Watching your baby struggle with itchy and inflamed skin is difficult for any parent to bear, particularly when you think it is caused by their diet – and they’re a fussy eater to boot.
Nutritionist Karen Fischer knows the problem well, having experienced a battle with eczema with her daughter, Avya.
She has spent 10 years researching eczema and inflammatory skin conditions – and has now published a book about her research, The Eczema Detox.
Here, FEMAIL looks at her 12 worst foods to feed eczema-prone children – and the diet that could get rid of their pesky itchy skin for good.
According to Karen, while there are some foods that worsen skin rashes intensely, there are 12 which work wonders at reducing eczema.
Here’s what you need to add to your eczema prone child’s plate.
1. Mung bean sprouts
‘Mung bean sprouts are like little alkalising “bombs” when added to your meals as they are one of the few strongly alkalising foods available,’ Karen wrote in her book.
2. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseeds are small brown seeds best known for their rich content of anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils.
Karen explained: ‘Flaxseed oil is more refined than whole flaxseeds so it contains fewer salicylates and amines and more of the beneficial oils, including 57 per cent omega-3 essential fatty acids.’
The benefits of flaxseed oil include a remedy for dry skin, a prevention of dry eyes and a reduction in the risk of cancer.
Sprinkle some on your child’s breakfast cereal for healthy skin.
3. Red cabbage
Another ‘alkalising vegetable and a member of the mighty brassica family’, Karen outlined that red cabbage is ‘rich in vitamin C, folate and anti-cancer indoles’.
‘It’s worth swapping from white cabbage to the red variety as red cabbage has double the amount of dietary fibre compared to regular cabbage and it contains protective purple pigments,’ she said.
Red cabbage’s anti-inflammatory properties ‘activate the production of collagen for healthy skin’.
4. Spring onions
Also referred to as scallions and shallots, spring onions are part of the onion family and contain ‘histamine-lowering, anti-inflammatory quercetin’.
‘Like garlic (but in lower concentrations) spring onions possess antioxidant flavonoids that convert to allicin when cut or crushed,’ Karen said.
‘Spring onions contain folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene and lutein and are one of the richest sources of vitamin K, which is vital for healthy skin.
‘Just 50g of raw spring onions provides 103mcg of vitamin K, nearly double the daily adequate intake for adults.’
Fish is great for your health for a number of reasons, but it also helps with eczema.
‘High fish intake during pregnancy is associated with a decreased risk of eczema,’ Karen said.
‘Two to three servings of fish each week are beneficial for elevating mood and increasing the health of the brain, skin and heart.’
Good sources of omega-3, EPA and DHA include trout, salmon, sardines, herring and fish oil supplements, she outlined.
Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided, she added.
‘Beetroot, also known as beets, is an important vegetable for eczema sufferers as it has strong alkalising properties which boost liver detoxification of chemicals,’ Karen said.
‘Beetroots are a rich source of betaine, a derivative of choline, which helps to prevent fatty liver and boost detoxification of chemicals.’
Grate fresh or peeled beetroot into salads and sandwiches, and put in your kids’ veggie juices.
A staple of thousands of people around the world, Karen highlighted that oats are vital for eczema sufferers as ‘wholegrain or rolled oats provide more dietary fibre and protein than other grain cereals’.
‘They’re a source of vitamin E, zinc, potassium, iron, manganese and silica, an essential mineral for strengthening connective tissue in the skin,’ she said.
Practise giving them to your kids at least twice a week for breakfast to reap the complexion results.
8. Papaya and pawpaw
Both papaya and pawpaw are encouraged, thanks to papaya’s lycopene content, which helps to protect the skin from sun damage (there is no lycopene in pawpaw).
Eating them raw, with the skin and seeds removed, is typical and the most beneficial way to eat them.
Saffron has long been touted as the health holy grail, thanks to its medicinal properties, pleasant flavour and bright orange colour, which means it’s often used to colour rice dishes.
‘Saffron has many health benefits and it has been used for centuries as a natural antiseptic, digestive aid and antidepressant,’ Karen said.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help with stomach disorders and coughs, too.
‘Pears are a member of the rose family and have a unique combination of insoluble and soluble fibre,’ Karen said.
‘This powerful combination of dietary fibre in pears helps to reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, by binding to bile acids to aid the removal of toxic waste from the body.’
They are also a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K – and they’re easy to digest.
‘Carob has been used for its many health benefits for over 4000 years,’ Karen said.
‘It was used to soothe and cleanse the throat and it can help alleviate diarrhoea in children.’
Incorporate a bar of carob instead of chocolate for your children, to help their skin.
‘While potatoes are often mistakenly touted as being “void of nutrition”, this humble vegetable has a high vitamin C content, which kept sailors in the 1700s from dying of scurvy,’ Karen said.
‘White potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin B6, and a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, vitamin B5 and dietary fibre for healthy bowels and clear skin.’
Potatoes are easy to add to your children’s diets – simply add them to any evening meal with vegetables and protein.