The ideal diet for children with atopic skin
Judita Palenikova, Nutritionist, Slovak republic
Lots of parents wonder about diet’s impact on their child’s atopic eczema. Which foods should you avoid, or favour?
The nutritionist Judita Palenikova explains why an anti-inflammatory diet can help to diminish symptoms.
According to Judita Palenikova, “Atopic eczema benefits from an anti-inflammatory diet. Dietary recommendations related to this disease are not only about restrictions. Just the opposite! The aim should be to include as many nutritionally rich food items as possible in your child’s diet. While an anti-inflammatory diet helps fight inflammation, an overall healthy diet is nonetheless a must.” Below, the nutrionist lists foods to avoid and those she recommends for an anti-inflammatory diet.
While an anti-inflammatory diet helps fight inflammation, an overall healthy diet is nonetheless a must.
Foods to avoid that cause inflammation
• Saturated fats: animal fats (beef, pork, poultry, butter, pork grease), high-fat dairy (no low-fat dairy for small children, better a combination of full-fat dairy with low-fat dairy)
• Simple sugars: sweets, sweetened drinks, honey… But fruits have their place in an anti-inflammatory diet.
• White flour products: they do not contain enough fibre (which slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and prevents rapid spikes) and contribute to a higher risk of metabolic diseases, among which there is systemic inflammation. (Buckwheat, millet and spelt flour are better than wholemeal products for children.)
• Trans-saturated fats: margarines, cakes, tarts, fast-food items…
Recommended anti-inflammatory foods
• Vegetables and fruits: berries are ideal as they (except for strawberries) are not often an allergen and do not contain a lot of sugar. Berries include mainly grapes, blueberries, raspberries, currants and blackberries. Peaches and apricots are worth adding and, for more variety, all other tolerated fruits.
• Nuts and seeds: nutritionally most important are walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Regarding seeds, focus on serving ground flaxseed which is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
• Fatty sea fish: fish are a great example of the fact that not all fats are unhealthy. They are a rich source of essential Omega-3 fatty acids which have excellent anti-inflammatory properties and boost immunity.
• Food items high in probiotic bacteria: fermented dairy, kefir, yogurt… We often supplement with probiotics during an anti-inflammatory diet.
When it comes to children, the idea of a diet can be misunderstood, even unsettling. However Judita Palenikova clarifies her recommendations: “It is critical to keep in mind that following various dietary trends can rob your child’s diet of exactly the important anti-inflammatory foods he needs most. Therefore, do not focus only on what to exclude from your child’s diet but vice versa. Focus instead on the variety that you can provide your child despite limitations and restrictions. Encourage your child to eat so that his diet is the source of a rich spectrum of anti-inflammatory properties.”
Key points to remember
• An anti-inflammatory diet can have a positive effect on atopic eczema.
• Prefer home made dishes, fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid sugar and saturated fats