Food flare-ups: Fact or fiction?
If you suffer from eczema you may feel that some foods actually cause your eczema to flare up.
Although the medical community is hesitant to confirm a direct link between diet and eczema, in naturopathic health circles it is widely believed that diet has an important role to play in the health of our skin.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a common, dry skin condition which inflames the skin, is often itchy and can cause pain and discomfort depending on the individual case.
Eczema comes from the Greek word “Ekzein” which means “to boil”.
According to the National Eczema Association, one in five children and one in twelve adults suffer from eczema.
It is noted in the naturopathic world that many people who suffer from eczema tend to have weaker stomach secretions, which basically means that it is harder for your body to break down certain foods.
When a person has weak stomach secretions, the food that the stomach tends to find the most difficult to digest is dairy products.
Think: Does your eczema ever seem worse after you have consumed a dairy product such as cheese, chocolate or yogurt? If so, this could be an indication that you have weak stomach secretions and this could be causing your eczema to flare up at times.
You might be questioning what exactly your stomach has to do with your skin? Well, for those of us who practise herbal medicine, we believe that whatever we eat affects various areas of our bodies.
In a nutshell: if you eat anything your body considers to be toxic (foods which the liver struggles to break down) this will lead to the toxins being pushed out through the body’s exit routes which are the bowels, lungs and urinary tract.
However if your exit routes are not working properly the body begins pushing the toxins out through its emergency exit routes, one of which is the skin.
This could be the reason, why eating certain foods can cause your skin condition to worsen.
The National Eczema Society recognise that nearly two thirds of eczema sufferers have food allergies.
The most common types of foods that trigger eczema flare ups are:
- Soy products
- Wheat products
However, our bodies still need the nutrients that are found in these types of foods as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle as they contain essential fatty acids (EFAs).
You can also try using other supplements such as evening primrose; adults can take between three to six grams whereas children should only have up to three grams of primrose.
Tip: Vitamin B is found in many fish so try and incorporate more fish into your diet.
Good eating habits
First things first, when dealing with eczema and weak stomach secretions, you need to strengthen your stomach; you can strengthen your stomach by implementing a few simple good eating habits which can help your body better process food.
Research the types of foods you can and cannot have, the above list mentions the main food groups which may act as a trigger for your eczema so you can try cutting these out of your diet and perhaps eat wheat and diary substitute products.
Another good eating habit to get into is separating your carbs from your proteins to help strengthen your stomach and reduce the likelihood of easy breakouts. This is simply done, you should always be eating your veggies at dinner time regardless but do not combine vegetables with both carbs and proteins, try and have one or the other.
Tip: the size of protein you should eat per meal is about the size of your palm, if you exceed this, it may lead to weak stomach secretions.
Other simple good eating habits include not eating any food after 7pm to allow your body time to digest as it takes between 2-4 hours for your stomach to empty.
Chew your food – this may seem obvious but you should try chewing your food at least 20 times before swallowing, this will make it easier for your body to break down the food, especially if you have weak stomach secretions.
Lastly, know your limits, you should eat in accordance to what your stomach can actually hold.
Fact: Your stomach is about the size of your two hands cupped together.
If you find yourself becoming bloated and uncomfortable after eating you may be eating more than your tummy can handle this can lead to weaker digestion which is what we want to avoid when suffering from eczema as poor break down of food can cause breakouts.
Open your exit routes
To help reduce your eczema flare ups and other skin condition break outs the best way to help your body cope is to open up your exit routes so your body doesn’t need to use the emergency exits, one of which being the skin.
Fact: The skin is an emergency route however, so is the breath, and if you suppress the skin of being an emergency route the toxins will begin to affect the breathing; that is why asthma can begin when eczema sufferers begin suppressing their skin with various heavy, chemical creams.
Your bodies main exit routes are the bowels, urinary tract and lungs. The best way to open up your exit routes is to detox your body. This can be done fairly simply by drinking more water; at least 1.5 litres a day, this will help your bowels move and open the urinary tract.
You should also try to reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet as the toxins found in processed foods tend to be pushed through the emergency exits.You can also incorporate into your detox some Milk Thistle which is beneficial to your liver.
Changing your diet and opening your exit routes may improve your health from the inside out but when dealing with red itchiness externally due to your eczema flare ups one way to calm this without suppressing your skin is using an all-natural herb cream.
Neem cream helps soothe eczema prone skin and also helps soothe those bumpy red patches caused by food allergies which you may find beneficial when experiencing your flare ups.
Our Neem cream is 100% vegetarian and we do not test on animals.
Let us know if any of our diet hacks for eczema worked for you in the comment section below!