There are tons of diets, some for religious beliefs, some medical conditions, some for weight loss, and most importantly, for good health. What is the right diet for eczema?
Problem is, to treat eczema, you often hear:
“will the Paleo diet cure eczema?”
“will the vegan diet help eczema?”
“what is the best diet for treating eczema?”
Many diets work around the same core concept of eating healthy, or at least, getting your body into optimal health. If that’s the case, then you can eliminate eczema right?
I’ll dig into 11 common diets that people claim to have eliminated their skin condition. What works best and what’s not. Most importantly, what YOU should do.
In no particular order:
**This post has over 2300 words, let me know if you have any questions**
1. Acid-Alkaline Diet
The diet works on the pH concept. The body is naturally slightly alkaline, with a pH around 7.4 – at optimum. Thus, the diet aims to keep you there by restricting acidic foods.
The meal proportion rule is that you should eat 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acidic foods in anything you eat.
Here’s a sample picture of the common foods and their pH status (source).
Notice most alkalizing foods are green and healthy, hence the “eat healthy” concept.
But there’s one to remember, you are considering the pH effect of a food item after digestion not while in your mouth. The typical example is a lemon: it’s acidic but it has a strongly alkalizing effect in your body after digestion, which is good.
I also have a shopping guide list based on this diet, many of you can use this for reference.
2. Raw Food Diet
Or raw foodism, as the name suggests, you should eat things raw – which means nothing: cooked, processed, microwaved, irradiated, genetically engineered (GMO), or exposed to pesticides or herbicides.
There are different stages of raw foodism, with raw vegetarians to raw carnivores. Of course, not everyone can do that, and eating raw red meat maybe too extreme for some people.
Personally, I find eating raw plants nothing challenging and effective at the same time. And, plants lose 33% of the nutrition value when cooked.
Because raw foods often contain high nutritional profiles, depending on how you set proportions between veggies and fruits to meats, in the long-term it works.
Here’s a father who used the raw food diet to cure eczema for him and his children (link).
3. Juice Fasting
Juice fasting means you eat nothing in a period of time (commonly 5 days , but can extend to 2 weeks) and just drink fresh organic fruit juice.
When you fast, your body switches energy-consumption mode from the stuff you eat to using the fat you have. While that happens, you may feel hungry but you are not literally starving until at least a month later.
The good thing about using fat storage as energy means your body won’t need to direct energy to your digestive processes (because you’re not eating) but instead use it to fix internal issues developed previously – this is the natural healing process.
Hence, I suggest complete fasting (only water), rather than juicing (fasting albeit a little cheating) – I’d prefer a complete swipe.
I’ve done a 3-day water-fast before, and to tell you the truth: it was an awesome experience and it felt wonderful!
Check out: my water-fasting journal.
4. DASH Diet
DASH = Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – with hypertension meaning high blood pressure.
“The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It also contains less salt and sodium; sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages; fats; and red meats than the typical American diet. This heart healthy way of eating is also lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and rich in nutrients that are associated with lowering blood pressure—mainly potassium, magnesium, and calcium, protein, and fiber.”
Source: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Here are two free PDF guides the U.S. Department of Health has published on the DASH diet – 6 pages (brief version) and 64 pages (thorough).
It’s a typical and simple “eat healthy” diet.
5. Low FODMAP Diet
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharide and polyols – these are things you should NOT consume.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates that irritate the digestive processes because they are difficult to digest, and get fermented by bacteria.
It was mainly designed for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What does FODMAP include?
- Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc)
- Lactose (dairy)
- Fructans (aka inulin) (wheat, onion, garlic, etc)
- Galactans (beans, lentils, legumes such as soy, etc)
- Polyols (sweeteners containing sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc)
Source: PDF guide on Low FODMAP Diet by Stanford University Medical Center.
The rules are hard to remember at first, so you’ll often have to refer to lists.
Because one of the strong factors that contribute to eczema is the “leaky gut” concept, by reducing digestive discomforts and irritants, this will help minimize damage done to the gut, effectively reducing “leakage” meaning fewer eczema symptoms.
6. Gluten-Free Diet
Going gluten-free means completely removing gluten (a protein found in certain grains) in your diet, because this protein damages the gut lining, contributing to the “leaky gut” concept.
Mainly designed to treat servere digestive issues and celiac disease, but is also claimed to heal digestive problems, eczema, chronic fatigue, headaches, infertility, ADHD, autism, depression, chronic inflammation, thyroid disease, weight gain and diabetes. (source)
Going gluten-free means eliminating: wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale (and some others). Oats naturally have no gluten but commonly have gluten traces due to shared machinery uses.
I’ve personally had been gluten-free for 3 months, I had my eczema healed that time, but I also incorporated other dietary concepts, so I’m not sure about the cause and effect. But it definitely helped as part of recovery.
Here’s a very useful and detailed post on gluten (science-wise): This is Your Body (and Brain) on Gluten.
7. Paleolithic Diet (Paleo Diet)
The Paleo Diet means eating as if you were in the Paleolithic Era, as if you were hunters and gatherers.
This essentially means fresh organic foods, in the appropriate proportions. It does and will help eczema because it’s very natural.
And typically around 66% vegetables and 33% meats. While some suggest 50% veggies, 25% land animals and 25% fish.
Check out these two informative pages on Paleo:
8. GAPS Diet
Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) is a diet designed to cure people with complicated mental issues like autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia.
Created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who used it to recover her young son from autism.
It’s a multi-stage diet that begins with an introduction diet, focusing on healthy foods, with emphasis on gut-healing foods (probiotics: homemade stock, yoghurt), and gradually reintroducing certain food items back into the diet.
Because the GAPS diet puts focus on the gut in combination with the “eat healthy” concept, it is effective in relieving eczema symptoms. Also, as it is a gradual stage-advancing process, it incorporates the elimination method as well, effectively ruling out food sensitivities.
