Try these diet updates to save your skin
Eczema affects one in five children and one in 12 adults in the UK, causing pain and misery for many. Karen Fischer, author of The Eczema Detox, soothed her own family’s eczema problems through diet and lifestyle changes and shows us how eating the right foods can help heal from within.
Chemical sensitivity or intolerance can trigger the condition. Many health-conscious eczema sufferers avoid artificial additives and chemical cleaning products and believe they are living a low-chemical lifestyle. They might also avoid lactose from dairy – but they still have eczema. The reason why can often be attributed to the following natural chemicals in a person’s diet:
Amine: Amines are naturally occurring food chemicals formed during protein breakdown and the fermentation process. Rich sources of amines include probiotics, soy sauce, kefir, miso, tempeh, yeast extracts, cheese, wine, avocado, beer, smoked salmon and chocolate.
Glutamate (MSG): A study conducted by allergy researchers Loblay and Swain found that 35 percent of eczema sufferers have adverse reactions to mono-sodium glutamate, a flavour enhancer that is both natural (i.e. present in tomato and broccoli) and artificial and added to products such as crisps and Chinese takeaway food. Dietary MSG may also increase the risk of premature wrinkles.
Salicylate: Salicylates (pronounced suh-lis-a-lates) are natural pesticide chemicals produced by plants for self-protection and also work as a natural preservative. A normal healthy diet can contain up to 200mg of salicylates, from foods such as tomato, avocado, citrus fruits, teas and nuts. People with eczema often don’t realise they are sensitive to salicylates and they can suffer for years as a result.
The top 12 foods for eliminating Eczema
While salicylate-rich foods can worsen skin rashes, there are a range of foods that are beneficial for preventing and reducing skin inflammation:
1. Mung bean sprouts
These are little nutrition ‘bombs’ when added to your meals as they are one of the few strongly alkalising foods available. Eczema is an overly acidic condition where your body produces excess arachidonic acid, which is part of the inflammation process. Consuming alkalising foods can help to balance your body’s acid– alkaline pH when it is overly acidic. They also contain magnesium, vitamin K, folate, potassium and vitamin C and are salicylate-free.
2. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, are small brown seeds best known for their rich content of anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils. Flaxseed oil is more refined than whole flaxseeds so it contains fewer salicylates and amines and more of the beneficial oils. Try organic flaxseed oil in a smoothie.
3. Red cabbage
Red cabbage is another alkalising vegetable, rich in vitamin C, folate and anti-cancer indoles. It contains protective purple pigments caused by a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins (a type of tannin), which help to protect blood vessels from oxidative damage, and their anti-inflammatory properties activate the production of collagen for healthy skin.
4. Spring onions
Spring onions contain histamine-lowering, anti-inflammatory quercetin, folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene and lutein and are one of the richest sources of vitamin K, which is vital for healthy skin. Just 50g of raw spring onions provides 103 mcg of vitamin K, nearly double the daily adequate intake for adults.
Fish is a great source of protein, vitamin D, iodine and anti-inflammatory omega 3. High fish intake during pregnancy is associated with a decreased risk of eczema. Two to three servings of fish each week are beneficial for increasing the health of the brain, skin and heart. It’s important to favour eczema-safe fish that is low in mercury like flathead, dory, hake and herring.
Beetroot is an important vegetable for eczema sufferers as it has strong alkalising properties which boost liver detoxification of chemicals. Beetroot is abundant in antioxidants, folate and iron, is a potent blood cleanser and research shows that it can help lower blood pressure.
Rolled oats provide more dietary fibre and protein than other grain cereals. They’re a source of vitamin E, zinc, potassium, iron, manganese and silica, an essential mineral for strengthening connective tissue in the skin.
Papaya provides a range of carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants that can modulate gene activity to protect against inflammatory damage and tumour growth, according to clinical studies. The lycopene content in papaya helps to protect the skin from sun damage.
Saffron has been used for centuries as a natural antiseptic, digestive aid and anti-depressant. It also has antiinflammatory properties and can be an effective remedy for stomach disorders and coughs thanks to the compounds safranal and crocin.
Pears have a unique combination of insoluble and soluble fibre. This helps to reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, heart disease and type 2 diabetes by binding to bile acids to aid the removal of toxic waste from the body. Pears are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K, and flavonols which are potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants with antifungal and anti-cancer properties.
Carob has been used for its many health benefits for over 4,000 years. It was used to soothe and cleanse the throat and it can help alleviate diarrhoea in children. Carob is naturally caffeine-free and sweeter tasting than cocoa so it requires little or no sugar to taste good. It improves digestion, contains anti-cancer compounds and it supplies calcium, magnesium, vitamin B2 and B6, dietary fibre and more.
While potatoes are often mistakenly touted as being ‘void of nutrition’ this humble vegetable has a high vitamin C content. White potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin B6, and a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, vitamin B5 and dietary fibre for healthy bowels and clear skin.
Extracted and modified from The Eczema Detox by Karen Fischer (exislepublishing.co.uk).
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