We all know beauty comes from within, but is that also the case for eczema sufferers? Alongside sticking to a comprehensive skincare routine specifically formulated for eczema-prone skin, nutritional Therapist Sandra Greenbank says keeping a healthy gut can help those with suffering from this common skin care condition.
What foods shall I avoid ?
The short answer is: sugar, alcohol and antibiotics. Sandra says “we each carry about 1.5-2kg of bacteria of around 300 different strains in our gut, and it’s essential that the gut flora is kept in balance. Harmful bacteria feed on sugar and alcohol, so those are best avoided.” She adds “antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, good and bad so it’s especially important to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria after taking antibiotics. I would always recommend a course of probiotics alongside antibiotics.”
Does gluten affect eczema?
Gluten still seems to be the food baddie these days. So what’s all the hype about? “Gluten is problematic for most people, so it would make sense to try going gluten free as part of any elimination diet.”
So, what foods should I add to my diet to help alleviate eczema?
“Fermented foods are a great way to increase the number and strains of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Try miso, kefir, yogurt (non-dairy is available), kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh – they can all be found in the health food stores and increasingly in the supermarket too. Do make sure it’s ‘live’ and/or unfermented, as heating the foods would kill any beneficial bacteria in them.”
What about fats?
“Essential fats are needed to keep the skin moisturised from within, and eczema sufferers have been shown to be low in these. Having the wrong fatty acid ratio could tip the body into an inflammatory state, exacerbating eczema. Most modern diets are deficient in Omega 3 fats, so eat oily fish at least twice a week and also take a fish oil supplements.”
Any other secret tips?
“I have had great success with supplements of flavonoids (plant compounds with antioxidant properties), especially quercetin, which works in the treatment of eczema through its ability to inhibit histamine release. Grape seed extract is also a potent flavonoid available in supplement form. Foods rich in flavonoids are citrus fruit, berries, onions, legumes and green tea.”