Eczema affects approximately 20% of children and 3% of adults worldwide with symptoms ranging from itchiness to red, inflamed skin. Triggers vary and can be anything from genetics and diet to allergies, stress and irritants found in detergent, soap or certain fabrics.
We spoke to COO and co-founder Stephanie Looi, who has had eczema for almost her entire life; and certified naturopath, Amanda Teh, about easing the condition via an elimination diet.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always suffered from eczema. The worst period was during my teenage years where the rash would be all over my hands and legs. Somehow, this cleared but remained on the palms of my hands where it got so bad at times, there were oozing spots and cracks in my skin! I was allergic to my own breast milk and I knew this because every time the milk went on my hand, the itch would start. These symptoms came and went, but I never really got better.
I read about how an elimination diet could ease the symptoms so I gave it a try. I decided to cut out meat, specifically chicken and pork, and slowly reintroduce it after a month, and see how my body reacted. I’m not actually a big meat-eater (I don’t consume beef or lamb), so it was easy to refrain from meat.
After only a week, I can safely say the eczema eased. My palms were no longer cracked and dry, and the overall condition of my skin improved. My acne cleared and monthly period breakouts were reduced. And to make everything even better, my energy levels improved and I just felt so much healthier!
After a month, I decided to add chicken to my diet and almost immediately the itchiness and redness returned. I have decided to cut meat out completely and now only eat fish and seafood.
Amanda Teh explains:
Eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that can become debilitating. The triggers are different for each individual and includes:
- Chemical intolerance and allergies (food, personal care products, household cleaning products)
- An under-functioning liver (usually affects children under the age of two)
- Genetic components
- Food additives, e.g. salicylates, MSG, nitrates, sulphites
- Nutritional deficiencies, e.g. calcium, biotin
It’s very important to rule out the cause of the condition and a good way to do this is with the elimination diet, particularly if you are unsure of what your triggers are. In Stephanie’s case, she cut out red and white meat from her diet. Red meat can trigger inflammation, and she could be intolerant to the protein in meat, which explains why her symptoms reduced when it was eliminated.
Another thing to note is that she started eating more fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and actually aids in reducing inflammation. Seafood is also high in zinc, which strengthens the immune system and maintains healthy cell function.
My advice is to try the elimination diet by removing specific food groups for at least three days and be aware of how you feel and if symptoms subside. For the best results, remove one type of food or food group at a time. Remember that if your eczema doesn’t improve with the elimination of a certain food, then you can probably continue eating it.
Header image credit: @blaiseclicks