Eczema News – Do Elimination Diets Work?

Elimination diets are often tried out at home to see if the child’s eczema improved after eliminating certain foods. The common food allergens for young children are eggs, cow’s milk, soy and wheat and in certain cases, parents may

  • (Scenario 1) eliminate such foods when tested positive in allergy tests, or
  • (Scenario 2) eliminate such foods even when allergy tests didn’t return positive (for many reasons such as suspecting it’s food intolerance which doesn’t show in allergy test or not trusting that the tests are accurate), or
  • (Scenario 3) eliminate such foods without testing for allergies, either because doctors didn’t recommend allergy testing or such facility is not easily available where the family lives.

The question then is whether Scenario 2 and 3 are valid for parents trying out elimination diets for their child. A paper published in July 2015, in the College of Family Physicians of Canada sought to study the papers that have been published on elimination diets, specifically with regard to eliminating eggs and cow’s milk.

Insufficient evidence to support elimination diets

Insufficient evidence to support elimination diets

Result of study: There is insufficient evidence about the benefit of eliminating cow’s milk in unselected patients with atopic dermatitis (AD). Some evidence suggests that egg elimination might benefit those children with AD who are suspected of being allergic to eggs and who are sensitized to eggs.

MarcieMom’s digest on the paper:

#1 Go for allergy testing

I’m a supporter of allergy testing, simply because given that tests are fairly accurate and you can always take a few tests at different development stages of the child to corroborate what he is allergic (or not allergic to), I feel that taking allergy test beats the worry that comes with second-guessing.

#2 Outside-in versus Inside-out

It has been covered in this blog before on the possibility (and doctors are accepting that possibility with more research) that food sensitization can come from outside-in: meaning it is the defective skin barrier that allows food allergens in the air (on the skin) to result in the body being sensitized to the food allergen. It reinforces the importance of protecting the child’s skin barrier with good skincare routine, even from birth for infants at high risk.

#3 Observations can be misleading

Elimination diets rely on observing if there’s any change in the skin/ increase in rashes after consumption of food. However, this can be misleading because (i) allergic reactions may not show up immediately and (ii) prevailing allergens such as to house dust mite can ‘confuse’ the observations because it triggers eczema flares from time to time.

#4 Lesser case for elimination diet

It is mentioned in the paper that40% to 90% of infants with moderate to severe AD are food sensitized based on positive results of skin-prick tests to 1 or more food allergens” but “only 35% to 40% of food-sensitized children with AD have clinical signs and symptoms of food allergy according to multiple double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge studies“. This means that it is more likely that a child will be tested positive to a food that he can actually consume and not trigger a food allergic reaction. As such, it seems to not justify eliminating a food when it is not even tested positive in the first place.

#5 Studies where elimination diets improve eczema

There were two studies mentioned in the paper that reported an improvement in eczema after elimination diet, (i) was eliminating eggs for infants who are sensitized to eggs, and (i) was using hydrolyzed milk.

#6 Elimination diet risks

The risks of elimination diets are

  1. Nutritional deficiency – the paper mentioned that calcium, vitamin D and E were deficient.
  2. Turning intolerance due to elimination – the paper mentioned that early low-dose cutaneous exposure to food allergens leads to allergic sensitization, whereas early oral consumption of food proteins induces immune tolerance. This means that taking a food, suspecting it is an allergen for the child and eliminating it, make it more likely to have a food allergy as opposed to not eliminating that food.

The above is why the medical community generally only recommend elimination diets when tested positive, and after reviewing various test results and understanding the roles that other allergens play. When evaluating all the double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges, only about 6% of the children with eczema had a reaction to the suspected food allergen. It is therefore, more likely than not, that the eczema rash is not due to the suspected food.

What’s your experience in elimination diet? Has it improved your child’s eczema? Do share in the comments especially when many parents are interested in how other eczema families cope with diet.

