1. Mung bean sprouts
Mung bean sprouts are like little alkalizing ‘bombs’ when added to your meals as they are one of the few strongly alkalizing foods available. They contain magnesium, vitamin K, folate, potassium and vitamin C and they are salicylate-free. Sprouting your own mung beans is easy.
2. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are small brown seeds best known for their rich content of anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils. The seeds are a source of phytochemicals including a moderate amount of salicylates and amines, plus silica, mucilage, oleic acid, protein, vitamin E and dietary fibre for gastrointestinal and liver health.
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. So I suggest beginning with a small bottle of organic flaxseed oil and using it in smoothies (or buy capsules). Then if you find the oil beneficial (and don’t react to the small amount of phytochemicals) you can progress to using the whole flaxseeds — these are great sprinkled onto breakfast cereals.
3. Red cabbage
Cabbage is another alkalizing vegetable and a member of the mighty brassica family. It’s rich in vitamin C, folate and anti-cancer indoles. But 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. These pigments are caused by a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins (a type of tannin), which are powerful flavonoids that have a skin-protective effect against UV sunlight when consumed frequently. Anthocyanins help to protect blood vessels from oxidative damage, and their anti-inflammatory properties activate the production of collagen for healthy skin.
4. Spring onions (scallions, shallots)
Spring onions, also referred to as scallions and shallots, are part of the onion family and, like the onion, spring onions contain histamine-lowering, anti-inflammatory quercetin. They have a straight green stem, with no bulb. Like garlic (but in lower concentrations) spring onions possess antioxidant flavonoids that convert to allicin when cut or crushed. Lab experiments show that allicin helps liver cells to reduce cholesterol and has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, so it’s a beneficial ingredient for preventing Candida albicans infestation.
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 50 g of raw spring onions provides 103 mcg of vitamin K, nearly double the daily adequate intake for adults.
Fish is a great source of protein, vitamin D, iodine and anti-inflammatory omega-3. High fish intake during pregnancy is associated with a decreased risk of eczema. 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 (these are the converted omega-3 fatty acids) include trout, salmon, sardines, herring and fish oil supplements. Other minor sources of EPA and DHA include low-fat seafood such as carp, pike, haddock and squid.
It’s important to favour eczema-safe fish that is low in mercury. The following fish and seafoods are low in mercury, as is the case with all small-sized fish (if in doubt ask your local fishmonger). The general rule is: the higher up the food chain and the bigger the fish (e.g. shark/flake), the more mercury it may contain.
Tip: if you are allergic or sensitive to seafood, avoid fish. If you find your skin improves when you eat fish, you can eat the following fresh fish once or twice a week.
6. Beetroot (beets)
Beetroot, also known as beets, is an important vegetable for eczema sufferers as it has strong alkalizing properties which boost liver detoxification of chemicals. Beetroot is abundant in antioxidants, folate and iron. It is a potent blood cleanser and research shows that beetroot consumption lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of blood clots. Beetroots are a rich source of betaine, a derivative of choline, which helps to prevent fatty liver and boost detoxification of chemicals. Betaine also has the important role of converting homocysteine, a harmful substance, into methionine, which is essential for proper liver function.
Eczema sufferers need to start their day with a nutritious breakfast and 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. Oats contain soluble fibre, so when they’re made into porridge it appears gluey during cooking. The fibre is valuable for gastrointestinal health, helping to lower cholesterol, promote liver health, and cleanse pathogens and toxin-loaded bile from the bowel.
8. Papaya (and pawpaw)
Papaya is a red fruit related to yellow pawpaw and it provides a range of carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants that can modulate gene activity to protect against inflammatory damage and tumour growth, according to clinical studies.2
The lycopene content in papaya helps to protect the skin from sun damage (note that there is no lycopene in pawpaw) and both fruits are rich sources of vitamin C. Papaya contains the digestive enzyme papain, which is used in some digestive supplements to aid protein digestion. Papain kills parasites in the gut and after antibiotic use or a bout of illness you can eat a serving of papaya daily to promote recolonization of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Papaya is usually eaten raw, with the skin and seeds removed. The seeds contain potent antimicrobial properties and they can be eaten to flush worms out of the bowel (‘flush’ being the operative word as they cause severe diarrhoea, so use with caution and do not give papaya seeds to children). Eating papaya flesh does not cause any of these symptoms, although the fruit does contain a moderate amount of amines so if you are highly sensitive to amines make sure you’re also taking a vitamin C, B6 and calcium supplement.
Saffron is a highly prized spice thanks to its medicinal properties, pleasant flavour and bright orange colour which is commonly 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. For people with digestive issues, adding saffron to your dishes may reduce your symptoms. Saffron also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be an effective remedy for stomach disorders and coughs thanks to the compounds safranal and crocin.
Pears are a member of the rose family and have a unique combination of insoluble and soluble fibre. 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. Pears are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K, and the flavonols in pears include quercetin and kaempferol, which are potent antiinflammatory antioxidants with antifungal and anticancer properties. Pears are one of the few low acid, low-salicylate fruits making them gentle on the digestive tract and easier to digest than other fruits.