Eczema and food relations, are they related? Well, in my opinion, yes! I’ll share my experience with regards to eczema and food relations. Now we know that eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis is the resultant of the overactive immune system. Eczema is a condition that makes the skin dry, red, scaly and itchy. Sadly, this condition has no cure at the moment, one can only self-manage it. Eczema management aims to prevent more flares and reduce itchiness so that one can be as comfortable as possible. Eczema gets very itchy especially at night, often disrupting sleep and rest. As a result, an eczema sufferer becomes moody, irritated and depressed. It’s like a snowball effect, it feels like there’s isn’t any quality of life. Not to mention the stares that one gets from the public. Sounds bad? Yes, it is. Only the person who suffers from it feels the pain associated with it. Now, let us explore on eczema and food relations in this article.
Gut Health And Diet
Many people who suffer from eczema and any form of skin issues are either intolerant or allergic to a certain food. Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, the author of GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome mentioned in her book that all diseases begin in the gut. As a matter of fact, I do agree. To put it differently, the gut is believed as the second brain of the human body. The gut processes food into nutrients to be absorbed by the cells so that the body can function at the optimum level. Therefore, it is an important organ for our bodily functions.
Eczema and Food Connection Example
A friend who caught on to the turmeric craze started to consume turmeric at higher than recommended doses daily. A few months later, she developed red itchy rashes all over her body. Turmeric is known to boost the immune system, has anti-inflammatory properties and also a powerful anti-oxidant. I suspect that the turmeric had compromised her immune system. We have to strike a balance in our diet including spices and herbs.
My son, for instance, had a stubborn eczema patch on his leg that was unable to heal for several years. It was bloody, itchy, scaly and oozy. Not a nice sight to look at. We’ve consulted many doctors, both western and alternative medicines but to no avail. We even did a blood allergy test. The result was positive for dustmite and dander. Egg allergy was negative. We tried to be as clean as possible at home but his skin condition did not improve. Then, we started to change his diet but did not withdraw egg at first. Later on, we eliminated the egg as well. That includes any food products made with eggs such as bread, noodles, cakes and his favourite kaya (Malaysian famous egg and coconut jam). Voila, we managed to find another food trigger, which is an egg. It confirmed my suspicion that his problem was due to the egg.
The other source of trigger for him is food colouring. He had itchy rashes after having a green or yellow coloured ice-cream. So, junk food or any food with artificial food colourings was eliminated as well. Trust your guts as a mother, people say. And yes, couldn’t agree more. His skin started to heal and isn’t itchy anymore. The skin is now without scars. Perseverance is key no matter how bad was the food cravings, he can’t have them. In fact, the whole family did not get to eat any food made with eggs in the house. We didn’t want him to watch us eating and then crave for it. Support from family is crucial too.
Start A Food Diary
Now, I’m a strong believer that diet affects our immune system. How to start identifying the food that wreaks havoc to the immune system? Start a food diary and be diligent about it. Any food can be a trigger, doesn’t matter whether you have eaten these foods all your life. It may not be bad for you then, but you wouldn’t be certain now. Our body changes and reacts differently over time. One can have food triggers that are uncommon such as chicken, a certain type of vegetable, herb or spice. Don’t be surprised that you find out that you have multiple allergies as well. We may have abused our body long enough for it to react and tell us that “hey, I didn’t like what you have fed me all this while”. Write it down daily what you have eaten and drank. Then, take note of your body’s and skin’s reaction. Any flare-ups, itchiness or any adverse reactions within the same day or the next few days? Jot it down as well. Continue doing this daily and then start to eliminate food that you suspect that may trigger any adverse reactions.
Common Food Triggers and Food Elimination
The common food triggers that lead to skin issues are dairy, dairy products, eggs, wheat products (gluten), seafood and processed food. Processed food includes junk food or any food with colourings that is not in its natural form. You can eliminate these foods and start the food diary at the same time. Eliminate the suspected food triggers from the diet. Try to stay away for at least one year. When the skin has healed or when you are satisfied and happy with the result, you can start to have the food triggers in a small amount. If the skin condition gets worse, eliminate it again for a longer time. That being said, it is better to eliminate the food triggers completely from your diet. If you miss having these foods and still want to enjoy it, tell yourself that it’s just a temporary diet. Give yourself some encouragement to keep up the good work for not giving in to cravings. I know, it’s hard sometimes when a favourite food is staring at you.
What Food Is Good Then?
I would say vegetables, fruits and anything non-processed. For a healthier gut flora, probiotics are good too. Some people have a positive response after consuming yoghurt, kombucha, jun, water kefir, and milk kefir. These fermented foods have many strains of good bacteria and yeast beneficial for the gut. They are more powerful probiotic compared to yoghurt. Though many insist that taking fermented food has improved their gut health, it may not be the case for people who have an auto-immune disease such as eczema and psoriasis. Yoghurt, kefir and any fermented foods are high in histamines. Histamine is the culprit in causing itchiness. Do take note of this, it may not be suitable to be incorporated into the diet just yet. Maybe, you can add these into your diet when the body is ready. The indication is that when you encounter fewer flare-ups or when the open wounds have healed. Other than that, it makes sense to also supplement with Vitamin C, Omega 3, 6 and 9, and multivitamins.
Skin Health Is Important Too
I hope that you’ll benefit from reading this lengthy post on eczema and food relations. I hope to help in any way that I can. Suffering from a disease that has no cure bugging us every minute of our lives is torture. We also need to be mentally strong in enduring it. I hope this post will shed some light on what you have to do to help yourself or your loved ones in battling any skin issues.
I’ll post on how to manage eczema in the next article. In the meantime, remember to browse our shop for our natural handmade products. Our products are suitable for all skin conditions young and old.