Umesh Neelakantan used to have digestive issues and frequent migraines but attributed it to work stress. However, a bout of psoriasis forced him to pay attention towards his health. After a 21 day experiment, he found out the giving up dairy and packaged foods caused his skin problems, cold and headaches to disappear. Now he lives a life free of dairy products and has added more fruits and vegetables to his diet.
46 years, Program Director - Mindtree Ltd,
Almere, The Netherlands
We usually take our health for granted till something happens which forces us to pay attention and take care. Sounds familiar? This is my story too.
Life was as usual
I had just moved to London with my family in the year 2013. It was a new life for all of us though I was still feeling homesick. I had lost my father a year back and his memory was still fresh in my mind.
Work and other things kept me busy. I used to have frequent bouts of cold, atleast once a month which would be quite prolonged. In addition, I used to suffer from severe headaches atleast once a week. I always used to have Saridon tablets in my bag and would just pop in the moment I felt a headache coming on. In fact, I had a well stocked bag of medicines with me and that was always on the ‘not to be forgotten’ items whenever we headed out for trips as a family. I also used to have bouts of indigestion every now and then. Our diet as a family was the usual south Indian vegetarian food – home cooked meals mostly with milk, curd etc.
I just attributed all these problems to my work stress and never thought that any other factor would be causing them.
The beginning of skinproblems
One day I started experiencing an itching on the area behind my knee. The skin in that area turned dark and scaly just in few days. I just ignored it initially but it started increasing in size and was getting itchier by the day. Soon I observed that the dark patches started spreading to my back also. Soon my entire back was covered with patches. There is a history of skin problems on my side of the family. My dad suffered from Psoriasis for many years and my cousin too. Both of them had resorted to Ayurvedic medicines to keep a check on their skin issues. I remember the agony my father had gone through, the different tailas and kashayas he used to take as part of his Ayurvedic treatment and the worry we all had gone through seeing him suffer so much.
So I thought my skin problems were genetic. Coincidentally, my dad too had started experiencing skin issues when he was around the same age as me, I thought ok, the lineage continues. I just kept going on and ignoring till the pain and itching became unbearable. The constant itching kept me and my wife awake on many nights. Even taking bath was painful as the water used to burn my skin.
I consulted with my relative who is an Ayurvedic doctor and he confirmed it was psoriasis and advised me to start on some Ayurveda medicines. Meanwhile, I even visited my local allopathy doctor who said such skin conditions did not have a cure and sent me back with an ointment. My mother and brother who came to know of my skin issues were very concerned since they had seen my father go through a lot of suffering from his skin problem.
The 21-day experiment
Around this time, my wife (who is a bit of a health enthusiast ) had just turned vegan. She informed me that as per what she had read, dairy was a big factor in causing skin issues. She convinced me to just stop dairy products for 21 days and observe if it helped with the skin issues and stop applying any medicines. She also told me to reduce store-bought packaged products during this period. I didn’t believe her but decided to give it a go anyway as I was desperate to get rid of the itching. So I stopped having milk in my morning tea, switched over to soya milk, stopped having curd and stopped having any packaged food which had dairy in it. Ghee was any way out since I never liked the smell since childhood.
What I experienced in those 21 days was magical. In 3 days or so, the itching reduced a lot. I could take bath without feeling jumpy. The rashes on my back started disappearing one by one, then on my legs too. In 15 day’s time, no new rashes came and only traces remained of the older rashes. At the end of 21 days, there was no doubt in my mind now that dairy was causing all these problems. In another 15 days or so, all traces of patches on my skin disappeared and my skin healed back to normal state. Since it was mainly dairy products I had reduced during this period and all other foods remained the same as before, I was convinced the dairy was the main cause of my skin issues. I have never touched milk products in any form from that day.
Other related problems disappear too
I gradually also reduced eating sweets and in particular biscuits for a couple of months since most of them had dairy and other preservatives in them. After two months, to my surprise, one day my wife reminded me that I haven’t experienced headaches for quite some time now. I realized that it was indeed true and what used to be a weekly affair of severe headaches had just disappeared. I also noticed that I was not feeling bloating and having heaviness after my meals. My monthly bouts of cold also stopped. I understood that dairy products are not really suited for humans. They cause mucous formation and inflammation. They produce toxins in the body which was causing my headaches and skin issues. I was surprised to learn that almost 18% of Indians are lactose intolerant and 3 out of every 4 Indians cannot digest milk products properly.
The ethical angle
My wife showed me some videos on how the dairy industry treats cows and calves, the agony they go through and the exploitation inherent in the modern-day dairy industry. I also watched the documentary Cowspiracy which talks about environmental degradation due to large scale animal farming and animal agriculture. I decided to turn vegan and shun all animal products. I would say I am vegan more for the ethical angle than for my health.
Some more cleaning up
My son also started having eczema around the same time as my skin conditions started and we saw so much healing in him after he too went off dairy. For his sake, my wife cleaned up all our diets of sugar, processed foods, oil etc. We introduced more raw foods in our diet, particularly fruits, and exercise and ‘Sun’ time every day.
I also started eating breakfast later in the day as compared to eating by the clock. This gives the body enough time to digest and throw out toxins from the previous day’s meals. This change has added more energy during my day.
Since I stay in a cold country, my son and I go for an early morning walk every day before his school so we get some sunlight and fresh air for a good start.
Our medicine cabinet is lying unused at home now. We don’t know what to do with all those medicines since we are still looking for ways to dispose it off sustainably. This is a good problem to have J. For all ailments like colds, coughs, fevers, allergies etc, the mantra at home is rest and sleep and have fruits.
I still have a long way to go though dairy is now a thing of the past. Due to work pressures, I eat and sleep a bit erratically but I try to make up for it by eating fruits till 12:00 p.m everyday. I eat more salads but I also love my cooked food.When I am on travel I look for vegan food or I ask for a salad. Eating a lot of fruits during travel is also an easy hack. I am happy where I am now though I know I can do a lot more.
I wish I could have helped my father. Before he passed away, my father was again suffering from skin issues and I could not be with him during his last days. I think if he had seen my success with the skin issues and had made changes to his own diet, he would have enjoyed some more years with us.
Not just psoriasis, I even got healed from the nagging issues of migraines, cold and indigestion. It was not difficult at all. There are healthy substitutes available for all dairy products, you can easily make them at home. The increased energy you experience is totally worth it!!
(About Umesh Neelakantan : Umesh is a software professional working at MIndtree Ltd. He is a father of two children. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, traveling and spending time with his family).
Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food and lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. Wellcure believes that each human body is unique and hence no Health Journey should be construed as a "cure". The views expressed by the user in the above Health Journey are his/her personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.
Thank you very much Mr Neelakantam
I sm also suffering with psoriasis since 10 years.
I am searching for permanent cure for this. I'll try this.. Thanks for sharing your experiment and success story with us..🙏🏼🙏🏼
What a wonderful journey! And what an easy way of getting well from sicknesses. Rather than adding up medicines, dropping dairy seems so right! Everyone who has any minor/major ailments can give this a try! I am a strong believer that it works!
Wow... Thanks for sharing your journey. This is just so relatable. All of us go through increasing bouts of illness not realising the various episodes are linked. Also not realising food could have so much impact!