(Direct extract from The Eczema Diet by Karen Fischer)
If you’ve ever eaten food at a children’s party, chances are you have ingested dozens of artificial food colourings known to exacerbate eczema. And it’s not just brightly coloured party food, either. Regular breakfast cereal, yoghurt and margarines contain colourings that can trigger a range of adverse reactions, including a worsening of eczema symptoms.
Tartrazine (102), one of several yellow food colourings, worsens eczema symptoms in 40 percent of eczema sufferers and it can trigger asthma attacks, runny nose, purplish skin bruising and in servere cases anaphylactic shock. How can eating a yellow lolly cause such problems? Tartrazine stimulates the production of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. A team of researchers at Southampton University in the United Kingdom also found that artificial colourings could hamper a child’s intelligence by up to five IQ points and cause behavioural problems such as inattention and hyperactivity.
Artificial colourings are not the only additives eczema sufferers should avoid. There is a natural food colouring that is problematic for eczema-prone people and most children are consuming it on a daily basis. Annatto (160b), used to colour many brands of butter, yoghurt and fish fingers to name a few, can cause eczema flare-ups in sensitive individuals. Adverse reactions to annatto include obsessive head banging, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, learning difficulties and (surprisingly) some children may obsessively favour yellow: for example, they only want yellow food/pencils/clothes, which ceases when annatto is removed from the diet. In Europe, annatto has been banned from use in foods and a safe alternative, beta-carotene (160a), is used.
Karen Fischer’s book The Eczema Diet contains an in depth evaluation of troublesome foods for eczema sufferers and how diet can be used to control eczema.