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How I reversed my autoimmune disease, and built my foundations for success

Eric Ho
9 November 2020
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The foundations that helped me reverse my autoimmune disease are the same foundations for achieving success without the burnout.”

I wish I had known that back then.

I didn’t know when I was diagnosed with psoriasis at university that it was an autoimmune disease. And that it could be reversed.

I left my GP’s surgery with some steroid creams, applied them assiduously, and the psoriasis started to subside.

Like many people suffering from psoriasis, I noticed that being outdoors in the sunshine really helped. 

What I didn’t know then was that the steroid cream was doing nothing to address the root cause, let alone reverse my autoimmune disease. It was only alleviating the symptoms. 

I also didn’t know back then, that the foundations to reverse my autoimmune disease are the same recipe for achieving success without the burnout.

Over the next few years, my psoriasis would come back with increasing vengeance in the winter months. I became increasingly frustrated and anxious, worried that the psoriasis would spread to other parts of my body

One summer when I was hiking in Tajikistan with some friends from Beijing, my psoriasis was at its worst.

I was even more worried than normal, because I was outdoors hiking in the sunshine. Dsepite that, my symptoms weren’t improving like they usually would. 

The steroid cream had stopped working, and my dry, scaly patches of skin turned red, inflamed and wept. 

The foundations for living without chronic disease are the same as being a successful professional without the burnout!

A chance encounter with an unconventional approach

It wasn’t until 2013 when I was training for the Ötillö swim-run race that my journey to resolving my psoriasis began. What it also do was help me create the foundations for my own success without the burnout.

I stumbled by chance across a book:

“The Paleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance” by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel.

I read it with interest, but was sceptical about what it was saying. Friends of mine, some of them doctors, raised their eyebrows at the paleo diet. Some of them questioned the wisdom about eating only Palaeolithic foods. Many advised me, “just eat everything in moderation”. 

For my own part, I wondered about how I would fuel myself for a long endurance race. Would my body adapt in time to eating in a way that I’d never done before? 

So although I read it with curiosity, I stuck to the traditional approach I was familiar with. Carb loading for the race, and glucose gel packs to get me around the 10-or so hour swim-run competition. I gorged on delicious pasta meals in the run up to the event. 

But I promised myself that I would try out the paleo diet after the race.

I wasn’t thinking about reversing my autoimmune condition back then. I just wanted some relief from my symptoms.

Food became the foundation for my health, my success and reversing my autoimmune disease

I started experimenting with food and implementing little by little what has become a paleo approach to eating that’s tailored to me.

In other words, my own paleo template.

And as I adopted more and more of the principles of a paleo diet, I started reading more widely. People who spoke knowledgeably about it, like Abel James, Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf introduced me the basics. 

I also discovered individuals whom I now know are Functional Medicine practitioners, like Chris Kresser, Dr Mark Hyman and Dr Terry Wahls, for whom this approach is grounded in rigorous science and the clinical outcomes they see in reversing chronic disease.

Fast forward a year and a half later, and my psoriasis was much better. I rarely got any flare ups. I had already given up on the steroids as they had stopped working. 

As I became my own health detective, I noticed that removing gluten improved my psoriasis significantly.

There were many other things I noticed as I continued to experiment, observe and adjust.

My energy levels became stable for the whole day when I switched to whole food carbohydrates.

And best of all, my summer hayfever symptoms disappeared. I used to suffer terribly, sitting my exams in the summer months. I’d have one hand holding my pen to write, and my other hand rubbing my eyes.

Reversing my autoimmune disease helped me create the foundations for success

As I continued to refine my own paleo template and focus on my gut health, I began to feel so much more alive:

  • I slept better and woke up with zest
  • I didn’t wake up with a foggy brain
  • My skin was not dry in the winter months
  • I avoided my post-lunch lulls in energy
  • I felt lighter, and less bloated

And that feeling of being alive allowed me to build my resilience, work hard, and feel that my success was authentic – in other words, that my didn’t come at a cost.

Create your own foundations for success

Food is a key, but not the only, foundation. 

When I adopted the other key foundations for health and wellbeing, not only did I reverse my autoimmune disease, but I started to breeze, rather than battle, through life because I had inadvertently also created the foundations for success .

To see difficult times as challenges rather than opportunities.

And to dream big, and achieve success.

Over to you!

What small next step might you take to creating your own foundations for achieving success without the burnout?

The approach I took to reverse my psoriasis may not work for you: after all we are all individual, and I’m not here to diagnose you like a licensed practitioner.

But the experts in Functional Medicine I mentioned above all share the approach that a paleo diet is a foundational template for good health and slowing, halting and in some cases reversing, chronic disease.

Read more about why that is, and what the other foundations are for success without the burnout.

I encourage you to be curious, as I was, and explore what might seem an unconventional way of approaching your health and wellbeing.

You never know how it might transform you!

Happy experimenting!

Be wise, be healthy and be well!

Eric


ps If you’re wondering what an autoimmune condition is, you can find a good explanation here.

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