Eczema Tips

Best of 2012 MarcieMom Eczema Twitter Tips – On Hygiene, Nutrition & Lifestyle

Last but not least, the Best of 2012 MarcieMom Eczema Twitter Tips would also include tweets on hygiene, nutrition and lifestyle! I’m passionate about these – prevention of staph infection through good hygiene and prevention of diseases and obesity through healthy eating and living! Also tons of gratitude to world renowned experts who help me in these topics!

110 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Apply chlorhexidine to clean staph bacteria before applying steroid and moisturizer

Marcie’s doctor, Prof Hugo van Bever, told me about staph bacteria and advised using chlorhexidine. And I’m much honored to have Dr Clay Cockerell, board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist in U.S and ex-president of American Academy of Dermatology in this Staph Bacteria Series.

Dr. Clay Cockerell – Board-certified Dermatologist and Dermatopathologist

136 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Swimming is part of healthy lifestyle for kids and can help to remove harmful bacteria on eczema skin

Another health authority that has helped in this blog is Dr Sears Lean team. Dr Sears is possibly the most well-known pediatric doctor in the US and I’m honored that his team helped out in this Dr Sears L.E.A.N series.

108 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Avoid obesity in kids as this is associated with eczema

201 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Sugar is inflammatory, avoid inflammatory foods

I’m honored to have registered dietitian, Toby Amidor, to help out in this Eczema Kids’ Nutrition Series.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN (picture credit:

242 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Kaempferol, phytonutrient can reduce allergic reactions

Another nutritionist I’m very honored to work with is Julie Daniluk. Julie is passionate about meals that heal inflammation, and shares much on nutrition on her numerous TV and radio shows. Read here for her healthy recipes.

Julie Daniluk – TV Host & Nutritionist (picture credit –

265 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Don’t limit choice of sports for kids, of greater importance is skin care and applying creams correctly 

Another doctor I had the chance to work with is Dr Lynn Chiam, a consultant dermatologist who is very willing to share her insights with parents of eczema children. Read her Teen Eczema series and Facial Eczema series.

Dr Lynn Chiam, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions

286 of 366 MarcieMom Eczema Tip – Your jewelry & cosmetics may be causing facial eczema 

AAhhh… a wonderful year of 2012 and blessings to all eczema families!

Guest Interview

Julie Daniluk’s Healthy Recipes with Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients

Julie Daniluk Healthy Recipes with EczemaBlues

Julie Daniluk RHN, nutritionist, hosted Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network and had also appeared on numerous TV and radio shows including The Dr Oz Show, CTV’s Breakfast TV and Wylde on Health (CP24). She has 3 award-winning best sellers, including Meals that Heal Inflammation that features a practical nutrition guide, menu plan and 130 easy and delicious recipes.

Children with eczema, like all other children, need healthy food to grow. Lack of sleep and the constant struggle with eczema may have affected your child’s growth and thus, it’s even more important to ensure a healthy diet. MarcieMom is privileged to be given permission to feature recipes of Julie Daniluk, and have selected nutritious recipes whose ingredients are anti-inflammatory and available in Singapore. This was originally posted as a 5-week series and consolidated into a single post featuring all 5 recipes.

Broccoli Seaweed Salad

JD Broccoli Seaweed Salad
Take care not to overcook the broccoli, so that it maintains some crispness and more of its nutritive value Picture credit:


  • 1 cup hijiki or thinly cut wakame seaweed
  • 1 cup large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp hemp or flax oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tsp umeboshi plum paste or ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

1) Place seaweed in a bowl and cover with water; let stand.

2) Sauté onions in olive oil, in a covered saucepan over low-medium heat, until they are translucent. Combine water with the onions and cook for 5 minutes.

3) Add broccoli, stir, and cook covered on low heat for approximately 10 minutes, until the broccoli is heated through, but still a vibrant green colour.

4) Remove the pot from the heat. Drain the soaking water from the seaweed (you can save it for a soup stock).

5) Transfer the veggies and softened seaweed to a large bowl.

6) In a mason jar mix the flax or hemp oil, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, umeboshi plum paste, ginger. Shake well until blended and pour over veggies.

Makes 4 servings

MarcieMom: Broccoli’s Benefits include reducing inflammation and allergic reactions!

I looked up broccoli and here are some fast facts & benefits of eating broccoli!

