Did you know that the food we eat and the way our body responds to it has everything to do with eczema?
In fact, studies show that nearly two-thirds of those with eczema have a food allergy!
When you consume foods that your body reacts to, antibodies attack these food particles, leading to a wide range of symptoms—including breakouts of eczema.
Consuming the right foods can be essential to cure eczema as well as to prevent it from happening again.
Eczema breakouts seemingly happen for no reason, but despite what you’ve heard, they do have an underlying cause.
Many people can trace the root cause of their eczema back to food.
Here are the top 12 foods that can trigger eczema breakouts. Many of these foods are responsible for other health problems besides eczema, so think twice before you eat them!
Many patients I see experience dairy intolerance symptoms and don’t realize it. Dairy promotes inflammation and aggravate your gut, potentially causing leaky gut and a host of symptoms that come with that, including problems with eczema!
Dairy is also highly acidic and produces acidic reactions in the body, which can further aggravate your eczema.
The connection between food sensitivities—especially dairy and cow’s milk—and eczema has been explored for years, and studies show that food allergens such as dairy were eczema “flare factors” in 96% of patients.
Don’t forget that dairy is in these items—you’ll want to avoid them!
- Sour cream
2. Yeast-Containing Foods
Yeast is a type of fungi (mold) can produce histamine reactions in the body, which can lead to eczema breakouts and autoimmune symptoms.
There are three types of yeast you can consume (these include baker’s, brewer’s, and wild yeasts) and then there is a natural type of yeast that’s present in all of our bodies called candida.
Although I’ve seen too much candida in the body cause a variety of symptoms, eczema is primarily linked to the type of yeast you can consume!
Studies have documented that patients with eczema can experience a yeast allergy, but this cause of eczema isn’t as common as dairy or gluten. Yeast-containing foods include the following:
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
- Dried fruits
- Fermented foods (including alcohol, soy sauce, sauerkraut, and kimchi)
You’d be surprised what other foods yeast is in! For a complete list of foods that contain yeast, click here.
3. Very Acidic Fruits
It’s best to choose alkaline fruits as highly acidic fruits such as blueberries can irritate sensitive skin and trigger eczema breakouts.
When too much acid is present, our bodies try to combat the acid by neutralizing it. As a result of this process, acid could actually come through your skin, causing problems like acne and eczema.
The benefits of eating a mostly alkaline diet have other health benefits, but a balance is required. The consumption of too many alkaline foods can also have adverse health effects on your body. Balance, people!
A study done by the University of Modena in Italy also showed “significant differences” in the skin pH of children who experienced eczema and those who didn’t—further showing how body acidity is linked to eczema breakouts!
But what fruits should you be eating if not acidic ones?
List of the best alkalizing fruits to eat (remember, the riper the fruit, the more alkalizing it is!):
That’s a pretty good list—eat up, my friends!
4. Wheat and Gluten
Many people are intolerant to gluten and experience autoimmune symptoms, including eczema breakouts—this type of allergy is a huge factor when it comes to eczema.
Wheat also tends to be pretty acidic and can further aggravate the body and lead to itchy, dry, and red skin, which is not what you want!
Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley and rye. This is typically why many pet foods and human foods will say “wheat-free”. This does not mean “gluten-free”. (I know, it’s confusing and we should hate their advertising claims.)
Although not all studies have been in agreement, some studies have found that as many as 30% of patients react to gluten and wheat while experiencing their eczema breakouts.
Gluten is in a surprising number of foods, including but not limited to:
- Some meats
- Soy sauce
- Soups (used as a thickener)
Your cosmetics may even have gluten in them, which relates directly to eczema. If you’re slopping your face with gluten goo, it could trigger eczema.
Some cosmetic items that could contain gluten include:
- Hair-styling products
Always read the label, and be mindful of what could contain gluten in your life—it could be triggering your eczema!
5. Processed Foods
Processed foods tend to contain a lot of sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals, all of which can trigger eczema and harm your beautiful body!
Processed foods could contain artificial sugars that are toxic to the body, chemical dyes, and artificial flavors. These aren’t natural and you shouldn’t be eating them—end of story.
Although there’s not as much evidence supporting the link between processed foods and eczema breakouts, your body and skin will benefit from the elimination of these foods.
Dyes, preservatives, and additives to avoid:
- Annatto (a “natural” food coloring banned in Europe from use in foods)
- Artificial dyes (look for items like Red #40, Yellow #5, and Tartrazine on the label)
- Monosodium glutamate (our friend MSG)
- Nitrates (commonly found in meats, especially sausages)
- Sodium benzoate
- Sodium glutamate
You’ll be surprised how much better your skin looks when you eliminate these chemicals from your diet!
Eggs are another common allergen that can cause bouts of eczema in individuals that are sensitive. Studies have found that eggs can “directly provoke” eczema breakouts!
