What your doctor DOESN’T tell you about eczema

Eczema is one of the body’s last cries for help.  It is desperately trying to expel toxins from the body, that it has not been able to do so through other means.  It is related to chronic inflammation of the gut and liver and has much less to do with dry weather and ‘thin skin’ than most fact sheets let on.

So what could be causing it?  A food that the body does not digest well will certainly have the body in turmoil.  A food sensitivity will tend to produce inflammation inside the body and may present as either an allergic reaction or simply nothing external, at first glance. The body may try to cope with this inflammation via eczema, particularly if the liver is functioning poorly.

Chemicals are another cause of eczema.  This may be from external contact such as soaps, chlorine and detergents and also sunscreen.  It may also be from chemicals that the digestive system is exposed to, such as non-organic foods, food additives and even overuse of medications such as steroid creams and antibiotics.  Yes, the very products doctors are prescribing to ‘bandaid’ the effects of eczema!

Besides food and chemicals, stress can be another cause.  Elevated cortisol in the body can literally produce holes in the intestinal lining, allowing undigested food, yeast and other toxins through, again producing inflammation in the body.

What can I do about eczema?  If you aim to get to the root of the problem, try not to turn immediately to steroid creams and ‘dry skin’ products like QV bath oil or Alpha Keri Wash.  These ‘dry skin’ products are still made by pharmaceutical companies, with less-than-natural ingredients such as paraffin, petroleum jelly and parabens (known carcinogens), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS – a dangerous chemical), triclosan (a pesticide) and a host of other chemicals.

The more detoxifying your child’s body has to do, the more their liver is overloaded and the more likely their body will be forced to excrete these wastes through the skin, as eczema.

To be proactive, you will need to consider either first removing potential culprit foods, at least for an elimination test or turning to natural products, to reduce the body’s toxic load from chemicals.  In the meantime, consuming Omega 3 and 6 oils, in the form of say fish/krill oil, flaxseed/linseed oil, avocado, cold-pressed olive oil and organic nuts such as walnuts are extremely important for those suffering from eczema.  Probiotics, to support gut health, have also shown great improvement.

What are the best natural skin products?  Coconut oil is the best product you can use!  It can be used as a soap, a moisturiser, an antifungal/viral/microbial first aid cream and a bath oil.  It is even an ideal toothpaste (Natural toothpaste recipe) as it kills off the germs and remineralises teeth at the same time.

image : coconutoilbenefits.com.au

image : coconutoilbenefits.com.au

Natural sunscreens do exist.  You just need to visit your local health food store to find them.  Interestingly, studies have shown how sunlight can improve eczema.

How do I determine the culprit food?  This is a tricky one as eczema may not show up immediately after consuming an inflaming food.  Go with your gut.  What foods do you think are the worst offenders for your child?  Start by doing a 3 week elimination test of this food group and then watching closely as you introduce it back in.  Once the body has had a break from this irritating food, it will gain strength and give a much clearer signal of distress when you add it back in.

For those wanting less guesswork, you can seek out an IgG blood test to determine foods your child may be intolerant to, an IgE skin prick test to look at allergies, or using kinesiology to test how the body copes with the main allergens, with simple, pain-free muscle testing.

Is it easier to just ‘bandaid’ the cause?  Initially, it definitely seems easier to ignore eczema by using creams and dry skin products.  It is easy to blame the weather or put it down to ‘no known cause’.  However, eczema visible to our eyes means chronic inflammation on the inside of the body.  Research is showing chronic inflammation is the start of all diseases and even cancer, later in life.  It is linked to auto-immune disorders such as asthma, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s, neurological diseases, arthritis and also linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Eczema will come back to bite harder later in life.  A few simple steps such as adding in Omega 3 oils, probiotics and replacing coconut oil with many chemicals, will significantly reduce your child’s chances of living with eczema.  Looking into removing culprit foods will improve their chances even more.  And chances are, you’ll improve your whole family’s health at the same time.

🙂 Heidi

Coconut yoghurt

Who could say no to some coconut yoghurt?

Here are some benefits:

  • Coconut milk is a healthy and filling ‘good fat’.  Good fats are so important for brains, particularly children’s developing ones.
  • Probiotics in a food that you have fermented (unlike store bought products), are likely to have far more live cultures and are more likely to actually colonise your gut, instead of doing their job and then passing through.  My post Why your children’s gut health will determine their health both now and in the future will give you more information on why you should be looking at your family’s gut health.
  • A dairy-free option avoids the issues of dairy milk – inflammation, mucous-forming, unwanted hormones and antibiotics and not to mention the many dairy and lactose-intolerances that children are suffering from these days (many who don’t know it).  Eczema, erratic behaviour, ear infections and issues with tonsils/adenoids/sleep apnoea are just some of the signs that going dairy-free for a little bit might be a good test.
  • The price!  Make it for a fraction of the price of store-bought coconut yoghurt.

There are many, many recipes around for coconut yoghurt.  I have fine tuned this one to make it very simple.  If you have the time and resources, go for your life and make the coconut milk from scratch.  Otherwise, be sure to look for coconut cream (coconut milk or reduced fat coconut milk just has more water added) and one that has few extra ingredients.  Remember, there are so many varying factors; the quality and number of probiotics,  the source of the probiotics, the amount of coconut cream in the can and the weather.

