There are a thousand and one causes to eczema. Everyone’s body is different, our life stories are different, the foods we eat are different, the pollutants we are exposed to and absorb are different, the way our bodies respond to irritants and allergens are different, the way our internal organs work to get rid of toxins are different. But one thing is the same: eczema is our bodies’ way of telling us that something is wrong, something has to be fixed. In fact, eczema is more of a gut issue than a skin issue. The skin is linked to the gut. Digestive problems and leaky gut present themselves as symptoms on the skin.
The solution is also the same: flood your body with foods that heal eczema – natural and wholesome foods, and heal from the inside out.
Natural and Wholesome
Nature is designed to heal. Foods that help eczema are foods in their most natural state, as they have the most nutritional value. Each phase of food processing will strip off some of its value. The more processed the food, the less of a food it is. At the end of the factory line, what we get is merely empty calories. Further, processed food usually contain preservatives and chemical additives, which is an added toxic load for our bodies to get rid of.
At the supermarket, go for the fresh produce, which is usually in the section nearest to the entrance. The sections within the deeper aisles contain more processed food, as they have longer shelf life. Another guide is packaging: foods with zero or minimal packaging are generally straight from the farms and fields, whilst processed foods tend to have more deliberate packaging, even layers of packaging, like sealed plastic within sealed boxes.
Go for whole grains if you include grains in your diet. This preserves the nutrients from the bran of the grains. The high fiber content from the bran also slows down digestion, and keeps us full for a longer time. Our family has transited to all brown rice over one year, as the children did not take to it well at the start, since the texture was different from white rice. So we mixed brown rice and white rice, slowly increased the brown rice, and eventually they acquired a taste for nature’s gift.
Aim for minimum processed food in your diet, but you don’t have to go cold turkey all at once. You can take it slow and target to remove one or a few items each week. For instance, you may cut potato chips and sugary drinks first, followed by biscuits and cakes the next, and so on. The pace and how you go about transiting to a natural and wholesome diet is all up to you, do whatever you are most comfortable with. Whether you plunge straight in or take your time also depends on your health condition, whether you are in an urgent need to change your diet and lifestyle. Don’t beat yourself for the occasional slip-up.
Fruits and Vegetables
Everyone knows the importance of fruits and vegetables in maintaining a healthy body. But how many of us actually put this knowledge into action? Even if we are actively putting fruits and vegetables into our diet, are they enough to heal our eczema and other ailments, given the years that we had abused and poisoned our bodies, through contaminated air and water, pesticides, preservatives, the fried chicken just last week, and the double chocolate ice cream last night?
I always thought my children were eating plenty of vegetables. They had their greens for every dinner at home. They seldom snacked on junk food, were eating natural and wholesome food. Why were their eczema conditions not showing any improvement, and in fact got worse at times? Then it dawned on me that the amount of fruits and vegetables entering their system had not reached the substantial level that would promote healing – by this, I mean deep healing. The kind of healing whereby the body expels toxins that have accumulated over the years within our core, in the internal organs, the brain, etc.
To substantially increase our intake of fruits and vegetables, we took to blending and juicing. Now, the first thing that goes into my children’s stomachs every morning is a smoothie of apples, cucumber, celery, and lemon. We saw a drastic improvement in my son J’s mood and energy level within a week of starting this regime. The eczema flare that he was experiencing at that time also cleared up within a matter of days, and he reported less itch and better sleep. We still have our ups and downs with eczema, but fruits and vegetables smoothie has brought the children’s baseline itch to a much more manageable level.
Gluten is an irritant for some people, and can exacerbate the condition for people with eczema. It is a naturally-occuring protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Since wheat is used in so many food products, going gluten-free can be a major adjustment, especially if you are used to eating out. This is because many sauces and condiments have wheat in them. Other common foods to avoid in a gluten-free diet include noodles, bread, cake, biscuits, etc. as these usually contain wheat flour.
The good news is there is now plenty of gluten-free varieties in the market. So you just have to do your homework, do a bit of scouting around, and you will find that you actually don’t have to feel so deprived afterall.
If you cannot pinpoint the cause of your eczema, trying out a strictly gluten-free diet may be worthwhile. Go six months if possible, if not then at least three months, to see any observable effects. Even if you discover gluten to be contributing to your eczema, it does not mean you have to stay gluten-free for life, even though it may be the healthier path for you. For many people, after six whole months on a strictly gluten-free diet, they can very slowly reintroduce gluten back into their lives without it affecting their skin like before.
So far J has only done three months gluten-free (read more about our experience here), that was two years ago, and it cleared up his skin beautifully. The effect was not overnight, it took perseverance together with lots of tears and tantrums. We took him off the diet after three months because it was too hard on him emotionally. Even then, after we returned gluten to his diet, his skin stayed clear for another six months. I thank the relative who suggested gluten-free diet to us, as it has opened our eyes to a big trigger for J’s eczema.
Garlic. Ginger. Onion. Parsley. Spring onion.
The point here is not to argue whether these are herbs or spices or vegetables. They are all amazing creations of Mother Nature that have superb healing properties. Garlic is full of antioxidants, and gives a great boost to our immunity. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, and aids digestion. Onion fights diseases and lowers cancer risks. Parsley helps us detox by purging toxins from deep within our bodies. Spring onion is anti-bacterial and a great source of many vitamins.
We are trying to include these in our diet daily, but only the cooked versions have made it to our plates so far. The aim is to eat these herbs and spices raw, as any form of cooking will reduce their healing and medicinal properties.
Super foods are nutrient dense foods, rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. The two super foods that make regular appearances in our household are berries and avocado, all to be eaten raw to reap their full benefits. The children consume lots of dark berries in the form of a health drink, daily. Also, I try to include avocado 2 to 3 times a week in the menu. The children’s liking to it is not quite consistent yet, so I have to create fun and interesting ways to include it in their ice cream or my homemade creamy pasta sauce.
Nature Does Heal
Yes, it does. Embrace all the goodness that is bursting through the foods that Mother Nature provides for us. Keep a positive mind as you change your lifestyle, and heal from the inside out. Every cell in your body will thank you for that. Have faith, and let’s heal together.