  1. Source of  vitamin C (aids iron absorption), vitamin A/ beta-carotene (anti-inflammatory), folic acid, calcium (for bone), protein, Omega-3 and fibre
  2. Contains sulforaphene, a type of isothiocyanates/phytochemical, that reduces cancer/ tumours and helps repair skin from damage
  3. Best consumed as whole foods versus supplements (study showed supplements lacking in an enzyme that is required for better absorption by body)
  4. Best lightly cooked as cooking till soft would have destroyed most of the enzymes
  5. Contains soluble fibre that is able to reduce blood cholesterol
  6. Source of kaempferol, a phytonutrient that can reduce allergic reactions

Healthy Vanilla Sesame Milk

Sesame is one of the richest sources of plant sterols. Recent studies confirm that raw honey nourishes the nervous system and stimulates immune function.  Picture credit:
Sesame is one of the richest sources of plant sterols. Recent studies confirm that raw honey nourishes the nervous system and stimulates immune function. Picture credit:


  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) sesame seeds, soaked
  • 4 cups (750 mL) filtered water
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL raw honey)
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)

1. Soak the sesame seeds in a bowl for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Blend the soaked sesame seeds with the water until smooth (approximately 2 minutes).

3.Pour the mixture through a strainer into a large bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. (Save the sesame pulp in the refrigerator or freezer for later use—it can be added to porridge or soups to increase the nutty flavor of any recipe.)

4.Pour the sesame milk back in the blender, add the vanilla, pinch of sea salt and raw honey, and blend until smooth.

This milk will last in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days. Shake well before using.

Makes 3 cups of Milk and 1 cup of Sesame paste

Marcie Mom: I’m excited about this recipe because a local nutritionist has also just recommended me to give my toddler (Marcie) sesame paste, particularly after she heard that Marcie doesn’t drink milk formula. So, I’m excited to read up on the benefits of sesame and beware, I’ve vested interest because I’ve already been giving Marcie sesame paste for a month!

Sesame – Benefits include anti-inflammation + rich source of calcium!

  1. Source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, selenium, zinc, protein, folic acid and fiber
  2. Contains sesamin and sesamolin associated with lowering cholesterol, liver damage prevention and anti-inflammation
  3. Contains magnesium associated with reduction of airway spasm in asthma patients
  4. Rich source of phytosterols, i.e. plant compounds that lowers cholesterol and regulates immune responses
  5. Source of copper which is anti-inflammatory and able to activate enzyme that builds collagen and elastin
  6. Some may be allergic to it, check for cross-reactivity and buy from trusted source that takes care not to mix with nuts during production

Holiday Pumpkin Rice Pudding

A satisfying recipe that combines the richness of pumpkin and coconut milk to be eaten all day! Picture credit:
A satisfying recipe that combines the richness of pumpkin and coconut milk to be eaten all day! Picture credit:


  • 3 cups (750 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (75mL) coconut milk (“light” if you want to reduce calories)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) short-grain brown rice
  • Pinch of grey sea salt or pink rock salt
  • 1/3 cup (85 mL) currants or cranberries
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) hemp seeds
  • 1 cup (250 mL)  pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup (63 mL)  honey
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  1. Bring water, rice and salt to a boil in an uncovered pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.
  2. Add currants and cinnamon. Cook on low for another 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  3. The rice should be very creamy.
  4. Remove from heat. Fold coconut milk, vanilla, hemp seeds, pumpkin puree and honey into pudding.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon. If desired, sweeten more with a drizzle of honey and add crunch with nuts or seeds.

Makes 8 servings

MarcieMom: Pumpkin’s Benefits include Anti-Inflammation & Low Calorie-d!

Pumpkin is one of the first solid foods that I gave my baby and I’m excited to know it can be incorporated into a rice pudding for the entire family! Some quick facts and benefits of pumpkin:

  1. Source of  Vitamin A, B-complex, C, K and E, antioxidant carotenoids (alpha and beta-carotenes), protein, essential fatty acids, minerals including magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and fibre
  2. Source of carotenoids which help to reduce free radicals, prevent pre-mature aging and protect the eyes
  3. Good source of phytosterols that can help reduce blood cholesterol
  4. Due to low calories per weight, recommended for weight reduction
  5. The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, and anti-inflammatory too! (studied in reducing arthritis)

Krispy Kale

Kale chips make a perfect replacement for potato or corn chips when you are having a craving  Picture credit:
Kale chips make a perfect replacement for potato or corn chips when you are having a craving Picture credit:


  • 2 heads (10 cups/2.5 L) green curly kale, washed, large stems removed, torn into bite size pieces
  • ‘Cheese’ Coating:
  • 1 cup (250 mL) cashews, (soaked 2 hours)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sweet potato, grated
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced (about 4 tbsp/60 mL)
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) honey
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) grey sea salt or pink rock salt
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) filtered water

1. Place kale in a large mixing bowl.

2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth and thick. You may have to open the lid and scrape down the sides to ensure proper mixing.

3. Pour over kale and mix thoroughly with your hands to coat the kale. You want this mixture to be really glued on to the kale.

4. Place kale onto parchment paper and dehydrate for 6 hours at 115 degrees F. You’ll need to use two trays. If you don’t own a dehydrator, set your oven to 150 °F (65 °C) and dehydrate for 2.5 to 3 hours.