If you treat this as a fun, tasty, cheap and healthy science experiment, you will have no worries!

tangy coconut yoghurt

Let’s get to it.

Your ingredients & equipment

  • 2 cans coconut cream.
  • 3 teaspoons dairy-free probiotic powder (we use Kids Inner Health Plus).  Make sure you get one that has at least 25 billion live cultures.  Another option might be to buy coconut yoghurt and use two ‘small’ tablespoons as your starter.
  • A clean glass jar big enough to hold the coconut cream.
  • Oven with a working light (check yours can be flicked on without the heat).  Another option might be to warm tea towels, wrap them around your glass jar and ferment in an esky.
perfect with passionfruit

perfect with passionfruit

Steps to heaven in a mouthful!

  1. Put both cans of coconut cream in your fridge (or freezer if you’re in a hurry) for an hour or so.  In winter, you may not need to do this.
  2. Scoop out the solid coconut cream into a large glass jar.  Add enough of the remaining coconut water to it to achieve your desired consistency of yoghurt, remembering it will become a bit more solid once refrigerated.  Keep the coconut water to drink, use or thin out yoghurt that might end up too thick later on.
  3. Think about whether your oven will be free for 24 hours.  If not, put your coconut cream aside until it will be.
  4. Add 3 tsp dairy-free probiotic powder or 2 tbs store-purchased coconut yoghurt.  Mix well through the coconut cream.
  5. Place the lid on the jar and put it into your oven with the door closed and with the light on and NO heat.  Trust your oven will keep your yoghurt-to-be at the right temperature even on a really cold night!
  6. Let your yoghurt develop for 24 hours.
  7. Take it out and taste.  Yum!?
  8. Refrigerate.
  9. Go out and buy more coconut milk so you are ready to make more when the first jar is polished off very quickly!
24 hours in the oven

24 hours in the oven

For your next batch…

1. Save 2 tbs yoghurt (you will need to experiment here, depending how many probiotics are in the first batch and how tangy you want the next one) and place into a clean jar.

2. Repeat above process of scooping out coconut cream and adding the coconut water you want for the correct consistency.  This time you will have a better idea of how thick or runny to make it.

3.  Stir and put back in the oven!

Troubleshooting…

  • If you find that your coconut yoghurt doesn’t taste tangy enough, don’t discount the process.  It probably did work, you may just need more probiotics added next time.  Enjoy your coconut ‘yoghurt’ anyway!
  • If your coconut yoghurt is too tangy, open a new can of coconut cream, mix the coconut cream and water together and pour some coconut milk into the yoghurt to reduce the flavour.  But don’t say no to all the wonderful probiotics in your yoghurt!
  • If your coconut yoghurt, once refrigerated, is very hard, add some coconut water to it or open another can and use.
  • Remember, refrigerating your coconut yoghurt stops the fermenting process, leaving it out will allow the fermenting to continue.
  • If you are doing the warm tea towels/esky option, you might need to check it throughout the 24 hours to be sure it isn’t fermenting too quickly and thus ending up too tangy.

I’d love to hear how you go!  Did this inspire you to make your own, delicious coconut yoghurt?  Did it turn out well?

Have you thought about a dairy-free trial to help your children’s health and wellbeing?  Just as important as calcium are magnesium and zinc levels, which all parents should keep a track of for their children, not just on a dairy-free diet.  We use a kinesiologist to monitor all three levels.  The best way we achieve these minerals are through a varied, wholefood diet.

🙂 Heidi

Why your childrens’ gut health will determine their health both now and in the future

Do you dread the winter germs?  Are your children constantly sick?  Do you put it down to ‘it’s good for their immune system’?  Have you ever wondered why some children get sick far less often or present with much milder symptoms?  What if a strong immunity wasn’t just about exposure to germs?

These are many of the questions I have asked since I was little.  Why do I always get sore throats?  No one else does.  In my twenties, people were still saying, ‘oh you’re working with children, it’ll build up your immunity’.  But through many periods I suffered with sore throats more than I was well.  Mum gave me cod liver oil and Echinacea until I’d almost rather put up with the sore throat.  I never continued with these supplements, as they didn’t really work.

Enter my first born son!  Master now 4, from the start, presented with many symptoms that made me sit up and look at his health.  The eczema, the ‘ADHD’ behaviour, the redness to his cheeks, the inability to sleep… I started to look into it.  And one answer has kept coming up – THE GUT.

