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By Laura Dolgy (see bio below)
When we suffer from eczema and other irritating skin conditions, we quickly look to healing through various skin treatments like steroids, natural creams or really anything that will give us instant relief. However, did you know that many cases of eczema (and other skin conditions like psoriasis) are actually caused by what we put in our mouths?
This week, we take a step back from trying to heal externally and instead look at the relation between eczema and diet. Can someone really find relief through changing their diet alone? The answer is yes.
If you’ve been suffering from eczema and have tried countless creams and treatments, we encourage you to read on. Please keep in mind that although these suggestions can relieve eczema, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe eczema symptoms and cannot heal from treatments alone, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.
Eczema and Diet
Yes, natural eczema cream and topical treatments like wet wrap and dry wrap therapy are an important step in how to treat eczema naturally, but often those are band aid approaches and long term results cannot usually be found via those methods. What’s really important is to take a deeper look at how to heal eczema from within and one BIG part of that is to look at your diet and what you eat on a daily basis. Even if you think you might be eating healthy, there are many foods that might be causing or worsening your flare ups.
So what’s going on? The key to any eczema diet is listening to our gut.
Eczema and Gut Health
If you didn’t already know, your gut is made of 100 trillion microorganisms (1), which all play a key role in our digestion and overall health. When you consider how complex a system the gut is, it’s really interesting that people don’t pay more attention it. There are entire universes of organisms existing in one person’s gut lining and a small imbalance can throw the entire thing out of whack.
If you’ve researched your eczema symptoms, we’re sure you came across something called leaky gut syndrome. This is a condition in which the GI’s tract has more difficulty in filtering particles that can be damaging to one’s system. These particles, like gluten, bacteria, food particles and viruses, can leak into the bloodstream and cause your body to think they are enemies, which puts your body into fight mode. This “allergic” response can go unchecked for years and can eventually develop into more severe, chronic conditions like eczema.
Leaky gut can be mild, but it can also be a debilitating condition. If you find yourself eating healthy, your eczema is not improving, and you’re experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you may want to look into healing your gut:
- Suffering multiple food allergies, food sensitivities or intolerances (what’s the difference?!)
- Bloating after meals
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Weight gain – even while you maintain the same diet
- Metabolic and thyroid conditions
- Skin issues, including eczema, rosacea and acne
- Diarrhea and constipation
Eczema and Foods to Avoid
To start healing your leaky gut, it’s best to slowly eliminate (or at least heavily reduce) the following toxins that famously cause inflammation in the body:
- High omega 6 oils (Safflower, Sunflower, Corn, etc.)
- Refined cooking oils (anything that is NOT cold processed or virgin)
- Processed foods
- Non-organic soy products
- Factory farmed meat
- Canned fish
- Foods with preservatives and colorants and much more
Eczema and Foods to Eat
Although restoring your gut flora is key, there are many healing foods and supplements for eczema that can be used to strengthen it and heal it over time. These include:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil
- Homemade bone broth/stocks
- Cultured and fermented foods (like kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha)
- Prebiotics (like garlic, onion, asparagus and more)
- Digestive enzymes
- Licorice root
- Quercetin (found in red onions, cranberries, broccoli and many other fruits and vegetables)
If you think you are dealing with leaky gut, we definitely recommend meeting with an integrative or functional physician, nutritionist or naturopath who can help you in your journey to heal your gut. In many cases the practitioner will want you to consider things like probiotics, fish oil and other supplements like immune balancers. But the needs are really personal, so it’s best to work with a practitioner to discover exactly what you’ll need to heal.
To heal your gut and then your eczema, do you have to eliminate everything forever? Although the above foods might be causing your skin to react, eliminating absolutely everything forever is unrealistic and unsustainable. The idea is to actually learn which foods or irritants are causing your skin to react and enjoy the others in moderate doses. That’s why an elimination diet is key. Read below to learn why.
Eczema and The Elimination Diet
Have you ever heard the term “elimination diet?” If you’ve read much on our blog, I’m very sure you have – we are HUGE fans because we’ve seen elimination diets work wonders time and time again. Granted – every diet is difficult, and most these days are not built on sustainable models. However, if you could find exactly which food or irritant caused your skin to flare up, wouldn’t you do it?
So just what is an an elimination diet? It involves removing certain foods from your diet for a specific period of time, usually at least around a month, and then slowly reintroducing them back. By reintroducing them, you are able to determine which foods are causing a reaction. While some foods, like the top food allergens (gluten, dairy, etc) are often to blame, there are many other foods out there that may be causing your skin to flare up. Food triggers, like all other triggers, are really very different for everyone. They key is finding out YOUR unique food triggers.
To us, an elimination diet is the ultimate eczema diet, as it can uncover your own unique triggers and help you find better skin and better health. And we think that’s pretty amazing! Don’t you?!
To discover more about this diet and how you can get started, make sure to check out our blog post: Our Eczema Elimination Diet Success (How You Can Do It Too!). Many of our subscribers and followers have found success with this type of eczema diet and you can too! And if you’re nursing, check out our tips for undergoing a breastfeeding elimination diet.
The biggest challenge for me in being successful in an elimination diet is planning the meals. If you’re struggling in this area too, I highly recommend Real Plans, a meal planning app where you can easily modify your meal plans to match your diet and see only recipes that fit with your elimination diet and reintroduction stage and finally modified long term diet. Real Plans makes it all super simple!
As we wrap up today’s post, remember – a healthy strong body with glowing skin starts with nourishment of the entire body. Eczema can be healed from the inside out, but it takes time, patience and willpower.
To discover more about eczema and diet, make sure to check out both The Eczema Diet and The Eczema Detox from Karen Fischer, as well as Prime Physique Nutrition’s Healing Eczema: Why Diet is Not Enough.
Have you healed your skin through an eczema diet? We want to hear from you below in our comments!
Bio: Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.
(1) Lai, Abby. Healing Eczema: Why Dieting isn’t Enough. https://store.primephysiquenutrition.com/collections/all/products/healing-eczema-ebook/
Also, Check out some of our other great posts:
Abby Lai is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a blogger who blogs about natural eczema remedies and is passionate about seeing people use health and nutrition to transform lives. As someone who suffered from severe eczema in the past, she hopes that her experiences and knowledge can help transform and educate others on natural remedies that will help eczema. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for more updates! Learn more about Abby on her website and blog.