From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the condition of our skin is a direct result of our body’s internal balances, which are greatly affected by our food and lifestyle choices.
As the skin is the largest organ of the body, its health matters a lot. Not only is it the body’s first line of defence against harmful pathogens, it’s also responsible for numerous other functions that keep us strong and healthy.
If you’re struggling with issues like acne, eczema, psoriasis, or other common dermatological concerns, perhaps making changes to your diet can help. Below, we’ll discuss the role of food in skin health and the diet you should adhere to if you’re dealing with skin conditions.
Generally, there are a few types of food that individuals suffering from skin problems should avoid. These items can drastically alter your body’s internal balance and prevent you from recovering from your condition. Here’s a list of the foods to avoid for eczema, hives, psoriasis, acne, as well as dry and itchy skin.
1. Hot and Spicy Foods
Hot and spicy dishes are tantalising to the taste buds and have both positive and negative impacts on the body. They are energetically warming foods, which have heating qualities that can invigorate the body, promote circulation, and dispel dampness.
However, hot and spicy foods are foods that trigger eczema, as well as other skin problems like acne and psoriasis. When indulged in excess, they cause the accumulation of heat in the body that may disrupt the balance of Yin and Yang, which is believed to be the root cause of various skin conditions. Reactions like flushing, redness, and rashes may worsen in those already suffering from skin issues.
2. Damp-Producing Foods
Another acne, eczema, and psoriasis trigger food is damp-producing foods. They are associated with stagnation, congestion, and imbalance, and are believed to have a detrimental impact on the body if consumed in excess.
Dampness tends to slow down circulation and cause wind and moisture to accumulate in the body. These changes can hinder the skin’s natural healing and regenerative abilities, and make recovering much harder.
If you’re already struggling with certain conditions, avoid overconsuming damp-producing foods like milk and cheese, sugary beverages, watermelon, as well as cold and raw foods.
3. Processed and Refined Foods
Processed and refined items are foods to avoid with eczema and psoriasis. From a TCM standpoint, they are thought to be lacking in essential nutrients, fibre, and vitality, and do not add value and energy to your body.
Furthermore, they contain high amounts of salt that can contribute to the accumulation of dampness in the body. Consuming large amounts of them may cause imbalances, disrupt harmony necessary for healthy skin, and exacerbate inflammation.
4. Sugar and Sweets
Excessive sugar intake generates internal heat and dampness. This can lead to an undesirable surplus of moisture within the body and cause inflammation. On top of this, overconsumption may deplete the body’s Qi (energy) and result in fatigue and a weaker immune system, which makes the skin more susceptible to issues.
5. Herbal Immunosuppressants
Herbal immunosuppressants are typically used in Western medicine to suppress the immune system. But TCM views this treatment strategy differently.
When the immune system is suppressed, TCM believes that the body’s ability to respond to infection, regulate inflammation, and maintain skin health may be compromised. This heightened vulnerability can increase the risk of developing various skin conditions.
Rather than using immunosuppressants, TCM employs herbal remedies and dietary modifications that focus on nourishing and tonifying the body. These approaches aim to strengthen the body’s immune response naturally and promote skin health from within.
6. Nightshade Vegetables
Nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, and potatoes, are considered cooling. While they are great for dealing with excessive heat or inflammation, overconsumption can produce dampness and phlegm in the body. This contributes to skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rashes.
If you are prone to dampness or phlegm, you may find that avoiding nightshades help manage your skin conditions.
Individuals suffering from conditions like psoriasis, acne, and dry and itchy skin will also need to cut down on the consumption of meats. Psoriasis patients, in particular, should avoid eating too much red meat. If you’re dealing with hives, some diet recommendations we have include consuming less acidic foods like citrus fruits. And those with dry and itchy skin should avoid excessively pungent herbs and alcohol.
To promote healthy skin in accordance with TCM principles, it’s advisable to focus on a balanced diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. However, there is lots to learn about the connection between skin conditions like eczema, hives, and acne and nutrition, so individual diets should be made in consultation with a qualified TCM practitioner.
Tangs Clinical TCM is a phytopharmaceutical research centre that specialises in the management of skin disorders through TCM approaches. Our doctors and physicians work together to develop herbal products and treatment plans that will help with autoimmune skin problems in a natural and safe way. Schedule a consultation with us here.