*To heal your eczema, you must avoid certain foods that cause allergies which lead to eczema, and fill your body with nutrients full of alkalinity and not acidity. Once you’ve removed these offending foods, your allergic reactions to certain foods will diminish and your eczema will too!
I found it pretty easy to switch up my diet, and started to feel and see the benefits rather quickly. I feel that my lifestyle change has helped support my topical steroid withdrawal process, to make healing easier. Although my healing process has taken some time (I have to always put into account my 26 years of TS use plus chemo), I still feel that changing my diet has helped it along and has probably sped up the process. I feel that going through topical steroid withdrawal is so taxing on the body, and it was my duty to feed my body the highest quality nutrients so that it can use the vitamins and minerals, and convert it to energy towards healing. I feel that if I had ate terribly by continuing to eat acidic and allergy inducing foods, than it would’ve hindered my healing, putting the focus on my body to deal with the aggravating foods instead of taking in the good nutrients and using it to heal. I’ve found eating this way has given me so much more energy, greatly improved my digestion and of course my skin! I find that even my hair has benefited, becoming more strong and shiny. My nails have also become more strong and aren’t prone to breaking as easily as before. I’m usually a stuffy, sneezy, itchy-watery-eyed mess in the springtime, but since following this health model my seasonal allergies have gone away! I also haven’t suffered from colds as easily as in the past, I can get through the “cold season” with virtually never getting sick! If I do happen to catch something, my recovery time is so speedy because I defend my body with strong illness fighting foods, and I boost up my probiotic intake.
The following recommendations will concentrate on dietary strategies for healing eczema, particularly food allergies and how to remove offending foods. If it’s to hard to omit everything at once, then start off small. Over the years, before even finding out this information, I had slowly started omitting foods from my diet. At first red meat, then dairy, then chicken, then processed wheat. I would lessen my amount then soon I would omit them all together. Now I eat and promote a vegan diet. I also eat somewhat wheat free (unless it’s sprouted wheat like Ezekiel bread, and even that is seldom).
Remove highly acid producing foods
Foods like pork, chicken and beef are highly acidic and omitting them will greatly improve eczema.
Foods are two types; alkaline and acidic, referring to the residual ash value of a food (the residue that remains after the food is digested and processed inside the body). Our bodies function best when they are in a high alkaline state with a ph just above 7.00. When the body is at a ph of 7.0 or above, it can easily neutralize acid residues to keep the blood from getting acidic. When there’s even the slightest chance that you could become overly acidic (due to food and lifestyle choices, environment, chemicals etc.) your remarkable body will extract alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium from your cells, bones, teeth and organs to neutralize the acids. This will cause the cells to become acidic, and will become diseased. Our bodies are an alkaline entity, and we need to keep it as such. Flooding our bodies with acidic foods only keep us sick and unable to heal from our illnesses. We need to keep our bodies at a 75% alkaline and 25% acidic state to stay healthy (ideally 80% alkaline and 20% acidic).
Animal flesh also has a high concentration of uric acid, which is close to caffeine in chemical structure and may also have a stimulatory effect. Initially these effects may seem beneficial, but after several months on a high-protein diet, some people begin to feel toxified and arthritic. This is usually because it takes a few months to experience the full effects of the toxic load that comes from the high-protein diet (acid-ash producing foods).
It’s simple to put your body in an alkaline state, just simply eat more alkalizing foods! More leafy greens, wheatgrass, veggies, sprouts, certain fruits, nuts and seeds, certain grains and seaweeds flood our bodies with the vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, phytonutrients, and oxygen that we need to thrive and be at optimal health! Unhealthy cells (like cancer cells) or viruses, bacteria and other nasty microorganisms hate oxygen. They prefer an acidic diet high in animal products, processed and refined foods, and synthetic chemicals.
Removing these foods completely might be difficult at first for some, but if you really limit your consumption to daily, to twice a week, then once a week… before you know it you won’t be eating meat at all! If you do consume meat, make sure that it’s of the highest quality and is organically grown, grass fed, free-range, and free from growth hormones and antibiotics. Just think about it this way, disease can’t thrive in an alkaline state, but an acidic state has all that disease needs to deteriorate the body.
*My fave health guru Kris Karr has some great info all about the acid-alkaline balance that is needed in our bodies to support optimal health.
*Here’s a great article to check out: Plant Foods Provide the Nutritional Building Blocks for Optimum Health by Dr. McDougall
Here’s a basic acidic and alkaline food chart:
Remove all dairy products (cheese and milk):
A common food allergy among those with eczema is dairy, particularly cheese and milk produced from cows. This is because they are acid producing foods and the protein molecules are large and more difficult to digest. I’ve personally avoided them all together, but if you absolutely must consume them, then raw goat & sheep based cheese (the soft kind) and raw goat & sheep milk are acceptable. Goat milk is closest in structure to human milk and is slightly alkaline, and it has less lactose, making it easier for human’s to digest unlike cow’s milk. Both sheep and goat milk contain a greater percentage of medium-chain fatty acids compared to cow’s milk which makes them naturally homogenized and easier to digest aside from the lower lactose content. Although it is a better option, consuming goat or sheep’s milk will still give you the protein casein and growth factors which may have a negative effect on human health.