The best way to know if you’re sensitive to eggs is to get an allergen panel done by your natural doctor. You can also eliminate eggs from your diet to see if it helps, but consulting your natural health practitioner can give you more guidance.
Eggs also tend to be very acidic (all animal products are), so another reason to eat more vegetables and avoid eggs for now!
Foods eggs might be present in:
- Baked goods such as cookies and cakes
- Some natural flavorings such as lecithin
- Some pastas
It’s always important to read the label and see if “egg” is listed under the ingredients in the allergen section—food manufacturers love to sneak allergens in all types of food.
Sweets can also be responsible for triggering your eczema. This happens because sugar is extremely acidic and can produce acidic reactions in your skin, therefore leading to problems like eczema.
Sugar is also responsible for inflammation in the body—the reaction on your skin is an autoimmune one that can be linked to inflammation.
By eating less sweets and more whole foods, you can help stop your eczema from flaring and nourish your body rather than poisoning it with sugar and other sweets!
Chocolate is another favorite food that doesn’t go well with eczema. Chocolate is responsible for some eczema outbreaks on account of its tendency for causing allergic reactions in susceptible people.
Your skin may also be reacting to the caffeine contained in chocolate, or if you’re eating chocolate made with “chocolate liquor”, you’re actually eating yeast along with sugar and chocolate! All three of these things can trigger eczema.
Try to limit the amount of chocolate you eat to see if it helps your eczema!
An allergy to shellfish such as shrimp, crabs, and lobster could be the sneaky culprit behind your outbreaks of eczema.
Eczema is actually a symptom of a shellfish allergy, so get tested by your doctor or visit your herbalist to discover if your body could be sensitive to these types of foods!
If you think you don’t eat a lot of shellfish, consider that shellfish is present in the following foods:
- Oyster sauce
- Egg rolls
- Fish sticks
- Worcestershire sauce
Always read the label and research the ingredients if you’re not sure!
10. Spicy Food
Look out for Sriracha sauce and habanero peppers—spicy foods are best avoided when it comes to eczema!
Some people find that their eczema is triggered by spicy foods like peppers, hot sauce, or curry. Let’s not forget that peppers—which are often responsible for the spiciness of many foods—are part of the nightshade family.
Nightshades include potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes, and can cause a host of symptoms in susceptible people. Some sufferers of eczema have found that eliminating nightshades from their diet has lead to an improvement of their eczema!
Alcohol contains yeast, which as you’ve seen above, can trigger eczema breakouts. Alcohol is also very acidic and can hinder your immune system, further affecting your eczema-ridden skin!
The abuse of alcohol can also trigger your eczema. To prevent breakouts of eczema as well as to help cure it, it’s best to replace alcohol with water. Don’t forget that alcohol is present in:
- Mixed Drinks
But you smart people already knew that, right?
12. Nuts and Seeds
If you’re sensitive to nuts and seeds, they could be triggering your eczema. Although some people tolerate these high-protein, healthy-fat snacks, others don’t.
If your body is sensitive, you’ll want to avoid them. Remember, peanuts don’t make this list—peanuts are actually a legume, in the same category as beans!
Although some allergic reactions to tree nuts and seeds can be severe, the majority of them are pretty mild. They still could be causing your eczema though—a thorough allergen panel can determine this.
Nuts and seeds include:
- Tree nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts)
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
- Coconut (technically a seed)
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
See your natural doctor to see if tree nuts or seeds could be causing your eczema!
What Can You Do?
If you see a conventional doctor for your eczema, he or she will likely put you on steroids and other pharmaceutical drugs.
Not only are these ineffective in the long-term, but can also suppress your immune system and make your eczema worse.
The key is to listen to your body. Keep a food journal and document what you eat as well as how you feel afterwards and what the condition of your eczema is.
You might also eliminate one or more of the foods on this list at a time to see how the removal affects your eczema. If your body is sensitive to these foods, removal will be necessary to see results with your eczema.
Other practices you can do that will help:
- Eat a largely plant-based diet—meats can be acidic and contain nitrates and other additives that can aggravate your eczema.
- Try a calendula-based lotion or lotion with aloe vera on your face. These tend to be very soothing and much less harsh than any over-the-counter creams you may buy that contain toxic chemicals.
- Take evening primrose oil. This oil is high in fatty acids and can help improve the appearance of your skin and hair. This oil is also a natural antihistamine, and can help soothe your body’s inflammatory reactions.
- Calm down! Stress gets your body hyped up—meaning it can suppress your immune system, lead to chronic pain from tense muscles, headaches, and heart trouble.
Dealing with eczema is definitely not fun and can be painful, embarrassing, and life-altering.
But now that you’ve seen the evidence for yourself that eczema is linked to different food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities, you can better listen to your body and cure your eczema!
What’s been your experience with eczema? Has the elimination of one of these foods helped? Let us know!