Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory process that is usually marked by itching, redness and dry skin (“Eczema – Atopic Dermatitis…”). The specific causes of eczema are unknown but are widely known to be caused by either hereditary factors or environmental factors, such as allergens, climate, foods or hormones (McIntosh).
For some, eczema can go away over time but for others it remains. Though you can treat these conditions using oral medications and using ointments you can also alter your diet so that the conditions don’t worsen. Though each individual reacts differently to certain intakes below are some foods to avoid and those that you could replace.
- Fruits and Vegetables: It is known that when your tissues are inflamed, there results more oxidants; therefore in-taking antioxidants is very important. Fruits and vegetables, being the prime source for antioxidants, it’ll help the body fight and defend itself from diseases.Vitamin C is an amazing source that would be very helpful in the treatment of eczema because not only does it serve as a natural antihistamine, it could also serve as an antioxidant, which could reduce symptoms. Potassium and magnesium are also significant for lowering and lowering inflammation (Ho)(Holford). Examples of fruits includes berries, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, apples, bananas and (McLaughlin). For vegetables, sweet potatoes, asparagus, avocadoes, eggplant, leafy greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and red bell peppers. Though fruits and vegetables are very important to those with eczema, it’s best to avoid acidic ones, for they may set off eczema, these include oranges, tomatoes, strawberries and lemons. (Gaskell)
- Meats: Protein, zinc, B vitamins and iron are very important to eczema sufferers, for they help strengthen the immune system. Eating lean meats like skinless chicken and turkey breasts, even extra-lean ground beef would be a better option. Baking and boiling these proteins would be an additional benefit as well. Though some may say to avoid red meat, it’s best to just reduce the amount or understand that each individual’s bodies react differently. If you were to consider red meat, consider those that are organic, pasture raised or grass-fed. The reason it’s ok to consume red meat is because it contains “vitamin D, B6, B12, riboflavin, folate, iron, zinc and niacin” (Christina), which promotes skin health and body and brain function.
- Oils: Instead of using margarine or butter, replacing them with plant-based oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil or flaxseed oils would be beneficial. Since these types of oils provide unsaturated fats, they “promote nutrient absorption, positive brain function and heart health (McLaughlin).” Oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids help with inflammation so consuming these types of oils may be the better option. Another type of oil that could possibly be beneficial for those who have eczema would be borage oil, evening primrose oil and black current oil. (Ell) What differentiates these oils from other oils is that it contains a natural fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which helps relieve the symptoms of eczema. (Ell)
- Fish: Fish contributes not only as a protein and source of zinc but also provides “essential fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which act as natural moisturizers for your skin.” (Christina) Fish oil is also rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish that are high in these omega-3’s are “salmon, lake trout, albacore, tuna, herring, cod, sole, mackerel, sardines, halibut and flounder (McLaughlin).” Omega 3’s is significant for a person who has eczema, for they help re-build damaged gut linings, which will then help reduce the damaged caused by inflammation.
- Probiotics: Yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir being a rich source of probiotics, this source can help with your digestive health (McLaughlin). Probiotics have shown to protect against inflammation and . Though several studies have shown that probiotics help with the treatment of eczema, it’s best to consult your physician before taking any probiotic supplements.
Aside from these, adding spices such as ginger and turmeric have recently been proven to reduce inflammation. In these inflammatory diseases a protein called “nuclear transcription factor kappa B is produced.” (Holford) Ginger, turmeric, also garlic and pepper are known to turn those off. Another type of food that is extremely good are fermented foods as well since they contain “beneficial micro-organisms that help digestion and the removal of toxins in the gut.” (Li) No matter what food you in take into your system it’s always good to know what additives or preservatives are added in our food. Foods that include, “tartrazine, sodium benzoate, sodium glutamate, sufites and MSG (monosodium glutamate)” may trigger and worsen eczema. (Gaskell)Though there are more sources out there that may be helpful for eczemas the best way to determine whether if changing your diet will be helpful is by eliminating common culprits, such as dairy, soy, nuts, wheat and shellfish for about two weeks and then bringing them back into the diet to determine if the symptoms appear again.
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