The best alternative to dairy are non-dairy milks made from rice or nuts. Soy milk should be avoided because it disrupts the mineral absorption in your digestive tract.
Reasons to avoid dairy:
- It makes no evolutionary sense… no other mammal drinks milk after infancy, and definitely not the milk of another species. The only time drinking milk is essential for good health is when we are babies, being breastfed by human mothers. Human breast milk is nature’s perfect formula for human babies because it is rich in good fats like DHA for brain development, but it is relatively low in protein. Cow’s milk has more than three times as much protein as breast milk, because baby cows grow anywhere from 1,500-2,000 pounds, and need a lot more protein. The protein that consistently creates and promotes cancer is casein, which makes up about 87% of the protein in cow’s milk. A diet that contains more than 10% protein (that’s about 50 grams of protein if you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day) can lead to cancer, and Americans eat way more than that (an average of 17% total protein, of which 12 to 13% is animal-based!). Yikes!
- Around 75% of the world’s adults can’t digest milk (lactose-intolerant) and among some populations, such as Native Americans and Asians, the figure is over 90%. Beyond childhood, most people stop producing the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose (the sugar in milk). Dairy can cause all kinds of digestive issues, including gas, bloating, stomach pain and constipation.
- Dairy is high in saturated fat which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
- It is highly inflammatory, which is the root cause of many chronic illnesses. Eczema, allergies, asthma, arthritis, acne, and Crohn’s disease can all be linked to dairy.
- It is full of antibiotics, dioxin and hormones. Even if you are drinking raw, organic milk from a cow who was never injected with the bovine growth hormone, and which the milk wasn’t pasteurized, the milk is still rich in inflammatory and allergy-potential casein (milk protein), and is full of the hormones she produced naturally. Without pasteurization, raw cow’s milk contains human pathogens which are of particular concern to food scientists, including Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria which are especially detrimental to those with compromised immune systems.
- The consumption of dairy increases a hormone called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) that can stimulate malignant cell growth and rapidly reproduce these diseased cells. This increase in this hormone can promote tumors (something people living with cancer can’t afford to have happen).
- As a result of the milking process, cows often have mastitis (an infection of the udder), making dairy full of white blood cells, also known as… pus.
Check out this great, detailed report on Why You Don’t Need Dairy by Juilet Gallatley
One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to omitting dairy from one’s diet would be, “where will I get my calcium and protein from?”
The best plant based calcium sources comes from dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens and turnip greens. About 30% of dairy calcium is absorbed whereas about 60% of calcium from dark leafy greens is absorbed, that’s double the rate! Other rich plant sources of calcium include beans, almonds, brazil nuts, figs, dates, sesame seeds, chia seeds, broccoli, and fortified nondairy milks such as unsweetened almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk, and rice milk. Check out this list of dairy free calcium sources! There are also plenty of sources for protein found in plants like hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, cooked quinoa, avocado, tempeh, lentils and legumes.
***it’s best to make your own almond milk to avoid added ingredients & preservatives, this way you know exactly what’s going into your plant milk.
Calcium isn’t the only factor, when it comes to bone health. Overall diet and activity levels determine bone health and even calcium needs. Countries with the highest calcium intake have the most osteoporosis, which just shows that there’s more to the bone-health story than just calcium alone.
Vitamin D—which is necessary for calcium absorption and is best obtained from 20 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week during summer months and fortified, nondairy foods or supplements (like this premium mushroom supplement) during winter months—is now being considered the most important nutrient in bone health. Bottom line: A diet rich in plant foods easily meets calcium needs, so dairy is not required.
Here’s some handy pdf files from Kris Carr of “cheat sheets” for plant based protein and calcium sources:
Avoid grains that are considered high-glycemic foods:
High-glycemic grains force a sharp rise in insulin production, as their sugars are absorbed by the intestines too quickly and cause a hormonal imbalance in the body. Examples of high-glycemic grains are corn chips, instant processed grain mixes (i.e., puffed wheat), cakes, pies, pastries, processed breakfast cereals, instant grain cereals, white rice and white flour pastas. Amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet are a few alkaline grains.
Avoid breads containing yeast:
People can have food allergies to bread because breads ferment in our bodies, and become food for germs and fungus that are normally present in the intestine. Germs and fungus will produce alcohol from breads and if you eat a lot of bread, your body can make up to half an ounce of alcohol in your intestine every day! Alcohol is toxic because it interferes with many different enzymes in your body and it particularly has a bad effect on a group of enzymes that are the main workers in the body’s detoxification system. Alcohol also interferes with the activity of key enzymes in the transformation of fatty acids into hormones. This is one of the main reasons why people who daily eat a lot of bread made with yeast or drink alcoholic beverages, may have hormonal imbalances. e.g., severe menopausal symptoms, enlarged prostate….etc., and skin problems (Baker, pp. 30-31).