5. Remove and store in a dry airtight container.

Makes about 6 cups (1.5 L)

Marcie Mom: I‘m amazed that kale can be made to chips! Kale seems to be one of those foods that I keep coming across in magazines, especially, when it’s talking about healthy foods or food that is good for the heart. So once again, I did a little ‘digging’ on its benefits!

Kale – Benefits include anti-inflammation + rich source of vitamins!

  1. Source of Vitamins A, B6, C, K, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, folic acid and fiber (best part – no fats!)
  2. Source of antioxidants (carotenoids, flavonoids) that is associated with protection against cancer, including kaempferol and quercetin that helps reduce oxidation and chronic inflammation
  3. Anti-inflammatory food that contains omega-3, see this post to learn more on inflammation
  4. Contains fibre that binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly when kale is steamed
  5. Buy organic – it’s assessed by Environmental Working Group to be part of Dirty Dozen Plus, due to its insecticide content
  6. Best to be eaten at separate times from consuming calcium, as Kale contains oxalates that can impede calcium absorption

Warming Quinoa Muesli


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup rolled quinoa
  • Sprinkle with your choice of:
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4-cup raisins
  • 10 chopped almonds

1) Boil water in a medium sauce pan. Add rolled quinoa and stir for 90 seconds. Distribute the hot cereal evenly between 2 bowls (or put one cooled portion in an airtight container for the next day).

2) Mix in the spices, nuts, honey and salt until evenly distributed.

3) Tip for on the run: This cereal is perfect for a portable meal at work or school. Simply add all the ingredients to a wide mouth thermos and enjoy when you get to your destination. Note: For extra creaminess, serve with almond milk.

Makes about 2 servings

Marcie Mom: I’ve heard so much about quinoa and really interested to find out more ways to cook it for my girl!

Quinoa – Benefits include anti-inflammation + rich calcium content!

  1. Source of Vitamin B and E, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, protein (containing 9 essential amino acids), folic acid, zinc and fibre
  2. Source of antioxidants, including kaempferol and quercetin, that help reduce oxidation and chronic inflammation
  3. Anti-inflammatory food – Contains anti-inflammatory phyto-nutrients, manganese, copper, omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  4. Good source of calcium – for healthy bones, teeth and skin!
  5. Source of riboflavin, magnesium that helps reduce migraine by improving oxygen supply to brain
  6. Reduces cholesterol and reverses effect of high fructose diet, see study here
  7. High insoluble dietary fibre content can help prevent formation of gallstones
  8. Contains lysine that aids tissue repair
  9. Rinse before cooking quinoa and best part – cooking doesn’t significantly reduce its nutrients
  10. Gluten-free!
Guest Interview

Friday Q&A with Julie Daniluk – Foods in Spotlight – Green Beans, Mushroom, Seaweed and Bok Choy

ulie Daniluk Foods in Spotlight with EczemaBlues

Julie Daniluk RHN, nutritionist, hosted Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network and had also appeared on numerous TV and radio shows including The Dr Oz Show, CTV’s Breakfast TV and Wylde on Health (CP24). She has 3 award-winning best sellers, including Meals that Heal Inflammation that features a practical nutrition guide, menu plan and 130 easy and delicious recipes.

After reading Julie’s recipes, Marcie Mom discovered that some readily available foods in Singapore are of high nutritional value but we may not have thought of giving them to our kids! Thus, I caught up with Julie to find out the nutritional benefits of these foods and knowing how nutritious they are will certainly motivate us to cook for our kids! This was originally posted on 4 Fridays, but had since been combined into one more info-packed post.

Julie Daniluk Well known nutritionist book meals that heal inflammation
Julie Daniluk – Nutritionist (picture credit –

Shiitake Mushroom

What are the nutritional benefits of Shiitake Mushroom?

Julie: Shiitake mushroom is a tasty and nutritious fungi, that has been studied and also associated with protecting our body against toxins, in particular our liver. Other benefits include:

  1. Protecting against flu – This is due to the compound known as Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) which can improve our immune response after exposure to flu virus.
  2. Protecting against adverse effects of cancer treatments – This is credited to polysaccharides which can reduce the immune-compromising effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation. Also helps improve liver function and recovery from treatment.
  3. Protecting against hypertension – The rich source of potassium in shiitake mushroom helps to regulate fluid and blood in our system.
  4. Protecting against high blood cholesterol – A compound eritadenine helps to lower blood cholesterol.
  5. Protecting against bacteria in contaminated food – This is credited to an active compound, lentinan, that has anti-bacterial properties against food-borne pathogens.
  6. Protecting against osteoporosis – This is due to its vitamin D, that reduces likelihood of osteoporosis and improves calcium absorption.
  7. Shiitake mushroom also has Vitamin B, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, copper, zinc, protein and magnesium.

How Much Shiitake Mushroom can a Child take?

Julie: A child dosage of remedies is based on weight. If they weigh 40 pounds it would be a 1/3rd to what an adult would have.

