By Dr Mercola
Natural Options for Dry, Flaky Skin and Eczema
Natural Options for Tackling Eczema, Omega 3 fats and Probiotics
Steroids are often recommended for treating the inflammation that may underlie eczema flare-ups, but omega-3 fats, can be effective in this regard without side effects. Further, the latest research suggests that limiting sugar and supplementing with fermented foods or beneficial probiotic bacteria can cut the risk of developing eczema in half.3
The beneficial bacteria in your gut has actually been found to help prevent allergies by helping your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens and respond appropriately – and this may be one reason why they also appear so beneficial for eczema.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of applying unnatural moisturizers that likely contain chemical ingredients that will further irritate your skin. Pure emu oil, coconut oil or our organic body butter are alternatives that can provide moisture without chemical additives. Other simple tips for helping to minimize eczema flare-ups include:
- Minimize stress in your life, which can further promote inflammation and eczema
- Shower shortly after heavy sweating, as sweat can trigger eczema outbreaks
- Check for unrecognized food allergies, which can sometimes manifest as eczema
- Avoid exposure to irritating detergents, soaps and other substances, which can cause contact eczema
Two Top Food Groups That Prematurely Age Your Skin
When talking about skin appearance, factors like excessive sun exposure, smog and cigarette smoking are often blamed, but what you eat plays a major role as well. The following foods are among the worst for your skin, and avoiding them may help you minimize wrinkles and promote youthful-looking skin.
- Sugar, Fructose and Grains
This is probably the single most important step you can take to improve your skin health. If you eliminate all sugars, fructose and grains from your diet for a few weeks there is a major likelihood you will notice rapid improvement in your complexion. This is largely because sugar feeds pathogenic bacteria, fungi and yeast and will disrupt your optimal gut flora, which is one of the primary keys to healthy skin.
Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are a complex group of compounds formed when sugar reacts with amino acids. It’s a fitting acronym because – along with oxidation – it’s one of the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body, which leads to disease, aging, and eventually, death. Sugar/fructose also increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones, and this is another major factor of premature aging body-wide, including of your skin.
- Fried, Grilled and Broiled Foods
When food is cooked at high temperatures—including when it is pasteurized or sterilized—it increases the formation of AGEs in your food. AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. Eating your food raw, lightly cooked or using cooking methods that involve lots of water, such as steaming or poaching, can help reduce the AGE-creation process.
The Natural Plan to Healthier, Moisturized Skin
Eating a healthy diet as described in my nutrition plan, which focuses on whole, bioavailable organic foods, is your number one strategy for helping your body detox naturally while supplying the necessary nutrients your skin needs to thrive. That said, as mentioned some foods are particularly effective at promoting beautiful, clear, healthy skin, including:
- Animal-based omega-3 fats
- Vegetables: Ideally fresh, organic and locally grown. Fresh vegetable juice is also wonderful for your skin, as are carotenoids, which give red, orange and yellow fruits their color, and also occur in green vegetables. Studies have shown that eating foods with these deeply colored pigments can make your face actually look healthier than being tanned.
- Fermented vegetables are even better as they can start with the same vegetables but are converted by bacteria to superfoods, which help promote the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria and aid in immune balance and digestion.
- Astaxanthin—a potent antioxidant—has been found to offer effective protection against sun damage when taken as a daily supplement. Some sunscreens are also starting to use astaxanthin as an ingredient to protect your skin from damage