There are lots of rules. Check out the guide on the GAPS diet.
Here’s a parent who healed her child with GAPS, with pictures and comments on the process she took. (link)
9. Elimination Diet
The elimination diet (not technically a diet but a way of removing food sensitivities) works by restricting your diet into a set range of food items and slowly reintroducing one type of food gradually every few days.
Using this method, normally done with a journal, you will be able to find out what triggers your internal sensitivities/food allergies with certainty.
This way of eating will effectively tell you what your body cannot handle, at least for now. On the other hand, people often take allergy blood tests to check for triggers, which may give you a general outline, but are often filled with inaccuracies – the best way to be 100% sure is through one-by-one testing (the elimination method).
Here’s a detailed guide on the elimination diet by Precision Nutrition.
Additionally, I highly recommend you to read a 3-part article on food allergies and blood testing by a friend I know, Selena who runs Amazing and Atopic, which is greatly informative and offers lots of insight. (part 1, part 2, part 3)
10. SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet)
Designed to treat gastrointestinal diseases (because of how it works, it also helps with mental issues e.g. autism). It lies on a similar concept of the Low FODMAP diet, which is highly restrictive and has been clinically tested with evident positive results.
“The Specific Carbohydrate Diet™ is biologically correct because it is species appropriate. The allowed foods are mainly those that early man ate before agriculture began. The diet we evolved to eat over millions of years was predominantly one of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, low-sugar fruits. Our modern diet including starches, grains, pasta, legumes, and breads has only been consumed for a mere 10,000 years.”
It also lies on a similar concept with Paleo and Gluten-Free, that people have yet to adapt to the new food items the recent years have brought everyone in contact with, so our bodies simply have not evolved enough for it. So? Avoid them.
Because of the “eat like a caveman” concept, the food items are again in the “eat healthy” concept, which is definitely effective for an eczema patient.
I found this site on SCD resourceful.
11. Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarians = eat no animals.
But there are different types, some eat no eggs and dairy by-products like cheese, also honey, due to religious beliefs. Being vegetarian is more about ethical spirits on the environment though.
Because vegetarians often engage in a diet rich in veggies and fruits, the diet in itself will heal the body through nutrition from these plant-based foods. However, of course, a vegetarian has no rules against eating chemically processed foods – which would be counter-effective for an eczema patient.
Do you recognize the trend here?
There are tons of diets and most of them are interchangeable.
- Acid Alkaline Diet
- Raw Food Diet
- Juice Fasting
- Low FODMAP
- Gluten-free Diet
- Paleolithic Diet
- Elimination Diet
- Vegetarian Diet
Do you recognize the trend here?
“Eat healthy.” Eat lots of plants. But not all of them. Because they are nutritious, and fibrous – which promotes bowel movements, not just for the removal of wastes but is an extremely important mechanism of detoxifying the body.
“Plant-based diets either minimize or completely eliminate people’s genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.” (Food Technology, October 2012)
Stop the Western diet. In fact, check out the shi* that is in today’s diets that are killing our body.
“The “Western Diet”, which is high in sweet and fried foods, raises a person’s risk of dying early.” (American Journal of Medicine)
Fix the “leaky gut.” Our gut is a biodome – contains a balance between good bacteria (probiotics) and harmful bacteria (yeasts, fungi). We need to raise the population of probiotics to fix the “leakages” – damages in our gut lining that allow the escape of harmful bacteria into the bloodstream into the rest of the body. How? Healthy dieting and regular consumption of probiotic-rich foods (check out my recent Kimchi experiment).
A good way to fix the leaky gut is to speed up the natural body healing process by fasting. I’ve personally done it and it works. Check out my 3 day water-fasting journal.
“Eat like a caveman.” This follows the concept that our genetics have not biologically evolved to digest food items we’ve only had in the recent years.
Begin with a introductory elimination course. This is done to track down and eventually eliminate food sensitivities developed over a period of time.
So, what’s the best dietary solution? What should YOU follow?
Some people claim this works, some people claim that works. So, which is the best?
Chances are you will never know, because if someone has recovered he/she wouldn’t get sick on purpose again to test the effectiveness of each diet. Plus, it’s simply too difficult to measure the “effectiveness” of a diet.
The answer I’ll give you: a custom diet.
A diet designed for your very own self, individualized for your needs and customized as per what your body responds to. Sounds right, right?
This is exactly the type of diet that I used to cure my own eczema, I incorporated concepts of different diets together and made my own personal program, which worked.
What should your custom diet include?
As you see in the trend of various diets, your custom diet can be flexible as long as you incorporate these elements:
- Stop the Western diet
- Begin with an introductory elimination course.
- “Eat healthy”
- “Eat like a caveman”
- Fix the “leaky gut”
For more info, please read The Truth About Dieting For Eczema.
Additionally, these diets all fail to tell you some things that you crucially need for proper healing.
- Sleep (the body engages in deep body healing during sleep, more information here)
- Stresslessness (stress leads to toxification)
- Exercise (exercise promotes recovery and allows thorough detoxification)
To cure eczema, diet changes are important, but that is not to exclude these three factors as well.
Final Words To Eczema Sufferers
Last but not least, there’s only one reason that most people trying to heal themselves, regardless of what medical condition, fail.
*suggested reading: The Hardest Part of Eczema Recovery (I Failed Many Times)*
My skin only showed vivid changes of recovery after 3 months of highly restrictive dieting. This is not to exclude the healing crises I was in before the healing was distinctly visible.
Drop in any comments, questions, doubts you have. This is the reason why I write these posts, for my blog readers.
P.S. Here’s a nice index on different diets.
P.P.S. Further reading: The Truth About Dieting For Eczema