#SkinishMom Investigates Confusing Citrus on Skin

It was reported end June 2015 that an association (not causal link) was found between the consumption of citrus fruits (grapefruits and oranges) and skin cancer. Key points in these reports were:

  • Increased risk of skin cancer melanoma with drinking orange juice and eating grape fruit
  • Association, not causal
  • Possible (in theory) that psoralens and furocoumarins in citrus fruits make the skin more photo-sensitive
  • Association found from questionnaires filled by about 100,000 health professionals

#SkinishMom looked up Pubmed for more on citrus fruits and got into ‘Citrus Confusion’ – studies seemed in general to point to benefits from citrus fruits, including that of skin cancer protection. Below are the studies:

Citrus Confusion - Is it causing or protecting against skin cancer?

Citrus Confusion – Is it causing or protecting against skin cancer?

  1. Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin – showed that peel consumption, the major source of dietary d-limonene, is not uncommon and may have a potential protective effect in relation to skin squamous cell carcinoma
  2. Hesperetin induces melanin production in adult human epidermal melanocytes -Hesperidin, a flavonoid in citrus fruits, may protect from photodamage if its capacity to increase melanin production in human melanocyte cultures could be reproduced on human skin
  3. Topical hesperidin prevents glucocorticoid-induced abnormalities in epidermal barrier function in murine skin – Hesperidin can stimulate epidermal proliferation and differentiation, therefore protect against the side effects of topical glucocorticoids
  4. Protective effect of red orange extract supplementation against UV-induced skin damages: photoaging and solar lentigines – Red orange extract intake can strengthen physiological antioxidant skin defenses, protecting skin from the damaging processes involved in photo-aging and leading to an improvement in skin appearance and pigmentation
  5. Oral dose of citrus peel extracts promotes wound repair in diabetic rats – showed significant reduction in blood glucose and time to wound closure. Tissue growth and collagen synthesis were significantly higher

It is true though that psoralen (compound in citrus fruits) make the skin more photo-sensitive; there is a treatment for severe atopic dermatitis (eczema) in adults that prescribed psoralen to be taken 1.5 to 2 hours before phototherapy so that the skin will be more sensitive to the light (“PUVA“).

Taken together, #SkinishMom isn’t going to stop taking citrus fruits but always, sun protection please.

#SkinishMom Investigates – Summer Foods and Skin

Summer Foods for Skin-  #SkinishMom.pngThere are quite a few articles out there on what summer foods you can eat in order for glowing skin and #SkinishMom decides to investigate! You can never take for granted that if a food is recommended on numerous health/ beauty websites, it means that it is the summer (super) food to eat for your skin – sometimes it’s just one website copying another. So #SkinishMom compiles the common summer foods and look at what they are recommended for (vitamins, antioxidants) and research Pubmed to see if there is a scientific basis for such recommendations.

For Water

This has been covered in this #SkinishMom column where it’s concluded (based on general dermatologists’ views online and research (or rather, lack of, since no one can earn money from researching water!) that being dehydrated is bad for the skin but excess water does not benefit the skin.

Foods to eat for water during summer is watermelon, cucumber, celery, cantaloupe, tomatoes and strawberries.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is studied to varying extent (meaning: the trial is either small scale, or it may be at higher dosage than in a fruit or for application instead of oral or studied in mice) to:

  • Increase collagen production
  • Protect against damage from UVA and UVB rays
  • Helped skin healing, including pigmentation problems
  • Improve inflammatory skin condition (do you know mice are injected with a pro-inflammatory chemical to create inflammation, then administered an oral supplement to test the results, gasp!)

Summer fruits loaded with vitamin C are citrus fruits, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and watermelon.

Antioxidants

Our skin, being the largest surface of our body, is subject to oxidative stress – from the sun, air pollutants, stress, alcohol and the foods we eat. Free radicals are formed during our body’s natural metabolism and oxidative stress but our skin have antioxidants to balance the free radicals. Intake of antioxidants have been studied to prevent carcinogenesis (formation of cancer cells) and protect cells from oxidative damage (e.g. limit the effects of sunburn). One study showed that sunburn to cells was decreased by antioxidant treatment via (i) protection from free radical and (ii) increasing epidermal thickness.

Foods with antioxidants that are popular during summer are blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Drink up green tea too!

Lycopene

This compound is studied to for collagen production and quite extensively known for its anti-cancer properties for melanoma (along with proanthocyanidins in grape seeds). Together with soy isoflavones, vitamin C, vitamin E, fish oil, lycopene has been studied to induce an improvement in the depth of facial wrinkles after long-term use.

