Updated: Jan 3
I was always into competitive sports. I played baseball, soccer and pretty much any sport I had access to while growing up. In high school, I focused mainly on badminton and basketball. In university, all my time went into books, and sports took a backseat to my medical training. Although I didn’t play competitively, I still played in a recreational basketball league and went to the gym 4-5 times a week.
In 2008, my first medical emergency happened. During a basketball match, my eyes began to swell. Hives covered my body. It felt like an acute asthma attack. I went home, took antihistamines, puffers and any meds I had that could help. That night was scary. Being a newly graduated physician, I played it cool in front of my then girlfriend Melissa. The episode lasted 3 days. I shrugged it off. Could it have been something I ate, I touched…
Fastforward 2 years, again during a basketball match, it happens again. But this time is violent. Chest pains, shortness of breath, full body hives and eyes so swollen my glasses won‘t fit on my face. I’m hospitalized for this one. 3 doctors later, I’m diagnosed with CHOLINERGIC URTICARIA AND ANGIOEDEMA. Sounds complicated right. But basically, I’m allergic to my own sweat. Rapid increase in body temperature, like what happens during strenuous activities, causes mast cells to release histamine, in much the same way as someone who is allergic to peanuts.
This was devastating for an athlete. At this point, I have hives daily. I still workout daily, but I’m taking a plethora of medication to cope with the symptoms. I was still a heavy meat eater at the time, consuming dairy daily, and never thinking that my health issues could be related to my nutrition. And so I never changed anything in my nutrition, not until….
In 2012, my first daughter, Zara, was born. She was beautiful. My wife wanted to breastfeed, and so with fissures and bloody nipples, she persevered and stuck with it. Within a few weeks, Zara started showing signs of discomfort. She would cry while feeding and shortly after, she started having severe diaper rashes and blood in her diapers. We quickly came to the conclusion that she was allergic to cow's milk. After confirming the diagnosis, my wife Melissa stopped consuming all dairy products in hopes of pursuing breastfeeding.
As I was already plagued with atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma and being allergic to my own sweat (rememb