Diet and Eczema

Italian SaladWell, it’s been a month since my last post, which is far too long and I apologise to all my readers! It has been a very busy time with wonderful visits to and from extended family, then there have been the not-so-nice trips to the dentist, chiropractor, podiatrist, and dietitian. We’ve also had our car in and out of the mechanic workshop twice, which meant I was shuttling hubby to and from work a few times. Being just over an hour round trip, it took a good size chunk out of my days and left me exhausted at the end of it all. I did manage to squeeze in a visit to my local massage therapist late one Friday afternoon, just before hopping in the car for a road trip up to our relatives. It was so relaxing! If you ever have time to go for a massage right before being a passenger in a car – do it! It forces you to sit and do nothing, and let your muscles relax even more.

So, as I mentioned above, I have been to see a dietitian. My reason for going was to try and get to the bottom of what I believe is a food intolerance related eczema problem. I haven’t really gone into much detail on here previously about my eczema, I plan to put a post up some time in the near future. The short story being that I have had chronic eczema on my hands since I was a young girl, with a few short periods where I was rash-free. I was put on steroid creams from a very young age, which alleviated the symptoms but left me with paper-thin skin on my hands in my teens.

I have put a number of different things up surrounding the ‘nightshade free’ dietary approach. I have had varying levels of success with this, depending on how strictly I stick with it, and other factors including hormones, sleep deprivation, and stress. However, I’ve never really cleared it up, and after experiencing an unexplained increase in symptoms I had had enough.

I picked up a copy of Sue Dengate’s book Fed Up, which explores the link between artificial food additives, preservatives, colours, and natural food chemicals, and their effect upon behaviour and health. The evidence presented in the book shows an alarming link between many food chemicals, both naturally occurring and artificially added, and a whole range of health symptoms from oppositional defiance, through to autism, asthma, and you guessed it – eczema.

This got me thinking, obviously, and given a few other diet-related issues that I have been dealing with, I decided to see a dietitian to find out more. I went to the list of recommended dietitians on the fed up website, and found one in my local area who specialises in allergies and intolerances.

That was almost two weeks ago, and I have begun a low amine diet. It was fascinating discussing with my dietitian the reasons for taking this approach. She told me that there are basically two schools of thought when it comes to dietary intolerances – the naturopath/alternative medicinal side and the dietetic/mainstream science side. I really appreciated that she didn’t attempt to discredit alternative practice, but rather explained its strengths and the reasons why it works in many cases.

Going back to my low/no nightshade diet, I have had some excellent results some of the time, and unexplained relapses at others. The suggested culprit in a nightshade-free approach is the alkaloids that are present in all members of that plant family. My dietitian explained that whilst this approach was a valid one, it did overlook the most common food chemicals that cause eczema. According to my dietitian, more common problem food chemicals are amines and salicylates. Interestingly, all nightshades bar potato are very high in salicylates. All hot and sweet peppers, and potato are free of amines, whilst all other nightshades are very high. Other common causes for eczema were dairy, and wheat, but they do not rank anywhere near as high as amines.

The suggestion put to me was that my no-nightshade diet would be helping because I have cut out some of the most problematic vegetable sources of amines. However, it is highly probable that I have still been experiencing significant flare-ups due to my high consumption of amines from a wide range of other food sources (my chocolate addiction for one…).

The interesting aspect of food intolerance vs food allergy is that it is dose dependant. Meaning, I may well tolerate a moderate intake of amines, but as soon as I cross my body’s individual threshold, I will experience an adverse reaction. Cue eczema flare-up, midnight itching, and dry hands with deep, excruciating cracks wherever the skin flexes… Apparently, if I was truly allergic to amines, or any substance for that matter, then whenever I was exposed I would experience a reaction. It would always be the same, no matter how minuscule the dose I received.

At this point in my new diet, I am still struggling with eczema. I haven’t had quite the immediate positive results I would have liked, but the most likely reason is a withdrawal reaction. My body is displaying exacerbated levels of my pre-diet symptoms, but I’m told this is normal.

228653345_fabf48d46d_oThe other highly possible reason is that I chose to immediately start eating white potato again. I have been advised that since this could be causing my flare-up in symptoms, I should cut it out again until my skin is clear, and then we can treat it as a challenge food. Whilst very rare, a true potato intolerance is possible. I’m really hoping this isn’t the case for me! I was getting all excited about hot chips again.

I have an appointment with my dietitian in just over a week, and I hope to see some improvement between now and then. I will try to post an update with what I’ve learned and what works for me in the near future. If low amine isn’t producing adequate results, I presume I’ll be cutting out salicylates too. More information to come…

For further reading check out this article. I was fascinated by what he had to say.

This post contains affiliate links

Salad Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY

Chips Photo credit: dangermain / Foter / CC BY-SA


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