Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Following a healthy diet and lifestyle changes can help Eczema

HOW NUTRITION CAN HELP ECZEMA

There are three main objectives in the treatment of eczema: reducing inflammation, relieving itching of the skin, and moisturizing dry patches. As most alternative health practitioners know, certain dietary practices and various supplements can help to accomplish these objectives in many cases of eczema that seem to be resistant to standard medical treatment. The most evidence-based lifestyle, dietary and supplementation strategies shown to improve cases of eczema are as follows:

Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations: Avoid any known dietary or environmental irritants or allergens. Reduce the build-up of the polyunsaturated fat arachidonic acid within skin cells, as it is the direct building block of inflammatory prostaglandin hormones. To accomplish this, reduce the intake of the following foods: high-fat meat and dairy products; corn oil, sunflower seed oil, safflower seed oil, and mixed vegetable oils; alcohol, hydrogenated fats (e.g., margarine, commercial peanut butter, shortenings).

Replace the above foods with the following: chicken, turkey, fish, Cornish hen, 1 percent milk or yogurt, low-fat cheese (3 percent or less milk fat), olive oil, canola oil, or peanut oil (for salad dressings, to sauté vegetables or stir fry only).

Important Supplements: Omega-3 fats provide the building block for the production of prostaglandin hormones that reduce the inflammatory activity of skin cells. They also reduce the build-up of arachidonic acid in skin cells by blocking the enzyme that converts linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid to arachidonic acid. Examples of omega-3 fats of importance to skin health include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). EPA is found in fish and fish oils, and ALA is found primarily in flaxseed oil. Clinical trials have shown that omega-3 fats can be effective in the treatment of eczema.

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has also been shown to help in cases of eczema. Studies reveal that many patients with eczema lack the enzyme to convert linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid. As gamma-linolenic acid is the building block of an important anti-inflammatory prostaglandin hormone, supplementation with an oil that is high in gamma-linolenic acid, such as borage, black currant or evening primrose oil, has been shown to favorably affect cases of eczema.

A number of B vitamins (especially B6 and niacin) are necessary co-factors to speed up the enzymes that produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins in the skin. Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc are also required to support various enzymes within skin cells that promote the formation of prostaglandins, which reduce skin inflammatory conditions, including eczema. I recommend a high-potency multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains a B-50 complex along with boosted levels of antioxidants.

In many cases, once specific allergies have been ruled out, the medical profession is at a loss to provide eczema sufferers with any meaningful treatment options. For this subgroup of patients, specific dietary and supplementation practices outlined in this article can provide significant improvement of their condition in many cases. Your doctor can tell you more about the connection between diet and skin health.

 

December 2, 2011 - Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , ,

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