Get to the root of itchy issues by reinventing your diet, says nutritionist Louise Pyne
Whether eczema is something you’ve had to deal with your whole life, or you’ve only just started to experience dry, red patches of skin, there’s no denying that the condition is just as frustrating as it is painful. Eczema is an autoimmune disease which is more likely to occur in people who are prone to allergies. This means that if you already suffer with asthma or hay fever you have a higher chance of having eczema.
According to charity Allergy UK (allergyuk.org), an estimated 15 million people in the UK could be living with eczema. The condition can be aggravated by a variety of factors, such as overexposure to water, harsh chemicals in soaps, shampoos and perfumes and a poor diet, and symptoms typically show up as an intense dry and itchy red rash on the body, especially on the elbows, knees, legs and arms.
And as we start to bid farewell to the cold days of winter, the shift in weather can unfortunately bring on niggling flare ups. Thankfully, taking some dietary precautions can help to safeguard against any unwanted symptoms, so here is our rundown of the best foods to put on your plate this spring.
Inflammation can send symptoms into overdrive, but anti-inflammatory oily fish such as salmon can help to battle pesky eczema bouts. Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which helps to keep skin cells lubricated. The result is that skin feels more moisturised and dryness is kept at bay. Grill a salmon fillet and flake it into a salad or serve alongside roasted vegetables.
Keeping your gut healthy is an important step to help minimise flare-ups, and you can do this by eating probiotic foods like yoghurt to help maintain a good level of digestive bacteria. A healthy balance of gut bacteria helps to calm down skin issues by improving absorption of nutrients, and furthermore, ensuring that your gastrointestinal tract is populated with beneficial microflora helps to keep immunity high and levels of unhealthy bacteria low. To maximise the benefits, choose unflavoured probiotic-rich yoghurt that’s free from sugar and sweeteners.
One of the main superstar helpers in avocado is fat soluble vitamin E. This vitamin is a popular ingredient in mainstream beauty buys thanks to its ability to support healing and soothe skin from within. You can harness the perks by eating an avocado or applying it topically. Combine mashed avocado with a spoonful of honey and slather it onto your face for a DIY skin-perfecting face mask.
Virgin coconut oil already scores top marks for helping to keep cholesterol levels in check and boosting the metabolism, and it gets an extra gold star for its therapeutic skin-smoothing properties. The oil is crammed with good saturated fats like lauric acid which exerts a protective effect on skin by helping to dampen down any inflammation. Get more bang for your buck by using the oil both for cooking and as a daily moisturiser.
Keeping skin hydrated is hugely important for dry, eczema-prone skin, and alongside making sure to chug back H20, chowing down on cucumber will help to keep skin supple. Cucumber is made up of over 90 percent water, and the high-water content of the salad staple will help to keep skin cells hydrated to ward off any dryness. Nibble on cucumber sticks in between meals for a skin-loving snack.
Kiwi fruit is one of the best sources of vitamin C, a nutrient which is needed to manufacture collagen to help skin appear smoother and supple. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which helps to protect skin against environmental stressors like UV rays and the effects of pollution and keeps the immune system running healthily.
The saying goes that carrots help you to see in the dark, but this orange vegetable is also a source of vitamin A which helps to speed up skin cell turnover making skin appear more even. Enjoy as a snack during the day or add some carrots to your cooking for a skin-boosting bite.
Re-think your beauty routine
Eczema sufferers often have sensitive skin which is easily aggravated by commercial toiletries as these can contain harsh chemicals. Instead, care for your skin with gentle, organic beauty products that are unfragranced and free from parabens.
The sweet stuff might taste good but it exerts an inflammatory effect on skin which ignites itchy symptoms. Instead of reaching for a sugar hit, eat a piece of fresh fruit. Opt for low sugar options like an apple or bowl of blueberries for a natural sweet kick that packs in healthy antioxidants.
Invest in new gym gear
Love working out? Ditch skin-tight Lycra and polyester in favour of natural sweat-wicking fibres and loose organic cotton to allow eczema-prone skin to breathe more easily.
Keep stress levels low
You might notice eczema tends to flare up when you’re feeling worried – this is because the stress hormone cortisol can lead to excess inflammation which worsens symptoms. Next time you are feeling anxious, take a few deep breaths to help calm your nerves.
Maintain a clean living space
Spring clean your home to help control nasty eczema symptoms. A dusty environment can send symptoms into overdrive so make sure to deep clean easy-to-miss corners of your home such as under furniture, skirting boards and the tops of doors and windows.
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