Eczema is a chronic debilitating skin condition that affects one in ten adults and one in five children in the UK. It can be categorised into two different types.
Firstly, it can be triggered by environmental agents such as washing powders, the weather, creams, lotions and dust.
Secondly, is the type affected by what we eat and drink as well as certain medications. It’s important that if you think you have eczema to get a firm diagnosis from your doctor as it can be highly individual and there can be many causes triggering the symptoms.
However, all eczema’s causes are rooted in inflammation and and this can be impacted by your diet. Clinical Dietitian Rick Miller lists his five natural ways to reduce eczema symptoms.
1. Stay hydrated
Make sure that you stay hydrated. I see patients that are chronically dehydrated all the time – consuming liquids throughout the day, at least two litres, coming from water, teas, maybe even a smoothie or milk. If you stay hydrated this will help with the naturally occuring moisture and lubrication in the skin which then helps to keep the skin hydrated and this will reduce the inflammation status in the skin and manage eczema symptoms.
2. Don’t be afraid of fat
Don’t be afraid of fat. It’s a real fallacy that we have to be reducing fat. The fat soluble vitamins that come along with consuming fat such as vitamin E and vitamin A are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the skin. Your skin is composed of different cells and those cells are all surrounded by a layer of fat. Healthy sources of essential fats include avocados, cold pressed seed oils, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, oily fish which contains omega 3 fatty acids as well as things like nuts and seeds.Consuming these fats are also crucial in reducing inflammation and can help to reduce your symptoms.
3. Low glycaemic load diet
Unhealthy foods can be the main culprit for worsened eczema symptoms due to the high levels of sugars found in them. Choose a low glycemic load (GL) diet. What do I mean by that? Fluctuating blood glucose levels can actually increase the inflammation status in the body and can then worsen the symptoms of eczema. Choose wholegrain sources of carbohydrates and these can be found in wholegrain bread, legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, peas. Even simply leaving the skins on potatoes could help to reduce the GL and balance sugar levels after eating these foods.
Dr Karg Organic Crispbread 3 x Grains £ x Seeds £2.69 (taste: unbelievable)
4. Try a quality probiotic supplement
Consider taking a high quality probiotic supplement. There is a strong relationship between the health of our gut and the bacteria that are living in there and the bacteria that are living in our skin and the two tend to communicate with each other. If we have a healthy gut this means we have healthier skin, so boosting gut health with a probiotic supplement could give you reduced eczema symptoms.
5. Check your vitamin D levels
Have you ever wondered why when you go on holiday our skin gets a beautiful glow and for some people that actually reduces the symptoms of eczema? Ultraviolet light that comes from the sun can help to manage inflammation that’s in the skin, in fact UV light therapy is sometimes used to reduce the symptoms of eczema. Vitamin D helps to reduce the inflammation that’s in the skin which makes it worthwhile checking with your doctor if your vitamin D levels are optimal and if they’re not, taking a supplement to top them up.
September 18-24th is National Eczema Week. Find out more here. Look out for a piece on eczema every day this week on Healthista.com
Rick Miller is a consultant clinical and sports performance dietitian. He is also guest senior lecturer in Dietetics and Nutrition at various Universities including, Loughborough University, Hull-York Medical School and London Metropolitan University. Today Rick has undergone further training as a Functional Medicine practitioner and combines both integrative medicine and orthodox Dietetics to provide a comprehensive, holistic approach to his nutrition treatment. More information at Rick’s website. Follow Rick On Twitter