Foods often trigger eczema. This is a fact now commonly accepted. People prone to eczema often find their condition will worsen when they eat certain foods which they are sensitive or allergic to.
New study shows junk food causes eczema
A recent study comparing the diet of children in Florence, Italy to the diet of children in the small West African village of Boulon in Burkina Faso found that junk food is responsible for a huge spike in allergies and illnesses including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Asthma and Eczema.
In the past 20 years the number of people suffering from allergies has trebled with one in three people now suffering from an allergy related illness at some stage of their life.
Exposure to germs vital for a healthy immune system
Until now increased pollution, an increased obsession with hygiene and children’s indoor lifestyle have been blamed as the causes of the increase in allergies. Doctors have claimed exposure to germs is vital for children to develop a healthy immune system. And whilst this may be true it now appears that junk food may also be a major factor.
The study led by Dr Paolo Lionetti from the University of Florence compared differences between the gut microbes of children in two vastly different environments, with the conclusion that the cause of the allergy increase in western society was dietary rather than other less dominant factors like ethnic background, sanitation, climate or geography.
Foods produced locally
The African children consume a diet which consists completely of foods produced locally, primarily cereals, black eyed peas and vegetables. The diet is similar to that which would have been consumed thousands of years ago.
“The Burkina Faso children were selected as representative consumers of a traditional rural African diet” said Dr Lionetti. “The diet of Burkina Faso children is low in fat and animal protein and rich in starch, fibre and plant polysaccharides, and predominantly vegetarian.”
“All food resources are completely produced locally, cultivated and harvested nearby the village by women. Although the intake of animal protein is very low, sometimes they eat a small amount of chicken and termites.”
The Burkina Faso diet is high in fibre and full of fatty acids that are essential in fighting inflammation. The diet also has a far lower proportion of microbes associated with obesity and it promotes a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut which prevents gastrointestinal problems. Put simply the people of the Burkina Faso village eat a similar diet to that of most people thousands of years ago.
Western diet high in red meat, sugar and fat
The children from Florence in contrast were chosen to represent the more advanced westernised world. Here the diet is high in red meat, sugar and fat resulting in reduced numbers of the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Healthy bacteria are required for a healthy immune system. Without the healthy bacteria the immune system is not primed and children are more likely to grow up suffering from allergy related conditions like eczema and asthma.
Lindsey McManus, of Allergy UK, said: “There is some evidence that probiotics in the gut are effective in boosting the immune system, especially in children with eczema and that they can protect against allergies.
“However, it’s early days with this study and a lot more work needs to be done.”