CRYSTAL: Hi everyone, welcome to Mind Body Beauty, helping you live happier in your own skin. I’m Crystal Fieldhouse from Ecology Skin Care and today I have with me my good friend and co-host from the Primal Shift podcast, Jo Fitton.
Jo: Hi Crystal. Thanks for having me.
CRYSTAL: Not a problem. Thanks so much for coming and sharing your story with us.
JO: That’s ok
CRYSTAL: And Jo and I, we could be really sisters from another mister when it comes to this kind of thing. We’re both Kiwis, grew up in New Zealand. We both have an intense interest in health and wellness.
CRYSTAL: We both go out of our way to source good food and we both enjoy a good company
JO: Absolutely. Each other’s company
CRYSTAL: And we’ve also had our fair share of skin issues, and food intolerances as well.
JO: Similar health issues in general, haven’t we?
CRYSTAL: Hopefully it’s not catching?! So Jo, tell us a little bit about your story. Because what is a little bit different between you and I, is you had skin issues from a relatively young age. So tell us about how your skin was when you were younger.
JO: Sure. So from a young age I experienced a whole range of different skin issues. I had a lot of eczema. So I would get eczema…I think a lot of people might have had this when they were children. So the itchy, round eczema behind the knees and the elbow creases. I would often break out on my skin with hives and dermatitis. So dry scaly skin. And at times I’d get sort of a bit of …I don’t know horrible kind of scaliness behind the ears and like the nape and all that kind of thing. So it wasn’t a fun time and as a child it was a bit hard to manage and understand. At that time, obviously I was just eating a pretty standard western diet and lots of refined carbohydrates and sugar and gluten and things like that. You know, I had no idea at that time obviously. No one really had a huge awareness of what repercussions were with those foods.
CRYSTAL: it’s the kind of stuff kids eat.
JO: yeah. Absolutely, it was pretty good at that time but there was just no connection for anybody you know. No one made the connection. So the only way it was really treated was topically. My parents tried to take me to the doctor and I’d be given hydrocortisone cream and things like that. I remember calamine lotion as well. The pink one. So things like that was how it was treated. So that was something that was made all the way through my childhood.
I also as I mentioned to you earlier, if I washed dishes, used detergents I’d get really horrible little itchy blisters on my hands and fingers that would bleed and things like that.
That was a huge issue. As I moved into adolescence I sidestepped a lot of the usual sort of acne issues. But as a young adult in my early 20s, I don’t know for some reason, they decided to appear. So I had a lot of really bad cystic acne around my chin and my jaw line. They were quite big and noticeable. They were sore. They really affected my self esteem and my confidence. I felt that anything that I put on my skin topically just made it worse. Nothing was working for me.
And the other thing that happened to me is, I still had really sensitive skin. So certain beauty products that I tried would make my eyes swell up and shut and I’d get really puffy and scaly and sore. It’s almost like my skin was burned. So there was all sorts of issues going on and that was a time in my life when I did not have a very good lifestyle. So there was all the processed foods and high sugar and a lot of alcohol and things like that. So probably a bit of stress, thrown in the mix. All these things happening and it was a big hormonal kind of reaction.
CRYSTAL: Especially on that chin area.
JO: yeah. That’s a big indicator of hormonal issue. So I went to the doctor, I really needed to take away all these obvious big lumps on my face. And I was given some antibiotics so obviously there’s a couple of antibiotics that are given out for…
CRYSTAL: tetracycline, doxycycline…
JO: Yeah. I cant remember which one it was in particular but I remember taking those antibiotics for maybe a couple of years.
CRYSTAL: Wow! On and off or…
JO: Yeah. On and off. So I’d go on and they disappeared and obviously that was a really good thing.
So all I was thinking at that time was I didn’t want to see or have any of that acne on my face. So whatever was going to work, I was gonna take pretty much. So I did that for a while and it did work. So I kept taking it. Obviously, looking back it’s had a real effect or negative effect on my gut health and system. But that’s something I’m working on now.
After some time I decided to move to a contraceptive pill. So I know there’s a number of different pills that can work to manage the break outs just through regulating the hormones in some way.
