Although eczema can sometimes be caused by an external irritant, such as cleaning fluid or wool, the most common trigger is food. Food allergy is the main dietary factor that needs to be addressed. This may require following a strict elimination diet that should be supervised by a nutritionist. However, the main culprit foods include cows milk, eggs, fish, sugar, wheat and dairy products and additives. It should be noted that delayed weaning onto these foods often reduces the incidence of eczema in children. It is common for breast fed children, who are susceptible to eczema, to react to foods in the mother’s diet. In these circumstances an exclusion diet under careful supervision may then be indicated for both mother and baby. Animal foods such as meats, dairy foods, and butter, margarines, tea, coffee and alcohol should be avoided. The diet should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables, seeds, brown rice, pulses and legumes. Some grains may be allowed such as oats, rye, barley, however this will depend on individual sensitivities. Quinoa, buckwheat maize and corn are useful alternatives. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and have more garlic and onions. Do not smoke and avoid excess exposure to sun.
Sulphur is responsible for the flexible bond between cells, including those that make up the skin. It acts to block undesirable chemical and physical cross-linking or bonding of collagen which is associated with tough, ageing skin, enhancing tissue elasticity, reducing and encouraging the repair of damaged skin. With such properties organic sulphur may be of benefit to those suffering skin conditions such as eczema.
Zinc is essential for healing. The health of the skin cells depends on sufficient zinc, which is needed for accurate production of new generations of skin cells.
Essential fatty acids are converted within the body to substances that help to regulate inflammatory response. Those with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea appear to have an essential fatty acid deficiency or a defect in the conversion of essential fatty acids to the anti inflammatory substances.
The balance of bacteria within the gut often dictates whether or not digestive problems prevail. The ecology of the gut is of particular importance to the skin. Imbalances within the gut ecology can easily lead to inflammation and increased likely hood of food intolerance. Probiotics can help to readdress the balance within the digestive tract.
A toxic bowel will promote poor skin health. A healthy bowel should eliminate at least twice a day, with stools being loosely formed and able to float. Constipation can overload the liver and is often the cause of symptoms including a coated tongue, headaches, insomnia, bloating, indigestion, bad breath, lack of energy, poor concentration and skin conditions. Following a cleansing programme may be very beneficial to eczema sufferers who also suffer from constipation. Such a programme would involve the use of a carefully balanced blend of plant fibres and healing herbs designed to encourage regular bowel function, reduce inflammation and toxicity and promote health within the digestive system. Taking a blend of milled flax seeds can also help to regulate bowel motion.
In addition to relieving constipation it is often necessary to assist the liver in its detoxification capacity. The build up of toxins as a result of constipation is likely to have overloaded the liver. When this happens tiredness, headaches, coated tongue, poor skin, poor concentration and joint pains can result. Silymarin, the key active compound in the herb Milk Thistle, is one of the most potent liver protective substances known. Improving liver function will aid the elimination of toxins from the body. Milk thistle also provides anti-inflammatory actions and has been shown to help normalise skin cell replication, both actions of which may be of benefit for skin conditions such as eczema.
Aloe vera has natural detoxifying properties, helps maintain the health of the skin and gut, the balance of bacteria within the gut and stimulates the immune system. As an all round tonic it is particularly useful where poor detoxification, weakened immune system and digestive imbalances are suspected.
PLEASE NOTE: The recommendations made within this fact sheet are general guidelines and not meant to be prescriptive. If you are taking medication please consult your Doctor before making any dietary changes or supplementing with any of the above herbal/ nutrient recommendations.
This article was contributed by Higher Nature Nutrition.