Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition also referred to as Dermatitis, occurs in approximately 1 in 5 children in the UK. Despite the possibility of eczema developing at any age, those who grow up with the skin condition, often also experience it later in life. Being an eczema sufferer myself, I know how important it is to understand its complexity and have the tools to manage it for yourself or your children to the best of your ability. Eczema has a genetic component, and hence the incidence and severity of the symptoms become worst with the interaction between environmental factors and our genes. Focussing on prevention in the long term with the right products, diet, environment and potentially supplements where necessary, is key to restore a healthy skin barrier.
A Few Suggestions That May Help To Combat Eczema
* Avoiding food allergens that may irritate the lining of the stomach is important, as these have been found to contribute to flare ups with symptoms such as redness, itchiness, general discomfort along with the psychological aspect of living with eczema. With the support of a nutritionist, tests and a food diary, food allergens or any intolerances can be identified. Research shows that food allergens may in essence mediate an immune- IgE response in eczema sufferers, which can result in a delayed response (hours to days later). Allergens could range from dairy products, wheat, preservatives in food, sugars, additives or eggs amongst others but these would be different for each of us.
* Pack your diet with ‘whole foods’ that are high in antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats. These support both overall gut health and the immune system. Think of variety and colours! Buying whole foods as fresh as possible and cooking them from scratch also allows you to stay in control. Any supplements that you may take, aim for those free from artificial ingredients and go as natural and organic as possible.Get in touch for advice!
* Favour natural sugars, obtained from fruits and vegetables. This is simply because sugar obtained from candy, cakes, alcohol, drinks including sodas and fruit juices or ready made sauces can all trigger an inflammatory reaction and contribute to a worsening of symptoms.
* Top up your intake of essential fatty acids, which are naturally anti-inflammatory but also provide our cells with beautiful oils to help restore a healthy skin barrier. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring are great but also fats obtained from nuts and seeds, avocado or olive oil. Be adventurous and try out Organic Traditions Ice Pressed Olive Oil, Nutiva’s Hemp Oil, Barlean’s Lignan Flax Oil or a supplement if you struggle to top up your levels, such as Jarrow Formula Max DHA or Nature’s Answer Liquid Omega 3.
* Watch out for some acidic foods that could make matters worst. These include citrus foods such as oranges and lemons, or tomatoes for example. Instead replace them with foods that are high in Quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory found in cherries, broccoli, apples, blueberries, spinach and kale.
* Foods supporting the healing process include Zinc and Vitamin C containing foods like Pumpkin seeds, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes amongst others. Protein also helps the healing process so aim for lean sources such as turkey, chicken, duck or fish. Keep red meat to a minimum throughout the week since it can contribute to inflammation. Topping up your Protein intake can be simple and fast with Amazing Grass Protein Superfood, a vegan formula that is Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free and packed with antioxidants as well.
* If Turmeric is a non-irritant for you, give it a go by adding Fresh Turmeric to your food, or simply buying a potent Turmeric powder such as Organic Traditions Dual Extract Turmeric that you can easily use everyday. Research shows that Turmeric is powerful antioxidant, immune boosting and anti-inflammatory root and could do wonders for our health. Organic Traditions use a specific technique to extract the fat-loving compounds as well as water-soluble compounds from the Turmeric, providing a Super-Critical Extract with great amounts of well studied active compounds known as Tumerones and Curcuminoids. The Tumerones are efficient in also supporting the absorption of Curcuminoids into our cells and therefore this formula does not require Piperine.
* Lastly, if your budget allows, aim for organic and free range produce where you can. Minimising your exposure to pesticides and herbicides to the maximum.
Stress has a big impact on our health and wellbeing in addition to worsening the symptoms of Eczema or simply contributing to its recurrence. Finding ways that support you and your loves ones to reduce the stress that surrounds us is important. Simple things in life such as walking, getting out of the city during the weekend, doing a pilates or yoga class, meeting up friends to share our day to day activities or simply sharing our feelings all contribute a more balanced lifestyle for the body and mind.
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* Johansson, EK et.al (2017) IgE sensitization in relation to preschool eczema and filaggrin mutation. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Apr 26. pii: S0091-6749(17)30676-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.04.008. [Epub ahead of print].Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28456621
* Kim, K(2015) Influences of Environmental Chemicals on Atopic Dermatitis. Toxicol Res 2015;31(2):89-96. doi: 10.5487/TR.2015.31.2.089. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26191377
* National Eczema Society (2017), Available at: http://eczema.org/
* Neerven, R and Savelkoul H (2017) Nutrition and Allergic Diseases. Nutrients. 2017 Jul 17;9(7).doi: 10.3390/nu9070762 Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28714911
* Vaughn A,, Branum A and Sivamani R. (2016)Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence. Phytother Res. 2016 Aug;30(8):1243-64. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5640. Epub 2016 May 23. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27213821