When considering an ailment that affects the surface of your body, on the skin, it might not seem immediately obvious that there is a connection between what’s happening inside, within the gut. But science has indicated that the health of your gut actually has an impact on eczema.
As a recent report from Medicine noted, “prevention is the best way to manage eczema. For that reason, it is important to identify and avoid symptom triggers, such as allergens or improper diet.”
So keep in mind that watching what you eat can make a difference in whether you will be bothered by skin flare-ups, itchiness and irritation. It’s a good idea to get some insight into how gut health impacts eczema.
What Does ‘Gut Health’ Mean, Anyway?
The term “gut health” is often referred to when people are discussing eczema. It has to do with not only your intestines but the whole gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus and stomach, as noted by UC Davis.
There are a number of things to consider for maintaining gut health. Making better food choices is of utmost importance. But you also need to get sufficient sleep every day too, which UC Davis says is needed just as much as exercising regularly.
If you take antibiotics when sick, they can disrupt bacteria in your intestines, which is why many people will take probiotics or consume yogurt (which contains good bacteria for gut health) to bring themselves back into balance.
Gradual Changes May Be Best
While WebMD reports that there’s no evidence that eczema is caused by specific foods, “some people say their symptoms get worse after they eat a particular food.” However, it’s not always easy to determine what particular food is the culprit. That’s because people are typically around a variety of triggers on a daily basis, making it difficult to see if eczema was triggered by food or if perhaps it was instead caused by stress.
Experimenting by cutting a single type of food from your meals is known as an “elimination diet” that some folks will try, in a bid to avoid skin flare-ups. For example, a person may see if excluding eggs will do the trick, or maybe milk is driving their inflammation.
Elizabeth Harris, writing in Healthline, had been coping with eczema for two years with no relief in sight until she tried to make some adjustments to her eating habits.
She began by cutting down on sugar, and then reduced her alcohol consumption too (this, during her third year in college might have been the bigger of the sacrifices she was making!). Soon, her sugar cravings subsided and she also began desiring fermented foods.
Harris saw that some people adopted a vegan diet while others stopped eating eggs, gluten or shellfish in their efforts to stave off eczema. She realized that everybody’s situation is unique and there is no single anti-eczema diet plan to follow. Everyone’s body chemistry is going to be different, so there won’t be a single diet that works for all who suffer from eczema.
She also introduced more whole grains, including brown rice and oats. Anti-inflammatory spices such as cinnamon, ginger and turmeric went into the mix too. “Although these changes coincided with improvements in my eczema, they may or may not improve eczema in others. We’re all different, and different things work for different people.”
One thing Harris learned after a year on the new eating plan was to go easy on herself and relax the rules once in a while, such as to indulge in treats during the holiday season. That’s something to remember when you make your own dietary changes.
Consult Your Doctor Before Making Big Changes in Your Diet
When making big changes in your lifestyle to affect your health and well being, it’s prudent to speak with your doctor first, to make sure that what you plan to do will be helpful and not harmful. You may already have prepared to meet with a physician to rule out various food allergies, if you suspect or know certain foods seem to be triggering eczema.
Your doctor will want to make sure that your new approach to meals will be both nutritious and safe for the long term. So, you may also consult with a nutritionist to ensure your dietary plans give you the right amount of nutrition and calories.
Better Food Choices for Managing Your Eczema
Watching what you eat will become second nature after you’ve been practicing better eating habits for a while. You can reinforce your new approach to food choices by telling friends and family how you are emphasizing a healthier diet these days. This will influence the types of meals you share together and even what kinds of restaurants you might visit with loved ones, all in the name of better gut health and getting relief from eczema.