A long time ago someone figured out that wheat flour could be leavened with some of the residue from the wine-making process, and subsequently the residue from the leavening could be passed on in the dough, some of which could be saved as a “starter” to make more dough. The particular fungus in question constitutes a large fungal family called yeasts. So avoiding breads made with yeast is the best choice to help heal your eczema and to keep the body in perfect working order.
There are other breads out there that cause less food allergies, such as breads made from whole rye and leavened with lactobacillus (friendly bacteria) instead of yeast. Also, try unleavened breads that contain no flour, yeast, sugars or oils, and only include the fiber and germ of the whole grain. They are made from sprouted grains, slightly chopped, molded to a loaf and either sun-dried or baked at a very low temperature. The grains are usually a combination of sprouted spelt, millet, flax, oats, kamut, amaranth or quinoa. The few times that I do eat bread, it’s sprouted bread, and my favourite brand is Ezekiel 4:9 bread.
Remove hydrogenated oils and margarine from your diet.
Hydrogenated oils and margarine have been altered to the point where they are labeled “plastic foods”. In other words, the hydrogenation process has ruined all of the foods nutritional value, and what’s left is this toxic, plastic-like substance that is foreign to the body and which causes a whole host of health issues. These oils are found in processed foods, Crisco and margarine. Avoid them at all costs! Instead use these following healthy oils for your salads or for cooking your meals:
Cold preparation (condiments and salad dressings – 120F/49C): Flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, or walnut oil.
Low heat (Sauces and baking – 212F/100C): Safflower oil, sunflower oil and pumpkin oil.
Medium heat (Light sauteing – 325F/163C): Sesame oil, almond oil or olive oil.
High heat (Browning or frying – 375F/190C): Coconut oil.
*Make sure that these oils of are the highest quality; unrefined, cold-pressed and organic.
- Avoid non-foods – (table salt, alcohol, regular and decaffeinated coffee and tea, regular and diet sodas, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food colorings, additives and man-made synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements, etc.). Avoid enriched flours, even though they may be from organic whole wheat. The word “enriched” means the actual nutrients were stripped from the food and synthetic vitamins and minerals are added in its place.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners – Artificial sugars are chemical additives. They are man-made substances. One of these well known artificial sugars, for example, is composed of three ingredients which are natural, but are never found together in nature in such a combination. It is composed of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, as well as methyl alcohol, also known as methanol. Methanol is a deadly metabolic poison. One of the reasons methanol is so toxic is because the body lacks the necessary enzymes to detoxify it. Its rate of elimination is five times slower than a similar amount of ethyl alcohol, as found in whisky, beer and wine. For this artificial sugar to be eliminated, the body must first convert it to formaldehyde, then to formic acid and ultimately to carbon dioxide. One 12 ounce can of most artificially sweetened soft drinks contain about 10 mg of methanol. With this artificial sweetener found in over 80,000 products today, an individual can easily exceed 100 mg. daily, 13 times the limit recommended by the EPA. (Gold, pp. 25-26). There are other natural sweetener options, and I go for organic raw honey (very healing with antioxidants, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties!), coconut palm sugar and maple syrup. Organic unprocessed sugar cane and stevia are also great choices. Stevia is the juice from the Brazilian shrub, Stevia rebaudiana, and has been used in South America for hundreds of years. It is 30-40 times sweeter than sucrose and and just two drops of the liquid extract equals to one teaspoon of table sugar and is less than one calorie. One teaspoon of finely ground Stevia powder is equivalent to one cup of sugar!
- Avoid soy products (Except as noted below) – Soy products did not serve as food until fermentation techniques were developed. Fermented soy products have been used for many centuries in Asia. Most western soy products aren’t fermented and can cause serious health problems. Among the harmful substances in soy are potent enzyme inhibitors, which block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. Apparently, cooking does not deactivate these enzyme inhibitors, and they can produce serious digestive problems such as reduced protein digestion, chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake, enlargement of the pancreas and cancer. Fermentation deactivates these enzyme inhibitors. Soybeans are also high in phytic acids which block the uptake of essential minerals in the intestinal tract, including such important ones as calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc. Again, only the process of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soy products. It’s best to avoid tofu, soy milk, soy baby formula, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy flour for baking and soy protein that vegetarians often use as a meat substitute. Exceptions: Good soy products are fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso and tamari sauce. Make sure that these products are organic, because soy is one of the top foods that are genetically modified (GMO’s).
**info cred goes to:
Baker, Sidney. (1997). Detoxification and Healing. New Canaan , Connecticut : Keats Publishing, Inc.
Gold, Mark. (1995). “The Bitter Truth About Artificial Sweeteners.” Nexus . Oct./Nov. 1995. PP. 25-28.