After years of working with atopic dermatitis or eczema (now officially identified as Atopic Eczema/Dermatitis Syndrome), here is my list of 12 foods that have the ability to affect the skin:
- Wheat and wheat gluten
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts (almonds, pecans, peanuts, tree nuts, macadamia nuts)
- Shellfish (shrimp, lobster)
- Mustard seed
- Chemicals — colourings, food additives, stabilizers
Why these foods?
Foods 1 – 10 are actually foods that can contribute to allergic reactions. These reactions can be slow (inflammation, itching, redness, uneven skin textures, decreased moisture in the skin) over several days to weeks, or they can be fast (hives, immediate itching, swelling, pain).
Foods 11 and 12 are not essential in our diet, but are a major part of processed foods. Excessive sugars lead to fungus growth that creates rashes and inflammation. Chemicals can be difficult for the body to eliminate as they are more “foreign”.
How do you know which foods are the problem?
- Blood testing for allergies and intolerances is possible through many reputable laboratories such as Genova Diagnostics, Gamma Dynacare, and LifeLabs. Seeing your reactivity on paper can be helpful, and if you have multiple foods that may irritate your skin, it is important to see not only how severe the reaction may or may not be, but foods to prioritize.
- An elimination diet removes a suspected food or foods that are suspected culprits all at the same time, and then at a later time reintroducing them to assess reactions both in your body and in blood work.
This is can be difficult to do, and it is also important to mention that if not done properly, I have seen people become nutrient deficient when they are not eating the right nutrient proportions in their diet throughout this time. That being said, it can be a highly effective tool to assess possible food reactions.
Once you do determine the best course of action and identify which foods may be an issue, it can take up to 8 weeks to see changes in the skin barrier once a food trigger is removed. Sometimes your tissues are very damaged and need a great deal of TLC to get them back to health.
Try your best to be patient and remember that this is all part of improving your skin, little by little.
November is National Eczema month! I will be posting frequently on issues surrounding eczema. Please feel free to share and comment with your thoughts; I would love to hear from you!