This famous saying is becoming more relevant again, hundreds of years after it was first coined. And for good reason.
It is estimated that around 15 million people in the UK suffer from Eczema. That’s over 20% of the population!
Do foods trigger a reaction?
An obvious place to start looking for answers is food. We know that some people have allergies to certain items, such as nuts and shell fish. So perhaps dermatitis could be caused by the accumulation of foods which the body does not react well to.
Allergy Vs Intolerance
Allergic reactions are your immune system’s response to something, they usually happen straight after having the food and can be severe and even life-threatening. They can often be caused by even a small amount of the food.
An intolerance does not involve the immune system and is usually worse if you have more of the food you are intolerant to. It can take time to show symptoms of an intolerance, so it’s not always easy to identify the cause without an elimination diet.
You can find out more about the differences from the NHS website.
What I tried…
When I first decided to look into this, I opted for an elimination diet. From looking a whole load of articles online, and based on what I liked, I came up with the following foods to eat:
- White rice
That’s it! I ate the same thing, every day, for around 10 days. The results were incredible! My skin cleared up and I had very little inflammation in my body. I could tell because my skin was less “puffy”, especially around my stomach and face.
Unfortunately, this was not sustainable. After 10 days, I had to go out and was feeling very happy so I had a burger, chips and a milkshake. The next day it flared up again.
After 10 days, my skin was clear. Then I had a triggering food item
You can see in the images above that my skin was very clear after trying out the diet. Then, the day after it started to flare up going red and after 3 days was worse still. This continued to become more inflamed over the course of a week.
But all was not lost. I now knew that there was something to the food intolerance side of things. Unfortunately it took me a long time to workout exactly what my triggering foods were though!
I’ll talk more about the elimination diet in “Section 4″ below.
What foods to remove
There are some commonly known foods which are likely to cause allergic reactions, as noted by the NHS:
That doesn’t mean it will be those, but it is a good starting point if you aren’t sure.
What I now know…
I now know that my body doesn’t tolerate eggs and dairy products very well. I don’t get an allergic reaction, more of a build up of symptoms if I continue to have eggs and dairy regularly.
I can get away with having a few eggs a week and a bit of milk here and there, but if I have a little every day, the redness on my face gets worse. I also develop a bit of a rash on other areas of my body.
It took me ages to work this out because the reaction is gradual. It builds over time and is almost unnoticeable at first. Often, I’ll start to get a bit of itching and tingling first, then it gets worse from there.
Some other food triggers to avoid
From personal experience, and the knowledge that these foods cause inflammation in the body, I would recommend avoiding or having as little as possible of the following items in your diet:
- Alcohol – and obvious one but this plays havoc with your body. It’s a poison so your body has to work hard to remove it which means it can’t work to repair your skin and body. If you HAVE to have some, go for organic wine where possible. Just 1 glass a week max.
- Sugar – Man made sugar is in a lot of products and it’s not good for your body, especially in the doses we regularly consume it in nowadays. Natural sugars aren’t a problem, such as from fruits. But if you are having lots of processed foods this is going to damage your body and skin.
- Wheat – Not necessarily bad, but lots of bread products are made out of terrible ingredients. They will say “wholewheat” and have lots of fancy marketing terms to make you think it’s healthy, but it’s usually not. A lot of people suffer from bloating as a result of poor quality ingredients in bread. I would recommend avoiding where possible or go organic and fresh.
Azelaic Acid Rich Foods
While doing some research into this topic, I found a nice scientific article which describes some details about naturally occurring Azelaic acid. Here’s one excerpt:
“Azelaic Acid is a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid produced by Malassezia furfur and found in whole grain cereals, rye, barley and animal products.”
Good to know, so adding those into your diet might help get more Azelaic acid into your system. But, personally, I would opt for the skin appliance method because you are most likely wanting to treat Rosacea, acne or some kind of skin blemish you have.
Here’s another interesting note:
“Azelaic acid also possesses a direct anti-inflammatory effect due to its scavenger activity of free oxygen radical. This drug is used topically to reduce inflammation associated with acne and rosacea.”
So, it shows that Azelaic acid is used topically (applied to the skin, externally) to treat these conditions.