Maybe you’ve heard of the benefits of eczema diets or anti-dandruff diet plans. In this guide, we’re going to take a deep dive into the genetic and environmental nature of eczema and dandruff. Then we’ll break down how these factors relate to your diet - and show you how to eat for the healthiest skin.
What does eczema have to do with your diet?
Scientists and health researchers have long suggested that there’s a link between eczema and diet. But we’re just now starting to see the results of long-term research efforts exploring the relationship between food and healing eczema. While there’s no cure for eczema or dermatitis, certain diets can help you manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
Take, for instance, a February 2019 report from the National Institutes of Health. This research found that common inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis are linked to food allergies in nearly one-third of all cases.
Almost 20 percent of children worldwide suffer from eczema and eczema-like dry skin conditions, of whom 30 percent also have food allergies.
The researchers found significant differences in the structure of skin from those with eczema and food allergies compared to those with eczema only, suggesting a key link between the two conditions.
Eczema and Allergies
Most of those living with severe eczema and related skin conditions also suffer from common food allergies. Even those who don’t have any confirmed food allergies may benefit from experimenting with an elimination diet to see whether particular foods are eczema triggers.
It’s important for those with chronic skin conditions to discover how specific foods might impact their health and skincare. Although not everyone with eczema flare-ups will react poorly to common allergens, it’s never a bad idea to perform allergy testing under the supervision of a dermatologist or healthcare provider to see how you respond to certain foods. For example, the following popular foods are often food triggers of atopic eczema:
- Nuts and peanuts
- Gluten (barley, wheat, rye)
- Cow’s milk
Eating the above foods doesn’t cause eczema. However, they may cause flare-ups and other outbreaks in those with eczema. So take some time to experiment with eliminating certain foods from your diet for several weeks and pay attention to any changes you notice about your skin.
Designing an Elimination Diet
If you’re having trouble managing your eczema flares, dandruff, or psoriasis, you should consider consulting a registered dietitian to find food elimination diets that work for you.
An elimination diet - sometimes referred to as an exclusion diet - usually involves calculated dietary changes such as the removal of eggs, milk, or poultry from one’s diet. One by one, more foods are gradually removed from the diet until noticeable changes take effect, or no results are seen. Elimination diets typically last 2-5 months before results can be registered.
Under the supervision of a qualified nutritionist or dietitian, you can gradually eliminate foods from your diet to gain a better understanding of your eczema flare-ups and what food allergens may be making it worse.
...common inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis are linked to food allergies in nearly one-third of all cases.
What foods help with eczema?
Just as there are certain foods that can aggravate eczema symptoms, there are also anti-inflammatory foods that can help manage symptoms such as primrose oil, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Below, you’ll find some of the most beneficial foods that can help fight inflammation and reduce the impact of allergic reactions and food sensitivities.
Foods Rich In Probiotics
If you’re dealing with eczema and looking for an anti-inflammatory diet, you should consider searching for probiotic foods at your local grocer. These foods are loaded with healthy bacteria that aid in digestion and promote gut health through the gastrointestinal tract.
To get a healthy supply of probiotics, there’s no need to scour the supplement aisle of your health food store. Instead, look for these regular probiotic produce and food items at your grocer:
- Yogurt (Plain, Greek, or Balkan)
- Miso soup and bone broth
- Sweet potatoes
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There’s a ton of scientific literature supporting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Two key benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are that they fight inflammation throughout the body and support the body’s immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in fatty fish including sardines, tuna, and salmon.
Dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil pills have been shown to support a range of skin conditions and chronic diseases that produce inflammation, including psoriasis.
To get your daily dose of omega-3s, you can take a supplement or eat one serving of PUFA-rich foods. If you choose the latter, all you’ve got to do is eat flax meal or other foods rich in omega-3s. Alternately, you could start cooking with extra-virgin coconut oil for its omega-3 content.
Luckily there are plenty of delicious foods available at the grocery store that have anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the foods with the strongest anti-inflammation profiles include fruits like apples, cherries, and phytoberries, and vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and bok choy.
Try integrating more foods with anti-inflammatory flavonoids into your diet and slowly cut back on your consumption of inflammatory trigger foods. Make subtle changes over the course of a month or two and take note of how your skin reacts over this period.
Foods you might want to avoid
Everybody’s different, and no two people’s eczema will react the same way to dietary triggers. However, to be on the safe side, consider augmenting your diet to exclude certain high-risk foods that many eczema patients avoid.
If you need a place to start with your elimination diet, consider carefully eliminating the following foods (one-by-one—never all at once) from your diet:
- Sugary sodas, candies, and pastries
- Dairy products and eggs
- Fast food
- Processed foods
- Foods high in trans fats (e.g., margarine)
- Soy, birch pollen, and soy lecithin
- Nuts and some legumes
There’s no one-size-fits-all elimination diet for eczema. However, if you eat a vitamin-rich diet loaded with vegetables, probiotics, and non-processed foods, you may see improvement in the quality of your skin.
The Benefits of an Eczema Diet
When you improve your diet for eczema, the benefits don’t stop there. Many plant-based, antioxidant-rich diets that improve the symptoms of eczema can also help manage other, unrelated disorders such as:
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Hay fever
- Chronic inflammation
- Autoimmune diseases
To reap the benefits of proper nutrition, experiment (within reason) with the foods you eat. You may try implementing an egg-free diet, gluten-free diet, or a Mediterranean diet, and pay close attention to the way your body responds, either negatively or positively.
Take control of your dandruff
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The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have about the information contained herein, as well as the risks or benefits of any treatment.