Foods rich in lycopene are guava, water melon, papaya, grapefruit and cooked tomatoes.

Vitamin A

Retinoic acid is essential for skin and bone growth and in the studies, mostly linked with cell development and use in cancer treatment. Be careful about taking too much neonatal vitamin A supplement as it has been studied to be linked to atopy and wheezing in children.

Foods rich in vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins (but these are considered fall vegetables). The case for beta-carotene for skin isn’t so clear in studies though.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E protects skin membrane and guard against UV damage as it has UV absorptive properties.

Avocado, broccoli and tomatoes are foods rich in vitamin E.

Omega 3

Essential fatty acids are essential from the time of our development in our mother’s womb! It’s critical for brain development (our brains are actually quite full of fats!) and for our skin, omega 3 is able to regulate oil production, have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Omega 3 is also studied to maintain our skin (stratum corneum permeability) barrier, inhibit pro inflammatory compounds and elevate our sunburn threshold and promote wound healing.

Experiment different recipes using avocado, chia seeds and salmon! 

Green tea polyphenols

Geen tea polyphenols (GTP) inhibits chemical carcinogen, induced by UV radiation. Green tea being calorie-free is a healthy drink to acquire a taste for.

So this summer, drink enough water and eat some of these summer foods to help protect your skin – sun protection is still a must though!

#SkinishMom

#SkinishMom Investigates Drinking Water for Dry Skin

So, is drinking 8 glasses of water good for skin?

Drinking Water Skin Hydrate

There is little research to back up that drinking more water is going to hydrate the skin, make the skin glow or smooth. The practical reason for this is that research is usually conducted for ‘products’ when they can be patented, thus the lack of research on water. The only research that I can find on Pubmed on water is Effect of fluid intake on skin physiology: distinct differences between drinking mineral water and tap water. The results seemed convoluted though with no clear conclusion.

The conclusion from most dermatologists though is lack of water is bad for the skin but excess water does not benefit the skin.

What happens to Skin when Drinking Too Little Water?

Our body needs water for its organs to function so it will reduce hydrating cells to channel water for essential body functions. The skin will then look duller and wrinkles and pores will be more apparent. However, there is no change to the underlying skin structure but the wrinkles and pores are ‘temporarily’ more obvious when the body is dehydrated. But prolonged dehydration can speed up aging as the skin is persistently drier and more prone to skin irritation as well.

So, does Drinking Water Help with Hydrating Skin?

Water that we drink does not go straight to the skin – it goes to intestines, bloodstream, filtered by kidneys. If you drink excess water, the body will pass it out – it wouldn’t go specifically to hydrating skin cells although water will hydrate all cells in general. To target skin cells, moisturizing is required and avoid doing a list of things that will actually dry your skin such as:

1.     Scrubbing or exfoliating your skin

2.     Drying (instead of dabbing dry) with a towel

3.     Sun-tanning (and not using sunscreen)

4.     Long bath and Hot bath

5.     Using soap

6.     Not eating enough omega 3 (which our diet is generally lacking in, essential fatty acids)

Bottom line – Drink when you’re thirsty.

Signing off SkinishMom, and yes, just remembered that thirst is often mistaken for hunger so I’m drinking up!

Eczema ‘Cure’ Series – Diet

If you’ve been following this blog, you’d know I don’t jump into eczema (miracle) cures. I still don’t.

But as I read journeys of how eczema sufferers are cured, I realized that there are common approaches they take. These may not be THE (or even an) eczema cure but I think there’re certain situations which they may help improve eczema. I hazard a guess and this series is more about a holistic approach to controlling eczema – I suppose you can call it a cure if one approach singularly works well for you!

Now, many eczema sufferers report curing their eczema from eliminating certain foods from their diet, typically these are (i) diary, (ii) wheat and (iii) sugar. Is there a basis for this? Think along with me!

