the digestive system and it holds back any sugars that are with it or behind it in the queue. The sugars complete their digestive process quickly but can't get to where they can be absorbed into the blood stream. They sit around in the warm and cosy intestine and start to ferment, which produces toxins. While they are hanging around waiting, they cause bloating, heartburn and other very uncomfortable sensations. When the animal protein finally gets to where it can be absorbed into the blood stream, the fermented sugars and toxins go with it into the body.

I am a lover of stews and casseroles, generally containing potatoes and other vegetables, along with some pork or chicken and served on a nice bed of brown rice or yellow rice. I also love grilled salmon on rice and with a pile of steamed veggies. Now I realise that this is a toxic mix and may be contributing to my psoriasis symptoms. I must ditch either the animal protein or the starch from these combinations.

Although I don't have a lot of animal protein, I don't really want to go vegetarian. So, I must rather watch my food combining more carefully. The Carole Jackson article has some good advice on healthy combinations and has a link to an easy-reference food-combining chart. Basically, eat sugars and starches together or with vegetables. Eat animal proteins by themselves or with non-starchy, non-sugary vegetables.

You need only keep these basic principles in mind to modify your normal recipes and come up with slightly different ways to create tasty interesting meals.