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Pre And Post Dietary Changes

9 Eczema essentials

9 Eczema essentials

Eczema cases have mushroomed in recent years.  The majority of new cases of eczema are in children under 5 years old.  In fact 1 in 5 children now suffer from eczema in the UK.

Atopic eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, characterised by dry, itchy skin.  Scratching the skin leads to skin red, sore, inflamed skin that becomes increasingly itchy, the more it is scratched the more risk of bleeding and skin infections but the itch-scratch-cycle is difficult to stop.

The impact of regular eczema flare ups can be severe causing major disruption to family life.  Lack of sleep, anxiety and distress are felt acutely by the child and their families, parents report taking time off work due to sleepless nights and children won’t wear short sleeves in the summer or swim with friends due to their discomfort.

Family life can be altered drastically with daily cleaning drills, skincare and wrap routines, GP and Dermatology hospital appointments.  Parents invest enormous time and money into specialised clothing, bedding, cleaning equipment, gadgets, holistic therapies, natural remedies and skin treatments, in anything that can help to relieve and soothe and avoid triggers.

Steroid creams did work for us but the eczema was more severe each time it returned.  Skin creams and anti-itch solutions can help, I began to make my own deep healing skin treatment, Leafie Tallow Body Balm, but this is only a part of the long term solution.

The answer, I believe, is complex and lies with our modern lifestyle and with a weakened immune system of the gut.

To find a longterm solution to my son’s Eczema I looked to tackle the route cause from within his body.  Working with 2 nutritional experts we planned a diet tailored for him, focused on relieving intestinal system inflammation, rebuilding his gut microbe eco system to allow the body to heal and to produce healthy natural responses.

 

This process and the healing that resulted has fundamentally changed the way I view health and diet.

Pre and post dietary changes

Pre and post dietary changes

 

 

Here are my own top tips for long term eczema healing for your child:

 

1.  The Brilliant Outdoors

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The great outdoors

Our kids need contact fresh air, Vitamin D and with naturally occurring bacteria to maintain health.

Children lead busy lives, live in modern clean houses, travel by car, are schooled indoors and so their day to day contact with natural organisms has massively diminished.  There are a number of studies that point to the importance of children getting outdoors to balance essential friendly gut flora.

The best way to increase your child’s outdoor time is to make it a core part of tyour every day routine and to lead by example.  Walking or cycling to school is ideal, via natural areas or bridle paths where possible.  Other ideas are to visit a farm, start an allotment plot or garden veggie bed, take up a regular outdoor activity, anything that works to get your child outdoors each day, getting dirty is one of the healthiest things your child can do!

 

 

our-under-7s-sports-club-tuck-shop

Our Under 7s sports club’s tuck shop – No thanks!

2.  NO to junk

Eczema is a inflammatory condition, so removing inflammatory foods and drinks reduces the stress that the body is under.

Fizzy drinks and squash, all processed foods, foods that contain preservatives flavourings, colourings and particularly E numbers should be removed from a child’s diet to make way for more wholesome beneficial eating.  Treats can be upgraded to healthy whole foods, which may sound a little dull, but we have enjoyed the learning experience of making healthy food attractive, tasty and fun for kids.

Try: Frying a banana in coconut oil, sprinkling with milled pumpkin and flax seed and serving with natural yoghurt or homemade custard.

 

3. Probiotics

Natural yogurtThere are a number of factors profoundly changing the makeup of microbes in children’s intricate gut eco system, microbes that are essential for preventing illness and maintaining health.  Antibiotics, assisted births and a decline in exclusive breastfeeding are significant factors in denying children’s intestinal system the diversity of microflora needed to fend off illnesses and produce normal reactions to daily irritants.

Certain foods and supplements can be introduced to improve our children’s microflora.  Many foods that we eat are alive, teaming with tiny quivering, living organisms.  Yogurt is a great example of a food containing ‘good bacteria’ or probiotics., living microrganisms that can provide health benefits when taken regularly.

With so many probiotic products on the market it is difficult to know which way to go.  Diversity is they key in terms of get bacteria, so you can try a number of different probiotics.  I make my own yoghurt daily with live cultures proven to survive through the digestive track.

Tip: be careful when choosing new probiotics marketed to children, as they can contain sugars and flavourings and may not be proven to improve gut health.   Look for live yoghurt cultures that contain Acidophilus and Bifidum Bacterium.

