Immune Series - Part 3
Continuing from Part Two, we look at other causes and issues around immune responses, and give some delicious and nutritious recipes to assist.
Eczema is a red, itchy, uncomfortable, inflammatory, yet non-contagious, skin condition that usually first appears in early life; although it’s not uncommon to experience bouts of it later on, especially in those suffering from low immunity or chronic stress. It can be incredibly frustrating, painful, and often tricky to treat, and find the real root cause. You may notice that the skin seems to thicken, and appear raised where the rash is, leaving you with dry, sore, inflamed patches of skin. The exact cause is likely to be multifactorial, consisting of a mix of genetic, external environmental factors, and your gut health. Inflammation, and creating trauma from scratching, can cause further impairments to the function of the skin barrier, so it’s helpful to find something to soothe the itching sensation. Often sufferers will think to apply a topical solution first, but as it’s an immune response, with your body reacting to disturbances and imbalances, like allergies, sensitivities (from food, the environment), it’s important to start healing eczema from the inside out.
Protocol to Manage
- There are certain things we can do to help support our bodies, if we are suffering from eczema symptoms.
- Vitamin B2 and Vitamin C: Two nutrients that work to support skin health. Vit C maintains connective tissue health, assists with collagen formation and plays a role in wound healing. Find these vitamins in citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwis, broccoli, sprouts, free range organic chicken, salmon and organic tofu.
- Zinc: Relieves the symptoms of acne, little pimples and minor skin eruptions (like eczema). It also plays a major role in immune status and contains wound healing properties. It regulates the production of certain inflammatory biomarkers and increases the repair of the tissue that forms on the outer layer of the body’s surface. This is why it is successful in treating eczema and maintaining skin health. Foods rich in zinc include plant-based sources such as pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, hummus, black beans, hempseeds, shellfish and lean, organic red meat.
- Burdock: Traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to relieve minor skin eruptions and symptoms of mild eczema and dermatitis, it is an acquired taste, but great sipped as a tea and can bought in most health food shops.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids: Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for overall human nutrition. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may alter the development of immune system allergies just like eczema. If there is an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6, it can result in increased inflammation and cause a shift towards an immune response. Sources can be found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, organic free-range eggs, chia seeds and my favourite nutritional powerhouse - flaxseeds.
- Quercetin: This is a naturally occurring polyphenol that exerts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic activity (super important for skin conditions like eczema). Polyphenols are compounds found in colourful fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, which also help to block activity of the cells that are responsible for releasing histamines during an allergic reaction. Quercetin helps to supress allergic inflammation and stress in the body and Is also fantastic with gut repair. It boosts the immunity in your mucus membranes, reducing reactivity to seasonal allergens, while also helping to reduce food allergies - so all round brilliant! Sources of this include dark green leafy veggies, red onions, red apples, red grapes, dark cherries and a lovely cup of green tea.
- Vitamin E: A fat soluble, super crucial nutrient that exerts antioxidant activity. Our bodies cannot produce this, so our skin relies on oral or topical use, which is why lots of skin care brands will often contain it. It protects the cell membrane responsible for detecting and destroying harmful pathogens and reduces production of inflammatory compounds. Some of the richest, and my most favourite sources of vitamin E, include almonds and sunflower seeds. Both very easy to eat on a daily basis! You can use almond milk, almond flour etc.
Recipe to Help - Cherry Flax Breakfast Muffins
You will need:
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
⅓ cup dried unsweetened cherries
1 ½ tbsp ground flax
¼ cup water
½ cup organic coconut raw coconut sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce or coconut yoghurt
1 ¾ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cup gluten-free flour
• Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a muffin tin with liners.
• Combine milk and cherries, and either slowly heat on the stove until boiling, or microwave for 3 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Watch the mixture carefully to ensure it does not overflow. The milk should take on a slight pink/purple colour. Cover, and let rest, while you continue.
• Combine the coconut sugar, applesauce/yoghurt, flax, and water until thoroughly mixed.
• Whisk together baking soda and gluten-free flour.
• Pour the dry mixture into the wet, and top with the cherry milk. Stir by hand until just combined.
• Spoon into the prepared muffin tin. You may notice air bubbles starting to form.
• Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
Recipe - Immunity Red Lentil Dahl
You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp peeled, grated ginger
1 cup chopped, white onion
1 ¼ cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
½ tbsp pressed garlic
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 cups sweet potato and carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ½ cups water
1 cup split red lentils
1 tsp sea salt
4 cups chopped, baby spinach
½ lemon, juiced (2 tbsp)
Serve with your choice of brown rice, cauliflower rice, buckwheat or quinoa.
In a pot over medium heat, add oil, ginger, onion, celery, garlic, mustard seeds, coriander, curry powder and onion powder. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add water and lentils. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add chopped spinach, sea salt and lemon. Serve warm.
Vital Hydration Blast
Wonderful for all post-operation or laser treatments to calm the skin down, it especially speeds up the healing process with its complete pro Vitamin B complex. Rich and extremely lightweight, it is easily absorbable for you as a daily moisturizer, or a mask to be used 2-3 times a week. It is also extremely effective as an overnight mask for deeper healing.
Nutrient C Eye Cream
Super anti-inflammatory and packed with nutrition, this cream is a ‘complete whole food’ for your skin. It is fortified with ocean mineral complexes, reishi mushrooms, Vitamin C, E and grapeseed oil. It nourishes, hydrates and reduces inflammation around the eye area.
All Kat Burki products provide the perfect plant-based, cold-processed diet for your skin.
Rosemary Ferguson (@rosemaryferguson_) is a successful model of the 90’s turned nutritionist, founder of the 5 Day Plan, co-founder of Pure Filth, author, writer and Mum of three beautiful girls! From a homeopathic background, Rosemary has always had an interest in what food can do for you, this lead to her studying at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. She is now qualified in naturopathy and nutrition and runs a clinic London.