CRYSTAL: Progesterone type ones.
JO: Yeah. And that worked well at that time as well. As a young women it was obviously beneficial for me to take the pill. So I took the pill for a number of years and that controlled my breakouts. So that was a good thing at the time, but once again there were obviously… there have been some detrimental effects on my body because I was taking those hormonal pills for so long.
CRYSTAL: so what do you think some of the repercussions are now from you having taken those antibiotics and having taken the pill for those many years?
JO: I think with the antibiotics it’s really damaged my gut health. I mean that amongst all the things that I was doing at that time. So the processed bad foods and the alcohol and the bad lifestyle and the stress and all those things were obviously contributing factors as well. But the antibiotics and the long term use have obviously wiped out a lot of my beneficial bacteria. And that wasn’t the only time I have ever taken antibiotics. I have also taken antibiotics over the years with infections and things like that. So it’s been a bit of an onslaught of and on, on my system.
So you know I am dealing with quite a bit of permeable gut issues at the moment. Leaky gut and just maybe some imbalanced gut dysbiosis as well and I’ve got food sensitivities. You know FODMAP’s issues. And once again I don’t think it’s just because of that, but it’s definitely hasn’t helped.
CRYSTAL: and what are FODMAP’s jo?
JO: So FODMAP’s are the fermentable carbohydrates that are in some foods. For people who have that sensitivity they ferment in the wrong place or they stay in the gut and stay for too long and cause issues like bloating and diarrhea or constipation and pain. And they can really impact on the balance and the body overall. So there’s some studies that have shown that FODMAP’s are linked to mental well being as well. So people who are having lots of issues with irritable bowel syndrome because it’s about gut health and balance that the effects on overall health as well.
CRYSTAL: And so those might be your fructose and your galactose and your lactose. So people that might be fructose intolerant or lactose intolerant fall under that banner of being intolerant to a type of FODMAP.
JO: So there are common fruits and vegetables that are main offenders, which is unfortunate because we don’t want to view good food as being bad. For some people they need to work out which ones might be affecting them. So that’s an issue as well.
CRYSTAL: It’s a dose thing also. You find a level of tolerance as well.
JO: I’m always trying to push the level. You know, I get myself to the limit that I know I have to pull back a bit. There are some foods that I really love that I try and just flirt with occasionally. You know beetroot and things like that. And sweet potatoes, obviously that’s another one that’s a bit of a FODMAP issue. And everyone is different. So some people, they might have issues with certain foods whereas other people, there might be others. So it’s something that people have to try out for themselves. So that’s obviously an ongoing issue because of the antibiotic use.
CRYSTAL: And what about from a hormonal perspective after using the pill. How do you think that might have affected your hormonal regulation now?
JO: So when I initially decided to come off the pill, I was about 32 or 33. And I basically didn’t get a period for the next 4 years.
CRYSTAL: Gosh! Wow.
JO: Also at that time I was exercising excessively and under eating. I was underweight. So there was lots of things happening in there as well. But obviously my system had been on the pill for so long, that it took at least 4 years to recalibrate and I had to go through a number of steps around wellness because it was also adrenal fatigue issues and hypothyroid issues as well. So yeah there was a number of things. So it really has disrupted my hormonal cycles and the balance, quite a bit.
CRYSTAL: Yeah I’m sure you certainly wouldn’t be alone with that.
JO: No. I think it’s a common issue now that people are experiencing. And there’s lots of long term implications for that that people need to think about as well. And also the hormones have an effect on gut health because they affect estrogen and production and clearance and things like that. So yeah… it’s all interconnected. It’s hard to kind of separate. It’s all interconnected.
CRYSTAL: It really is, yeah. Now you and I also both share an intolerance for foods that contain a lot of histamine or foods that help to release histamine within the body. So tell us about your experience with how histamine has an effect on your skin issues.
JO: I think that the histamines can come out of my skin through puffiness. I find that’s the biggest indicator that maybe I’ve overstepped the mark a little bit. Once again there’s a lot of really good foods that are high in histamines that you and I have to try navigate our way through. You know fermented foods and smoked and processed foods, canned fish and those sorts of things that are kind of like a go to staple food in the whole food movement or community, tend to be big triggers for histamines.