4. Sneaky Smoothies

girls-drinking-smoothie2Green smoothies, the enduring health fad fix, has huge potential for children.  With the help of a blender and good ingredients it is fairly simple to make a wide variety of delicious concoction.
Smoothies for your tot can include combinations from fruity to chocolatey to everything in between.  Adding in probiotic goodness through yoghurts or probiotic powders, along with spinach, kale, avocadoes and any other goodies that you may need to sneak in.
right along with that hidden spinach. You can add the water kefir from above, milk-based kefir, whey, yogurt or probiotic powders. You can sometimes even sneak in stronger tasting probiotics like fermented cabbage or cod liver oil if you have a super strong tasting smoothie. Use caution and add these ingredients very slowly. Most picky eaters have strong palates.My favorite combination for sneaking in even the strongest tasting probiotic options is banana, peanut butter and cocoa. Three strong flavors that mix wonderfully to create a dessert-like smoothie and hide a multitude of flavors!

5. Drink more water

It sounds obvious but most children are not drinking enough water.  Water is essential to health and well being, starting good hydration habits early will stay with children for life.  Drinks should be sipped slowly away from meal times. For variety try natural water infusions such as lime or cinnamon, diluted organic vegetables juices and cooled herbal teas.  Eliminate drinking fizzy pops and squash, whether with sugar or sugar free.
Tips: There are many tricks and tools for increasing hydration, including homemade ice lollies, adding fun ice cubes to drinks, water in smoothies, eating homemade soups regularly. Giving your child their own water bottle with their name on its and encourage them to take it with them and sip from it regularly, straws and fun cups also work well.

6. Go organic

fruit veggOrganic foods are more nutritious than non organic foods and up to 60% higher in key antioxidants.
Yes, organic food is more expensive and despite me now no longer venturing down many supermarket isles as we no longer eat those foods, my food bill is still bigger than I would like.
You can curb the cost of buying organic by growing your own foods, think perennials such as herbs, fruit bushes, asparagus plants, artichokes, the green gifts that keep giving every year and are low to maintain.  Join food groups, buy direct from farms and farmers markets, try a veggie box order and reduce the number of times that you visit a supermarket.

7.  The power of the broth

Cooking homeade chicken soup

Cooking homeade chicken soup

Not so sexy perhaps but the good old fashioned hearty broth does have special properties.  Rich in easy to absorb minerals and amino acids, a good bone broth can helps to build strong immunity and is ideal as a source of nourishment.

Tip: Our son is over broth and I can understand it as our house has been hubbling and bubbling with vats of the stuff for ages.  I now take his portion, blend it up with extra steamed low carb veggies (think cauliflower) so that he has a blended soup and not a broth or stew.  I sometimes add extras to his for further enticement, he loves melted cheddar cheese, slithers of carrot or frozen peas added.

8.  Go big on GOOD Fats

Tallow - the original GOOD fat

Tallow – the original GOOD fat

Children in particular need plenty of healthy natural fats in their diet to maintain health, immunity and support growth and development.  In our low fat, high carb, high sugar society children are generally receiving their energy through the wrong foods and are not getting enough healthy fats in their diets.

Completely eliminate all forms of fats from processed foods; crisps, cereal bars, baked goods and low fat dairy items.
Tips:  Increase your child’s intake of GOOD fats and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) by:-
  • Regularly eating oily fish nuts and snacking on seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds) and nuts.
  • Give your child a cod liver oil or krill supplements daily
  • Cook with excellent quality oils stable at high temperatures, such as coconut oil and pure animal based healthy fats Tallow, Lard and Deer Tallow.
  • Use nut and seed oils (avocado, extra virgin) in their raw form for making dips and dressings such as Mayonnaise.

8.  Commitment

Enjoy the road to learning what works and helps your child to heal.  I found that although there are challenges from no longer eating the same foods as some of our friends we also made many great new connections, with new families, food groups, nutritionists, farmers and local producers and online communities.  Changing your diet to a wholefood diet is exciting and fascinating, our family feels more a part of our local community, understand and are an active part of improving our food culture.

It does take commitment, so I suggest an initial 1 month commitment to making diet changes.  Contact me for details of my

FREE Eczema Diet Challenge

Includes Eczema recipes and 5 Step Eczema Diet Plan.
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