Unusual suspects for Eczema cure

Suspect #1 – Allergy to Diary and Wheat Undetected

This is the most straightforward reason why cutting certain foods from diet heal your eczema – it’s possible that you have an allergy to certain foods but you’re not aware of it. The unawareness could be due to:

  1. You have not taken an allergy test, be it either skin prick test or blood IgE test. Watch the video on allergy testing and #SkinishMom column on why sometimes doctors don’t get you tested (other than the other obvious reason which is they don’t have the facility to test and don’t want to refer you to another doctor..)
  2. Foods like diary and wheat are so prevalent in our diet that you may not notice. Generally speaking the more common something is, the less likely that you can identify it on your own as the trigger for your eczema. That is why although house dust mite is a very common trigger, parents tend to not associate their child’s eczema flare up with it. For common allergens for children of different age, see here (extracted from Professor Hugo Van Bever’s article – Prof Hugo is my co-author for Living with Eczema Mom Asks, Doc Answers!)

Suspect #2 – Food Intolerance or Hypersensitivity not Easily Tested

While allergy testing (for increased blood IgE immunoglobulin) is straight forward, detecting food intolerance or hypersensitivity is a whole different ball game. Even allergist or your nutritionist can be floored by it. For instance, reaction to a food intolerance can be gradual, not necessarily in small amount (unlike allergy) and can be intolerant only when certain foods are in certain state (eg raw versus cooked). Learn more on the differences between allergy and food intolerance.

As such, it could well be that your intolerance reaction is in the form of skin rash but because it is delayed reaction, no doctor has told you that a certain food is the culprit. However, when it is removed from your diet, your skin condition improves.

Here’s an interesting research on how children have tummy ache but didn’t get diagnosed as related to food sensitivity.

Suspect #3 – Gluten Sensitivity comes in Many Forms

Similar to the above, gluten sensitivity can come in many forms – Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Wheat Allergy. While there are tests for celiac disease and wheat allergy, testing for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not straightforward. This could be why many reported their eczema improving after cutting gluten yet they are not tested to be allergic to it.

There has been some (small scale, not conclusive) research suggesting that eczema sufferers tend to have gluten sensitivity which is why cutting gluten has worked for them.

Suspect #4 – Sugar Intolerance

For other eczema patients, cutting out sugar improves their eczema – a possible reason is that they have an intolerance to fructose or sucrose. This is due to the lack of digestive enzyme frutase and sucrase. However, tests for these are more expensive and being in many of processed foods and foods we eat, you may not think of testing for it.

Also cut the soda, read its harmful effects in this Soda and Child series.

Suspect #5 – Milk Intolerance

Similar to above, one could also be intolerant to milk from a lack of digestive enzyme lactase. It’s possible that the intolerance reaction gets triggered from different amounts and therefore, you may not know it’s from milk.

Read also alternative food sources from nutritionist Natalia Stasenko if your child is intolerant to milk.

Suspect #6 – Cutting out Inflammatory Foods

I’m personally very careful about NOT eating inflammatory foods and if your child with eczema is obese too, read tips from nutritionist Rania Batayneh on an anti-inflammatory diet.

The basic concept of inflammatory foods is that these foods promote the production of substances that put stress on our body, being increasingly recognized as the cause of many health conditions which are linked to prolonged inflammation (chronic inflammation). To understand this better, see interview with nutritionist Toby Amidor.

I’m not clear how inflammatory foods directly link with eczema but the general link is that eczema is skin inflammation (rash) and the overall reduction of inflammatory foods may have a greater impact on certain individuals than others (my own guess).

Suspect #7 – Eating Clean

This term ‘clean eating’ is quite ambiguous but generally taken to mean that we don’t eat processed foods, fried foods nor trans fat. There are also people that said once they cut out processed foods, cook and eat healthy, their eczema improved. I’m a big supporter of that, not so much for improving eczema but more for general health. In terms of research that supports doing so, there is a large scale association study that showed children who ate fast food more than 3 times/week are 30% more likely to have more severe allergic conditions. (side point – Prof Hywel Williams who led the study also wrote the foreword for my Living with Eczema book!)

Suspect #8 – Going Vegan

Some eczema sufferers choose to go vegan or cut down on meat. There is a basis for this as explained by dermatologist Dr Cheryl Lee in this post on Diet and Environment on Skin. Animal proteins and sugar are pro-inflammatory and give rise to excess free radicals that damage our body and our skin. My own guess is that some people get affected by animal protein more than others which is why going vegan works wonders for their skin!