So I find that my skin becomes really sensitive, I get puffy and it’s almost like I’m more susceptible to rashes and things like that.
CRYSTAL: That’s been my experience as well. And I think there are quite a few people, who do experience frequent rashes and redness and irritation who might unknowingly be sensitive to histamine containing foods. Or there might be an excess level of histamine within the body that’s bringing about these symptoms as well.
JO: One of the big things that people need to be aware of is around alcohol and… I love red wine but I can’t drink it. Just to give an example, if I drink red wine I get the big rash all down my neck and you know, the ears, throat. So it just comes up almost straight away. I get the flushing…
CRYSTAL: Some people get quite rosy cheeks.
JO: But I’ve had it come all the way down my neck as well and my throat.
CRYSTAL: Wow. That’s a pretty fair indication.
JO: And it’s instant.”NO I’m not too happy with this.”
CRYSTAL: So it sounds like…obviously we’re on a journey in terms of this kind of thing and it sounds like you certainly put a lot of things into place that have worked really well for you. So are now managing a lot of these skin issues because you’ve got lovely glowing skin.
JO: thank you
CRYSTAL: and I mean from the chats that we’ve had, you don’t often get breakouts any longer. You don’t often get those rashes and you don’t get eczema anymore. So what are some of the things you’ve put into place that have worked really well for you?
JO: I think coming from your motto “Keeping things simple,” something that you’ve taught me as well that I’ve moved away from lots of different products and I’ve moved away from commercial products with chemicals and detergents and perfumes as well. Sometimes I think about all of the different lotions and potions that I used to put on my skin. I just assumed that they were gonna do great things for our skin and I think about all the chemicals that are in them for one thing that we are absorbing into our body but also the damage that it is doing to the layers of the skin.
So once I realized that my skin was sensitive and that’s what was going on, apart from the hormonal issues but topically it was reacting towards the products, that had lots of alcohol that was stripping all the good bacteria and all the oil from the skin. So once I moved away from those products and started treating my skin as really sensitive which is what it is, things started to improve. So I try and keep it as simple as possible. So I said no fragrance products.
I am a big fan of the Konjac sponge.
CRYSTAL: Ah, the Ecology Konjac sponge. A lot of people are big fans of that.
JO: Yeah. So I love the Konjac sponge. I use that every morning and every night. So it gives me a great little glow and if I don’t have one of those I just use a fragrance-free wash or the microfiber cloth as well. I tend to moisturize with fragrance free natural, plant-based products and Ecology. I’ve been a very willing guinea pig…
CRYSTAL: A human guinea pig for us. that’s been great!
JO: Best job ever. So I just keep that very simple as well. I do try and exfoliate now and again. And sometimes I would use colloidal oatmeal
CRYSTAL: Awesome! As a mask?
JO: Yeah as a mask and even as a cleanser. And sometimes I just make up a paste of porridge pretty much and my face feels fantastic. And I will do a mask with oatmeal with honey as well. So that’s another thing that I really enjoy. Tastes delicious and smells delicious. Makes my skin feel delicious. So it’s a win win.
So those sorts of things. I try and keep it really natural, I figure that I probably got all the ingredients in the kitchen for my skin.
CRYSTAL: Yeah, a lot of us do. Especially in this whole fruit community.
JO: Yeah. I think creatively sometimes about that. And with makeup I try and buy things that are plant-based as well so I don’t have all the chemicals or nasty products. No fragrances once again. And I try and manage my exposure to the sun. Because I do recognize that it can do really great things for my skin. Getting a little bit of sun glow, but because I am so fair that it also can cause… I can burn really easily. And I have a history of melanoma in my family, so I just have to balance that one and be careful.
CRYSTAL: Absolutely. It’s a fine line to walk.
JO: Yeah. So those are the main things that I do and I find that simple is best.