Is there significant loss in nutrients if cooked?

Julie: In general, water soluble vitamins are lost in cooking but some fat soluble nutrients like pro-vitmain A is increased by cooking! Shiitake mushrooms should be cooked as they are easier to digest.

Is Shiitake Mushrooms Anti-Inflammatory Food?

Julie: Shiitake mushrooms are certainly an anti-inflammatory food!

Marcie Mom: Thanks Julie, I have been cooking shiitake mushroom in chicken broth with celery for my toddler to scoop the chewy mushroom onto her wrap. She’s been having fun eating mushroom and kept thanking me for it! I’ve also found other mushroom recipes online:

Nori Seaweed

What are the nutritional benefits of Nori Seaweed?

Julie: Sushi is a popular food and while there’re many nutritional benefits of the nori seaweed, do note not to over-consume the white rice as it is high in sugar content. Brown rice, or non-rice options, wrapped with nori seaweed will be a healthier option! Nori Seaweed contains about one-third protein and 1/3 dietary fibre, with a good content of Vitamins A, Bs, C, E, K, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Benefits of these nutrients include:

  1. Reducing risk of Type 2 Diabetes – Nori contains iodine that can reduce insulin resistance and allow glucose into cells to be used for energy. This manages the blood sugar level and reduces the work load for our pancreas.
  2. Reduces risk of tissue degeneration – Nori contains Vitamin A, that has been associated with the prevention of tissue degeneration, in particular in our eyes and our lungs.
  3. Reduces time for skin healing – Nori contains Vitamin C that is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, able to improve wound healing and reduce inflammation in our body and on our skin.
  4. Reduces blood cholesterol – Nori is high in niacin, which can reduce LDL cholesterol, particularly in Type 2 Diabetes sufferers. Through its increased metabolism of triglycerides (fats), fats can be reduced on the arterial walls and blood stream.
  5. Relieves headaches and muscle cramps – Nori is high in magnesium, which can reduce muscle cramping and relaxes small arterial and skeletal muscles in the head and neck.

Nori Seaweed Reduces Time for Skin Healing

(ii) A study published in the 2009 issue of the “Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health” indicates that seaweed presented a relatively low quantity of mercury in the Korean diet, where seaweed is eaten frequently — 0.02 mg per person per day compared with the 1.8 mg per person per day from seafood, considered to be the greatest mercury risk. The small risk might be mitigated by the health benefits of seaweed, however. Evidence available in the February 2004 “Veterinary and Human Toxicology” journal correlates the consumption of seaweed with antioxidant protections that can ward off neurological damage caused by mercury.

Read more:

How much Nori Seaweed can a Child Eat?

Julie: I think ½ sheet of nori per day would be healthy for school age children as long as it is from a clean source. Eden foods tests their seaweed for contaminants.

Here is an excellent study on Thyroid Research Journal

MarcieMom: Thanks Julie, I’ve started giving my toddler Nori seaweed, within her shiitake mushroom wrap but sometimes, she stuff the seaweed strips in her mouth and laughs about it! (and half of it fell off!). Will continue looking into ways to incorporate Nori in her diet! Some recipes I’ve found –

Homemade Seaweed Snacks – by Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

Bok Choy

What are the nutritional benefits of Bok Choy?

Julie: Brassica chinensis, better known as Bok Choy, is a member of the Chinese cabbage and its chinese name ‘白菜’ meant ‘white vegetables’. Bok Choy is a good source of sulforaphane, calcium, beta-carotene, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, Vitamins A, B-complex, C, K and fibre. Benefits of some of these nutrients are:

  1. Prevents cancer – due to a compound, sulforaphane, that can prevent cancer cells from multiplying
  2. Reduces risk of osteoprorosis and hypertension – credited to its high calcium content, sufficiently high to be an alternative to diary and it’s more easily absorbed into the body
  3. Aids eyesight development – pregnant women and infants especially, can benefit from its high Vitamin A content
  4.  Reduces blood cholesterol – through its soluble and insoluble fibre that can bind bile to fats, thus preventing fats from entering into our blood stream
  5. Protects against hypertension – its high potassium content can help to reduce blood pressure level
  6. Protects against & reduces inflammation – through its rich source of anti-oxidants content, namely of Vitamin C and manganese

How much Bok Choy can a child take?

Julie: Bokchoy is self-limiting, which means a child will not eat more then they need. Have you ever met a kid say- I want another head of cabbage please!

2 TB is the standard serving a child will eat. The only contra-indication for Bok Choy is if someone has thyroid issues, they should not eat it raw!

MarcieMom: Thanks Julie, I’ll be sure to ask my parents to cook for themselves too! As obviously, they can benefit from Bok Choy as aged parents are at risk of osteoprorosis and high blood pressure. Will also be cooking for my toddler, just wondering how to make it cute! Some recipes that I’ve found online, mostly a quick stir fry will do!

