5 Foods to Eat Less & More If You Have Eczema
So, you had another eczema flare-up after a fancy dinner out with your friends. You are not alone; it happens to millions of people every day. Here’s what foods you can stop and start eating to tame your eczema.
Documents on foods that trigger eczema establish that eating foods that turn on your immune system exacerbate the dryness and damage to your skin barrier that comes with a full-fledged breakout. The flare-ups stress your immune system and make your eczema a living nightmare.
The good news is there are things you can do naturally tame your eczema, like being conscious of your diet. This list of foods to eat and avoid is intended to help you manage your eczema and avoid taking that dreaded trip to the dermatologist.
We teamed up with Simple Eats w/ Chef T® in this exclusive blog to create an eczema-friendly smoothie recipe, packed full of anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Histamine Rich Foods
Histamine is a chemical made naturally in your body. This compound is the culprit that turns on the itch switch. If your skin starts to get red and itchy after you eat, then chances are your meal has too much histamine. The good news is that with education and diet management, you can quickly reduce your histamine flare-ups.
There are two ways you can naturally increase the amount of histamine in your body. One is by eating foods that are rich in histamine and second by eating foods that cause your body to make histamine. Some histamine-rich foods to eliminate in your diet are yogurt made from dairy or animal milk, spinach, nuts, avocados, and shellfish.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, foods like citrus, tomatoes, seafood, and egg whites cause your body to make and release histamine, which also turns on the itch switch. You can sub for the losses by eating coconut yogurt, green cabbage and asparagus, and hemp seeds.
Oh hello, inflammation and flare-ups.
The reason why fried foods are harmful to eat if you have eczema is that oils used for cooking are highly processed. These foods tend to have more of the saturated or bad fats like palmitic acid, and not so much of the good anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats such as linolenic acid.
There are plenty of studies out there that show that people who overeat bad fats have an abundance of triglycerides (stored lipids) in their body. This excess of stored fats kicks your immune system into overdrive and may trigger the onset of an eczema flare-up.
Your skin needs fats to look and feel healthy. Overeating bad fats throws off the natural oil balance in your skin, which in turn weakens your barrier and causes your skin to lose water.
We suggest swapping extra virgin olive oil in place of vegetable oil.
When you’re driving home from work after a long and tiresome day, the urge to grab a “quick bite” instead of cooking at home is tempting. Eating all those artificial ingredients in fast food is terrible for your body and inevitably does more harm down the road.
Burgers, chicken nuggets, and french fries are loaded with those bad saturated fats and pumped full of synthetic preservatives like benzoic acid. The fats and human-made preservatives jump-start your immune system and signal your cells to make and release proteins called interleukins that bring on the itch.
In a past blog, we talked about how using beauty products with benzoic acid can cause severe skin and severe eye irritation, redness, and pain. These same side effects and skin issues can occur when eating foods that have sodium benzoate as a preservative.
As good as milk, yogurt, and ice cream are to eat, dairy foods are highly processed and often may be the root cause of your flare-up.
Studies show consuming foods like animal milk can cause your immune system to make and release T-cells in your body. Once activated by your immune system, T-cells start to produce a class of chemical compounds called cytokines, like histamine. From here, the dreaded itch-scratch cycle will prevail.
Another reason to avoid eating dairy, especially milk and ice cream, has to do with the number of sugar additives. Did you know the typical carton of milk contains over 20 grams of sugar per serving? Holy moly! That is an unnecessary and unhealthy amount of sugar to put into your body.
Excess amounts of sugar can cause your body to become insulin resistant, paving the way for inflammation and diabetes. You can easily switch to eating plant-based dairy like coconut yogurt or hemp milk in place animal products—a double win for you and the environment.
There is a good chance that if you drink alcohol, then your eczema flare-ups happen more often than you’d prefer. Why? Alcohol worsens your eczema in many ways, like pulling water out of your body, turning on inflammation, and stimulating your body to make histamine.
When your body sweats alcohol, water comes out too. This loss of water follows with disruption to your natural oil levels and weakening of your barrier. A reduced amount of water and fats in your layers plus a weak wall can cause your skin to lose water from the top.
We don’t have a recommendation here; alcohol damages every organ system in your body. The less you drink, the happier and healthier you will look and feel.
Did you know that hemp is a superfood that contains all of the essential amino acids and omega fatty acids that you need to live? Yay, omega fats, and hemp!
Your skin is a big blubbery shell that needs the proper amount of good fats to maintain hydration, plumpness, and fight inflammation. Having a diet that is high in hemp foods should be your first line of defense against eczema.
Hemp is one of the few foods that has the ideal 1-to-3 ratio of omega-3-to-omega-6 fats. Omega-3 fats are essential warriors your body needs in the battle against eczema. Study after study shows that these fats are anti-inflammatory and keep your skin’s barrier thick, healthy, and hydrated.
