Eczema and diet: Everything you need to know

Redness, itching, flaky skin – eczema is not fun.

Surprisingly, there is little evidence for eczema and diet. This is because the research is not valid enough to suggest a specific therapeutic diet for eczema.

What causes eczema?

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can be caused by exposure to allergens or irritants, but often, it seems to have no external trigger. Statistics show that between 2-18% of adults have eczema and this percentage may be rising.

There are thought to be many factors that contribute to eczema, including skin barrier dysfunction, immune factors and environmental factors, including diet.

However there are surprisingly few facts about eczema and diet. When I started my research, I did a thorough review at PubMed with as many keywords as I could think of, and I could not believe how few tests looked at the effect of diet and lifestyle on adult eczema.

So what most researches suggest is a diet rich in fiber. Also because eczema is an allergic type of disorder, it makes sense that food allergy also plays a role. For example, eczema-like symptoms may be characteristic of gluten sensitivity. Others report that they improve their eczema with a dairy-free diet, although the evidence does not show that there are any benefits. However, it does not hurt to investigate your individual reactions, but it is important to do it systematically.

What to eat when you have eczema

Because research is not valid enough to suggest a specific therapeutic diet, you should follow an approach to support digestive and immune health through an anti-inflammatory diet so that your body is as healthy and resilient as possible.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet? An anti-inflammatory diet is one that is based on whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. While it is good to avoid processed foods and refined flours and sugars.

I am often surprised at how many articles describe an anti-inflammatory diet as “soy, gluten free, dairy and corn” when the vast majority of our inflammatory problems come from eating over-processed and packaged foods. I believe that the best nutritional solution is the least restrictive.

Also while little clinical evidence supports efficacy of omega 3 fatty acids in eczema, I still think it is worth trying a supplement… because it certainly will not hurt you.

In conclusion, although there are not many studies on diet and eczema, the best you can do is support your immune system with the best nutrition possible. Eat plenty of plant-based foods, sleep well, exercise and try to manage stress.

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