Baby Bok Choy with Cashews – by Simply Recipes

Green Beans

What are the nutritional benefits of Green Beans?

Julie: Green beans are also known as french beans, string beans, snap beans and squeaky beans. It is a rich source of Vitamins A, B complex, C, K, protein, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and fibre. Green bean can also benefit us in the following ways:

  1. Reduces inflammation on the skin due to sun burn – Green beans have high carotenoids; in particular, beta-carotene and lutein can stop erythema, which is skin redness and inflammation after a sunburn.
  2. Reduces benzopyrene toxicity due to charred food – Green beans have high chlorphyll, which can stop the multiplicaiton of tumor cells due to benzopyrene.
  3. Reduces inflammation – Having the highest antioxidant in the bean family, Green beans contain quercetin and kaemferol that have been researched to stop death of dopamine-creating cells, thus aiding the treatment of Parkinsons disease.
  4. Improves connective tissue – Through the mineral silicon, Green beans can improve the health of our connective tissue, including cartilage, bones, ligaments and skin.
  5. Reduces likelihood of bone fractures – Being high in Vitamin K, Green beans strengthen our bone matrix, preventing bone fractures and osteopenia. Vitamin K also moderates blood clotting.

How much Green Beans can a Child take?

Julie: A child serving would be 2 tbsp.

Will Nutrients be lost when Cooked?

Julie: Vitamin B and C is lost in boiling so steaming green beans is a perferred cooking method.

MarcieMom: Wow, I’ve to bear in mind the ‘power’ of green beans, in particular, to encourage my mom to take more of it. It’s strange though, at one time Marcie loves green beans (when we eat out) but once I got my mom to cook for her, she hates it! Time for me to look into recipes to entice her back to Green beans!

Fresh Green Beans, One Way – by The Pioneer Woman

Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme – by Simply Recipes

Guest Interview

Eczema Kids’ Nutrition

Eczema Kids Nutrition with Toby Amidor

Toby is the founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition where she provides food and nutrition consulting services. She has served as the Nutrition Expert for and Nutrition Advisor for Sear’s, adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and at Hunter College in New York City.

This 5-part Eczema Kids’ Nutrition series was in collaboration with Toby Amidor, whereby MarcieMom would share different topics on kids’ nutrition and Toby provide her insights. It has since been combined into one longer informative post.

Inflammatory Foods

What’s Inflammation?

Inflammation is a protective response of our body to remove injured cells or irritants and helps heal our body. The problem, however, is chronic inflammation where there is an excess of pro-inflammatory immune cells in our body and damages healthy parts of our body. Chronic inflammation is associated with, among others, arthritis, diabetes, eczema, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

Which are the Inflammatory Foods?

Food that increases the production of inflammatory substances include:

  1. Sugar – Sugar is the most common inflammatory food, and comes in soft drinks, pastries, candies, bread and is also listed as corn syrup, frutose, sucrose and maltose. Sugar increases insulin level and increases pro-inflammatory hormones eicosanoids.
  2. Vegetable oils – Oils from safflower, soy, sunflower, corn, peanut are polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega 6, linoleicacid. The body convert these to arachidonic acid, which is pro-inflammatory.
  3. Trans Fat – Trans fat is present in fried food, fast food, commercially baked food and also listed as hydrogenated oil and vegetable shortening. Trans fat increases free radicals that damage health cells and trigger inflammation.
  4. Dairy products and feed-lot raised meat that comes from animals fed with soy and corn (that is mentioned above to promote inflammation) or injected with hormones and antibiotics is also an inflammatory food.

A worth mentioning research related to infant is that milk formula has been studied to contain Advanced Glycation End Products which can increase the risk of diabetes in young children. This can be transferred by mom to fetus and also in milk formula.

Toby’s Thoughts

MarcieMom: Can you share with us how can parents manage the amount of sugar in our kids’ diet? Do we have to monitor the glycemic index?

Toby: Absolutely not! There is no need to monitor the glycemic index of food unless it is for a diabetic.

Parents can manage the amount of sugar in their kids’ diet by being conscious of the foods they buy. Sugary beverages like soda and juice drinks are typically the number 1 source of sugar. In addition, the guidelines for 100% juice is 4-fluid ounces per day for a younger child— which makes it tough to follow if you buy the individual juice boxes which usually 6.75-ounces. Get your kids used to good old water—there is nothing more refreshing!

A note on Trans Fat – Zero Trans Fat is not NONE

MarcieMom: I’ve read that zero trans fat could still contain trans fat if less than 0.5g. Is that right? Should parents go by food label or should the ingredient list be scrutinized?

Toby: Yes, that is correct. According to the food labelling guidelines, anything that has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labelled as ‘trans fat free’. That is why it is important to read the ingredient list carefully—look for words like partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated to indicate if trans fat is in the product.