Suspect #9 – Being Able to Take Action reduces Stress

This is my own guess – it is known that stress triggers eczema flare-ups (see dermatologist Dr Claudia Aguirre’s interview on Stressed Skin is Skin Deep) and most patients also feel helpless especially when there is no clear trigger or solution offered by their doctor. Being able to take proactive steps to eat healthy, cut sugar or figure out gluten-free recipes may reduce stress and inspire new interest in cooking. So the reduced stress possibly helps the eczema and for more on stress affecting acne, see dermatologist Dr Verallo-Rowell’s interview on Diet and Lifestyle.

Above is my thoughts on why eczema sufferers or parents of eczema children feel that changing diet ‘cured’ their eczema. Did diet change work for you? Share in the comments!

One reader, from Odylique Essential Care shared this post that they compiled from research papers and their infographic (Credit:www.odylique.com)

eczema-diet

#SkinishMom Investigates Coffee for Beauty Skin

Coffee. I have a love and fear relationship to it. 

Not love and hate. It’s impossible to hate coffee. I would sign off with ‘Chill with (Ice) Latte’, ‘Toast to Latte’ instead of XOXO. I’d rather sit in silence with my coffee than talk to my husband, so it’s totally untrue that women need to speak 20,000 words, maybe if they don’t have coffee to sip.

So on Jan 20, there’s a study published in JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute) that if you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day, you’re 20% less likely to get malignant melanoma (skin cancer). So does this conclude coffee is good for skin? Not so fast my fellow coffee drinkers, #SkinishMom knows coffee is diuretic and starts fearing when even a well-known doc said she’s cutting coffee. So, #SkinishMom is here to investigate coffee and SKIN.

Skinish Mom Coffee Skin Health

Top Question – Is Coffee Good for Skin?

No. It’s diuretic, meaning it makes you pee more and takes water from your body, including your skin.

No. It inhibit nutrient absorption, including magnesium, calcium, vitamin B & D, folate,  and iron.

No, its effect on cellulite is temporary. If you’ve read about caffeine products making puffy eyes or cellulite go away, it’s mostly due to temporary constriction of fat cells. Nothing has really changed. (this is from Dr Jessica Krant’s interview and read here for her interview with MarcieMom on face washing).

Yes. It is rich in antioxidants, that fight inflammation and free radicals. (read more from Dr David Katz’ reply on Oprah)

We also want to know – Is Coffee Good for Health?

There’s no point in taking something good for one part of you but kills the others. Remind me of loving the wrong man, but that’s much worse.

More reasons to Love Coffee

Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, depression, non-alcohol related liver disease. Improves fitness endurance, hair growth and memory.

More Fear Coffee factors

Increased risk of high blood pressure (cafestol in coffee beans possiblyraise LDL cholesterol), miscarriage, osteoporosis, anxiety, insomnia and many more from Dr Mercola.

But what’s in Coffee?

Coffee beans apparently is like one complicated super woman. As Mark Hyman, MD said

.. coffee has far reaching effects on the body and needs to be respected as a potent drug.

Coffee has so many biologically active compounds, it’s a lot more than just caffeine. There’s polyphenols, antioxidants, chlorogenic acids, caffeol, phytoestrogens and diterpenes. No one yet know how each affects our body.

This brings me to the next question – what Type of Coffee are we talking?

There’s a HUGE difference between espresso coffee and instant 3-in-1 coffee. The latter is likely mostly unknown chemicals with sugar and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oil) topping the ingredient list, promoting inflammation. And given that per cup, instant premix has less coffee than brewed coffee, whatever anti-inflammatory benefits you think you drink from the antioxidants likely get wiped out by the inflammatory sugar, glucose syrup, frutose syrup and trans fat.

Lastly, this one is no-brainer. Just because something may have protective effect doesn’t mean you go out of your way to do something to test its level of ‘protection’. If an insurance agent tells you you’re covered for critical illness, you don’t go out of your way to eat junk food (or do you?). Here’s the sun protection you should take.

