Food As Medicine From Radiant By Hanna Sillitoe

Posted on April 24, 2017 by

As far as skin, health and weight are concerned, I’m far from genetically blessed. I don’t come from a particularly privileged background either – kale and quinoa were certainly never staples in our household! I’m an ordinary, northern girl and I’ve had to work hard to conquer an autoimmune illness which plagued me for most of my adult life. Now I want to help you do the same – to feel better, inside and out.


Over all the years I was treated for my various skin conditions, not once was diet suggested as a potential factor. In fact, one doctor told me point blank it would have no effect whatsoever. It’s a story I hear time and time again. It’s so frustrating to see prescription creams and medicines (which come with a long list of potential side effects) being dished out when the only offshoot of a nutrient-, plant-rich regime is glowing health! Diet and natural topical salts and oils are often referred to as ‘alternative therapy’, but without that list of harmful side effects, shouldn’t this really be our first course of treatment?

People with long-term conditions use a significant proportion of health-care services (50 per cent of all GP appointments; 70 per cent of days in hospital beds), and their care absorbs 70 per cent of hospital and primary care budgets in England. These persistent illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis, add up to the leading cause of death globally. They also leave in their wake lifelong disability, compromised quality of life and burgeoning health-care costs.

The most frustrating part is that this worsening of chronic conditions is preventable. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, much of the chronic disease burden is attributable to a short list of key risk factors:

»» Tobacco use/exposure to secondhand smoke

»» Obesity

»» Physical inactivity

»» Excessive alcohol use

»» A diet low in fruits and vegetables

The problem is getting worse, but the good news is that each of us has the power to begin taking ownership of our well-being.

Conventional medicine is quick to treat the symptoms of skin conditions. That not only leaves the causes untouched, but prescribed medications also come with their own side effects, which often contribute to the root of the problem or create new ones. The end result is a vicious cycle of ill health.

That’s a loop I was caught up in for a long time. I would slather on steroid creams to suppress the rash on my skin, but as soon as I stopped it was like unleashing a monster. The underlying cause would get more angry and the flare-ups grew worse. I was on perpetual courses of antibiotics to treat recurring kidney infections. At one stage I was in horrendous pain and urinating blood. While I panicked, the doctor simply prescribed a stronger medication which, although successful in treating the infection, stripped the good bacteria from my gut, exacerbating the skin problem. My health was like that ‘whack-amole’ game – just as I was bashing one problem over the head with a hammer another three popped up. The pattern became seemingly endless.

Throughout my sickness, none of my doctors or dermatologists ever asked me about my lifestyle. About what I ate, how much water I drank or whether I bothered to exercise. I think most of us see these factors as contributing in some way to our overall welfare, but get them right and they don’t just add to our health, they will form the very essence of our entire well-being.

With a handful of exceptions, chronic skin problems do not occur overnight. They tend to develop slowly, usually over many years. Redness, itching, rashes and an extremely dry or oily complexion are subtle signs that mark a gradual loss of health. We tend to ignore them or treat these symptoms with medication to make them go away.

They’re not the only early warning markers. Have you ever taken drugs to resolve high blood pressure, insomnia, sinus problems, headaches, migraines, diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion, sore throat, IBS, ulcers, hay fever, colitis, immobility or a lack of energy? Sure, you may have successfully alleviated the symptoms, but you neglected to address the underlying cause. By understanding the process that leads to inflammation, which causes disease and dysfunction, we can make long-term sustainable dietary and lifestyle choices that promote true health and longevity. Our skin is trying to tell us something. Masking the message is not the answer.


»» Caffeine

»» Alcohol

»» Sugar

»» Processed and junk food

»» Nightshades

»» Dairy

»» Wheat

»» Strawberries, peanuts and oranges

»» Smoking

»» Stress

For more life-changing tips and recipes, check out Hanna's book RADIANT.