MarcieMom: I’ve also read that fruits like apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, grapes are also inflammatory. Is that right?

Toby: Fruits contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, plant chemicals that help prevent disease and promote health. They provide so many beneficial nutrients that I never suggest avoiding them (unless a child was allergic).

Antioxidants and Skin

What’s Antioxidant?

Before I go on, I have to give a spoiler that I don’t have the answer to whether it’s proven without a doubt that antioxidants can benefit the skin of our children with eczema. However, after researching this topic, I believe it’s beneficial to eat antioxidant-rich food, so let’s start by looking at what’s antioxidant!

Antioxidants are vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamin  A, C, E and selenium, that helps to protect our cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Through our exposure to sun and digestion, free radicals (which are unstable molecules) form and they promote inflammation and damage skin cells. Antioxidants are able to inhibit oxidation and damage to the skin cells and speed up repair of the damaged cells.

Limited Resource on Impact on Skin

While there are many products that want us to eat antioxidant in the form of supplements or apply them onto our skin, I couldn’t find many studies in this area. There’s one research published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that linked increased intake of antioxidant (namely, beta-cartoene and Vitamin E) to reduced risk of atopic dermatitis in children. However, there’s another research that linked increased risk of skin cancer in women who took antioxidant capsules.

What are the Antioxidant Rich Foods?

Whole foods are recommended and foods rich in antioxidants are berries, beans, dark and orange vegetables. There’s an interesting WebMD article I’ve found that rank vegetables in terms of their antioxidant levels and most of them are higher in antioxidants after cooking! Some of these vegetables include spinach, potatoes and eggplants. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C, E and selenium include citrus fruits, red pepper, broccoli, whole grains, brazil nuts and turkey.

Another WebMD article stated that in terms of antioxidant creams, the concentration may be too low to be useful and potent creams ought to have 15-20% Vitamin C, 2-5% Vitamin E and 0.2-0.5% Selenium. Do note that Vitamin E is on the list of allergen, so do always test on a small patch of your child’s skin before using a cream with Vitamin E.

Toby’s Thoughts

MarcieMom: I’ve read that whole foods are preferred to supplements because the former contain enzymes that cannot be manufactured into a supplement. Is that true and can you share with us how enzymes help in the anti-oxidative process?

Toby: Whole foods are preferred over supplements because they contain phytonutrients, which are plant chemicals that have health benefits and can help protect against disease. Many of these phytonutrients have not been isolated into supplements, plus there is not enough research to know if they work well alone or in conjunction with other nutrients in the foods they are found in. For example, a phytonutrient called anthocyanin is powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant found in berries. Studies show they may help lower the risk of some forms of cancer.

Is it harmful to take an excess of antioxidants? 

Toby: Taking in too many antioxidants can be harmful.  More is definitely not better and many of the antioxidants can potentially be toxic when taken in excess, especially through supplementation. Children should eat a well-balanced diet of whole foods including plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts and seeds in order to get their daily dose of antioxidants.

Fluid Intake and Skin

Water and Our Body

We know that water is critical to the proper functioning of our body, which includes ensuring proper digestion, brain function, blood and oxygen circulation and regulating the body temperature. We hear we’ve to drink more water for glowing skin, but that is not exactly correct because water that we drink goes to the intestines, blood streams, filtered by kidneys instead of directly to the skin.

Water we Drink does not go directly to our Skin

review has been conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation that concludes drinking water does not impact skin’s appearance. So, while we know that taking fluids is not the way to rehydrate our child’s skin, using sunscreen, balanced diet are essential for our child’s skin, and moisturizing is a must for those with eczema.

How Much Fluid Should Your Child Drink?

Ensuring sufficient fluid intake is important for your child and my recommendation (based on what I’ve read) is not to count glasses of water but to encourage our children to drink water throughout the day and more, if they are exercising or outdoors. Children, being smaller in size and not sweating as much,  have a higher risk of dehydration and harder for them to cool off. To know how much fluid our child has lost after exercise, we can weigh him/her before and after exercise and normally, note the color of our child’s urine and whether their lips are dry.

What Fluids to Take and Which to Avoid for Your Child

Water serves its purpose by being water, so it’s always best to get your child to get used to drinking it once they start on solids. Eating fruits and vegetables also count towards their water intake, as are drinking milk and fuit juice. For children above 2 year old, low or non-fat milk can be taken and for kids below 6 year old, 4-6 ounces of juice per day can be given.

What NOT to drink is obviously artificially colored or sweetened empty calories, like soda and drinks containing hugh frutose corn syrup, no matter how kids’ appealing the packaging looks! Moreover, sugar is inflammatory and not good for our child. Vitamin water is also not recommended as vitamins added to water and consumed individually may not reap any benefit.

Will Drinking Softened Water Help Your Child’s Eczema?