Finally, remember. This study is not a clinical trial, meaning not cause and effect. It’s association. Lots of things are associated with other things.

Signing off with latte,

#SkinishMom

Skin pH with Cheryl Lee Eberting, M.D.– Diet, Environment on Skin

Skin pH interview with skin barrier expert, Cheryl Lee Eberting, M.D.of CherylLeeMD.com

Skin pH interview with skin barrier expert, Cheryl Lee Eberting, M.D.of CherylLeeMD.com

This is the 3rd post of Skin pH series: Read the 1st post on Understanding Skin pH and its Impact here and 2nd post on Overly Acidic and Alkaline Skin here.

We are privileged to have Board Certified Dermatologist Cheryl Lee Eberting, M.D. again for this 5-week skin pH series. Read more on Dr Cheryl Lee here. Dr. Eberting invented the TrueLipids skin barrier optimization and repair technology; a technology that helps the skin to repair itself by recreating its own natural environment.  Dr. Eberting’s expertise in treating eczema  has led people to come from all over the world to seek her care and to the development of a dedicated eczema care clinic online.

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr Cheryl Lee for helping us understand skin pH – what happens in an ideal skin pH 4.6 to 5.6 environment and what goes wrong when it’s too alkaline or acidic. Today we put these knowledge to use on how we can have the right diet and environment for our skin pH!

Diet and Skin pH

There’s quite a lot of websites proposing that we eat more alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables of pH 8 to 10 and less acidic foods of pH 3-4 such as soda and sugar drinks.

MarcieMom: How does what we eat affect our skin’s pH? Do you in your practice recommend diet for eczema kids based on food pH level, or should it be based on anti-inflammatory properties, or whether it had been studied to improve eczema (e.g. omega 3)?

Diet Environment on Skin pH

Dr Cheryl Lee: I don’t recommend diets based on the pH of foods, but rather, I recommend diets that are as close to the way they come out of the ground as possible and I certainly do recommend against the ingestion of any processed foods, drinks and candies.  The body has robust pH buffering capacities that can help to keep the body at an optimal pH.  More important are the effects of oxidation in our diets.  I like to explain it this way; our bodies come with a certain amount of “anti-oxidant juice”.  When we eat processed foods, animal proteins and sugars, our anti-oxidant capacious are called upon and utilized.  When we eat too much of these foods, we exceed the body’s ability to replace the anti-oxidant juice and then the body becomes damaged by the free-radicals and excess sugars that are generated when we over eat or when we eat unhealthy foods.

I think the most important dietary approach we should all take is to limit the ingestion of animal proteins as much as possible.  Animal proteins have been demonstrated to increase rates of carbamylation.  Carbamylation is a metabolic phenomena that happens when we ingest animal proteins. The breakdown products of animal proteins as well urea (this is why I also advise against the use of urea on the skin) in a pro-inflammatory environment that promotes high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more.  Interestingly, a recent study even showed that in people who have an infection of the gut with the H. pylori bacteria are unable to adequately detoxify the heterocyclic amines that are generated when meat is cooked.  The H. pylori infection make the gut unable to detoxify these chemicals and these chemicals lead to gastric cancer.

Excess sugar also leads to something called glycation.  Glycation is what happens with excess glucose and glucose metabolic products permanently bind to fat, proteins and even nucleic acids (in our DNA).  The combination of the excess glucose and the proteins and fats are called advanced glycation endproducs (AGEs) and they are what ‘gunk up the system’ and lead to many pro-inflammatory pathways.

I think it is very important to eat lots of fruits, nuts and vegetables and to limit the intake of sugar and animal protein. Vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12, C and others can be helpful in promoting better food metabolism and in limiting the effects of poor diet.

Environment and Skin pH

Smoking, pollution, water and sun also affects the skin pH.

MarcieMom: Dr Cheryl, can you share with us the main environmental contributors and whether it makes our kids’ skin more alkaline or more acidic? What if there are certain factors that can’t be limited, for instance, the water available.

