Did you experience any eczema flare ups recently during your festive feasting?
Have you noticed that during festive seasons especially when there is a lot of food and staying up late to catch up with friends and family, also coincides with eczema flare ups?
You most likely have indulged in F.R.E.D.G. Foods. It’s an acronym for:
F – Fried foods
R – Refine sugar
E – Eggs
D – Dairy products
G – Gluten
Note however, that food triggers are different for different people.
Fried Food is a culprit for eczema flare ups because they are often fried in inflammatory oils, contain artificial flavouring and laden with salt or MSG. The common ‘healthy vegetable’ oils like Canola or Rapeseed oil, Sunflower, Safflower oil are all inflammatory oils. Also, fried foods are most likely breaded with gluten which adds to the list of ingredients that people with sensitive, eczema prone skin should keep away from.
However, if your skin condition has been well managed and you have been disciplined in making wise food choices all year, perhaps a small treat will do little harm. Even then, it’s best to choose a lesser evil eg. air fried, less salt, gluten/artificial flavour/colouring-free etc.
Refined Sugar. Meaning any sugar that has been overly processed. Brown and white sugar are both the same thing. White sugar is white because it has gone through a bleaching process. When molasses is mixed to white sugar, the end product is brown sugar. Brown sugar is not an alternative, neither a healthier sugar!
If a food label reads sugar, white sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, organic sugar, sucrose, date sugar, avoid them. Sugars with healthier sounding names like dehydrated cane juice, dehydrated or concentrate fruit juice (Grape, Apple) are not better sugars.
Corn and maple syrup, malt syrup, maltose, rice syrup, sorghum syrup, golden syrup, buttered, caramel and carob syrup, fruit juice crystals are refined sugar ‘in disguise’. As are other more scientific names for sugar like ethyl maltol, fructose, galactose, glucose, glucose-fructose, glucose solids, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), maltodextrin, dextrose, dextran lactose, diatase and diatastic malt.
There appears to be a link between eczema inflammation and the level of blood sugar level. Too much sugar can also aggravate other skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and acne. When you consume processed sugars and simple carbohydrates, insulin levels spike which subsequently increases inflammation of the skin. Therefore, you end up experiencing an increase in flare ups if you already have a skin condition eg. Eczema, psoriasis and acne.
So in general, keep to a low sugar diet. Fret not, but read on to find out healthy sugar alternatives at the end of this article, especially if you love to cook or bake.
Consider these in replacement of white sugar but here’s a word of caution. Even though these sweeteners are more beneficial for your health than processed sugar, consume them in moderation.
1. Pure raw honey is not only great because it is a natural sweetener, but it also contains amino acids, electrolytes, antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds, which supports overall health. Honey helps reduce allergy symptoms and is known to be a natural medicine in many traditional cultures.
2. Stevia is a no calorie, natural sweetener that comes from leaf of a flowering plant. Green leaf stevia helps if you struggle blood sugar issues, obesity or have diabetes.
3. Dates are great because it is not actually sugar but high fibre food that is rich in potassium, minerals, and vitamins. The fibre in dates actually slows down sugar absorption in your body.
4. Coconut sugar. Organic, unrefined, coconut palm sugar is great for baking because it has the equal 1:1 cup of regular sugar. It is full of potassium, electrolytes, nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index.
5. 100% organic, real maple syrup which is thicker and darker in colour, is another great sugar alternative to use in recipes.
Eggs. Much controversy surrounds the humble egg. Egg whites are supposedly healthier than the yolk for some health reasons but not in the case of eczema because it contains lysozyme. This protein digs through the intestine lining creating ‘leaky gut’ (intestinal permeability) which allows toxins, food particles and bacteria into the blood stream resulting in an imbalanced immune system causing flare ups. As such, avoid eggs. Do a mental check now if what you have indulged during this festive holidays included foods containing refined sugar, eggs and are deep fried.
Dairy Products. This is also related to leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Lactose, which is a sugar found in dairy products causes havoc in the immune system by breaking through the intestinal lining allowing bacteria, toxins into the blood. Even dairy that comes from camel, goat, sheep are to be avoided because they still contain lactose. Milk, yogurt or any dairy products that are highly processed and contain artificial flavours are suspects for your eczema flare ups.
Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein in certain grains, namely wheat, barley, and rye. We consume them in bread, pasta, cereals, beer, cakes, cookies and pastries. Wheat is added into all sorts of processed foods that it is hard not to find them. Gluten is what makes bread chewy so it does not crumble, and cakes to rise.
Eczema’s association with gluten sensitivity is not an obscure one and many studies have been conducted. In these studies, the gluten-free diet helped some eczema patients control their symptoms but are not conclusive. In short, gluten is also a prime culprit for eczema flare ups because it increases intestinal permeability or leaky gut causing immune system disorders. There are now whole new sections in super markets catering to ‘Gluten-Free’ products. Word of caution here is not to just replace your consumption with gluten free foods but to go for naturally gluten-free foods. Gluten-free junk food is not healthy junk food, if there is such a thing! These tend to be low in nutrients and high in added sugar or refined grains, fried with inflammatory oils.
Naturally gluten-free grains include:
• arrowroot and
There are also plenty of healthy whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, some of these are:
• Free Range Meat
• Wild Caught Fish and Seafood
What to do when you have flare ups
If you suspect that you have food allergies or sensitivities, consult your family doctor. Doing a skin allergy test or keeping a food diary can be very helpful to see if eczema flares correspond with any specific food triggers.
It is also important to note that being eczema free is a multi-pronged approach, there is no evidence that eliminating any food alone will completely clear up eczema.
Using topical applications can help in relieving the itch, dryness and pain of skin conditions but be sure to choose natural products that do not contain synthetic colouring, fragrances, preservatives and petrochemicals.
Bio-Active Pure Emu Oil from Emu Tracks penetrates skin easily to fight skin inflammation while it moisturise and nourish. Emu Oil derived from the Australian emus has been used effectively by aborigines for centuries to treat skin ailments.
Anti-inflammatory supplements boosts your immune system by providing your body with EFAs (essential fatty acids) that your body needs but cannot produce on its own. Emu Tracks Emu Oil Capsules contains Omega 3,6,9 & K2 to help your body combat inflammation.
If you are into herbal remedies, Down To Earth’s Potato Cream derived from South Africa’s potato herb is a well-known medicinal tradition for providing soothing relief from skin ailments. Rich in phytosterol content, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
You can also order the above items from qoo10.sg/shop/ilovenatural
Cautionary Note: The recommendations and advice in this article is for information only. They should not be taken as medical or expert advice and should not be used as diagnosis for any medical conditions. Readers who exhibit symptoms written here should consult a healthcare professional.