Many parents have feedback that softened water helps but unfortunately, based on the softened water eczema trial conducted by Prof Hywel Williams and Dr Kim Thomas of the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham, there was no difference noticed in the trial that involved 336 children whose homes were fitted with water softener.

Toby’s Thoughts

MarcieMom: We know that ensuring sufficient fluid intake is important, what guidelines would you give to parents who want to ensure that their children consume sufficient fluid?

Toby: Have children sip water throughout the day and learn to recognize when they are thirsty before they start becoming dehydrated, especially on a hot day or after intense exercise. Also, be sure they are using the restroom to urinate on a regular basis—this is also a good sign of proper hydration. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies can also help contribute to hydration.

More Fluid Intake for Dry Skin?

MarcieMom: For parents whose child’s skin is inherently dry, should they give their child more water than a child with normal skin?

Toby: No, studies do not show that more water means moister skin. Just keep them hydrated like everyone else. No more, no less.

MarcieMom: At what age would you recommend starting on fresh milk or UHT milk, instead of milk formula? Do you think that today’s milk formula with added probiotics and DHA is essential as part of our toddler’s diet or should children be getting what they need from eating a balanced diet?

Toby: The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends whole milk at 1 year of age, going to 2% (reduced fat milk) at 2 years and whole milk by 3 years of age.

Formula should be used until about 18 months— at that time, the child should be eating a varied diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, healthy fat, and dairy which will provide sufficient nutritional value.

Water or Juice for Young Children?

MarcieMom: Finally, for children who already dislikes water, what tips do you have for their parents to get the child interested in water? (I dilute all of Marcie’s juice and let her drink ice water from the adult cup in restaurant, just like we do!)

Toby: Don’t give up when it comes to water. As any food or beverage, it takes time to enjoy it. If you want to increase the flavor, add lemon, lime, or orange slices. Children should not taste juice until at least 2 years of age—the more water is a part of their regular diet, the more they will accept it. Parents should also lead by example and serve water to the entire family.

Starting Fish from Young (or not)

Fish – A Common Food Allergen to Introduce Early?

There are six common foods that make up majority of the allergic foods, and fish is one of them (the other five foods are milk, egg, soy, peanuts and wheat). Yet, there were a few studies conducted in Sweden and Norway that indicated a lower rate of eczema for children who started fish in their diets early. In a 2008 study, introduction of fish to babies before 9 month-old showed 24% less likelihood of getting eczema by one year old. In another study, one to two year old who ate fish once a week had 38% less likelihood of eczema. In the journal by American Academy of Pediatrics, late introduction of fish was strongly related to inhalant sensitization. Research had not measured notable reduction in eczema with intake of supplements nor were there differences between eating fish vis-à-vis omega-3 rich fish. It is also observed in countries that typically introduce fish in children’s diet early that there is a lower rate of fish allergy.

What’s in a Fish and What’s Omega-3?

Fish is a source of protein that contains taurine, zinc, selenium, iodine, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Of interest for the past decade, is the Omega-3 that is contained in fish. Omega-3 is one of the fatty acids that cannot be manufactured by the body. The long chains of the fatty acids, namely EPA and DHA, have been reported to have health benefits, including brain development of babies. Fish that are rich in Omega-3 include salmon, sardines and mackerel but for a child, intake must not be overdone as fish are also rich in mercury, especially shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish.

How does Fish affect Eczema?

This has no conclusive answer. From what I’ve looked up, the body is able to convert DHA to RvD2 which is a Resolvin that can regulate inflammatory responses. I’ve also read that fish oil may help to reduce leukotriene B4, which is an inflammatory substance. However, eating more fish alone may not be enough as there’s increasing suggestion that it’s the balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 (from vegetable oils) that regulates inflammation.

Toby’s Thoughts

What’s the recommended intake of fish for an infant below 1 year old?

Toby: Since there is a higher chance of an allergic reaction to fish, it should not be introduced until the child is 1 year into the diet. If there is a family history of allergies, then even longer.

You also need to remember that many of the fish high in omega-3 fats like tuna and salmon have a very strong flavor. Kids have more taste buds than adults, so even if you do introduce them at 1-year, the kids may not accept them very easily. I suggest introducing more mild tasting fish like mahi-mahi and red snapper as a first step.

Would you recommend taking fish supplements?

Toby: If a parent is worried about their child getting enough omega-3 fats, then they should seek professional guidance from a registered dietitian before giving their child fish supplements. This is especially important if a child (usually under the age of 1) is taking in formula or is still breastfeeding since they are probably getting enough. You don’t want to give too much either—there are always side effects.

How can a parent help a child who has eczema balance his/her intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6?

Toby: Giving a child a well-balanced diet should do the trick. Also, if a child is breastfeeding or on formula, they should be getting enough of both nutrients. Once they get off the formula and/or breast milk then introducing every food group to the child to help create a healthful diet is important.