Dr Cheryl: Lets start with water.  The pH of your particular water supply can be quite variable and can be very alkaline.  I think this might be part of the problem in atopic dermatitis and may be part of the puzzle that is missing.  We (dermatologists) are having our patients take dilute bleach baths that are adding (though ever so slightly) to the alkalinity of the water and the skin.  We do know that the benefits of bleach baths are irrefutable and substantial though.  I have started advising the use of a vinegar-based gel to my patients after their baths.  They apply this gel to all areas that are affected by eczema and then apply their moisturizers or other topical medications right on top.This seems to be very helpful. This pH gel is something that I have filed a patent for and will be on the market next spring.

Another option is to use a vinegar spray.  For this I advise that you mix one part white vinegar (not rice vinegar, not balsamic vinegar) from grain (make sure it is not from wheat if you are allergic to wheat) or apple cider vinegar (preferred) with six parts of water and put it in a spray bottle and spray it on the areas of eczema.  Follow this with your regular moisturizers or medication.  I have also had some of my patients use vinegar baths rather than bleach baths and they too have benefited greatly.

I also want to mention the effects of air quality on eczema and our overall health.  Studies have shown that INDOOR air pollution can have a major detrimental effect on our health and leads to increased rates of asthma and related conditions and to the overall burden of disease.  Chemicals like polyaromatic hydrocarbons (from paints, glues, solvents, cleansers) can increase the rates of many health problems.

I always am sure to use VOC free paint in my home.  If I paint my furniture, I will leave it outside or in the garage for several weeks before I bring it inside.  If you can smell it, then you shouldn’t have it in your house.  When I redid the carpet in my home, I researched every little facet of carpet chemistry and found that an all-wool carpet is probably the safest carpet to have for this same reason.  The newer ‘no-stain’ carpets are bathed in a chemicals that is then baked on to make the carpets resistant to staining.  These chemicals have been shown to be very detrimental to our health as well.

A few more things I do in my home to help the air quality is to be sure to vent the air when I cook (smoke from cooked food is particularly pro-inflammatory and carcinogenic).  I avoid the use of cleaning chemicals in my house too.  I usually will use plain old fragrance-free soap and water, or vinegar, or a little bleach (when someone has the stomach flu) and that is it.  I intentionally avoid the use of antibacterial soaps and household cleaners as they are unnecessary, toxic and actually induce bacterial resistance in our homes and our bodies.

In addition to indoor air pollution, outdoor particulate air pollution is even pro-inflammatory and has been documented to contribute to 22% of the global burden of disease that can be attributable to one’s environmental factors.  A study just came out recently that even correlated exposure to polyaromatic hydrocarbons in air pollution to the rates of Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Numerous studies have also correlated ADHD to eczema and I believe there has got to be an environmental correlation to the increased rates of eczema too.  For years we dermatologists have been schooled on “the hygiene hypothesis” of eczema due to lower rates of eczema detected in children who grew up in rural areas as compared to those who grew up in urban settings.  The thought has been that a rural lifestyle exposes one to more bacterial and parasitic antigens earlier in life and that this was to be somewhat protective.  I believe the hygiene hypothesis is actually the complete opposite and that is should be called something more like the “lack of environmental hygiene hypothesis” as the effects of pollution in our food, air, and water is clearly and irrefutably a contributing factor to countless health problems and most likely to eczema as well.  This concept is very well established from a scientific standpoint, but is lacking in public education.  It is my hope that people with come to understand the role of toxins in their environment and that they may take actions to limit them.

Thank you Dr Cheryl for sharing with us what you practice in your home too! Next week we will continue with understanding what products we can use to get our child’s pH right!

Mom E-votional (Infographic): Our Plate Matters to Our Body

Infographic Health Eating Food Label

EczemaBlues.com 1st Infographic! and what else is worth spending time on other than our food!

I’ve been reading up on food (Dr David Katz’ Disease Proof) and distilled the main points in the above infographic. I started being aware of what I eat when I set out to ‘worship God with my body/strength’ and I thought how to have strength without the right foods. Eczema/not, allergy/not, what we put on our plate matters to our body and the DECISION IS YOURS to make!

Bible verse:

Mark 12:30  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength

God, it’s not easy to eat right all the time!

Takeaway is easy, fast food is fast.

Busy mom and dad, one meal doesn’t kill right?

