Are you one of the many people who suffer from eczema? It may be comforting to know you are not alone, and Australia has one of the highest rates of people who live with this condition. It is estimated that approximately 10-15% of Australians currently live with eczema.
Eczema can leave your skin looking less than its best. There can be frequent discomfort from itchiness and then the throbbing from your skin being scratched. Your diet can play a key role in helping manage this skin condition. Here are some key nutrients and factors which may help reduce or prevent a flare up in eczema.
Although this is not a specific nutrient, it is important to consider that your body has something called a skin-gut axis. This means that if your gut is not healthy the health of your skin is likely to suffer.
We all know that a rainbow diet with plenty of plant based meals is rich in various minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals that do wonders for our health. Your gut microbiome - which is at the centre of the skin-gut axis - thrives off plant-based foods.
Plant based foods are a source of health promoting microbes called prebiotic fibre. This is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate, which means your body can't digest it, but the microbes in your gut can. In doing so, they keep your gut healthy, and in turn reduce the risk of various inflammatory pathways getting activated, including those in the skin. Plants also give you health promoting polyphenols that have benefits in many different aspects of health, not just your skin. Including thirty different plant foods a week will provide your body with many health benefits, including feeding the health promoting microbes in your gut.
A second important component to promoting gut health is including probiotic foods. To give your gut a healthy dose of a range of different health promoting microbes aim to include two probiotic rich foods each day. This can include foods and drinks like miso, yoghurt, tempeh, soft cheeses like cottage cheese, and natto.
Zinc plays an important role in wound healing and reducing inflammation in your body. Good sources of zinc can be found in seafood, nuts, seeds, red meat, dairy, poultry, legumes such as baked beans, and oats.
Vitamin D and E
These two fat-soluble vitamins, particularly when combined, may help treat eczema. Before heading to the supplements try using a food first approach. Food adds not only these two vitamins but additional health benefits for your body. Not many foods are rich in both vitamin D and E, but two good sources are eggs which include the yolk and seafood.
There is limited evidence that supports including fish oil to help prevent eczema. Saying this, there are many health benefits to including seafood two to three times a week for overall health as the whole food includes a matrix of health benefits for your body. Good sources of fatty fish with more omega-3 fat include salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies.
Take home message: Your whole body is impacted by your diet and your skin is no exception. By eating an overall balanced diet which includes the key nutrients above it may provide you with some support in relieving your eczema or preventing flare ups.
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