Along with omega-3 fats, hemp also has a mixture of anti-inflammatory compounds called cannabinoids. These molecules bind to activate the receptors of your endocannabinoid system, which helps put the brakes on your immune system and keeps the oil and water levels in your skin balanced.
Hemp: no it cannot get you high, so start eating some, pronto.
Eating colorful meals bursting with protein, minerals, and vitamins is always recommended by your doctor or nutritionist. Raw bell peppers are an excellent food to eat if you have eczema. These colorful fruits are chock full of plant-based compounds like chlorophyll, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Talk about an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory party in one bite.
These natural ingredients are great for your body and protect your skin against dehydration and thinning that occurs with a flare-up. When you have eczema, your immune system is chronically active, and your cells consequently consume more oxygen and produce elevated amounts of free radicals. If your diet is deficient in nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin E, your internal defenses are low.
As a result, your body will be able to stop the damage by free radicals, and your skin will lose fats, water, minerals. Then your outer layer will lose water and thin out, making your barrier weak and skin susceptible to tears, open wounds, and infection.
Whew, let’s work on avoiding all that skin damage.
Did you know the nutritional power of pomegranates lies in the seeds? The seeds of pomegranate fruits are full of immune and skin-friendly things like vitamin E and the omega-5 fat punicic acid that thicken your barrier and protect your skin from drying out.
Punicic acid is a potent anti-inflammatory compound found almost exclusively in pomegranate seeds, making up about 80% of the total amount of oils in the seeds. Multiple studies show punicic acid prevents inflammation-induced flare-ups and strengthens your skin.
When you have eczema, the health of your barrier is poor. Adding pomegranate seeds to your diet makes your skin healthier by boosting the number of natural fats in your body.
A plumper protective layer makes your skin resilient to tears and open wounds.
Incorporating ginger to your diet, in addition to foods like hemp that are rich in omega fats, is a great way to boost the diversity of inflammation-fighting molecules in your body. The more resources your body has to fight back against eczema, free-radicals, and inflammation, the better your chances of preventing a full-fledged itch-scratch episode.
Eating ginger also helps your body to reduce the levels of cholesterol and digest food quicker. These benefits make it easier for your body to distribute and deliver nutrients to your skin and other vital organs.
A lovely trio of skin, heart, and gut benefits come with eating ginger.
Last but certainly not least are the berries. Not only are they berry yummy, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are yet another way to introduce those colorful immune-boosting nutrients to your body and skin.
Berries contain a boatload of different types of compounds that help your body fend off damage from free radicals and inflammation, similar to the omega-3 fats and terpenes we talked about before. Yay, for colorful plant nutrients!
Get some berries in your belly.
Food for Thought
You are what you eat—especially when battling a chronic inflammatory skin condition. What you put in your body is just as important to consider as what you put on your body.
Your skin is the medium through which your external and internal environments communicate, so you need to make sure the foods you eat are in the purest form. We suggest plant-based meals, free of additives and artificial sweeteners.
You should also get in the habit of tracking your diet and flare-ups. You can always consult with a nutritionist or personal chef if you need help managing your eczema by diet.
Simple Eats DIY - Spiced Coconut Ginger Smoothie
Please enjoy this fantastic simple smoothie recipe created by Simple Eats w/ Chef T® packed with essential nutrients that can help with chronic inflammatory issues like eczema.
Focusing on specific anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as the ones in this recipe below, can help with preventing eczema flare-ups. The goal is to eat with purpose so that you give your body what it needs so that it can continue to heal itself over time. Make sure to be consistent with the necessary changes that you choose to make.
Remember, keep your meals simple and fun!
COCOYO Living Coconut Yogurt: is vegan, gluten-free & non-GMO. It’s a perfect substitute for dairy or anything that may contain nuts. Each jar includes probiotics to help support healthy digestion.
Oat milk: besides being plant-based, it’s a good substitute for your nut milk, especially for those who are allergic to nuts or seeds.
Sweet potato: is high in potassium & contains tons of beta carotene, which helps to maintain healthy skin, eyes, as well as our immune system.
Hemp seeds: are a complete source of protein, and contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which is vital in the battle against eczema.
Spiced Coconut Ginger Smoothie
- Recipe Serves: 2-3
- 8 oz COCOYO Living Coconut Yogurt
- 8 oz oat milk
- 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger (or fresh)
- Hand full of Ice
How to Make Your Smoothie
- All of your ingredients should be placed in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Serve in your favorite wine glass or any cup of your choice.
- If the smoothie is too thick, add more oat milk or water to thin out .
You have two options when it comes to the sweet potato purée.
- Make it from scratch by baking or boiling your sweet potato, remove the skin, and then transferring it to a blender or food processor to purée until smooth.
- Or you can purchase a can of puréed sweet potatoes from Whole Foods, Walmart or even your local grocer. Make sure what you’re buying contains no added additives or sweeteners.
Kitchen Equipment Need ed
- Food Processor
- Wine Glass