Genetically Modified GM Foods

What’s Genetically Modified Food?

Genetically modified (GM) food or genetically engineered (GE) food are foods which genome has been modified by having another gene selected and transferred to it, encoded for a specific protein. GM food came into the supermarket around 1994, starting with tomatoes being approved for consumption and since, the majority of soy, corn, cottonseed and canola are genetically modified. 

Foods are genetically engineered mainly (i) to be tolerant to herbicides and (ii) to be able to produce its own pesticides that kill the pests feeding on them. To be tolerant of herbicides meant that farmers could say, spray Roundup herbicide (produced by Monsanto) and kill the weeds but not kill the vegetables, known as Roundup Ready soybeans, cotton etc. which seeds are also sold by Monsanto.

How did GM or GE Food Come About?

Crops can be genetically modified to be easier and faster to grow, and more resistant to drought, pests and diseases, thereby increasing food supply in our increasingly populated world. As mentioned above, the vegetables can also be engineered to be tolerant to herbicides. Some foods are genetically modified to improve its nutritional value by say, introducing antioxidants to vegetables that are lower in it.

So What’s the Problem?

The problem seems to be that we know little of the extent of the problem. There is a growing opposition against genetically modified food and some articles on the web have summarized it:

Dr Mercola’s comments in ‘Monsanto’s Roundup Residues in GM Food Causes Cell Damage

Jennifer Grayson’s article in Huffington Post on ‘Is Genetically Modified Food Linked to Kids’ Food Allergies?’

The main worries are:

Risk of increased allergy – for instance, there’s a soy allergen, trypsin inhibitor, which normally would reduce if the soy has been cooked. However, if the soy has been genetically modified, cooking didn’t reduce the amount of the allergic protein.

Risk of antibiotic resistance markers in human – if the markers are added to the GM food, there’s a risk of horizontal gene transfer whereby the antibiotic resistant gene will be transferred to bacteria in human intestine.

Risk of increased herbicide or pesticide – Although GM food would need less herbicide, farmers may end up using more of it since the crops are tolerant to it!

Risk of SuperPests – The pests turn ‘super’ because they have also adjusted to the GM food and thus stronger pest-resistant crops need to be engineered which may set off harmful effect on the food chain.

Risk of harm to organs – Some studies showed that rats had higher mortality rates and damages to their body organs and mouse had reduced enzyme production after consuming GM food.

Should it be Avoided for a Child with Allergy or Eczema?

There is no straight answer to this, though pregnant woman and young children may want to be more aware of this since the brain and immune system of foetus and young children are not well developed. There is no study directly linking children with allergy or eczema to GM food, and parents who are worried about GM food can opt for organic, which means not genetically modified, no synthetic pesticides, no irradiation or bio-solids added as fertilizer.

The Dirt Dozen Foods (Updated 2019)

Below are the ‘Dirty Dozen’ foods that contain the most pesticides, in a study done by non-profit organization Environmental Working Group.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

Most of the foods above are so rich in vitamins which I give lots to my girl! Buying organic for the top pesticide food and top GM food would target the most risky ones and be less costly than switching all food to organic.

Toby’s Thoughts

MarcieMom: Would you recommend a parent to always buy organic if they can afford it? And if they can’t, what food would you say ‘It’s better to eat the non-organic ones than not eat it’ and for what food would you say ‘Forget about feeding your child this if you can’t find an organic version’?

Toby: I would suggest going by the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists. The dirty dozen contains the highest levels of contaminants and includes apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens. I suggest to spend your organic dollar on those 12 foods. Another option is local—visit your local farmer’s market and speak to your local farmer about what they grow and the techniques they use. They are typically very happy to discuss this information!

MarcieMom: The foods that are genetically modified such as soy, cottonseed, corn and canola are used in many processed foods, including soy lecithin used in chocolates, corn syrup in many sugary snacks and canola in oil. Would you recommend parents to read the label for all the food items and not buy if they contain soy, corn, cotton or canola? Or would your advice be to avoid certain category of food, say snacks and cookies, which aren’t healthy anyway?

Toby: These ingredients are found in such high amounts in our society, but we need to balance the good with the not-so-good. In general, all these oils are unsaturated and better for heart health. Using them within your repertoire of oils in moderation is healthy. And if you choose more whole foods over highly processed ones, you could pretty much avoid many of those other ingredients and higher calorie foods that should really be limited in your child’s diet. 

MarcieMom: Will feeding our children supplements for the nutrients or vitamins we want them to consume get around this problem of pesticide and GM food?

TobyNO! Whole foods provide so much more than can be isolated in a pill. The nutrients found in food work with one another to provide your child with maximum health benefits. Furthermore, eating food helps maintain the integrity of your gut. You also want to get your child to get used to eating well-balanced meals together with the family—they will learn about healthy eating and spend more time with the family too.