Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is a medically unrecognised condition in western medicine so I understand if I encounter some hostility on this subject. You can call it malabsorption syndrome, or abnormal intestinal permeability too which are an aspect of it, and would probably be more recognised. Either way, even our GP and the specialists we have seen agree that eczema stems from the gut as well as from exterior pollutants such as detergents. There is however not much information on the matter unless you venture to ‘alternative therapies’ and do your own research.
Either way whether the gut lets toxins through or doesn’t absorb nutrients properly, both boil down to the same thing. A problem with the gut, with too many toxins in the body, that shows itself in many ways including eczema. For the purpose of this website I will call it Leaky Gut Syndrome.
One if the first things I learned was that both psoriasis and eczema occur due to certain areas of the intestinal tract being too thin and porous. Instead of passing along the intestinal track and being eliminated, toxins leak into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Mr.T’s lymph nodes in his neck have been swollen since day one. No doubt ones kidneys and liver are then overworked and can’t do their job properly so the skin and lungs come to the rescue and try help purify the body and get rid of toxins. I will post a more detailed blog post regarding this subject soon in case anyone is interested in my findings.
We wanted to explore any avenue that might help, even if it meant going away from the ‘norm’, so we applied what we learned above in the hope it would help our sons eczema, and though it may not have shown immediate positive effects, if his eczema friendly food plan wasn’t followed, we would see negative results returning such as irritated eyes and dry scaly itchy skin.
With leaky gut syndrome in mind we made the following changes to Mr. T’s diet:
- Nightshades – we omitted all vegetables from the nightshade family out of his diet. These are potatoes, tomatoes, chilli, bell peppers, and aubergine. Instead of normal potato we use sweet potato in his dishes. For pasta sauce, instead of using the generic tomato sauce, I just take his fried vegetables out and cook in a seperate pot before I add the tomato sauce to our own. I have alternative pasta sauce recipes and pizza topping recipes that I will add in the blog pages. UPDATE: At age 4 Mr. T can now have a little bit of potato or tomato in his dishes, provided it is only once or twice a week. More than that and you will see the skin on his hands getting dry and cracked with redness.
- Beef & Pork – we tend to not eat much beef & pork anyway in our household so reducing this wasn’t hard. Chicken, turkey and lamb are great alternatives, and if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s always rabbit or goat meat too. They may not be as popular in our society, but worth a try if you can get some. Generally when we did eat red meat we tried to get good quality, local meat that was as organically reared as possible. In our case we even aquired some of these animals ourselves so that we knew what we were feeding our animals because in the end, what we fed them would feed us.
- Shellfish – it is advised to avoid these in cases of eczema, but what kid likes them anyway? and with Mr. T’s allergies being so severe I didn’t want to chance them anyhow.
- Additives – simple, clean homecooked meals are best. Preparing a meal from scratch may seem like too much hard work, and yes, sometimes it is, but once you get used to it you learn how to cut corners here too. A routine helps, and preparation is key. Bulk cooking also helps if you have a freezer. And if you’re anything like myself, get yourself a good ‘Meals in 20 minutes’ cookbook, and you’ll have dinner ready in less than an hour. The additives used to keep ready meals fresh, really aren’t worth it and they’re not cheaper in the long run. If you can’t pronounce it, do you really want to eat it? If you saw a bottle with a label on it stating that chemical, would you open it and drink it no questions asked? … My advice is avoid additives, do your research, some may be ok as some are just labelled differently for eg. salt is sodium chloride, but doing your research gives you knowledge and a better understanding of what you are feeding you and your family. Take pictures on your phone of ingredients you’re not sure of, and next time you’re free google them and see what they really are. Check out a few sites so you get a wider aspect.
- Dairy – It is recommended in cases of eczema to substitute dairy with goats milk or soy milk, though our Mr. T is allergic to all three so this wasn’t an issue for us.
- Water – we were lucky to be able to change our water supply from mains to well water. If this isn’t possible just go for what suits your household best, there are several different filters on the market. Drinking plenty of water is important for flushing out toxins.
- Citrus – Avoid citrus fruits and juices if you can such as orange and lemon. We substituted with apple, mango or grape juice.
- Junk food – there are so many reasons to avoid these. Fizzy drinks, sweets, fast food etc. Not only are they full of sugar that makes kids hyper and unhealthy, but they are also full of additives, sweeteners and bulking agents so they can be made as cheap, sweet and colourful as possible. It’s not actually food. You might as well be eating cardboard, it probably has the same nutritional value, and remember our brains and bodies need nutrients to think, move, and be healthy.
As mentioned before, it was suspected from an early age that our son had various food allergies. Getting food allergies tested can be a waiting game in the current medical system as the system is overloaded and allergies are becoming more and more common, but so far here is a list of the foods Mr. T is allergic to, and if you have a hyper sensitive child with eczema you may want to consider these allergies too, if they are showing signs of a reaction. By no means is this all the allergies that exist, so seeing your GP is crucial in any case. I’m simply sharing these as food for thought, and also to show that even with so many allergies you can still provide healthy yummy meals for your little ones. I will include recipes in the blog section soon.
