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Additives in processed food causing eczema and dermatitis

October is Eczema Awareness month which is great that this serious condition is receiving the publicity it deserves because so many people suffer from the effects of eczema and atopic dermatitis.

However it seems to me that the incidence of eczema is getting worse rather than better despite the publicity and you have to wonder what is causing this increase.

According to the National Eczema Association as many as one in five of the population suffer the effects of eczema with up to 10% of the population where the condition is described as serious.

When we look at the ‘causes and triggers’ on the NEA website we see that there are a number of products that appear to aggravate the condition but I don’t believe that these are the root of the problem.

I think it is the food we eat and here’s why;

When I was a child growing up in New Zealand I cannot recall seeing another child with eczema either at primary school or at college where as a boarder we all had communal showers so if another boy had eczema it would have been obvious to everyone in the dormitory.

I think it comes down to our diet.

When we grew up there were no fast food outlets in New Zealand apart from fish and chip shops and it wasn’t until the 70’s that we saw the first introduction of American fast food outlets like KFC and later McDonalds.

Now it seems that every suburb and shopping mall has a range of fast food stores and they are well patronised by the overweight public who support them.

When my generation grew up these food outlets were not an option because they didn't exist and it was a rare treat for us to have fish and chips.

So our mothers cooked all of our meals and they tended to be made up of meat and fresh fruit and often home grown vegetables and we didn't get eczema or asthma which is often linked to eczema.

So what is different about the food then and now?

I think it is the ‘processed’ content of today’s food that is the root of these problems. Today the supermarkets are full of food that is processed in some way and full of ingredients we don’t know much about or understand the reason for their inclusion.

Things like processed seed and vegetable oils, stabilizers, emulsifiers, extenders, flavor enhancers, thickeners, sugars, colors and preservatives. These ingredients are not food they are there to ‘enhance’ the look and taste of the pre-packaged product. We don’t need them in any way and they detract from the nutritional value of the food we eat.

And the incidence of eczema has grown hugely – along with the proliferation of fast food outlets and processed foods in supermarkets – coincidence?

I don’t think so!

So we need to consciously return to a more natural diet to build our immunity to the things which the NEA describes as “irritants” and “allergens”.

In my view these could be more easily tolerated if we had a better diet and stronger immune system.

Next we will look at the foods that will help to protect our immune system and prevent us from becoming susceptible to eczema and atopic dermatitis.

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