I met Dr Nigma Talib about two months ago, while she was in town doing a book signing. I had heard about her making waves in the skincare/health world recently with her holistic philosophy on using the principles of diet to heal and improve your skin…basically, beauty from the inside out. It’s not exactly a brand new theory but I have long been interested in natural remedies so I took the opportunity of a day off to meet with her and grab a copy of her new book “Reverse The Signs Of Ageing“.
The first thing she said to me, after the customary intro and niceties, was “Dairy Face” and indicated around my eyes with a swoopy hand gesture. “Ooooh, bit rude” I thought. She went on to explain that she saw dark circles under my eyes and rougher skin texture than I should have, which can be caused by too much dairy. Lightbulb moment! What she saw was real and had been bothering me for a few months cos it was a new development; the dark circles. I hadn’t up to the point of her “dairy face” comment, figured out what was causing it, because I live a boringly healthy life and sleep fairly well….considering. And there’s no way she could have known that ……
….for the six months preceding that meeting with Dr Nigma, I was a dairy fiend of the highest order, eating copious amounts of butter! butter! butter! I’d been living a “Bulletproof” life in terms of both eating and exercising and without boring you with all the details, it involves large amounts of grass-fed butter or ghee and a diet based heavily on healthy fats like avocado and coconut to alleviate brain and body fatigue brought on by too few fat and carbohydrate calories. My breakfast consisted of coffee with a special coconut oil….and grass-fed butter or ghee. Yes. Butter in coffee. It’s much much better than it sounds! Also cooking with ghee, even eating butter with avocado or mixed with raw chocolate powder for a snack. I quite enjoyed being Bulletproof (it also involves much less time at the gym) and was a bit sad to be told that my buttery days were over if I wanted to tackle the dark circles.
Dr Nigma did a face reading assessment of me and elaborated that my adrenals needed support. No surprises there. We are all living busy modern lives but if I told you my working schedule you might collapse. It’s a wonder I haven’t yet. I try to take chunks of time off to rest and recuperate.
Dr Nigma suggested I try the 28-day Age Reversing Eating Plan and add dietary supplements of B12/folate, iron, B-complex, and probiotics. And so readers, in the interests of science and my dark circles, I read the book, and decided to give it a go. After all, 28 days is not that long, but apparently long enough to make a visible difference to your skin.
Here is the introduction, it’s about the gut so don’t be shocked…there’s quite a lot of poop talk.
The first part of the plan involves a 28-day clearing out of all the bad stuff, so:
- No Gluten
- No Sugar
- No Alcohol
- No Dairy
which can result in what Dr Nigma calls the Four Faces of Ageing, see the illustrations below:
The challenge for me was in giving up all things cow. Giving up the rest was really quite easy. I eat well and exercise consistently and have done for years, with the occasional stop at a fantastic french bakery because otherwise what’s the point? I love coffee but have organic and recently switched to decaf. I cook most of my own meals and take food to work which annoys some of my colleagues, but I cannot live on junk and need decent nutrition to be able to function. As for alcohol, I talk about having a bevy far more than I actually do, having found that it disrupts my sleep as I’ve gotten older, so it is definitely not part of my everyday life. If I have a bi-annual cocktail it’s because of the taste and luxury of it, and when in tropical places I might spring for a Mai Tai because there is something about the tropics and the flavours you encounter there that makes you want to celebrate being alive and a Mai tai can help with that.
I began my 28 day plan (Clean, Correct and Protect weeks according to the book) after Christmas and the New Year, thankfully, but an important birthday was going to land near the end of it. The first few days were surprisingly easy, and even enjoyable as I was allowed the luxury of BREAD. Imagine. A gluten-free amaranth loaf from a local baker and I so enjoyed having a slice of healthy toast in the mornings, which I don’t think I’ve done without guilt for ages: The North American Bread Police are everywhere.
These notes are from the diary I kept of the experience:
Day 4: blinding headache (no chemical painkillers allowed either, which I rarely take because I rarely get headaches but this was a doozy that lasted two days).
Day 5: thinking a lot about deprivation. Craving marmalade on toast.
Day 6: digestion settling in to good routine (not that I have many issues in that department unless I’m nervous). Noticing smoothing of forehead lines?
Day 7: addressing hormonal issues related to adrenal glands and cortisol. Stress balancing exercise and meditation time increased.
Day 8: Desperately Seeking Sugar. Giving it all up is psychologically harder then it is physically.
Day 10: extremely tired and feeling not grounded, even after a deep sleep
Day 12: wicked headache
Day 14: settling into it now. Not too bad, feeling good.
DAy 21: introduced a pro-biotic
No other notes past those days as the process got smoother, presumably because I had eliminated the bad stuff and had gotten used to the plan. And by the end of the 28 days I can honestly say my eyes looked much better! Gone were the purple-toned dry circles under my eyes. My bad for not doing before and after photos but if you have any of the above “Faces of Ageing” symptoms and are concerned by them, then take a look at her book and theory to see if you can give it a go too.
The plan itself goes on for 12 weeks, and goes on to deal with hormonal balancing issues and stress and weight management. Dear readers I have to confess I didn’t go on that long. To be honest I was sometimes a bit confused by all the information and longed for a pull-out or separate road map to be able to carry with me to remember everything. The weeks past week 4 begin to suggest additions to the diet of extra supplements, and my daily intake already includes Vit C, Vit D, Vit k, liquid iron, B12, B6, L-theanine, calcium, magnesium, zinc, fenugreek, Holy Basil, rhodiola, blimey the list goes on and on and it kind of irritates me. I don’t think I could add any to the load.
Because the plan is so similar to how I live anyway and because I was really happy with the results after four weeks, I put the book down. I am back on the butter a little bit, it’s so lovely in coffee, but using more coconut oil than before. I’ve started to see a naturopath to help with a couple of issues, not related to butter of course. The eyes are still improved and it’s been over two months. I am also much less liberal with the butter! I have a feeling I will follow the 28-day plan more than once in my life. I’m not saying it didn’t work, I’m saying that my Dairy Face eyes were dealt with remarkably quickly and if it happens again I know I have a way to get rid of them. There is one invaluable thing I learnt from Dr Nigma: the value of chewing your food. You’ll know what I mean if you follow her advice. What a difference a chew makes, not only in terms of digestive benefits but in taking the time to enjoy a meal and appreciate it’s flavours and textures. No one single thing has slowed me down (in a good way) more than that.
Ageing is inevitable. And I get a bit tired thinking that it is the worse thing that can happen to us, that it has to be fought on all counts, knowing all too well that the alternative is much worse. I have lost enough young friends to understand that facial lines and god-forbid GETTING OLDER is something to be avoided. I am more thankful for good health than for anything else in my life. Ageing doesn’t mean being less attractive or less valued; this is a sad symptom of western society and one that needs to be addressed wherever and whenever possible. Be smart and be healthy, get the knowledge you need and don’t choose the things you know will damage you. But an occasional trip to the patisserie is essential.
Most of all, be visible and be fantastic at all your ages!
In the US, Dr Nigma’s book is called “Younger Skin Starts In The Gut“. I wonder why…..