How Animal-Based Dairy Affects My Rheumatoid Arthritis and Eczema

How Animal-Based Dairy Affects My Rheumatoid Arthritis and Eczema

Ice cream, milk, butter, cheese, full cream and eggs!

Earlier this week I received a note from a friend asking how animal-based dairy foods affect my health. Of course, each of our bodies responds differently to food and, as always, I am simply sharing what I understand relating to my health.

After dozens and dozens of appointments with doctors and other healthcare professionals, and tracking my symptoms, I’ve learned a few things about traditional dairy.

Juggling Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

At one point my rheumatologist told me that all animal-based foods promote inflammation in the body. This includes meat, eggs and dairy.

Inflammation is sneaky and can affect every single part of our bodies including the skin, muscles, organs and joints. When we discussed how to best manage my rheumatoid arthritis, he mentioned I should consider transitioning from being a vegetarian to becoming vegan.

I haven’t made the switch, but enjoy vegan meals often. My hurdle is pizza delivery. I just can’t give it up quite yet.

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My Irritated Skin Dislikes Dairy

When I developed three forms of eczema in 2016, my dermatologist didn’t really talk about dietary changes to help alleviate my rashy, painful skin. But after joining an online eczema support group and hearing many, many people explain that a dairy-free diet helped clear their skin, I tried to start reducing my dairy intake too.

My skin is much healthier when I don’t eat dairy (or refined sugars). The rosacea on my face isn’t as hot and sunburn-feeling. The atopic dermatitis on the lower half of my body isn’t as rashy and itchy.

However, I should note that I also use Epsom salt baths, thick creams and prescription-level steroid creams to manage my skin conditions. I don’t use the steroids as much as I should because they thin my skin, which causes bruising, pain and questions from onlookers.

How I’m Moving Forward

Right now I am trying to reduce my intake of dairy, refined/added sugars and processed foods. I’ve tried to go cold turkey on all three (and was successful during the Autoimmune Protocol in 2017), but I don’t have the energy or time to prepare homemade meals six times a day to accommodate my new diagnosis of gastroparesis.

Maybe once I start feeling better, this will change.

Every single time I fall into the “grab something easy” or “order pizza” mode, it’s because I’m too fatigued from all the rheumatoid arthritis side effects or depressed from juggling so many health issues to do much else. I get hungry and just need to eat before my blood sugars drop too much. Then, I make poor food choices.

I Enjoy Plant-Based Dairy

As I lessen animal-based dairy in my diet, I have found many, many replacements that taste good and are satisfying including coconut milk ice cream, almond milk and cheese made from cashews. However, as I now work to reduce processed foods, these dairy alternatives are also on the “eat less of this” list unless I make them myself at home.

If you have questions about consuming dairy in relation to a health issue you have, please talk with your doctor, a registered dietician or your health care provider.

The number one thing you can do for yourself is take charge of your health. Only you know how you feel and can take that first step to reach out and get more information.

Make a change for you!

Until next time,
Choose healthy!

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