CRYSTAL: Yeah. And that sounds great from a topical perspective and then from an internal perspective. What are you doing to help manage the FODMAP intolerance or the histamine intolerance?
Is it really just about knowing what your trigger foods are and avoiding them or making sure you don’t fill up that histamine bucket too much.
JO: Yeah. So not pushing it too much. As I said I’ll go for a period of time were I feel clean, I suppose. And then I feel like I just need to have something different whether it’s some bacon or something like that. It’s a matter of just doing things slowly or at once and then seeing how I go, how I feel. So not having a huge blowout. Maybe just trying one thing and thinking, “how is this gonna make me feel?” because sometimes the effect isn’t straight away. Sometimes the effect is emotional. So sometimes high histamine foods can induce anxiety. With me, I can get that sort of racing heart and palpitations and the mind is going a bit ten to the dozen. I try and be mindful with that as well. And yeah I try and look after my gut health now. It’s really really important. It’s a big focus for me because all roads lead to the gut. So I am pretty much looking at good probiotics, good food that feeds the good bacteria, healing gut permeability as well. So taking some supplements around that. And managing stress. That’s a big issue for everybody. And certainly as you know that stress shows up on the skin.
CRYSTAL: Certainly does
JO: So that’s the thing. Often if something does happen with my skin like if I do have a noticeable breakout or rash or something’s happening with my skin, I know that things aren’t right and I just need to pay attention to that.
CRYSTAL: So what are some of the practices that you have around managing your stress?
JO: So what I am working at the moment is mindfulness and just noticing thoughts and negative thoughts and I’m not saying that we can’t have negative thoughts. But it’s about how we process those. Not getting too attached to those thoughts and just letting them go without judgment and that’s the important thing. So that’s a bit of a journey for me. It sounds easy, but in practice it requires a lot of consistency. So I’m always working on that. It’s a constant thing.
Doing lots of deep breathing is important and also yoga. I find yoga really beneficial. And I am slowly building to doing a few more strengths training, basic exercises as well at the moment. So getting the Kettlebells out and getting a bit of a sweat on. So that’s also makes me feel great. But yoga also is my meditation. I am not very good at sitting still and being in that sort of meditative stage. But yoga for me is the same thing. So I am breathing and trying to be mindful and being present and moving through. Which is also a good way of moving energy around the body. I really really enjoy that.
CRYSTAL: Yeah. And when you feel good, that’s something that sort of radiates out from the inside as well.
JO: And sleep is the other big thing. Because of my hormonal issues, that my sleep isn’t always great. So I prioritize that over everything else. So I have a routine where I shut off all my devices and basically start winding down from about 8 at night depending on…. Obviously if I am going out or something, but most nights I start to unwind down and put on the funky blue glasses and be in a dimly lit room, or be reading, or listening to a podcast, or something like that. It’s relaxing to me, not doing anything that’s overly stimulating. And at the moment you and I are both playing with different apps, that can help us with our sleep as well. So that’s something that I am exploring at the moment. Let’s see if that helps which at the moment it is.
Because often as you know if you wake up in the morning you’ve had a great night’s sleep, your skin looks radiant and glowy. You know I know for myself I look at myself in the mirror and had a bad night’s sleep, I got the bags under the eyes, feel a bit puffy and so it’s tell-tale.
CRYSTAL: Yeah absolutely. And then you have people coming up to you going, “Jo you look a bit tired, is everything ok?” Makes you wanna punch them.
JO: Yeah. Thanks for letting me know. No amount of cream or make up can hide that
CRYSTAL: It certainly can’t. Alright Jo thank you so much for coming and joining us on Mind Body Beauty today and sharing your story.
JO: You’re welcome.
CRYSTAL: Because I think it’s important that people hear other people’s stories. So they know that they are not alone. When they get so frustrated with their own skin and feel embarrassed and feel like that they are the only ones. It’s so lovely that you are willing to share what you’ve gone through and also what’s worked for you and what hasn’t worked for you, because everybody is so different when it comes to this. And it’s important that we know what some of the options are out there. We know what we could investigate further as a, “Ah I wonder why if that might be causing me some issues?”
So thank you so much.
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