- Tree Nuts – these include, but are not limited to cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, chestnuts. Due to the severe reaction these can cause (anaphylactic shock) we keep these away from Mr. T at all times. Be careful of these being hidden in other products for eg. chocolate spread often contains hazelnuts. (see blog post coming soon on how to avoid contact with these if on an airplane with your child)
- Peanuts – like with tree nuts, the reaction to these can be very severe and life threatening so we keep these away from Mr. T at all times. We carry an epi pen at all times in case of a reaction.
- Flax/Linseed – This is not known as a common allergen and therefor not easy to spot and eliminate out of ones diet if you are allergic to it. Mr. T’s reaction to this would be quiet severe, including facial swelling and red blotches just from a small amount ingested. Linseed can be found in a lot of foods including cereal bars, bread, and crackers.
- Egg – I noticed Mr. T getting hives when simply holding a boiled egg one day. There are different ‘grades’ of being allergic to eggs, and a lot of the time these can be reintroduced at a later date through an ‘egg ladder’ process. Your paediatrician can explain this to you once your child has been diagnosed. In our case, we tried Mr. T with the egg ladder at age 3 and at this stage he is still too young to even stomach the bottom phase of the introduction process and he ended up with stomach cramps and diarrhea. In a few years time we may try again.
- Dairy – we noticed at an early age during the weaning process that Mr. T was allergic to dairy, goats milk and soy milk due to extreme vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea with discoloured stools. When he needed formula we had to give him one called Neocate for which you need a prescription from your doctor. Once weaned, we use rice milk instead, bearing in mind you need to make sure to obtain more calcium from other foods. I use a very good calcium supplement that I put into the bread machine when making bread for Mr. T and after consulting our qualified nutritionist, she said he was receiving adequate amounts of calcium. Vitamin D is also required to absorb calcium so I supplement with this too.
- Soy – see note re dairy. Also beware, most bread you find in shops contains soy. Our solution to this was to buy a bread machine and make our own bread using just flour, water, olive oil, salt, a calcium supplement and yeast.
- Goats milk – see note above re dairy.
- Smoked salmon – Mr. T can eat a fresh, plain fillet of salmon, baked in the oven with no problems. Smoked salmon however goes through a process, sometimes chemical, to make it smoked. I am guessing it is this process that he is allergic to as when he consumes smoked salmon he becomes itchy and his throat becomes itchy which results in him making choking noises.
- Melon – we noticed that Mr. T got itchy hands and itchy around his lips when eating melon.
- Pineapple – Mr. T experienced the same symptoms for pineapple as for melon. Be careful when trying to avoid pineapple as it is often part of mixed fruit juice and is also present in jelly sweets such as haribo bears etc.
- Kiwi – When eating kiwi Mr. T complained of his whole mouth getting itchy. If one is allergic to kiwi or birch pollen, which Mr. T is, then it can be likely for them to also be allergic to strawberries, but to Mr. T’s delight, he can eat strawberries.
For info regarding Mr. T’s non food related allergies please go to the ‘Further discoveries’ tab.
If you think your child may have any of these or other food allergies contact your GP to get an allergy test done. Alternatively you can also go to a private clinic, though I cannot offer any opinion on its tests as I have no experience with them.
Also, on a general note, there’s a few things such as shell fish, mustard and and celery you may want to be wary of if your child has a tendancy to being sensitive to allergens. Also consider preservatives and additives. I myself had an allergy to an emulsifier in pizzas, hot chocolates and crackers when I was younger. Also, wash fruit and veg well before eating as they have been sprayed with chemicals to make them grow bigger and faster and keep pests off them.
We have two epi pens (in 20% of cases a second one is needed) with Mr.T wherever he goes, and when he is in school, they also have two there for him. I can speak from experience that allergies have to be taken very seriously, and you always need to be on guard as an anaphylactic shock can be life threatening. I would also like to note, that currently in Ireland, if you have a medical card you could be waiting 12 months for your allergy test in a hospital so getting an appointment in the pipeline sooner rather than later might be a good idea.
So what can he eat you say?!
I will be posting blog posts soon with recipes that our little man loves that are healthy, and friendly for his skin. Check out the blog tab.
Mr. T had been on Neocate formula since I stopped breastfeeding him but once he was old enough to be weaned and get a balanced diet through solids we were eager to get the Neocate out of his diet providing we were confident we could replace it wisely. He still needed a bottle to go to sleep, mainly for comfort, and he woke up 2/3 times a night for a bottle so I had to try an alternative. We decided to make our own seed/rice milk mix for him, a version of which we found online but unfortunately I have no idea from what site. It consisted of organic sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, rice milk & water, blitzed in a nutribullet and strained through a nut milk bag. After introducing it little by little he decided he liked it! Not only is it healthy with essential amino acids vital for skin healing, but I now knew what he was drinking whereas with Neocate I had no idea. Neocate was a life saver and essential at a certain stage in his life, but once he was weaned it was time to move on and find an alternative such as this, and seeing as he was allergic to dairy, goat and soy milk, it was a great choice, and didn’t taste bad either.