Help us though to love you God, love the body we have,

love our spouse, our kid,

love enough to make it a point to eat healthy,

putting nutrition NOT junk in our mouth.

Bon Appetit, Lord!

Noone can Force-Feed us, it’s Our Responsibility

Soda and Child series : Impact on Eczema, Allergy

Soda Eczema Allergy

For the past two weeks (here and here), we have explored the Top 10 Bads of Soda for our children. Today, we’d be going into whether soda leads to allergic conditions.

There is actually very little written on this, and I’ve scoured both the web and Pubmed. Thus far, the biggest culprit ingredient linked to eczema, asthma and allergies is Sodium benzoate. This has been covered last week where sodium benzoate is a preservative found in soft drinks, and linked to allergy and behavourial issues.

I only found one study on Pubmed, where 62 children from age 12 months to 13 years were observed for whether restriction in their diet led to an improvement in eczema. Among the restricted foods, soda (11.9%) was the highest, followed in decreasing order by food additives (9.2%), walnut (7.0%), peanut (7.0%), and other nuts (5.9%). When foods were grouped, the crustacean group was the most frequently restricted group, followed by processed foods, nuts, milk & dairy products, and meats.

The observation from the study was that atopic dermatitis/eczema improved for those children which had restricted 1 to 3 food groups, and those that avoided more than 3 groups didn’t showed significant improvement. There may therefore be some impact on restricting foods, but it is not clear nor a causal link directly established through this study.

There are many websites though, through personal testimonies, where various individuals found that removing sugar, caffeine, preservatives and artificial sweeteners from their diets helped. In this case, as there is little nutritional benefit of such ingredients for our children, restricting these ingredients from their diet should be a plus (if not for eczema, for healthy living!).

Soda and Child series : Top 10 Bads of Soda

soda and child health effects

Soda is really bad, opt for plain water for our children!

Last week, we started the Soda and Child series and today, we would continue exploring the other ingredients of soda.

#3 Phosphoric Acid – Phosphorous deplete calcium in the body which is essential for the child’s growth, putting teenage girls at risk of osteoporosis. There are some studies that show that drinking soda is related to drinking less of milk, but this is not very significant.

#4 Acids –The acids in soda contribute to an unnatural acid environment within the stomach and can lead to inflammation of the stomach and duodenal lining. The acids also erode the enamel on the teeth and thus up the risk for tooth decay (plus sugar also cause cavities)

#5 Caffeine –Some soda contains caffeine which stimulates adrenal glands. Colas, diet colas and many soda contain caffeine. Energy drinks which are getting more popular among children and teens also contain caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine, as adults can attest to, make us tremble, lose sleep, stomach upset, increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

#6 Sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate –these are preservatives present in diet sodas which have been linked with allergic conditions and possible irritant to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Studies on rats indicate increase in anxiety and motor impairment after benzoate consumption.

#7 Aspartame – Used in diet soda as a sugar substitute, there are many studies linking aspartame to brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy (from Mercola site). Interestingly, Dr Mercola pointed out that “when aspartame is stored for long periods of time or kept in warm areas it changes to methanol, an alcohol that converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens”.

#8 More on Artificial Sweetener – Below is an interesting extract from a post written by Mark Hyman, MD at Huff Post:

Artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar, activating our genetically-programmed preference for sweet taste more than any other substance.

They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat.

It also confuses and slows your metabolism down, so you burn fewer calories every day.

It makes you hungrier and crave even more sugar and starchy carbs like bread and pasta.

In animal studies, the rats that consumed artificial sweeteners ate more, their metabolism slowed, and they put on 14 percent more body fat in just two weeks — even eating fewer calories.

In population studies, there was a 200 percent increased risk of obesity in diet soda drinkers.

#9 MSG Monosodium Glutamate – MSG is found within the citric acid and has been linked to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s,learning disorders and psychiatric conditions.

#10 Diuretics –Sodas are diuretics which is dehydrating and affects digestion.

These top 10 Bads of Soda, even though studies may not have been conclusive causal links, are enough to stop me, my child and my family from consuming. Is there any impact on allergic conditions? Find out next week.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...