I will say up front, I am not an expert on the gut…yet!  But through my experiences and my current study to become a children’s health coach, I plan to know far more about the gut within the next year and spread the word wide and far.  Here is what I have learnt so far:

  • gut health is a HOT topic in scientific research and is being linked to all types of diseases, allergies and cancer, not to mention annoying symptoms such as skin issues, constipation/diarrhoea, blocked sinuses, headaches, fatigue, the list goes on and on.
  • this literally explains (in fine scientific detail of how the gut functions) how food is medicine.  Give your intestines the right foods and your intestines will keep you healthy.
  • our intestines contain more immune cells than the entire rest of our body, so good gut health is related to a stronger immunity.
  • an intact gut lining (which is only one cell thick and thus easy to disturb) and gut flora (the right balance of the ‘good bacteria’) determine gut health.
  • certain foods and other ‘nasty things’ break down the gut lining, resulting in ‘leaky gut’.  Take a look at this article, Leaky Gut Syndrome – in Plain English to see how it happens and find out how your symptoms might be related to it.  You will be quite amazed!
  • many people have leaky gut, without realising it.  This goes for children too.
  • the state of the mother’s ‘gut flora’ (the bacteria living in her intestines) is passed onto the baby in utero.  This explains my mother’s migraines, my sister’s eczema/allergies and my low immunity, sore throats and fatigue, let alone my boys’ food intolerances and associated symptoms.
  • the presence of probiotics in the intestines, prevents unwanted bacteria from growing there.  Whilst we can survive with minimal gut flora, our body will present with many undesired symptoms, let alone inflammation which leads to disease and cancer.
  • we do need to reconsider our love of completely germ- and dirt-free, antibacterial soaps, chlorinated water and each use of antibiotics.  This is all stripping away the bad bacteria but also the good ones.
  • our gut is now becoming accepted as our ‘second brain’ with up to 100 million neurons (as many as in our spinal cord), about 40 million neurotransmitters (as many as we have in the brain) and 95% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut.
  • our gut plays a major role in mood, appetite and sleep.

So how to get on top of a leaky gut?

  • Firstly, find what is irritating your children’s intestines.  We use kinesiology which is quick, pain-free and easy to test many different foods straight up.  For my boys and I, gluten is the main one, along with soy, dairy, most corn products, food additives, sugar and yeast.  That’s how ‘not flash’ the state of our guts were!
  • Eliminate all culprits as soon as you can.  This is MUCH easier said than done and is the inspiration for my new business, coming forth in the near future.  I hope to help parents transform their pantry, menus and children’s tastes, so they can make the switch as easily as possible, and discover better health.  Whilst quick elimination would get you quick results, often times it’s ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
  • Be proactive in healing the gut.  There are several foods that are wonderful for healing the gut lining.  Turmeric is a great spice to heal the gut and reduce inflammation.  Homemade chicken broth is also a fantastic healer due to the gelatin it contains, but also it’s ability to reduce inflammation.  Even slow-cooked zucchini and squash help to heal.
  • Remember that stress and emotions also play a role in gut health.  That goes for children too.  Master4 is not only physically sensitive but also emotionally sensitive.  We have literally seen stress manifest physically for him and have now learnt to work on this before looking at external factors.

And how to build up an army of probiotics?

  • Stop removing the ‘good guys’ by throwing out any ‘antibacterial’ product and using just good old soap.
  • Don’t be so quick to wash dirt off little hands or even organic fruit and veges for that matter, as good bacteria are supposed to be ingested in ‘natural ways’.  It’s the lack of good bacteria in our systems that’s making us sick, not so much the germs we come across.
  • Look at a good probiotic.  We used Inner Health Plus probiotic powder for a few years but this was sending us broke.  I finally learnt how to ferment, which brings cheaper and better probiotics, which unlike bought probiotics, are more likely to actually colonise your child’s intestines and stick around.
  • Kombucha (fermented tea) is an easy to make, cheap and wonderful way of not only bringing good bacteria to your children’s guts but it is also a delicious, fizzy drink.
5L of kombucha tea, teeming with living probiotics, you can literally see them!!!

5L of kombucha tea, teeming with living probiotics, you can literally see them!!!

  • Rethink commercially produced yoghurt as a good source of probiotics.  Most of the time it has more sugar or artificial sweetener than it’s worth for the few probiotics you’ll find left in it.  The hormones and antibiotics from the dairy also defeats the purpose, not to mention it’s pasteurized, destroying many of the enzymes and nutrients that might have been.
  • Coconut yoghurt is easy to make and has far less additives than dairy yoghurt (assuming you use canned coconut milk and not fresh coconut, which would have no additives!) and avoids all of the issues listed above.  Otherwise look for yoghurts that are processed as little as possible, with as few ingredients as possible.
  • tangy coconut yoghurt

    tangy coconut yoghurt

  • If you can fathom making fermented vegetables and enticing your children, this would be another great source of the ‘good guys’.  My next project in the making!  Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

And after you have done all of this for your children, like me, you might actually realise that your intestines have been screaming out for some love too.  Go with your gut and if you crave it, provide it with foods that heal the lining and probiotics that assist in proper digestion and fighting off unwanted germs.

Luckily I have been part of this test and I can happily say that I have had no more sore throats and feel so ‘strong’ without any of the above symptoms.  I will keep you in the loop at the end of our winter to hopefully announce how few sick days the boys have had too.   So far so good!  🙂

Let me know if you will consider looking into this for yourself or your kids!  The more people that get onto this, the more health the world will have 🙂  Heidi

* To be continued – with more information on how to make some of the super-gut-foods listed above as well as how to change your pantry towards better gut health.  But please don’t wait for me if you feel the need to start looking into this yourself!