The Role of Nutrition in Atopic Dermatitis
What is Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory, disorder of the upper layer of the skin, which causes dry skin, persistent itching and rashes. It usually occurs in early childhood and can last until adolescence or even adulthood. Eczema can be acute or chronic.
Chronic skin symptoms manifest through lichens or fibrous papules on human skin. Of course, it is not excluded that all these skin lesions can coexist. Intense itching with a papule, surrounded by erythema and abrasions are classified as acute skin symptoms.
Atopic Dermatitis is distinguished, depending on the ages it affects, in infantile Eczema, in Atopic Dermatitis of childhood and in Atopic Dermatitis of adults. In children, rashes are usually found on the neck, arms and legs, especially behind the knees and in front of the elbows, while in adults the lesions are limited to the extremities of the arms and legs, in front of the elbows and behind the knees.
Etiological Factors of Atopic Dermatitis
There is no single cause that triggers the occurrence of Eczema. It is usually a combination of chronic inflammation and dysfunction of the skin barrier.
A number of adverse epigenetic factors, such as stress, toxins and various chemicals substances, which do not contribute to the proper biochemistry of the body, can affect the function of cells and cause disorders in the biochemical and molecular balance of the body. This condition in turn leads to the development of autoimmune diseases, such as Eczema.
Adverse climatic conditions, such as cold or extreme heat, repeated sun exposure and sudden temperature changes are parameters that favor the development of Atopic Dermatitis. Contact with irritants, such as very hot water, perfumes and intense rubbing, as well as various allergens cause skin complications and itching especially in the area of the lesion.
Itching, as a mechanical irritation, mobilizes the immune mechanisms of the human body, resulting in deterioration of symptoms. Thus, a vicious cycle of autoimmunity is created (itching-itching-rash), which is the main cause of the symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis.
Atopic Dermatitis And Nutrition
Atopic Dermatitis is often associated with allergies, which are caused by various foods. Some patients even adopt the misconception that Eczema is triggered by food allergies and often give the impression that avoiding only certain foods can reduce the symptoms of the disease. On the contrary, restricting certain foods from the daily diet of people with Atopic Dermatitis may have adverse effects, such as deficiency of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, deficiencies in iron, vitamins K, A, B1, B6 and C.
However, it is true that food allergies are more common in patients with Eczema. 80% of patients with eczema have higher levels of antibodies than normal in their body, resulting in allergies. Dairy products, eggs, peanuts, fish, wheat, gluten, chocolate, citrus fruits and soy are among most common allergens.
The health of the digestive system has a major impact on those who suffer from Eczema. The digestive and immune systems are supported by good gut bacteria. Taking probiotics helps to strengthen the intestinal microbiome and reduces inflammation. Scientific research demonstrates the beneficial role that the intestinal microflora plays in reducing local inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Experts also recommend taking vitamin D and zinc supplements, as they help the immune system control the body’s response to inflammation, while foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the absorption of nutrients by the intestinal flora.
Low glycemic foods, such as whole grains and lean protein, reduce the amount of insulin in the blood, thus significantly reducing the risk of developing inflammation.
It is also advisable to eat fruits and vegetables, which have a high content of vitamin C. The antioxidants contained in these foods help to balance the immune system and offer many benefits to those who suffer from Atopic Dermatitis.
What we need to remember
Preventing and avoiding factors that exacerbate skin lesions is very beneficial. Special care is required in sudden changes in temperature and humidity. The use of antiseptic soaps is not recommended, because they increase the dryness of the skin and the avoidance of body friction after the bath is a necessary condition to reduce the chances of developing Eczema.
Care should also be taken with the consumption of inflammatory foods, which can worsen the symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis. A personalized, therapeutic, anti-inflammatory diet, which can treat inflammation in a beneficial way, always in combination with the essential minerals, trace elements and vitamins. This combination of Therapeutic Nutrition and restoration of Biochemical Balance at the cellular level is the appropriate and scientifically correct way to manage Atopic Dermatitis.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).
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